Fresh-air fun: Things to do with grandkids this week

A short way outside Atlanta, the charms of the countryside beckon. The fairs, harvests, and cool breezes in September are especially appealing to nostalgic grandparents and their active grandkids.

Here are activities that will draw you beyond the city limits and onto memory lane:

Hillcrest Orchards Apple Pickin’ Jubilee

9 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday. $12 weekdays “walking age and up,” $18 Saturday-Sunday. Hillcrest Orchards 9696 Hwy. 52 E., Ellijay.

Get a jump on apple season and give the grandkids something to brag about at school.

This orchard festival is a great selection for a family that doesn’t tire easily. One-price admission grants wagon rides, an apple tree maze, wagon rides and a place to pet animals.

That’s just the start. You’ll also have the chance to try a vortex tunnel and little kid trike rides. And, if you time it properly, you can watch daily fun like cow milking and pig races.

If you’re nostalgic for fall foods of your youth, you can purchase boiled peanuts, apple cider donuts, hand-dipped ice cream, and fresh lemonade at the cafe or grill onsite. You can also make a meal of it with hot dogs, burgers, tacos, and the like.

The adventure does involve a bit of a trek, 1.5 hours by car from downtown Atlanta, so plan to make a day of it.

Credit: From Gwinnett County Fair’s Facebook page

Credit: From Gwinnett County Fair’s Facebook page

Gwinnett County Fair

Exhibit hall 5-10 p.m. weekdays, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday, 1-9 p.m. Sunday. Carnival hours 5-11 p.m. weekdays, 11 a.m.-mightnight Saturday, 1-10 p.m. Sunday. $10: ages 12-65; $5: 65+, ages 6-11. Free with ID for military, police and ages 5 and under. Unlimited rides plus admission $25-35. 2405 Sugarloaf Pkwy., Lawrenceville.

From the rides to the pageants, livestock, horticulture, craft competition exhibits, and, of course, the fair foods, you’ll be able to find something for everyone in your extended family group at the Gwinnett County Fair.

A King BMX Stunt Show, a dairy goat show (alas, no baby goats in pajamas), and pirate-themed entertainment that includes chainsaw racing and log rolling are some extras offered on different days.

Check out the events calendar here, and buy discounted gate tickets here.

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

Buford Corn Maze

6-10 p.m. Friday, Sept. 8, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday-Sunday Sept. 9-10, corn maze and farm activities $16.85, ages 2 and under free, 4470 Bennett Rd., Buford.

Come for the corn maze, and stay for a bevy of extra activities, including animals on view, a pumpkin patch, unlimited hay rides, and a dedicated Kids CORNer (get it?) for the younger set.

Even if the weather is hot, the setup will make you feel like it’s already fall.

You can have great talks with the kids about how this is different from the farm-themed amusements of your youth. The hay rides will be similar, but there are many new and different activities at Buford Corn Maze.

Plus, there are events including a free beekeeping 101 class and mini moo weekend. Sept. 15-17 is also Alpaca Weekend so expect to see them around, including the new baby, Cria.

If your grandkids will be bugging you to return repeatedly, you may want to consider season passes starting at $49.60.

Back to Your Roots Farm Fair

Noon-4 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 17. $15 general admission; $11 for ages 13-18 and 65+; $9 for ages 3-12, free for children 2 and under. Chattahoochee Nature Center, 9153 Willeo Rd., Roswell.

Down-home fun in an exhilarating riverside setting, this Chattahoochee Nature Center fest celebrates harvest season with games, crafts, and a chance to meet farm animals.

You can also take a wildlife walk or stroll the River Boardwalk Trail and native gardens while you’re there.

Don’t miss the Naturally Artistic exhibit while you’re there — it’s brand new. This event is designed with a meal in mind, so be sure to pack a scrumptious lunch and bring a blanket to sit on.

Buy tickets here.

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