Every year like clockwork, schools shut their doors, daily routines get overhauled, temperatures heat up, and time stands still. For most kids (and parents), those long-awaited summer days of freedom quickly turn into a never-ending pursuit of entertainment. As most parents know, finding fun, enriching, and quality activities for kids to do during the summer is not always an easy task. Below is a list of educational, fun, and family-oriented places to go and things to do to jump-start your summer vacation and keep your kids off the couch!
Be a Tourist in Your Own Downtown
Just an hour (depending on traffic) outside your doorstep is a bustling city, bursting with things to do, places to see, and new things try with your kids this summer.
- LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Atlanta (Phipps Plaza) This LEGO-fan mecca has over 12 attractions for kids to enjoy, including an amazing 4D cinema (feel the flurries of wind, rain, and even snow inside the theater) and a Lego MINILAND® built from over 1.5 million LEGOs.
- Dolphin Tales at the Georgia Aquarium (Downtown) Did you know the Georgia Aquarium is now home to 11 trick-performing dolphins? The Dolphin Tales show incorporates the beauty and agility of dolphins, live human actors, dramatic costuming and amazing effects. Plan to stay and watch the animated Deepo’s Undersea 3D Wondershow theater – kids will love experiencing underwater life from a fish’s point of view.
- The World of Coca-Cola (Downtown) The World of Coca-Cola museum features a 4-D theater, a unique live-action bottling line, and the opportunity to sample nearly 70 different beverages from around the world. Don’t forget to see the extraordinary 1880s soda fountain!
- Medieval Times Dinner Theater (Discovery Mills, Duluth) Just north of Atlanta lies a castle that will bring you back in time to the 11th Century. Here the entire family can enjoy an exciting jousting tournament complete with live horses and charming knights, as well as horse training demonstrations and sword fights. Dinner is served as you cheer on your favorite knight!
- Imagine It! The Children’s Museum of Atlanta (Downtown) Visit the Big Adventure exhibit, and give your child the opportunity to test their abilities, both mentally and physically. Children can explore Adventure Mountain and The Tunnels of Fun, which includes a six-foot wall of rocks, dark crawl tunnels, and a climb to the Crow’s Nest.
Nurture Nature and Park Yourself at the Park!
Parks and outdoor public spaces are the perfect place to enjoy nature, learn about the environment, and spend time together as a family!
- Visit Piedmont Park’s Green Market in (Midtown Atlanta). This open-air local farmer’s market features locally grown produce, farm fresh meats, artisan cheeses, fresh cut flowers, and baked goods. The outdoor exhibit also includes snacks, live music, and chef demos. Want to sharpen your kids’ culinary skills? Sign them up for a 1-hour kids cooking class at the Green Market led by local experts. After your visit, continue the farming and culinary theme at home. Plant a summer vegetable garden in your backyard, or put your child’s new cooking skills to the test in your kitchen.
- Want to enjoy the great outdoors and stay close to home, too? Pack a picnic lunch and head for Line Creek or Morgan Grove Nature Area (Peachtree City and Fayetteville). Spend the day fishing, reading on a bench or gazebo, and walking the miles of nature trails. Bring a camera and take pictures of the birds and other wildlife you see, and then research them at the library or on the internet to learn more about their species and habitats.
Make Your Summer Camp Count!
Most parents plan for at least one or two summer camps for their children to enjoy, and specialty summer camps can provide the perfect opportunity for your child to try a new skill, hobby, or interest. Since most camps last about a week, your child can get a taste of a new interest without having to commit to continual classes.
- Specialty camps are abundant in Fayette County and can include dance, art, science, music, martial arts, sports, and more. For camp ideas, look into Fayette County Camps, 4-H Camp, Peachtree City Camps, Winshape Camps, Camp Calvin, YMCA, Girl Scout or Boy Scout camp.
- Have an animal-lover at home? Try Safari Day Camp at Zoo Atlanta. Kids can visit over 1.500 animal residents alongside experienced camp instructors. They also get to participate in hands-on activities that teach them about the oh-so-cute animals, and even get up close and personal with a few.
New Ideas for Neighborhood and At-Home Activities
When the time and resources for day trips run out, plan to spend a little time in your own backyard with your neighbors, family, and friends. Collaborate with your neighborhood to plan activities that everyone will enjoy, and switch off hosting events so everyone will have time to relax!
- Plan a “Neighborhood Night” with the other families on your block. Grill out hotdogs and hamburgers, play outdoor games, and tell stories. If it’s still warm outside, put on bathing suits and start a game of water gun tag. For a more low-key activity, purchase a piece of large-size craft paper and pull out the markers and pens for the kids to create a mural of your entire neighborhood. Ask each child to draw his or her own home, family, and pets. Draw and color nearby parks, schools, churches, golf cart paths, favorite restaurants and places.
- Create your own photo scavenger hunt! Perfect for any day, this indoor/outdoor game can vary in difficulty for different age ranges. Start by taking a picture in each room around your home. For a more challenging hunt, choose a small object in each room to photograph, instead of a large, more obvious area. Affix the photos to index cards and write clues next to them, then hide them to create a trail. Decide on a treasure or prize to place at the end of the string of clues. Older children can either play with harder clues or else set up the game for their younger siblings. Have the neighborhood join in and follow the scavenger hunt between several houses.
- Have a “Girls’ Day Out, Guys’ Day In.” Gather the girls in the neighborhood and go out for shopping at the Avenues or Ashley Park, lunch, and manicures/pedicures. While the girls are out, the guys can have the house to themselves to complete a hands-on DIY project or yard activity. Next time, it’s the guys’ turn to go fishing, eat BBQ, and visit the hardware store while the girls stay home and try out a new cooking recipe, sewing project, or craft activity.
- Host a Super Sleepover with the kids in your neighborhood. Have your child’s friends over to enjoy a night of movies, popcorn, and games. One successful sleepover tip: After the kids finally fall asleep, be sure to put out some quiet activities to keep early risers occupied. Finish the sleepover off with a big breakfast of pancakes!
Now you’re on your way to having some really memorable summer fun! Whether you decide to stay close to home or venture out to the big city in search of fun, just be sure to include a little time to rejuvenate and rest up between your big summer adventures.
LEGOLAND Discovery Center: http://atlanta.legolanddiscoverycenter.com/atlanta/
Medieval Times: http://www.medievaltimes.com/home.aspx
World of Coca-cola: http://www.worldofcoca-cola.com/
ImagineIt Museum: http://www.childrensmuseumatlanta.org/
Piedmont Park: http://www.piedmontpark.org/do/calendar.html
Zoo Atlanta: zooatlanta.org