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Fun With Kids Close to Atlanta

by Barbara Rogers

Jan 13, 2018

© Russ Ensley | Dreamstime.com

Age Specific / Kids

Just outside Atlanta’s lively downtown areas, DeKalb County combines bucolic wooded landscapes with history, ethnic foods and a kid-pleasing fun park.


Attractions for kids of all ages are handily grouped in Stone Mountain Park, 30 minutes from Atlanta. You can climb or ride the Summit Skyride, a high-speed cable car, to the 825-foot summit of Stone Mountain, best known for the Confederate Memorial carved on its face. The Scenic Railroad, a 1940s locomotive with open cars, will take you on a five-mile loop through the park, or you can head straight to its several age-themed features.


Stone Mountain, Atlanta Georgia

Stone Mountain, Atlanta. Photo: Alex Grichenko | Dreamstime.com


Camp Highland Outpost is a challenging endurance course of rock wall climbing, suspended rope walks and bridges, while SkyHike has rope bridges through the trees, high above the ground. Different courses are designed for youngsters and teens. At the Farmyard young children ages 4 to 7 have a chance to get close to and pet goats, which will do rodeo tricks for them, jumping over barrels and fences and weaving in and out of cones. Ride The Ducks takes you from land into Stone Mountain Lake on a 1940-era Army DUKW as you learn a bit about local history. You can find out more at the Stone Mountain Museum at Memorial Hall, which shows artifacts from the ancient civilizations that lived here. Children between 5 and 12 will enjoy learning about dinosaurs at the Dinotorium, through its four floors of interactive games, slides, trampolines and things to climb on.


Kids walking in park near Atlanta, Georgia

Nature park near Atlanta, Georgia. Photo: Cia Pix | Dreamstime.com

For quiet moments and a fascinating bit of natural history, stretch your legs with the short climb to the bare granite summit of Arabia Mountain, a monadnock left when the glaciers scraped away the surface. Rare plants grow on this lunar-like landscape, changing the color of the surface with the seasons, and the views cover a full 360 degrees. Arabia Mountain offers a fascinating ecosystem and a mountaintop reward for a short, gentle climb. The Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area includes miles of bike paths, and on weekend afternoons you can meet wild animals at AWARE, the Atlanta Wild Animal Rescue Effort. There are more walking and bike trails, as well as a bonsai garden at the nearby 2,000-acre preserve of the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers. Stop in the shop for some fudge while you’re there.


While you might not expect children to be fascinated by a museum of ancient art, the Michael C. Carlos Museum, at Emory University right on the outskirts of Atlanta, will immerse them in the wonders of ancient Egypt, complete with a real mummy. Frequent children’s and family workshops explore the arts through stories and hands-on experiences.


For more hands-on interactive experiences, take the kids to the Fernbank Museum of Natural History, where the permanent NatureQuest exhibit can turn them into scientists. Along with exploring different ecosystems, kids can meet live animals and explore a multilevel treehouse equipped with microscopes and a variety of activities.


A good place to introduce your kids to some new flavors is just outside the city in the many family-friendly ethnic restaurants that gave Buford Highway (State Road 13) the nickname of Atlanta’s International Corridor. Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Indian, Cuban and Mexican cuisines line this road as it leaves the city and runs through the DeKalb County towns of Chamblee, Brookhaven, Doraville and Norcross. It’s an around-the-world adventure through small, authentic, family-owned restaurants.


Kids especially love the noodle dishes at Food Terminal, a lively restaurant on the Buford Highway in Chamblee that features a wide variety of Asian street foods. Teens will like the story of owner Amy, who began her culinary career selling noodles from a street-side kiosk in Malaysia when she was 15. Be sure to stop for crazy ice cream at Roll It Up on Buford Highway in Doraville, where kids can watch their own custom flavor mixed and frozen while they wait.


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