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End of Summer Staycations

School bells will ring soon in Duluth, but it's not too late to take a last blast of summer staycation. Here are 10 destinations for family fun in and around Atlanta.

It’s hard to believe, but most students in Duluth are due to return to school in just a few short weeks.

To make the most of the remaining summer break, why not load up the family and take advantage of exploring some of Atlanta’s best sights and attractions? You won’t have to spring for a hotel or a tank of gas, and the Atlanta area has so much to offer when it comes to family fun.

To get you started on a great Atlanta staycation, here are 10 recommendations for family-friendly destinations.

  1. Georgia Aquarium. The world’s largest aquarium is located right in our own back yard and it's a must-see attraction for families and kids of all ages. Georgia Aquarium holds more than 8.5 million gallons of water and is home to more than 120,000 animals of 500 different species. Located downtown and close to Centennial Park, the Aquarium offers exciting exhibits and galleries, including Ocean Voyager, River Scout, Georgia Explorer, Cold Water Quest, Tropical Diver and Dolphin Tales, a larger-than-life performance featuring dolphins, humans and dazzling special effects. For ticket, hours and more information, click here.
  2. Stone Mountain Park. There is so much to do and see at Stone Mountain Park, one day may not be enough to take it all in. Located about 20 miles south of Peachtree Corners, this dazzling park is beautifully spread out over 3,200 acres of natural beauty. Amazing adventures await children of all ages, including the all-new Geyser Towers, Sky Hike, The Great Barn, Summit Skyride, the Scenic Railroad, Yogi Bear 4-D Adventure, Antebellum Plantation and Farmyard, Adventure Golf and Ride the Ducks. Be sure to stick around and catch the amazing Lasershow Spectacular in Mountainvision on Memorial Lawn. When the sun sets, neon lights, graphics and fireworks combine to tell amazing stories on the face of Stone Mountain. For pricing, hours and general information, follow this link to Stone Mountain Park.
  3. Chattahoochee Nature Center. CNC is a hidden gem and one of Atlanta’s most scenic, natural attractions. Nestled on 127 beautiful acres in the heart of Roswell, the Chattahoochee Nature Center boasts five wooded walking trails, including a river boardwalk trail, three acres of gorgeous gardens that showcase over 600 native plants from Georgia, a lake for canoeing, and an amazing Discovery Center that features hands-on learning activities for children. In addition, CNC offers free-with-admission programs for children like Creature Features, trail hikes, animal encounters and so much more. If you’re looking to unplug your kids from electronics and get them back outside, the Chattahoochee Nature Center is an excellent choice. For pricing and hours information, follow this link to CNC’s website.
  4. Six Flags Over Georgia. Kids of all ages absolutely love amusement parks and Atlanta is home to one of the best. Six Flags Over Georgia in southwest Atlanta features every kind of ride for every kind of rider. From a classic carousel for younger ones to towering coasters for teens, Six Flags is the place to be. The younger set will love the Log Jamboree, Thunder River and Splash Water Falls (especially on hot summer days), Monster Mansion and the Whistlestop Park Playground. There’s even a water park for splashing around. Daring tweens and teens can’t resist rides like the Batman, Georgia Cyclone, Goliath, Mind Bender, Ninja, Georgia Scorcher, Scream Machine and Superman roller coasters. The iLuminate show is new for 2012 and is an incredible sensory experience for families with kids. For more information about Six Flags Over Georgia, click here.
  5. White Water. Nothing can beat the heat during the dog days of summer in Atlanta like a trip to White Water in northwest Atlanta. It’s the southeast’s largest water park and features fifty different attractions and slides for kids of all ages. It’s also home to one of the world’s tallest free-falling slides for adventurous teens and tweens. Buccaneer Bay is perfect for younger kids, spans several acres and includes water slides, pop-up jets, spray areas and a 25-ft. play ship. Sixteen rides are designed with families in mind. For those more daring thrill seekers, Dragon’s Tail and The Cliffhanger are sure to please. For more information on hours and pricing, click on White Water’s website.
  6. Lake Lanier Resort. Like White Water, Lake Lanier Resort also has a water park, but it’s located in a more beautiful, natural setting. LanierWorld now offers expanded Big Beach and Boardwalk areas, new carnival rides, plus a brand new inflatable obstacle course with action tower, flip ride and water trampoline. It’s a flotilla of fun and a great way to cool down on a hot summer day. Every Friday night is family fun night at LanierWorld and rotating events include dive-in movies, game show night, gladiator night, and karaoke night. If you haven’t been to Lake Lanier Resort and Water Park in quite some time, you’ll be delighted with all the changes and upgrades. For more information, including pricing and hours, follow this link to LanierWorld at Lake Lanier.
  7. Fernbank Museum of Natural History. To treat your kids to a fun Atlanta staycation while giving them a bit of education, head to Fernbank Museum of Natural History. The one-of-a-kind museum transports your family to another place and time through cultural treasures, hands-on science activities and the largest dinosaurs ever discovered. Permanent and special exhibits let kids explore life on Earth and cultures from around the world. In addition, the amazing IMAX theater at Fernbank is currently showing “Greece: Secrets of the Past” and “To the Arctic.” For more information about a full day of learning fun, check out the Fernbank website.
  8. Yellow River Game Ranch. The Yellow River Game Ranch in Lilburn is an Atlanta institution that’s remained a popular attraction with parents and children alike. That’s because families can get up close and personal with over 600 birds, deer, rabbits, buffalo, sheep, goats, bears and a bevy of newborn animals. Yellow River Game Ranch, now in its 46th year of operation, is nestled on the Yellow River on 24 wooded acres and features a mile-long walking trail. Kids love to see the animals up close and they can even feed them, too. For more information about the Yellow Game Ranch, visit their website.
  9. Imagine It! Children’s Museum. When it’s simply too hot to head outdoors, Imagine It! Children’s Museum is a good alternative for summertime fun for kids ages 8 and younger. The Big Adventure exhibit lets kids test their abilities by exploring Adventure Mountain and Tunnels of Fun. The Morph Gallery changes often and sometimes features colorful performers and a big top. Imaginators bring the fun to life during 20-minute mini musicals. Located in Downtown Atlanta, Imagine It! is a perfect staycation destination for younger kids and their families. For more information, click on the Imagine It link.
  10. World of Coca Cola. Located next to the Georgia Aquarium in Downtown Atlanta, the World of Coca Cola is often overlooked by families in Atlanta. However, it’s the perfect place to explore and cool down on a sizzling summer day. This two-level attraction celebrates everything Coca-Cola and features interactive exhibits, video highlights and so much more. Families can explore the Coca-Cola Loft, the Happiness Factory Theater and Bottle Works on the first floor. Then, head up to level two for the 4-D Theater and the Taste It Gallery to sample 60 Coca-Cola drinks from all over the world. Sip, mix and savor to your heart’s delight. For hours and pricing information at the World of Coca-Cola, click here.

If your summer entertainment budget is dwindling like the days before school starts, there are still plenty of ways to enjoy a family staycation in Atlanta. Simply take a hike or bike ride together, head to a local public pool (Gwinnett County has some of the best in the metro area), go geocaching or camping, or check out a local park or playground. Take along a picnic basket, a Frisbee and you’re all set to spend some quality time together before the school bell rings again.

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