Stone Mountain Park, Atlanta

RR September 28, 2010 No Comments


“What is that giant rock doing in the middle of the city?” first time visitors to Atlanta may wonder.

A trip to Stone Mountain Park will solve the mystery, revealing the many adventures and attractions the giant rock and its surrounding areas have to offer.

Stone Mountain Carving Atlanta Georgia

Stone Mountain Carving

Spread over 3000 acres, Stone Mountain Park is counted among the most popular family attractions in Georgia – which isn’t surprising considering that people of all ages and from all walks of life are likely to find something of interest here.

The first thing you notice about the park is the Confederate Memorial Carving on the rock that features Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee, and Jefferson Davis. This enormous carving is both the physical, historic and symbolic center of Stone Mountain around which many of the other attractions of the park revolve.

There’s plenty to do and see in this park, and the first stop for many visitors is the Skyride.

The Summit Skyride:  Enjoy a thrilling ride in this cable car as it swings and climbs to the top of the stone. Keep your eyes open for a great view of the Confederate Carving and the other park attractions. Once you land on the mountain top, enjoy a 360 degree view of Atlanta, its skyline, the Appalachian mountains and more. After all, it’s not every day that you get the chance to stand on top of one of the world’s largest single rocks! An ice cream, a beverage, popcorn or a snack from the mountain top café is sure to enhance the experience.  This is a great spot for photographs and I’ve even heard of a wedding proposal or two being made here.  What better place to give a gal her rock, eh?! You can also trek up to the top via one of the many trails around it. View from Stone Mountain

The Sky Hike: You don’t have to be Tarzan to trek through treetops.  Stone Mountain’s Sky Hike is one of the most popular attractions of the park and I’ve seen wait lines as long as 2 hours on earlier visits. The fact that you can choose your path and difficulty level attracts amateurs, children and advanced hikers. This is considered one of America’s largest family adventure hikes, its trails ranging from 12 feet to 40 feet in height include ropes, net bridges, wooden slats and suspended bridges.

Scenic Train Ride: Children will love this 25 minute train ride around the mountain in open-air cars, with sing-alongs, live shows, stories about the mountain and commentaries to keep them entertained.  The train is a big hit throughout the year, but, the lines are unbelievably long during holiday season when the train is transformed into a sing-along Christmas train with holiday lights.

Kids Steer the Duck

River Boat Cruise, Ride the Ducks: If you’re looking for some water fun, check out these two rides. If you have time for only one, without a doubt, climb on a Duck.  Little ones will actually get to steer the buses(err…boats) and are sure to have a whale of a time.

Crossroads: If you enjoy a leisurely afternoon stroll you won’t have to walk too far. At Stone Mountain’s Crossroads, you can watch demonstrating crafters make beautiful, hand-crafted glass collectibles and other items. From personalized park souvenirs to attractive boxes of candy, take your pick of gifts on your shopping trip down Stone Mountain’s Crossroads.

The Great Barn: Hours of fun and activities await families with young children ( ages 5-12) at the barn.  Slides, trampoline floors, climbing structures and more promise an action-packed afternoon for the family. A great indoor attraction to keep kids entertained when it’s raining or snowing.

Speaking of snow… just 2 years ago, Stone Mountain Park added its latest, coolest, whitest attraction in the form of Snow Mountain.   

Who says kids growing up in the South have to miss out on making snowmen or having snow fights? Nope, not with Snow Mountain around.  Atlantans now enjoy their own ‘mountain’ of snow from Dec to March. Whether you want to go snow tubing with your friends, make snow angels with your kids or just enjoy the feel of snow in your palms, a trip to Snow Mountain should take care of that. Of course, it’s not really a mountain and some folks used to living in colder coordinates who shovel buckets of snow out of their driveways every winter turn up their noses at Atlanta’s latest pride. Also, the past 2 years, Atlanta has actually seen a reasonable amount of real snow…so spending an extra $20 and driving over to see something that’s falling right at your doorstep may not make much sense to everyone.  It is however a winter experience worth spending on if creating ‘snow memories’ with kids is important to you.

Stone Mountain Park’s attractions are many and varied. Between mini golf and the Crossroads, restaurants and shops, 4-D movies and seasonal festivals, you’re sure to lose track of time during the day.

To experience the park’s crown jewel – the most spectacular, most popular attraction – however, you will have to stay until dark.  

Stone Mountain’s Laser Show Spectacular attracts over 20 million visitors every year and is said to be the world’s longest running laser show.  It runs for 45 minutes, featuring popular tunes and themes such as sports, Georgia artists, everyday heroes and American history – all presented…(where else?) on the huge stone in the center of the park! The massing carvings come to life as the themes, stories and songs play out on and around them. Crowds begin to assemble on the lawns near the stone from late afternoon and although there’s plenty of room for everyone, if you arrive too late, you had better be prepared for a spot that’s way back or where your view is blocked by tree branches or rows of people in front of you! Like all good things, the laser show is actually free – all you have to do is pay for parking. But if you don’t arrive early…you’ll have a REALLY long walk ahead of you. We’ve had to park miles away for the show on some occasions and it’s not easy to maneuver your way out of the crowds and to your car a few miles away at 10 pm, especially with tired, sleepy kids.  So, your best bet would probably be to arrive earlier in the day, park inside in the main parking lot and stay in the park for the laser show after you’ve toured all the attractions.

No matter which aspect of the park you enjoy, one thing is for sure – once you’ve been to Atlanta’s Stone Mountain Park, you will never look at the giant rock in the middle of the city in same way again.

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RR writes on intentional parenting, holistic living, travel and other topics. Visit her blog on reading to kids

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