For a short side trip from the bustling city of Atlanta, Georgia, there is only one clear choice: Breathtaking Stone Mountain with its endless shows, attractions, natural beauty, and unforgettable experiences for the whole family. No matter what your interests may be, you *will* come away from your Stone Mountain vacation with a sense of awe. The biggest draw of the park is the huge reliefs carved directly into a huge mountain, representing major Confederate heroes (this is Georgia, after all).
There are activities for kids and adults from playground lovers to experienced thrillseekers. If your children are showing signs of boredom, head down to a huge 19th century barn. Does it look like fun to you? Maybe not, but once you’re inside you will find various floors filled with all kinds of kid-friendly activities. Also in this area you can find a reconstructed pioneer-era village and other fun stops. Remember to research before you go to Stone Mountain, because you will find a lot of helpful information that you’ll want to know during your vacation.
Now, to appease the thrillseeker: Try the Summit Skyride for a healthy dose of heartpounding fun. Remember to look for Stone Mountain’s famous reliefs when you’re high in the air. Be warned: If you don’t like heights, this isn’t the ride for you, because the cable car lifts higher than 800 feet. Can’t imagine visiting any park that doesn’t have a water ride? Stone Mountain has you covered. The great ride known as “Ride the Ducks” gives you a chance to actually step aboard a 1940’s “DUWK” (which is somewhat like a half-boat, half-Jeep) and take an action-packed journey that ends in Stone Mountain Lake when the vehicle glides into the water (you *will* get wet).
Train rides may not normally seem exciting, but at Stone Mountain everything seems to have a measure of excitement. You’ll also like this ride if you love history, because the train has been around since the era of World War II. The train winds around five miles of scenic track and adds soundtracks that help to pass the time in a fun way. Perhaps the most beautiful attraction at Stone Mountain is the laser light show, held seasonally. Check ahead to see if the show will be held when you plan to attend. Fireworks and lasers turn the park into a fantastic visual effect. This event is free after your parking has been paid.
You will also find many festivals and special events at Stone Mountain; check ahead to see if anything will be happening at the time of your visit. Events such as “Pumpkin Festival” and “Highland Games” add a flair of culture and provide fun for every member of the family. Even if there isn’t a particular
event at the time of your visit, don’t worry; there are plenty of fun pit-stops to make.
Did you think there are no restaurants or places to shop in Stone Mountain? Quite the opposite, actually; this is a great place to buy souvenirs of all kinds. From “general store” gifts at Crossroads Outfitters to goodies that will tempt the sweet tooth from Candy’s Corner Confectionary, you certainly won’t leave with empty hands. Other gift shops offer blown glass, candles, and Stone Mountain-related memorabilia. Hungry? Visit Miss Katie’s for a great meal. Most items on the menu are fairly inexpensive, and the old-fashioned atmosphere is a bonus. It’s always a good idea to try authentic Southern food in the great state of Georgia.
If you don’t want to suffer the hassle of finding a hotel nearby, consider taking advantage of Stone Mountain’s campground. This striking, woodsy setting can be found at Stone Mountain Lake; it’ll be like you’re not even staying a huge tourist attraction! It’s recommended you book your stay about a year before you plan to visit. You can even book a campground spot online. If camping isn’t your thing, the Stone Mountain Inn is another possibility. Even the inn blends in with the 19th century theme; it resembles an antebellum plantation.
Now for the low-down on the park: You’ll have to check opening times for your particular visit. Admission fees are extremely reasonable; you pay $8.00 to park, and this same $8.00 lets you visit the attractions, trails, kids’ play places, and the laser show. However, if you wish to visit most of the rides and attractions not normally included in the fee, you can get a one-day pass that allows for this. The price is $22.00 for adults and $18.00 for kids. A child’s fee becomes an adult’s fee at age 12.
By Lacie R. Schaeffer