Atlanta, Georgia is a central hub for the south with an international airport just outside of town and Savannah, Georgia is on the coast with its own type parks and outside fun. Just outside of Atlanta, in nearly every direction, is something to do or see.
Of course, a plethora of churches should be expected as Georgia is one of the states located in the “Bible Belt” of America, but visitors can also explore colonial towns, plantations, parks, farmlands, and wine country. Below are 7 of the best outdoor attractions located outside of Atlanta, many of which are family friendly.
Stone Mountain Park in Georgia is a huge theme park with history and nature located about thirty-minutes from Atlanta. A half-day or full day could be spent at the park. An entrance fee is required to get inside the park as well as at activities and attractions. The main attraction is the enormous round rock in the middle of it all, which can be seen throughout the park and beyond. A non-accessible trail leads to the top on one side, but one can purchase a ticket to ride the Summit Skyride Cable Car. On one side of the rock is a large carving of three confederate figures during the Civil War: Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis. A firm pathway leads down to and around to the lawn area where Lasershow Spectacular takes place.
The park tram or shuttle is accessible and has a lift but is only in operation in the warmer months between March and October. Paved asphalt bike trails are all over the park with some long gradual hills so diving is recommended or taking the in-park tram with a wheelchair lift. The Scenic Railroad circles around the park’s perimeter and is wheelchair accessible. Duck Tours are also wheelchair friendly but you must call 770-413-5263 for reservations (same-day reservation ok). Down by the water is a scenic wooden covered bridge.
Within the park is the Antebellum Plantation & Farmyard and one can explore the grounds for a fee. The handicapped parking spaces are around the corner from one and only entrance. The entrance and exit requires traveling through the ticket office with long ramps. No other building at the plantation is accessible but no discount is applied. The pathways are paved, wide and relatively flat.
Stately Oaks Plantation in Jonesboro, Georgia is most famously known as being using in the blockbuster classic film “Gone with the Wind” and is located approximately a half hour from Atlanta. A handicap parking spot is closest to the entrance. Getting around most of the property is possible; some sections of the brick walkways were uneven. Ramps allow wheelchair visitors to see inside of the school and the ground floor of the plantation both with historical artifacts and movie memorabilia. A bathroom for visitors is available but is not wide enough for a wheelchair.
Historic/Scenic Towns: Norcross, Georgia is about 20-30-miles northeast from Atlanta. It’s a cute historic area that has hosted the filming of a number of movies and television shows. The downtown area is the scenic and happening spot with a few blocks of restaurants, shops and more. It is also a popular location for many local events like farmer’s markets and car shows. Other cute historical towns 30-40-miles from Atlanta are Fayetteville, Stockbridge, Peachtree City, and Senoia.
Georgia Wine Country is located in northern part of Georgia in a very picturesque area. Here is a general list to get started. (More info coming soon.)
Melvin L. Newman Wetlands Center is located about 25 miles from Atlanta, Georgia. The museum inside the center has a few exhibits and the trail is 0.5 miles long through the wetlands with a few shaded resting areas. The pathway of the trail is boardwalk and crushed rock, which can be hiked by most wheelchair and scooter users.
Lookout Mountain is located in Northern Georgia and is the tallest point in the region with a couple of wheelchair friendly things to do in the area. Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park is located at the base of Lookout Mountain with many Civil War historical point of interests. This area was known as the “gateway to the South” and where both the Lookout and the Chickamauga Battlefield are located. At both these battlefields you will find a Visitor Center with audio-visual programs, a bookstore, exhibits, and modified bathrooms. Both battlefields can be explored on a self-guided tour, even in your own vehicle. Side trails to exhibits at the Chickamauga Battlefield are accessible for many that use a wheelchair or have a mobility restriction; additional accessible restrooms are at the Wilder Brigade Monument.
What is now the family-friendly attraction Rocky City, was once used as a lookout point during the Civil War. It’s biggest appeal is the lookout vista point, which gives long-range views of seven states: Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, and Alabama. If you visit in late September / October, you can look down into the valley where the Blowing Springs Farm is located and see the design in the corn maze. From the ticket office to the vista is about a 3/4-mile trail. A media tour is available with signs to follow along the way; access by either calling 423-591-6050 or using a media device to scan the bar-code.
Some modifications have been made to bring more accessibility to Rock City, but it’s not entirely up to modern standards, which is why a discounted is given to those only able to do the ADA trail. The trail is a firm, barrier-free pathway with some sections made up of flattened cobblestones, so watch out for cracks. The two steepest ramps are at the beginning of the property and to the Lover’s Leap Overlook near the vista. Another ramp, at about a 2-degree grade, leads down to the large vista viewing area, which includes a binoculars that have been lowered.
Enjoying the grand vistas views at the lookout point or on the outdoor patio of the cafe is a favorite among all visitors. The cafe has indoor and outdoor seating, but with the incredible view, almost all visitors prefer the patio. A few other little gift shops and cafes are on the way to the vista, and most had a ramp somewhere. Bathrooms overall are very narrow, but there is one large family-style, unisex bathroom near the first-aid station with grab-bars and a roll-up sink.
Georgia Guidestones is a mixture of Stonehenge and the 10 commandments found in the USA and created in the 1980s. It is located in what many refer to as “the middle of nowhere,” somewhat close to the boarder of South Carolina, over 2 hours away from Atlanta. A few parking spots are provided on a gravel lot and a barrier-free entrance leads onto the grass lawn. From the parking area to the Georgia Guidestones is only a couple hundred feet. A few informational signs explain the carefully crafted design of the Georgia Guidestones, including the astrological implements. A sealed time capsule lays next to the Georgia Guidestones, intriguing the curiosity of many. Pathways around the Georgia Guildestones are barrier-free and wide enough for most people.
The Georgia Guidestones are a controversial memorial structure, and apparently, the creator is a bit of a mystery. Despite it’s remote setting, there is still 24 hour camera surveillance, which fuels the mystery. Either way, a very intriguing road-stop that says the following in eight modern languages and four ancient languages:
- Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature.
- Guide reproduction wisely — improving fitness and diversity.
- Unite humanity with a living new language.
- Rule passion — faith — tradition — and all things with tempered reason.
- Protect people and nations with fair laws and just courts.
- Let all nations rule internally resolving external disputes in a world court.
- Avoid petty laws and useless officials.
- Balance personal rights with social duties.
- Prize truth — beauty — love — seeking harmony with the infinite.
- Be not a cancer on the earth — Leave room for nature — Leave room for nature.
Newman Wetlands Center is located about twenty-five miles south of Atlanta, Georgia. This outdoor attraction features an education center and a few barrier-free trails that can be all or partially accessed by a wheelchair or scooter and travels through the wetlands and surrounding forest. The most accessible part of the trails are on a boardwalk with handrails, and the other section is crushed and gravel rocks.