Guest Author - Kimberly Misra
We recently stayed in Stone Mountain Park just outside of Atlanta, Georgia for three days. This proved to be a nice amount of time in which to see and experience most of the activities the park offers. We stayed at the Stone Mountain Inn, one of two hotels in the park (there is also camping available). The Inn made a great base; the oversized rooms are complete with mini refrigerators and balconies with rocking chairs. In season, there is a nice outdoor pool too. The staff is very helpful and can provide you with daily schedules for happenings in the park. If youíre staying a few days or want to do several park activities, look into the adventure pass or a membership because costs of individual attractions add up fast. Hereís a run-down of activities we enjoyed.
Stone Mountain Train. This bumpy ride through the forest is narrated (though it was nearly impossible to hear) and includes a pit stop at a mockup of an old town where two costumed guides put on a short skit. Itís a nice way to take a break and sit down for awhile.
Minigolf. The small minigolf course right behind the train is a nice diversion for kids. It gets quite crowded as the day goes on, so you might want to play first thing. The kids liked trying to shoot their ball into the last hole to make the wooden train come out of a tunnel.
Gondola Ride. This is a very short ride to the top of Stone Mountain where you can catch great views of downtown Atlanta. It gets quite windy and cold up top, so bring sweatshirts. Thereís a small gift/snack shop on top, but the best gift shop is at the base.
Ride the Ducks. This favorite ride is far more reasonably priced than similar tours elsewhere. The ďduckĒ is an amphibious vehicle that drives on the roads around Stone Mountain Park before plunging into the lake (help the kids brace themselves; the entry is a bit rough). The driver was great with the kids, letting them drive the boat and handing out duck whistles so the kids could quack along to music.
Grist Mill. This is a really pretty area, especially in spring when itís covered with blooms. Itís a great spot to take pictures and have a picnic. Just across the road is an exhibit on granite in Stone Mountain.
Nature Trail. There are quite a few trails in the park. We hiked the Nature Trail which has interpretive signs along the way, plus lots of little streams to explore and rocks to climb on.
The Carving. The largest relief sculpture in the country, it features Confederate heroes of the Civil War. Youíll see it from all over the park; you can get closest to it in the gondola ride, especially if you ride on the right hand side.
Crosswinds. This shopping area is full of unique little gift shops, such as a blacksmith and glassblowing shop. There are many special events here too, such as story times and demonstrations, plus a few restaurants.