Oxbo Road Nature Area

Photo by Fred Paynter

Photo by Fred Paynter

Website: None (here are two good secondary source articles about the trail – 1, 2)

Cost: Free (even the parking!)

Times: Not sure if there are “official” hours, but I’d bet on sunrise to sunset

Location: Just before the intersection of Oxbo Drive and Dobbs Drive, Roswell, GA 30075

Kelly’s Comments: I love this historic-Roswell-based trail for several reasons. First, it looks and feels like the Chattahoochee National Forest, but it doesn’t carry the parking fee. (The trail even connects to the CNF on the other side, if you must hike in a National Forest.) Second, it’s flat, wide, and shady–perfect for little feet. Third, there are benches and a table along the way, so it’s a cinch to bring a picnic after church on Sunday. Fourth, there is easy access to Big Creek and Vickery Creek so the little ones can chuck stones (and mud) to their hearts’ content. Finally, it’s peaceful and uncrowded, and there’s a lovely bridge and waterfall (OK, OK, it’s a dam, but you get the waterfall effect). This is a great place to introduce the wee ones to trail hiking.

Fullers Park

Image courtesy of prca.cobbcounty.gov

Image courtesy of prca.cobbcounty.gov

Website: http://prca.cobbcountyga.gov/parksa-f.htm

Cost: Free, although some programs carry a registration fee

Times: Park open roughly 6 am to 10 pm; Recreation center Monday through Thursday, Noon to 9 pm; Friday, Noon to 6 pm; Saturday, 9 am to 3 pm; closed Sunday

Location: Fullers Park, 3499 Robinson Road, Marietta, GA 30068

Kelly’s Comments: The main reason I like Fullers Park is that is has a very uncrowded, rather hidden playground. (Oops! Now I’ve spilled the beans!) After entering the park, take the first right, and you’ll find the playground at the end of the street. There’s a neat, shady hiking trail that connects Fullers to the adjacent East Cobb Park. Use Fullers’ tennis courts for a free pick-up game (as long as they’re not reserved for ALTA or USTA); older kids will enjoy playing basketball at the Recreation Center’s open gym. The Center offers various fitness classes, such as Zumba and yoga, and provides very reasonably priced full-day summer camps for working parents. Various youth baseball, soccer, and football leagues enjoy Fullers Park as a home base.

Marietta Martial Arts

Website: http://mariettamartialarts.com/

Cost: Varies. Around $15/class for after-school programs.

Times: Vary. Children can utilize MMA through ASP or in one of their three studio locations.

Locations: East Lake, 2145 Roswell Road, Marietta, GA 30062; Lower Roswell, 4970 Lower Roswell Road, Marietta, GA 30062; or Shallowford, 4401 Shallowford Road, Roswell, GA 30075.

Kelly’s Comments: My daughter really enjoyed taking karate this year through her ASP program; so much, in fact, that we used MMA for her 6th birthday party. The classes promote physical fitness and mental discipline (Yes!), and at the end of each semester, the students showcase their skills in order to move to the next belt level. I was really impressed with the cost and the execution of the birthday party–all the kids had a blast, and the staff took care of everything, even mailing out the invitations (Yes!).

Gymnastics – Cobb Parks & Recreation

Image courtesy of http://prca.cobbcounty.gov

Image courtesy of http://prca.cobbcounty.gov

Website: http://prca.cobbcountyga.gov/gymnastics.htm

Cost: Varies. Generally $8 to $14/class, depending on age and skill level.

Times: 45-minute to 2-hour classes during the day, after school, and on the weekends. Day-long camps available during the summer and school breaks.

Location: Larry Bell Park, Cobb Gymnastics Center, 542 S. Fairground Street SE, Marietta, GA 30060

Kelly’s Comments: My kids have done gymnastics off and on through the Cobb Parks & Rec for a few years now. While not a top-notch competitive gym, the center is a great place for kids to learn coordination skills and the basics of each apparatus. There’s a Parent & Me class starting at age 2, Boys’ and Girls’ combined classes through age 5, and single-gender classes for the older kids, including Cheer Gym. Classes across the various age groups are sometimes scheduled simultaneously, which means that your children may be able to take their classes at the same time, giving you a well-deserved hour of peace in the spectators’ area. If one of your children, however, should decide to throw a tantrum and just refuse to participate, the center will give you a full refund during the first week of class, and that child can sit with you and watch the other sibling(s) do their thing. (Of course, this situation has never happened to me. Never.)