Cook’s Warehouse

Website: www.cookswarehouse.com

Cost: Varies. One-time classes are usually $50-$75, and camps range from $250-$350.

Times: Varies. Usually on weekends or weeknights, except for summer camps, which are generally half days in the am.

Location: The Cook’s Warehouse, 1311 Johnson Ferry Road, Suite 568, Marietta, GA 30068. There are also Brookhaven, Decatur, and Midtown locations.

Kelly’s Comments: I have volunteered as a cooking school assistant at the Cook’s Warehouse (fun times, by the way, if you like cooking–you get to watch the class for free, but you do wash a lot of dishes). I knew that their adult programs were awesome, so I was excited to sign up my 7-year-old for a summer cooking camp. She absolutely loved it and is already begging me to send her next year. The recipes they make aren’t typical kid fare–she made homemade pasta noodles, Greek turkey sliders, yeast rolls, etc. The chefs teach food safety and proper knife handling, and there is a high student-to-adult-assistant ratio. The younger camp is for kids 6-9, and the older camp is for ages 10-13. During the year, there are several teen cooking classes, and even some geared specifically toward college students. The camps are a little pricey, but considering the quality and amount of recipes they cook, and the amount of swag they get at the end (Mommy may have “borrowed” the swanky Le Creuset dishtowel…permanently), it’s actually a good bargain. On the last day of camps, two family members get to enjoy a feast cooked by the kids. Bon appetit! 

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Sparkles Family Fun Center

Websitehttp://sparkleskennesaw.com/ 

Cost: Varies per activity and day of week; roughly $5 to $9 per activity; skate rental is $4

Times: Vary; see website for specifics. Some days open as early as 11 am and close as late as 11 pm.

Location: Sparkles Family Fun Center, 1000 McCollum Parkway, Kennesaw, GA 30144

Kelly’s Comments: What 30-something doesn’t remember fondly his or her days of roller skating to bands like The Bangles and Mike and the Mechanics? Sparkles brought back those memories and more, except this time I was couples’-skating with my 7-year-old. I was pleasantly surprised by the cleanliness and aesthetics of Sparkles, since the rinks I patronized as a youth were heavy on the ripped carpet and aluminum siding. Sadly, though, the rental skates were just as grody as I remember them, so if you have your own, bring ’em; if not, grit your teeth and wear thick socks. In addition to roller skating, children can play laser tag, visit an arcade, climb on an indoor play structure, and eat at the cafe. Little ones can bring ride-on toys early in the morning on certain days, and rolling walkers are available (for a fee) to assist new skaters.

Zoo Atlanta

Image courtesy of www.zooatlanta.org

Image courtesy of zooatlanta.org

Website: http://www.zooatlanta.org

Cost: Ages 12 and up, $21.99; Ages 3-11, $16.99; Ages 2 and under, Free. Discounts for seniors, military, and students.

Times: Weekdays, 9:30 am to 5:30 pm; Weekends, 9:30 am to 6:30 pm

Location: Zoo Atlanta, 800 Cherokee Avenue, Atlanta, GA 30315

Kelly’s Comments: Monkeys…naked mole rats…warthogs…these are all words we use to describe our own children. Of course, one can venture to Zoo Atlanta to see the real creatures, too! As a teacher, I like the zoo because it offers two free Educator Days per year (usually in March and September). In addition to the fun animal exhibits, many of which are in the shade, there are two playgrounds, a kiddie train, a petting zoo, and enough animal-themed crap in the gift shop to make your kids wild with excitement (who doesn’t need gorilla-shaped lip gloss?). Come early or on a weekday to beat the crowds. Snag a coupon for $3 off in various Atlanta-themed magazines around town.

Terrell Mill Softball (TMSA)

Image courtesy of www.tmsasoftball.org

Image courtesy of http://www.tmsasoftball.org

Website: http://www.tmsasoftball.org/

Cost: Approximately $100-$120 per season (price includes uniform)

Times: The 10-15 games are usually played on Saturdays, and practices are once or twice a week

Location: Terrell Mill Park, 480 Terrell Mill Rd, Marietta, GA 30067

Seasonal: Leagues are offered in spring and fall

Kelly’s Comments: I grew up playing softball (although admittedly not fast-pitch), so I’m excited to start my daughter in this league in the near future. I don’t know much about it just yet, but judging from the website, there are usually 2-4 teams per age bracket. Age categories include 6 and under (uses a tee if necessary), 8 and under (coach pitch), 10 and under (hybrid player/coach pitch), 12 and under, and 13+.

TLC Dance

Website: http://www.teachinglittlechildren.com

Cost: Around $50/month for weekly 50-minute classes; see website for details

Times: Vary. TLC offers dance classes at numerous East Cobb daycares, and they also have classes in their studio, generally on Monday-Thursday evenings and Friday-Saturday mornings.

Location: TLC Dance Studio, 850 Old Piedmont Road, Suite 1, Marietta, GA 30066

Kelly’s Comments: My daughter took ballet for almost 3 years through TLC. Her teacher, Ms. Kim (love ya!) has some of the best classroom management and dance teaching skills that I’ve ever seen. It was so convenient for my lil’ one to take ballet at her preschool, but TLC also offers several classes at its Marietta studio. In fact, the company provides dance and fitness classes for older kids and adults, too, so its name is somewhat of a misnomer. TLC hosts its annual recitals at the Southern Polytechnic theater or the Roswell Cultural Arts Center, and the studio is a great place to have little girls’ birthday parties.

Chattahoochee River Float Trips

Image courtesy of http://www.shootthehooch.com

Image courtesy of shootthehooch.com

Websites: http://www.shootthehooch.com/

Cost: Varies by activity, age, length, etc. Averages between $15 and $40/person.

Times: Varies. Some rentals are on an as-needed basis; other float trips meet at specific times. Roughly between 9 am and 5 pm.

Locations: Shoot the Hooch, 203 Azalea Drive, Roswell, GA 30075

Seasonal: Operates during warm/non-rainy weather and under optimal river levels.

Kelly’s Comments: The Chattahoochee River was named as one of the Top 10 urban paddling areas by USA Today, and it lives up to the reputation. Different sections of the river have decidedly different personalities. The upper areas around Roswell are more lake-like (smooth water, gentle currents, wide passage, deeper water) and the lower areas nearer the City are a bit wilder (rocks, narrower, a few “rapids” [I use the term very loosely], fewer houses). River explorers can choose from inner tubes, kayaks, canoes, stand-on paddleboards, and rafts. Shoot the Hooch also offers rides on The Spirit of Roswell riverboat. Smaller children are better suited for canoes or rafts; older kids will appreciate the relative ease of the kayaks and inner tubes. All children 13 and under must wear a life jacket at all times.

Johnson Ferry Baptist Church classes & camps

Image courtesy of www.johnsonferry.org

Image courtesy of http://www.johnsonferry.org

Website: http://www.johnsonferry.org

Cost: Varies. Classes and the preschool are very reasonable, and sports/camps are middle-of-the-road priced.

Times: Varies. Music classes and sports offered year-round; preschool and MMO during school months; various summer camps.

Location: Johnson Ferry Baptist Church, 955 Johnson Ferry Road, Marietta, GA 30068

Kelly’s Comments: As one of the largest churches in Cobb County, JFBC has a ton of offerings for all age groups, not just kids. While I have not yet enrolled my children in their programs (although I’m eyeing their sports camps for next summer), I have friends who have been quite satisfied with the classes their children have taken. The church offers competitive sports including baseball, softball, soccer, dance, basketball, cheerleading, and football; sign your kids up for summer camps in these areas, plus volleyball and tennis. (The church has numerous athletic fields on-site.) If your little ones prefer music, there are classes for babies through 5th grade. If you need a preschool or Mother’s Morning Out (although you know I prefer the term Parents’ Morning Out–yay SAHDs!) program, JFBC’s got you covered. You don’t have to be a member of the church (or for that matter, religious) to utilize the church’s offerings.