North Georgia State Fair

Image courtesy of www.northgeorgiastatefair.com

Image courtesy of northgeorgiastatefair.com

Website: http://www.northgeorgiastatefair.com/

Cost: Varies, depending on what you want to do. General admission: Adults, $7; 10 and under, Free; Parking, $3.

Times: Varies by day. See http://northgeorgiastatefair.com/Directions/directions.html

Location: Jim Miller Park, 2245 Callaway Road, Marietta, GA 30008

Seasonal: In 2013, the Fair is open September 19-29.

Kelly’s Comments: I haven’t always been an Atlanta girl, you know…I grew up in the country. Thus, I have a soft spot in my heart for good ol’ fashioned country fairs. The North Georgia State Fair is a great example of such a venue, although admittedly it isn’t as good in the livestock category as other, more rural fairs (such as the Coosa Valley Fair in Rome). On Family Day (9/21) kids and adults can enjoy free admission and rides for an hour. Bring cans for MUST Ministries on select days and receive free or discounted admission. Each night, the 7,500-seat arena has free concerts, pageants, or other events. There are rides for every age level, even the wee ones. Do I smell funnel cake?

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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.

Big Creek Greenway

Website: http://www.bigcreekgreenway.com/ or http://www.alpharetta.ga.us/index.php?p=136

Cost: Free

Times: Open daily from dawn to dusk

Locations: There are several trail access points; the closest to East Cobb is at 6800 North Point Parkway, Alpharetta, GA 30022

Kelly’s Comments: I’ve passed this woodsy biking/hiking trail for years and finally rode on it this morning. I’m now mad at myself that I’ve wasted all this time before going! It’s gorgeous! It’s very shady, quiet, and serene (Did I mention that I saw 5 deer this morning?), but not so much that one feels unsafe. The trails are paved, wide, and flat, which is unusual in Georgia. This makes it great for kids (or for parents pulling their 3-year-olds in a trailer behind the bike.). There are a couple of bathroom stops along the way and also a cool little free bike repair kiosk. The Fulton part of the trail is about 8 miles long. I didn’t even begin to explore the mountain bike trails (with a 3-year-old? Bwahahaha!) or the pedestrian-only paths, so I look forward to learning more about the Greenway in the years to come.

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+.

Roswell City Pool

Photo courtesy of Fred Paynter

Photo courtesy of Fred Paynter

Website: http://www.roswellgov.com/Home/Components/FacilityDirectory/FacilityDirectory/86/1945

Cost: Roswell residents, $3; Non-residents, $4.50; Under age 2, free

Times: Tuesday through Friday, 1 pm to 5:15 pm and 7:30 pm to 9:30 pm; Saturday and Sunday, 1 pm to 7 pm. Hours vary when school is in session; check website for details.

Location: Roswell Area Park Pool, 10495 Woodstock Road, Roswell, GA 30075

Seasonal: As an outdoor facility, the pool is generally open Memorial Day through Labor Day.

Kelly’s Comments: An “Old Roswell” mainstay, the Roswell Area Park Pool has been around a long time. It has three distinct parts: a shallow end (where my 6-year-old can stand up, yay!), lap lanes, and a deeper end with low and medium diving boards. Ankle biters age 4 and under can enjoy a kiddie pool, complete with water mushroom. An on-site snack stand will fuel you with all the junk food your heart desires. There are lounge chairs and umbrellas available, and there is a nice grassy lawn area upon which to put down a beach towel and ponder the meaning of life (or watch your children try to dunk each other). Youth can take lessons or join the associated swim team.

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.

Marietta Ice Center

Image courtesy of https://www.facebook.com/ TheMariettaIceCenter

Image courtesy of facebook.com/ TheMariettaIceCenter

Website: http://mariettaicecenter.com/

Cost: Age 6 and up, $8; Age 5 and under, $5; Skate rental, $3. Higher rates apply for classes and camps.

Times: Varies by day. Check http://mariettaicecenter.com/public-skate/ for details. Generally open skate is in the afternoon or early evening.

Location: Marietta Ice Center, 4880 Lower Roswell Road, Marietta, GA 30068

Kelly’s Comments: The MIC is hidden behind the Kroger shopping center/East Cobb Library branch. It has two rinks: a large one for open skate and hockey, and a smaller one primarily for lessons. Hockey lessons are for ages 5 and up; figure skaters’ age for lessons is contingent on their ability to fit into the smallest size skates (I couldn’t make that up if I tried. I will say that my next door neighbor’s 3-year old grandson broke his femur ice skating. A preschooler in a leg cast? Oh my.) The center offers various learn-to-skate and advanced skills camps, as well as youth and adult “stick time” for those unofficial hockey throwdowns.