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.

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East Cobb Park

Image courtesy of www.eastcobbpark.org

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

Website: http://www.eastcobbpark.org

Cost: Free

Times: Open 6 am to 11 pm

Location: East Cobb Park, 3322 Roswell Road, Marietta, GA 30068

Kelly’s Comments: This park has been a popular East Cobb hangout since it opened in 2003. It features 2 playgrounds, rentable picnic pavilions and smaller tables/shelters, a .33-mile jogging track (parts asphalt, parts gravel), two large grassy areas, a stream in which to wade/throw rocks, hiking trails through the woods, and bathrooms/water fountains. The park hosts numerous special events (to be covered later by this blog). Should the parking lots be full due to a special event, you can always park at neighboring Fullers Park (accessed via Robinson Road) and walk through the woods to East Cobb Park.

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.

Acworth Beach

Image courtesy of www.acworth.com

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

Websitehttp://www.acworth.com/attractions/acworth-beach/

Cost: $10 per car from Memorial Day to Labor Day; free rest of year

Times: 8:30 am to 6 pm

Location: Cauble Park, 4425 Beach St NW, Acworth, GA 30101

Seasonal: Swimming only available in the summer, but the park is open year-round

Kelly’s Comments: My kids tell me that they love this “lake beach” as much as the “ocean beach!” This hidden gem is the closest part of Lake Allatoona from East Cobb, and at $10 for the whole family, the price is great. The water is shallow and wave-free for the little ones (not a lot of boats go by in this location), but older kids can venture out further and go swimming. There are decent bathrooms, and it’s really easy to get from the car to the beach, especially with all the gear that little ones require. My only complaint is I wish the park had some kind of snack bar, so make sure you bring your own food and drinks. There is the occasional triathlon or waterskiing/wakeboarding competition at this location.

Roswell Spraygrounds

Image courtesy of www.roswellgov.com

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

Website: http://www.roswellgov.com/government/departments/recreation-and-parks/facilities/spraygrounds

Cost: $2; under 12 months free

Times: Monday through Friday, 10 am to 7 pm; Saturday, 10 am to 6 pm; Sunday, 12 noon to 6 pm. Riverside location closed Tuesdays; East Roswell location closed Wednesdays.

Location: There are two locations. 1) Riverside Park, 575 Riverside Road, Roswell, GA, 30075.  2) East Roswell Park, 9000 Fouts Road, Roswell, GA, 30076.

Seasonal: Generally open Memorial Day through Labor Day.

Kelly’s Comments: These cheap and fun spraygrounds are a great way to cool off on a hot summer’s day. Each location has its perks–the original sprayground at Riverside Park is next door to a great playground, green grassy area, walking trails, picnic benches, and the Chattahoochee River. Downside: Your child may see the playground through the sprayground fence and decide s/he wants to go over there now, even though s/he has only just been at the sprayground for 3 minutes, is soaking wet, and has no shoes. (Not that I speak from experience.) The newer sprayground at East Roswell Park is a bit farther from East Cobb, but it’s better-suited for the littlest splashers. There’s not a lot to do at this park besides the sprayground, as it’s mostly baseball fields. The sprayground is at the very back of the park, so just keep drivin’ and you’ll see it.