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.

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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.

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.

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.