Stone Mountain Park#14 in Best Things To Do in Atlanta
Spread across 3,200 acres, Stone Mountain Park boasts a variety of family-friendly attractions. But for many, the real star here is the Confederate Memorial Carving. The largest high relief sculpture in the world, this carving depicts three Confederate heroes of the Civil War, President Jefferson Davis and Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson. For a little perspective, the entire carved surface measures 3 acres, which is larger than a football field and Mount Rushmore. If the carving alone isn't enough of an incentive to drive 20 miles northeast of the city, then consider the park's other attractions.
Additional facilities include a wildlife preserve, a cable car ride, two golf courses, several restaurants and an antebellum plantation that is open to tour. You could easily spend all day exploring the grounds' hiking trails, picnic areas and recreational attractions. You should especially stay until the evening in the summer, when the Lasershow Spectacular blazes the mountain's carving and the night sky with images representing the South.
Previous visitors praised the park's ample kid-friendly amenities but warned that a successful visit here is heavily dependent on the weather. Some former travelers also said that long lines can quickly form and items purchased on-site can be pricey.
Stone Mountain Park's gates are commonly open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, though hours and attraction offerings vary by season. Admission into the park costs $15 per vehicle, which grants you access to public picnic areas, hiking and nature trails, a playground, a walk-up trail and the Confederate Hall Historical & Environmental Education Center. Pricing for individual Stone Mountain Park attractions varies. MARTA does not operate routes to and from the park. Visit the park's website for further details.
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#1 Atlanta History Center
Spread across 33 acres in Atlanta's trendy Buckhead neighborhood, the Atlanta History Center seeks to explore Georgia's past through comprehensive exhibitions, historic homes and miles of gardens and trails. The center's primary facility is the Atlanta History Museum, which showcases exhibits that span the region's history, from Native American culture to life in the antebellum South.
Near the museum is the Swan House, a restored estate originally built in 1928. Living up to its name, every room allegedly features at least one swan (motif). Outside the house, the Swan Woods Trail is lined with beautiful plants native to Georgia. Nearby, you can also see how the other half lived at the Smith Family Farm, a plantation house from the mid-1800s. Meanwhile, bookworms won't want to miss a tour of the Margaret Mitchell House, where the author penned her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, "Gone With the Wind."
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