Atlanta is home to many things which have begun to make it a world class city. Amazing attractions such as World of Coke and the Georgia Aquarium draw millions of visitors each year.
Stunning architecture includes the Bank of America Plaza, tallest building in the Southeast at over 1,000 feet high, and the signature Marriott Marquee Hotel, which is featured in the newly-released Spiderman: Homecoming. Speaking of movies, Atlanta is also the home of a rapidly-expanding movie and entertainment industry, kicked off by the debut of everyone’s favorite show: The Walking Dead. Marvel has set up shop in town recently as well, with blockbusters such as last year’s Captain America: Civil War and the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War being filmed at multiple locations across the city.
There are many more reasons we love to visit our sprawling southern neighbor, with one of our favorites being Stone Mountain Park. Situated a good half hour from the city, the bare granite peak rises abruptly from the fairly uniform landscape of the Piedmont on which The Big Peach is built. Its elevation is 1,686 feet, seemingly modest when compared with our own Roan Mountain or the Smokies. The bare cliffs which soar hundreds of feet in the sky on its north face make for a truly impressive sight. Even more impressive is the gargantuan stone figures which have been carved into the face of the rock.
Originally begun by Gutzon Borglum, the master sculptor who gave our nation the Mt. Rushmore Memorial, the carving here commemorates three key figures of the Confederacy: Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Stonewall Jackson. Regardless of where you stand on the recent issues surrounding the removal of Confederate monuments, it is hard not to be impressed with the massive sculpture which is the largest of its kind in the world. Each night throughout the summer, the statues and surrounding mountainside come to life during the Lasershow Spectacular. Projectors turn the stone into a living canvas accompanied by a rousing score, lasers, fire, and drones overhead. You’ll be able to catch the show nightly all the way through August 5th.
We were able to enjoy an even bigger display during the Fantastic Fourth Celebration, which combines a fireworks display with the laser show to make it even more amazing! It runs through the first four days of July every year, so make plans to see it next year. Another opportunity to see the fireworks comes in September during the Labor Day Weekend, with shows scheduled for the 2nd through the 4th.
The laser show and fireworks are just one of dozens of attractions and activities available at the park. There is so much to do at Stone Mountain, we can’t even get to it all in this issue! Natural activities abound, with miles of hiking trails meandering through the woods and climbing the rock face to the top of the mountain. Kayaks and canoes are available for visitors to explore the lakes which dot the park. Two eighteen-hole golf courses offer great views of the mountain while you play.
The main portion of the park is home to restaurants, unique shops, and an educational museum. As you walk down the main street, you may feel like you’ve been here before. That’s because Stone Mountain Park, even though it is a state park, is operated by Herschend Family Entertainment, the same company who operates our own Dollywood Theme Park. Season pass holders can take advantage of this and get 50% off daily tickets to the park!
Other attractions at Stone Mountain include a scenic railroad, a climbing/splash area known as Geyser Towers, a ropes course known as the Camp Highland Outpost, and a mini golf course. The Summit Skyride takes daring riders to the mountain’s bare peak which offers amazing views of the downtown Atlanta skyline. Ride The Ducks is a fun ride on hybrid vehicles first used by the military; ride on land, then splash into the lake at full speed for a great boat ride. New for 2017 is the Dinosaur Explore attraction, which features lifelike dinosaurs that move and interact with visitors. Don’t forget to stop by the 4D Theater or the petting zoo either!
If you want to enjoy everything the park has to offer, or perhaps venture into the city itself for further adventures, at least two days is a must. The park has this covered too, with a spacious campground that accommodates trailers, RVs, and tents. There are even campers available to rent if you don’t want to bring your own. There are also two hotels nestled within the park: the Atlanta Evergreen Marriott Conference Resort and the more relaxed Stone Mountain Inn. For information on tickets and hotel pricing, visit www.stonemountainpark.com.