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8 fun summer activities in Atlanta
Atlanta summers can be brutal—the heat and humidity are unbearable, and sometimes you just want to stay indoors. But summers here aren’t totally bad. The start of summer also brings longer days, late-night outings, and tons of outdoor activities. Plus, many events and festivals are returning after a hiatus due to the pandemic, so this summer is certainly more promising than last. It’s time to beat the heat and make the most of everything Atlanta has to offer—below are eight fun summer activities in Atlanta:
Shoot the Hooch
Shooting the Hooch is a quintessential summer activity for Atlantans—it’s a great way to keep cool during the hot, southern summers, plus it’s cheap. You can rent tubes for $20-25, or you can use your own. There are four entry and exit points to choose from, the most popular being from Don White Memorial Park to Memorial Park. The route is only 1.5 miles, takes 2-4 hours to float, and is perfect for beginners. Be sure to bring a life jacket (they’re required by law), a change of dry clothes, and most importantly, sunscreen.
Cool down at Six Flags White Water
Another popular summer activity is Six Flags White Water. Located in Marietta, this water park is filled with thrilling water slides, a massive wave pool, and various kid-friendly attractions. One-day tickets start as low as $24.99, so you won’t have to worry about breaking the bank. You must pay for tickets and parking online before visiting the park. Six Flags White Water operates daily through August 1st and weekends through September 26th.
Alive in Roswell
Formerly known as Alive After Five, Alive in Roswell starts July 15th after a year-long hiatus due to COVID. This popular festival is held on the third Thursday of every month from 5pm-9pm. Hundreds of people pack into Canton Street, the Roswell Square, and Roswell City Hall to partake in live music, food trucks, and vendors. There are various parking lots with free shuttles, first-come-first-serve street parking, and paid parking lots near Canton Street.
Castleberry Hill Art Stroll
Castleberry Hill, a historic, vibrant community, hosts an art stroll every second Friday of the month from 6pm-10pm. It also returns after a year-long hiatus due to the pandemic and begins June 11th. You can partake in a free, self-guided tour of art galleries and murals, plus have a bite at one of the many local eateries. Or, you can sign up for a guided walking tour for $20 per person. Castleberry Hill’s art stroll is a popular activity among locals and for good reason—it was named the Best Art Stroll in Atlanta and the community was listed as one of the Top 10 Art Districts in the Country by USA Today. Information sheets and maps for the art stroll are posted the week of the event and are available at 180 Walker Street SW in front of Bottle Rocket the night of the stroll.
If you’re looking for an indoor activity, Painted Pin is the way to go. Located on Miami Circle in Buckhead, Painted Pin is an upscale, boutique bowling alley in a warehouse space that offers bites, bowling, and more, from bocce and ping-pong to Skee-Ball and shuffleboard. Bowling starts at $30/hour per lane on Monday-Thursday and $40/hour per lane on Friday-Sunday. Each lane holds a maximum of six players. The Painted Pin is 21+ Monday-Friday and after 5pm on Saturday-Sunday and is on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Visit a farmers market
Summertime also means the opening of neighborhood farmers markets, and Atlanta has plenty to choose from, like the Green Market at Piedmont Park and the Alpharetta Farmers Market. The Green Market is open from 9am-1pm on Saturdays through November at the park’s entrance on 12th Street and Piedmont Avenue. There are dozens of vendors that offer fresh produce, baked goods, jams and preserves, and artisan goods. The Alpharetta Farmers Market is open from 8:30am-12pm on Saturdays through November at Alpharetta City Center. The farmers market offers nearly 100 vendors, live music, and more.
Take a hike
Atlanta and the surrounding area offers plenty of hiking for all levels with watering holes to cool off afterward. The Vickery Creek Trail at Roswell Mill is a moderate, 4.7-mile trail. It’s scenic and shady, plus meanders through the woods to a covered bridge and the historic Roswell Mill, which was powered by the spillway dam during the Civil War. Vickery Creek’s north bank, next to the waterfall, is the perfect place to stop and take a swim after your hike. Watson Mill Bridge State Park, located just outside of Athens, is home to the largest covered bridge in the state and boasts several miles of hiking trails. You can hike, have an afternoon picnic, take a swim, rent kayaks, and more.
Go blueberry picking
Summer is blueberry season, and there are dozens of places throughout Atlanta and North Georgia that offer pick-your-own blueberries. Mercier Orchards in Blue Ridge hosts U-Pick blueberries in June for $12 per person, and DJ’s U-Pick Blueberry Farm offers blueberry picking in June and July. Be sure to call for availability to make sure they aren’t picked over. Once you’ve collected your fresh blueberries, you can make a pie, ice cream, jam, or eat them as-is.
Following dreams with Elaine Burge
I recently had the pleasure of getting to know Georgia native and professional artist, Elaine Burge. She’s as bright and full of energy as her gorgeous paintings. Her artwork can be found at ElaineBurge.com or follow her on Instagram @elaineburgeart to see more of her creations.
A Little Bit about Elaine
Born and raised in Georgia, she loves country living. She describes herself as having a ton of energy, which is one reason the slow pace of country life is so perfect for her and her family. “I love the animals that surround us and the wide open spaces” that change so drastically from season to season.
The Art Start
Elaine has always been creative and inspired by her surroundings. She started painting as a way of income in high school – first as a muralist, then as a muralist painting scenes behind miniature train layouts. She launched Elaine Burge Art in 2011.
Turning a Dream into a Career
Elaine says, “I always dreamed of it (painting professionally), but didn’t know it was possible until my husband told me he believed I could; and so I did! It was his faith in my ability to succeed that gave me the courage to pursue my passion.”
Weighing being a people-pleaser and giving myself what I need creatively can be a challenge.
Being my own boss – I don’t like to be told what to do.
Favorite Piece of Artwork
I don’t have a favorite… It’s always the one that has the freshest paint on it, I think.
A bride named Gia reached out to me and asked if painting her wedding would be something I would consider doing. I said why not? I painted her gorgeous ceremony on the lawn in front of the Swan House. It was such a moving experience that I knew I had to have more!
Where do you find inspiration?
Honestly, there isn’t much that I can’t find inspiration from. My spontaneous creations are kind of therapy for me, where I can let my hands work and my mind relax. It just happens! I love textiles, nature’s color palettes and the way that painting is an outlet for my energy. I feel that I pull inspiration from things I see on a daily basis… like the way the sun hits the grass at a certain time of day… the way a quilter lines up locks of color and sews them with such care… the juxtaposition of a structured fence against a chaotic scene full of splashes of color.
I think the way that you live your day is the way that you live your life… I cannot remember where that quote is from but just to be sure to make today count because your life is made up of a bunch of todays!
If you could only paint with once color forever, what would it be?
It would be Golden Acrylic’s teal.
What advice would you give an aspiring entrepreneur?
Go for it! It’s harder not to do it if that is what you want. You are the only one holding you back.
What is your favorite thing about Georgia?
There is so much to love, but I think the pace of life, specifically in this area (Riddleville), is my favorite.
Supporting Black-owned small businesses in Georgia
Buying from Black-owned shops, restaurants, and brands is just one of many ways you can support a community that is essential to Georgia’s culture and economy. We rounded up our favorite small, Black-owned businesses across Georgia that offer everything from jewelry and trendy apparel to baked goods and more—below are 19 Black-owned shops and restaurants throughout Atlanta, Savannah, and Albany you can start supporting today.
Boutiques + Markets
the beehive – Atlanta
Deez Jazzi Jewelry – Savannah
Just Add Honey Tea Company – Atlanta
Albany Fish Company – Albany
Back in the Day Bakery – Savannah
The Flint – Albany
Good Times Jazz Bar and Restaurants – Savannah
The Grey Market – Savannah
Le Petit Marche – Atlanta
Popbar – Atlanta
Sisters of the New South – Savannah
Sublime Doughnuts – Atlanta
Tropical Taste Restaurant – Albany
Who’s Got Soul Southern Café – Atlanta
Auntie Renee Story Teller – Atlanta
Brave + Kind Bookshop – Atlanta
Footprints of Savannah Walking Tours – Savannah
Kuumba Storytellers of Georgia – Atlanta
Medu Bookstore – Atlanta
12 Ways To Celebrate Valentine’s Day in Atlanta
Valentine’s day is right around the corner and whether you’ve been married for fifty years, just started dating, or are single and ready to mingle, there’s something for everyone in the ATL. Grab your honey, your most recent crush, or your BFF and find something romantic, fun, or just plain silly to do for this sweet occasion:
Valentine’s glass blowing (February 1-24)
Grab your cutie and sign up for this hot-glass blowing class at Decatur Glassblowing. Choose from a variety of colors and shapes (round, flat, or heart-shaped) and make a glass paperweight. It’s an experience and a gift all in one…how sweet!
Valentine’s Day cemetery tour (February 9-10)
Who says spooky can’t be romantic? Celebrate Valentine’s Day with an hour-long tour as you look back and listen to some of Oakland Cemetery’s tales of everlasting love. Love Stories of Oakland recounts the lives, loves, and losses of Atlantans of days past.
Valentine’s Day dinner (February 14)
If food is your love language, you’ll need to make your Valentine’s Day dinner reservations fast! Wine and dine your sweetheart at any of these Atlanta restaurants that are offering special menus and specialty drinks for the occasion.
Romance in the Garden (February 14)
Let love bloom at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. Enjoy an elegant evening of live entertainment, dancing, appetizers, dessert, and cocktails from a cash bar at this Valentines in the Garden celebration.
Valentine’s Day at the Fabulous Fox (February 14)
If music puts you in the mood, Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds and Keith Sweat are hosting a Valentine’s Day Celebration at the Fabulous Fox Theatre. Tickets for this smooth jazz and R&B concert are on sale now!
Atlanta Balloon Glow (February 14)
Whether you’re looking for an uplifting way to celebrate Valentine’s Day or want to enjoy the day with the whole family, the Atlanta Balloon Glow at Piedmont Park will surely light up your life! It features glowing hot air balloons, tethered balloon rides, and food and activities for everyone. Want to sneak away with your sweetheart for a few minutes? Opt for a couple’s balloon ride and enjoy the spectacular view of the Atlanta Skyline!
Music in the Wimbish mansion (February 14)
If you’re up for a more sophisticated celebration, check out the Black-Tie Valentine’s Day event at the Wimbish House. Enjoy the pre-concert soirée, fine wine, and champagne. Then be swept away by the sounds of the string orchestra, opera, solo violin, and saxophone jazz quartet.
Romance at the Lake (February 14, 15, 16)
If you’re looking to escape this Valentine’s Day weekend, Lanier Islands is the perfect place. The resort is offering a romantic getaway package that includes your room, chocolate dipped strawberries, a four-course dinner, and a buffet breakfast the following morning.
Sips Under the Sea (February 15)
Eat, Drink, and Be Mine! Celebrate Valentine’s Day with a special edition of Sips Under the Sea at the Georgia Aquarium You’ll enjoy romantic tunes, delicious small plates, and sweet cocktails among the stunning whale sharks and manta rays!
Murder Mystery Dinner (February 15)
Celebrate your Valentine’s Day with the “Love You to Death” Dinner at Maggiano’s Little Italy-Cumberland. It’ll be a night of murder, mystery and…yup, you guessed it, pasta!
An evening of silly love songs (February 15)
Invite your sweetheart and your friends to spend the evening with Yacht Rock Schooner. You’ll be serenaded with silly and smooth songs from the ‘70s and ’80s at this concert-only event at Park Tavern. Hurry and buy your tickets now. This annual celebration always sells out fast!
Cook up some romance (Several dates in February)
Get hands-on this year with a couples cooking class! Check out the class schedule at The Cooking School at Irwin Street or The Cooks Warehouse. Mercato di Bellina at Ponce City Market features a special I Love Vino for Lovebirds course on the 13th, and Publix offers a Wine and Dine Your Valentine demonstration on the 14th.
20 Fun Things To Do This Winter in and around Atlanta
Brrr, it’s cold outside, but that doesn’t mean you have to watch Netflix all winter! The cooler weather is an invitation to a new bunch of new events, festivals, and fun activities you can enjoy with or without the fam. So bundle up, ‘cause there are people to see and things to do! Here are just a few:
Chinese Acrobats of Hebei (January 24)
This is a “must see” production that combines Chinese traditions, incredible acrobatics, stunning costumes, Chinese props, and a beautiful music soundtrack. Acrobats of Hebei China are a rigorously trained, superbly skilled and highly accomplished acrobatic troupe who have entertained the world by performing an awe-inspiring spectacle that is guaranteed to leave you amazed.
Groundhog Day Jugglers Festival (January 25-27)
The Atlanta Jugglers Association is a non-profit organization whose mission is to educate, entertain, enlighten and inspire through the art and skill of juggling. They host an annual festival in February, a 3-day extravaganza featuring the finest jugglers in the Southeast, and often in the country, as well as unicyclists, hoopers, and live music. Admission is free.
The Great American Motorcycle Show (January 26-27)
Featuring motorcycles, accessories, and southern rock music, the show is held at Cobb Galleria Center. It’s Georgia’s biggest indoor bike show and features new motorcycles brought to you by Georgia’s leading dealers. Come see foreign and domestic motorcycles, one of a kind custom bikes, cruisers, sport bikes, choppers, trikes, and touring bikes. This is your chance to see what’s new in the market and talk with the pros.
Frozen 5K/Snowflake 1K (January 27)
You may not be headed to Disney, but that doesn’t mean you can’t dress like Olaf or Elsa. The Frozen 5K/Snowflake 1K is guaranteed to be some frozen fun for the entire family, and if you dress like your favorite fairy tale character, you might even win a cool prize!
TopGolf Winter Golf League (January 28 – March 26)
Whether rain, or snow, or sleet, or hail, …you can still golf at TopGolf, sometimes ‘til 2 a.m. Covered bays and heaters for cooler days make it comfortable, even in the winter. If you’re looking for some weekly fun and a little friendly competition, consider joining a league. It’s six weeks of regular season play and two weeks of playoffs. You might just be the next TopGolf MVG!
Pre Super Bowl Luncheon (January 31)
Want to see the Vince Lombardi trophy up close and personal? Join the ATL and NFL community to honor Atlanta-based individuals and companies who are leading the fight against cancer. You’ll watch an awards ceremony, enjoy a plated lunch at the Leaders For a Cure Luncheon in the College Football Hall of Fame, and yes, you can say “cheese” with the trophy!
Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds (February 1-24)
Featuring the timeless music and lyrics of Bob Marley, and based on the children’s book by his daughter, Three Little Birds features a boy who wants to enjoy his beautiful island in the sun, but needs help from the animals to overcome his fear of evil spirits, tropical storms, and bandits, at Synchronicity Theatre. Fun for the whole family!
Waitress, The Musical at the Fox Theatre (February 5-6)
Waitress, The Musical was inspired by the popular 2007 film, Waitress. It’s a Broadway musical baked from the heart. Jenna Hunterson is a pie maker stuck in a small town and a loveless marriage who must summon strength and courage to rebuild her life. Music and lyrics by Sara Bareilles. Hurry, tickets are going fast!
North Atlanta Home Show (February 8-10)
Mark your calendars for the North Atlanta Home Show at Infinite Energy Center. More than 150 companies will be there to display the latest home improvement products and services. Innovative products and hundreds of experts all under one roof! Not only will you get practical advice and great deals, you’ll also hear decorating secrets from insiders John Loecke and Jason Oliver Nixon of Madcap Cottage!
With or Without You 5K/1K (February 9)
Turn up the heat with a couple’s run, or maybe just mingle with other singles during the With or Without You 5K/1K. All finishers get chocolates and a heart-shaped medal, and if you’re married, an ordained minister will be there so you can renew your vows. “I take thee, all sweaty and out of breath”…now that’s romantic.
Atlanta Chinese New Year Festival (February 9-10)
If you’re looking for a little more culture in your life, check out the Chinese Lunar New Year Festival. 2019 is the year of the Pig, so come celebrate and enjoy authentic cuisine, art exhibits, traditional folk songs, and of course, the beautifully performed Lion & Dragon Dance.
Mardi Gras in Alpharetta (February 13)
In celebration of Fat Tuesday, Avalon will host its fourth annual Mardi Gras celebration! Avalon Boulevard will be transformed into a suburban version of Bourbon Street with live music and New-Orleans-style food and drink for sale. Break out your best purple, green and gold, grab some beads, and kick back at the Big Easy bash.
Snow Mountain (Now through February 24)
It’s a must for snow-deprived southerners. Atlanta’s favorite winter wonderland has a 400-foot snow-covered tubing hill and an enormous snow-filled play area. You can build a snowman in the Snow Zone, race down the slopes on the on Tube Runners, or careen down the hills in family-sized tubes on Avalanche Alley. It’s action-packed excitement and fun!
Lace up Your Skates (Now through February 24)
Ice rinks are super popular around the holidays, but several are still open into February. Practice your double axel or that triple salchow at seasonal rinks like The Ice Rink at Sugar Hill (through February 10) or the Olde Town On Ice at Conyers Pavilion (through February 24). There are always indoor rinks, too, which are open year-round, like The Cooler in Alpharetta or the Marieta Ice Center.
Get ready for the Oscars (Now through February 24)
January and February is prime Oscar season, so if you want to voice an educated opinion on this year’s nominees, spend some time in the movie theatre. Whether it’s for the reclining seats, online ticket and seat selection, or epic food, choose one of these top 7 movie theatres in Atlanta and get ready to cast your vote!
Monster Jam (February 23 – 24)
Don’t pass up the chance to see these big trucks with big wheels make big noise and excitement at Monster Jam at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Opt for the Pit Party and you can see the trucks up close, take pictures, meet the drivers and get their autographs, too!
Italy and Wine Food Festival (February 24)
The Discover Italy and Wine Food Festival is a culinary tribute to the world’s wine region. This walk-around style event at Vino Venue, located in Dunwoody, includes unlimited tastings of wine from most of the 20 sub-regions of Italy and samplings of Italian foods like hand-made pastas, salami, cheeses, breads, even olive oils. Mangia!
Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 (February 24)
One of racing’s most storied venues hosts 500 miles of edge-of-the-seat action when the sport’s biggest names visit Atlanta in 2018 for the running of the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500! See the blazing hot driving talent of drivers like Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney go for the win against champions like Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, and Brad Keselowski. Gentlemen, start your engines!
Sleep Under the Sea (select dates)
The Georgia Aquarium gives new meaning to sleeping with the fishes. Whether you book it for two or for your entire family, you can spend the evening learning about the underwater world and falling asleep in front of one of their magnificent gallery windows. How often do you get to be awoken by the soft songs of a whale in the morning?
See a Concert (select dates)
You might have to brave the cold weather to get there, but the hottest names in music will warm you up fast! Cher, The Foo Fighters, Georg Strait, Michael Buble, Francine Reed, Whiz Khalifa, Mariah Carey, and Jimmy Buffett…there’s something for everyone.
Coffee & Canines: Q&A with Aaron Fisher of Atlanta Rescue Dog Cafe
Ne[x]t Magazine spent a few minutes getting to know one of Georgia’s Own, Aaron Fisher. Aaron is not only a pet-lover and educator; he’s also the Founder and CEO of the Atlanta Rescue Dog Cafe, an animal welfare organization with a unique mission. Keep reading to learn more about Aaron’s work in the community and how you can get involved.
Tell us about yourself.
I’m originally from New Jersey, but I’ve lived in Atlanta three separate times over 24 years. I first came here to attend Emory University, and something just kept calling me back. The changes I’ve seen over that time have been incredible.
What’s your favorite thing about the Atlanta area?
The food, art, and music scenes. The creativity of the residents. The individual character and charm of the neighborhoods. It’s hard to pinpoint one thing.
Could you tell us about the Atlanta Rescue Dog Cafe?
The idea behind Atlanta Rescue Dog Cafe (ARDC) has been in the works for the past 12 years, but it wasn’t officially brought to fruition until last November. I taught elementary school for seven years and spent more than 12 years volunteering and working in animal welfare. ARDC was born from these experiences. My students were often too young to volunteer with animals (but really wanted to learn more about pets), yet no single organization was dedicated to educating the community about animal welfare. Our programs reach nearly 500 Atlanta students per month.
Despite so much good being accomplished for Atlanta’s pets, the number of animals entering area shelters continues to increase, as does the incidence of animal cruelty. Few local rescue groups have the personnel to offer the educational resources to prevent animals from entering shelters in the first place. Simply put, we’re not going to spay/neuter, shelter, or adopt our way out of the pet overpopulation problem. ARDC addresses the cause of these issues by offering programs that emphasize empathy, responsibility, education, and prevention.
Is the Atlanta Rescue Dog Cafe an actual dog cafe?
The word “cafe” is in the name for two reasons: 1) A cafe is where conversation happens, and we’re trying to generate conversation on what we, as a community, can do to promote positive human-pet relationships and prevent animals from entering shelters. 2) Our three-year goal is to have a non-profit coffee shop with a dedicated educational space for programs on animal welfare issues, and a senior dog sanctuary co-located on the premises.
What makes the ARDC different than other animal welfare organizations in the area?
We focus on the front-end (prevention side) of rescue so that we can—through education and outreach—help prevent pets from ever entering shelters. Imagine how great it would be if someone opened an animal shelter and there were no homeless pets to be turned in. That’s our goal.
What are some of the ways individuals can get involved with the ARDC?
We wouldn’t be where we are if it wasn’t for the amazing support we receive from the community. There are so many ways for people to get involved with us: Teachers, scout leaders, librarians, youth group leaders, etc., can invite us to lead programs with their schools and organizations. Local businesses and companies can host us for team-building exercises, presentations, etc. Individuals and families can volunteer with us when we do outreach events. Invite us to lead a leash-making activity (our ‘One Leash Project’) with your group. The leashes get donated to police officers, rescue organizations, and are available for donations. Help us with fundraising campaigns and donation drives. The more money we raise, the more programs we can offer to more Atlantans.
What are some of the challenges you face running a non-profit? What keeps you motivated and makes it all worth it in the end?
There are many challenges, but that’s what also makes it fun. I’m learning something new every day. One day the focus could be on developing more programs, the next day I might have to concentrate on marketing and social media, and another day the focus might be on legal or financial issues. You have to become a mini-expert on multiple topics.
The important thing is to recognize that you don’t have to know everything. Seek out people who know more than you do. Reach out to them and ask for their advice and ideas. I’ve been lucky to have amazing support from family, friends, local businesses, and the community.
What is the biggest takeaway you hope people get from working with the Atlanta Rescue Dog Cafe?
That participants in our programs feel more comfortable, confident, and safer around animals; that they know how to avoid getting bitten, and understand what they can do with their pets, such as microchipping, spaying/neutering, vaccinating, and making sure their pets always have collars with proper identification—all of which help prevent animals from winding up in shelters.
What advice do you have for readers who have similar dreams of establishing and running their own organizations?
Spend time volunteering or working in the field you want to go into. Learn as much as you can and ask lots of questions. Ask yourself, “Is there already an organization doing what I want to do?” If so, why are you looking to start a new one? Make sure that what you’re doing has something unique to offer. And don’t ever think that just because something doesn’t exist that there isn’t a need for it or that it’s already been tried. Finally, no one does anything alone. You’ll need the experience, expertise, and support of others.
Georgia’s Own and Ne[x]t Magazine are all about helping our members make smart financial decisions. With running a non-profit, you have to be disciplined about managing money. Any advice you’d like to share with our readers?
You have to be organized and stay on top of your finances. I quantify everything, not just our income and expenditures, but how many students our programs have reached, the number of volunteers we have, hours they’ve donated, the amount of climbing rope we’ve received for our ‘One Leash Project,’ etc. Finally, even though we’re a non-profit, we manage our finances wisely, as any good business should.
If we’re not taking in enough to cover our expenses, we can’t have the maximum impact, and our shelf life will be pretty short. We run it like a business, but as a non-profit, our mission drives what we do.
Learn how you can help at AtlantaRescueDogCafe.org
Your donation goes directly toward educational programs to help improve human-animal interactions, reduce the incidence of animal cruelty, and relieve the strain on overrun animal shelters.