Summer Fun in Atlanta
Where to Splash, Dance, Eat, Play and Chill Out this Summer
Summer’s here! Things are—literally and figuratively—heating up,and now that you’re an Atlantan you’re ready to get out, have some fun and explore the city. We’ve put together a Top 20 countdown of the city’s “greatest hits” of summer: the fun things to do, exciting places to go and sensations to taste. Start now, and when Labor Day finally rolls around you can look back on a summer to remember.
1. Get Festive
Now in its 39th year, the Virginia-Highland SummerFest (June 11) enlivens one of the city’s prettiest neighborhoods with an art show, road race, a kids’ fun area and, of course, plenty of food and live music (vahi.org). Atlanta’s packed summer festival season fills almost every weekend on the calendar and includes favorites like the Atlanta Ice Cream Festival on July 23 (atlantaicecreamfestival.com), the Decatur BBQ, Blues and Bluegrass Festival in August (decaturbbqfestival.com) and the Piedmont Park Arts Festival on Aug. 20-21 (piedmontparkartsfestival.com).
2. Take in a Movie
Skip the megaplex and take in a free blockbuster by starlight, like “Aladdin” or “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” at one of the metro’s outdoor movie screenings. Flicks on the Bricks takes place on the first Friday of June through September at Duluth Town Green (duluthga.net). Hapeville’s Movie Nights Under the Stars happen June 17 and July 15 at Jess Lucas Park (hapeville.org). Leadership Sandy Springs’ Movies by Moonlight (leadershipsandysprings.org) play in August; films and dates vary by city.
3. Take to the Streets
Atlanta is one of the most active running cities in the country: on any given weekend there are dozens of races going on all around the metro area, from tot trots and one-mile fun runs to marathons. Enjoy a run or stroll and then bond with new friends over sports drink and a banana. It’s a great way to check out your new city, meet people, get exercise and often, support a great cause. All this and a T-shirt too! For an event calendar, see atlantatrackclub.org.
4. Catch an Outdoor Concert
Whatever your taste in music, you’re sure to love Atlanta’s live music scene. Summers boast a full schedule of major acts, up-and-comers, local artists and our own Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. Major venues include Cellairis Amphitheatre at Lakewood, Ameris Bank Amphitheatre at Encore Park and Cadence Bank Amphitheatre at Chastain Park (livenation.com), Brightmoor Healthcare Amphitheater in Fayetteville (brightmooramp.com), the Frederick Brown Jr. Amphitheater in Peachtree City (amphitheater.org) and the Stockbridge Amphitheater in Stockbridge (stockbridgeamp.com).
5. Take Fun to New Heights
For a whole new perspective, head to Skyview Atlanta and climb aboard a 20-story Ferris wheel for a ride in one of its 42 climate-controlled gondolas. For an even better view, take a spin in the VIP gondola with its glass floor and Ferrari-style seats (skyviewatlanta.com).
6. Explore the BeltLine
Connecting 45 different intown neighborhoods, the Atlanta BeltLine is a 22-mile loop of multi-use trails, streetcar lines and parks, lined with shopping, dining, cultural and recreation options. Check out a map at beltline.org and set out for your adventure, and then jump off the trail for a yoga class at Old Fourth Ward Park or an iced coffee from Dancing Goats Coffee Bar.
7. Feast on the Street
In the summer, everything just tastes better outside. Fix up a picnic and head to the park, or let the grub come to you, with everything from hot dogs to lobster via food trucks. Lilburn Food Truck Tuesdays are the second Tuesdays of May to October (cityoflilburn.com), Alpharetta Food Truck Alley runs the fourth Thursdays from April to October (alpharetta.ga.us) and Duluth Food Truck Fridays are May to August alongside its Flicks on the Bricks outdoor movies beginning in June (duluthga.net).
8. Talk to the Animals
Spend a sunny day getting to know the hundreds of animals making their home at Zoo Atlanta, including the world-famous giant pandas. For an even more personal experience, try a Wild Encounter with an elephant, panda or rhino. Kids ages 5-14 will love getting an up-close look at the wild kingdom with the Safari Camp summer sessions (zooatlanta.org).
9. Hit the Beach
Atlanta may be a landlocked city, but you can still hit the beach without leaving the metro area. Put on your suit, throw a trashy novel in your tote bag and head to Paradise Beach at Lake Lanier in Buford for a day of relaxing, beach volleyball or splashing at the Lanier World water park (lanierislands.com). At the Food Truck Friday & Beach Bash Celebration on July 15, Lake Lanier Olympic Park becomes a summer paradise, complete with live music, food trucks, beer and wine tents and more (gainesville.org).
10. Drink in the Arts
Atlanta has a thriving arts scene, especially in Midtown, where you can catch a puppet show at the Center for Puppetry Arts (puppet.org), view permanent and rotating exhibits at the High Museum of Art (high.org) or take in a play at the Alliance Theatre (alliancetheatre.org) or a Broadway musical at the Fox Theatre (foxtheatre.org).
11. Salute the Red, White and Blue
Everywhere in the Atlanta area on July 4, there’s sure to be a celebration. Marietta’s Fourth in the Park lasts all day and into the evening, with a parade, festival, concerts and, of course, fireworks (mariettaga.gov).
The Roswell Fireworks Extravaganza is a city tradition, with a kids’ zone, food trucks and live music before the pyrotechnics get underway (roswellgov.com). And at Stone Mountain Park, the Fantastic Fourth Celebration caps a week of festivities with a special edition of its famous laser show preceding one of the city’s biggest fireworks displays, with colossal Stone Mountain as a backdrop (stonemountainpark.com).
12. Root, Root, Root for the Home Team
With Truist Park’s superb sight lines, you’ll feel like part of the action as the Atlanta Braves take the field. Arrive before first pitch to take in The Battery Atlanta, a dining, shopping and entertainment complex surrounding the park (atlantabraves.com). Scout the
game’s future stars in Lawrenceville with the Braves’ AAA farm team, the Gwinnett Stripers (gostripers.com).
13. Get Your Scream On
Add some crazy to a lazy hazy summer by heading to Six Flags over Georgia and riding the Twisted Cyclone, with a 10-story, 75-degree drop. For tamer thrills, the Dahlonega Mine Train and the old-fashioned Riverview Carousel are family favorites, and Hurricane Harbor offers wet fun for the whole family. And, of course, there are games, live shows and carnival food galore (sixflags.com/overgeorgia).
14. Get a Dose of History
Explore Atlanta’s past with trips to a variety of history-related venues including the Atlanta History Center (atlantahistorycenter. com), the Marietta Gone With the Wind Museum (gwtwmarietta.com), the Booth Western Art Museum (boothmuseum.org) and Ebenezer Baptist Church and the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site (nps.gov/malu/index.htm).
15. Shoot the Hooch
Floating down the Chattahoochee River on a sultry summer day is an Atlanta tradition. Bring your own tube (and a cooler) and drop in at one of the designated areas in the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area (nps.gov), or rent gear at an area outfitter, such as Nantahala Outdoor Center, inside the Recreation Area in Sandy Springs (noc.com).
16. Treat Yourself
Take a break from your quest for summer fun and unwind with a cold treat. And not just plain old orange or cherry—Atlanta’s very own palette-pleasing popsicles, King of Pops, are made with fresh local ingredients and come in flavors like blackberry ginger lemonade, coconut chocolate sea salt, and this being the South, banana puddin’ (kingofpops.com).
17. Play in the Sprinklers
Remember playing in the sprinklers as a kid? Bring the kids and relive those times at Lilburn Sprinkler Days (cityof lilburn.com), Wednesdays in June and July from 10 a.m. to noon at Lilburn City Park. After you’ve dried off, wander into the city’s picturesque downtown to enjoy the shops and eateries. Or head downtown and dance in the Fountain of Rings at Centennial Olympic Park (gwcca.org)—perhaps after a trip to the Georgia Aquarium.
18. Venture Beneath the Waves
The sea otters have arrived—say hello to these cute creatures in a new exhibit, along with more than 700 other species of aquatic life at the Georgia Aquarium, the largest aquarium in the Western Hemisphere. Be sure to check out the recently renovated Aquanaut Adventure: A Discovery Zone (georgiaaquarium.com).
19. Get Out of the Sun
If days in the Atlanta sun have you feeling a little crispy, head inside for some climate controlled family fun. Legoland Discovery Center Atlanta will thrill fans of the famous building blocks with rides, interactive play areas and building opportunities for all ages (legolanddiscoverycenter.com). At the Children’s Museum of Atlanta, kids will have so much fun launching rockets, creating objects in the Sand Tables and painting in the art studio that they won’t realize they’re learning (childrensmuseumatlanta.org).
20. Plan a Fun-Filled Finale
End your Atlanta summer with a bang: Head downtown and scope out the stormtroopers, zombies and monsters on Sept. 3 at the annual Dragon Con parade, a highlight of one of the country’s biggest pop culture celebrations (dragoncon.com). And kick off the college football season as the Georgia Bulldogs battle the Oregon Ducks Sept. 3 and the Clemson Tigers take on the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Sept. 5 at the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game, both at Mercedes-Benz Stadium (chick-fil-akickoffgame.com).