Tucked up against the Atlantic Ocean in the heart of the South, Georgia offers all sorts of family-friendly activities centered around nature and history. Fort Yargo State Park and Elachee Nature Science Center are great for hiking, while animal lovers will fall head over heels for chance to explore the Atlanta Zoo, visit the Georgia Aquarium, or go for a trail ride with the Gold City Corral and Carriage Company. If you'd rather introduce your kids to the state's fascinating past, head to the Georgia State Railroad Museum, the Apex Museum, or the Ships of the Sea Museum.
1.Bear Hollow Zoo
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Home to a variety of birds and mammals that couldn't survive out in the wild on their own, Bear Hollow Zoo is a wonderful place to visit if you want to learn about Georgia's diverse wildlife. Visitors will have the chance to spot animals like river otters, owls, and black bears, all of which are housed in enclosures that mimic their natural environments, and there is also a 1.25-mile nature trail for anyone who wants to stretch their legs. The museum is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week, and a special exhibit hall is open as well on Saturday afternoons.
293 Gran Ellen Dr, Athens, GA 30606, Phone: 706-613-3580
2.Birdsong Nature Center
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Occupying 565 peaceful acres of land, the Birdsong Nature Center is another great place to enjoy Georgia's natural beauty and learn about its native wildlife. Twelve miles of walking trails wind their way through the park's meadows and forests, but if you want to ensure you spot some of the birds that have made the center their home, don’t forget to spend some time peering through the Bird Window as well. Other highlights of the property include the “Listening Place” pavilion overlooking the swamp and the Butterfly Garden, which is particularly spectacular between April and November.
2106 N Meridian Rd, Thomasville, GA 31792, Phone: 229-377-4408
3.Cool River Tubing
Summer is perhaps the best time to explore Georgia, but if the weather gets a bit too warm for your liking, Cool River Tubing is a fun way to beat the heat. Based out of the charming Bavarian-style town of Helen, the company offers family-friendly tube rides down the Chattahoochee River, with an optional stop at the Alpine Crest Resort to enjoy the waterslides. Guests can choose between a short and long tube ride, and full day passes are available for anyone who would like to do the float more than once. Kid-sized tubes are available for riders 12 and younger.
590 Edelweiss Strasse, Helen, GA 30545, Phone: 706-878-2665
4.Dauset Trails Nature Center
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Established to promote environmental education and provide a welcoming place for outdoor recreation, the Dauset Trails Nature Center is a 1400-acre park with plenty of attractions for the whole family. There are 20 miles of hiking and biking trails for visitors to explore, with options for people of all fitness levels, and there is also a tree identification trail for anyone who wants to learn about Georgia's plant life. Visitors can also interact with farm animals in the 19th century-style farm exhibit, spot rehabilitated wild animals along the Animal Trail and see live reptiles on display in the Wonder Room.
360 Mt Vernon Church Rd, Jackson, GA 30233, Phone: 770-775-6798
5.Elachee Nature Science Center
Located on the Chicopee Woods Nature Preserve, the Elachee Nature Science Center is another excellent place to enjoy the outdoors and learn about Georgia's flora and fauna. The Visitor's Center boasts an excellent collection of exhibits, including a natural history exhibit, a live animal exhibit full of amphibians and reptiles, and an outdoor aviary. There are also 12 miles of trails to explore, with options ranging from a paved half-mile nature trail to a more challenging 4.5-mile hike that leads out to a beautiful lake. When you're ready for a break, relax in the peaceful picnic area or in one of the many pavilions.
2125 Elachee Dr, Gainesville, GA 30504, Phone: 770-535-1976
6.Fernbank Museum of Natural History
Set on a beautiful 75-acre property, the Fernbank Museum of Natural History is a unique museum that prides itself on its immersive exhibits and hands-on experiences. The outdoor area features educational sculptures and an elevated walkway that leads guests into the treetops, but most of the biggest attractions here are found inside the museum itself. Marvel at one of the largest dinosaurs to ever live, visit the massive saltwater aquarium, or catch a 3D movie in the IMAX theater. The multi-level NatureQuest clubhouse is worth a visit as well, featuring live animal exhibits and hundreds of hands-on activities for kids to enjoy.
767 Clifton Rd, Atlanta, GA 30307, Phone: 404-929-6300
7.Fernbank Science Center
Operated by the DeKalb County School District, the Fernbank Science Center is an educational facility designed for kids from kindergarten to Grade 12. The 9,000-square-foot exhibit hall displays attractions like the genuine Apollo 6 Command Module and a collection of live animals, and the outdoor gardens provide opportunities to learn about edible plants, perennial flowers, and pollinators. The 500-seat planetarium regularly plays fascinating programs that take viewers on an incredible journey through space, but if you'd like to look at the sky in real-time, there is also an observatory, which is typically open to the public on Thursday and Friday nights.
156 Heaton Park Dr, Atlanta, GA 30307, Phone: 678-874-7102
Sitting on the banks of the Flint River, the Flint RiverQuarium is a unique aquarium that educates visitors about Georgia's saltwater and freshwater ecosystems. The Flint River Gallery features exhibits that trace the journey of the Flint River as it travels down to the ocean, and the massive 175,000-gallon Blue Hole Spring displays a wonderful assortment of the plants and fish found in the river. Aside from fish, the Cypress Pond Aviary is home to a collection of birds that are native to the area, and visitors can stop by Spring Run Creek to see alligators in their natural habitat.
117 Pine Ave, Albany, GA 31701, Phone: 229-639-2650
Encompassing more than 30 acres in Savannah's historic district, Forsyth Park is a popular outdoor destination with visitors and locals alike. The park's best-known feature is the large fountain in its north end, which dates back to 1858 and resembles famous fountains in Peru and Paris, but there are plenty of other things to do as well. Popular amenities include two children's playgrounds, basketball courts, and volleyball courts, but there is also a cafe for people who would rather simply relax. A farmer's market is held here every Saturday, and free movies in the park are sometimes offered on summer evenings.
2 W Gaston St, Savannah, GA 31401, Phone: 912-351-3841
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10.Fort Yargo State Park
Tucked in between Atlanta and Athens, Fort Yargo State Park was named for the historic log fort that the settlers built here in 1792. The fort is open to the public on selected dates, but these days, people mainly come here to park's beautiful 1800 acres of forest. Hikers and bikers can explore the 18 acres of trails, and visitors of all ages are welcome to use the park's excellent disc golf course. If you want to cool off, there's also a 260-acre lake with boat ramps, several picnic tables and pavilions, and a sandy beach.
210 S Broad St, Winder, GA 30680, Phone: 770-867-3489
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One of the largest aquariums in the world, the Georgia Aquarium is a fantastic place to bring your kids for the day. It's home to tens of thousands of animals representing more than 500 species, and there are seven exhibits for visitors to explore, the largest of which is proudly home to manta rays and whale sharks. Other major highlights of the galleries include the colorful tropical fish in the Tropical Diver exhibit, the high-tech virtual reality simulator and 4D theater, and the dolphin exhibit, where a dolphin show is held several times per day.
225 Baker St NW, Atlanta, GA 30313, Phone: 404-581-4000
12.Georgia Sea Turtle Center
If you're looking for an aquarium-like destination that's a bit more off the beaten path, you should consider paying a visit to the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, a rescue and rehabilitation center on the beautiful Jekyll Island. The center has a strong focus on education, and visitors can learn all about sea turtles in the hands-on Exhibit Hall before heading to the Rehabilitation Pavilion to see sea turtle patients being nursed back to health. Depending on when you visit, you might also be able to participate in one of the center's guided beach walks or other programs.
214 Stable Rd, Jekyll Island, GA 31527, Phone: 912-635-4444
13.Georgia State Railroad Museum
Conveniently located in downtown Savannah, the Georgia State Railroad Museum is a fascinating destination with plenty of family-friendly activities. Visitors are welcome to walk through the grounds and look at the historic locomotives on their own, but guided tours are included in the price of admission if you'd like a more in-depth explanation of the site's significance. A short train ride is included with admission as well, and steam or diesel locomotive rides are sometimes available for an additional fee. There are also several children's play areas, including the kid-friendly Baggage Car, which is filled with toy train tables and other games.
655 Louisville Rd, Savannah, GA 31401, Phone: 912-651-6823
14.Gold City Corral and Carriage Company
Nestled at the base of northern Georgia's Blue Ridge Mountains, the Gold City Corral and Carriage Company is a little slice of the Old West. Visitors aged 8 and older can join a guided horseback trail ride; riders of all experience levels are welcome, and a short riding lesson is given for those who need it. If you have younger children or a larger group, you can also book a family-friendly hayride in a rustic wagon or arrange a chuck wagon ride to the River House, where you can enjoy a delicious cookout and old-fashioned games.
49 Forrest Hills Rd, Dahlonega, GA 30533, Phone: 706-867-9395
15.GRHOF Thunder Road Museum
Car racing is an intrinsic part of Georgia's history and culture, and the GRHOF Thunder Road Museum is a great place to learn about it in a fun, exciting way. Home to the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame, the museum proudly introduces visitors to legendary race car drivers like Chase Elliott, Randy Holt, and Buck Baker. There's also an excellent display of cars that takes visitors on a journey from the birth of stock car racing to the present day, and if you'd like a bite to eat, you can take the kids to the Dawsonville Pool Room for some diner-style food.
415 Highway 53 E Dawsonville, Georgia 30534, Phone: 706-216-7223
16.High Museum of Art
Part of the Woodruff Arts Center, the High Museum of Art is one of the best art museums in the Southeast, and it boasts more than 15,000 pieces of artwork displayed in seven themed galleries. Guided tours are included in the price of admission, and although they're aimed more at adults, kids up to the age of 8 will find plenty of things to do in the Greene Family Learning Gallery. If you have younger kids, try to visit on a Thursday, when the museum hosts an entire day full of toddler-friendly activities designed to encourage kids to explore their creativity.
1280 Peachtree St NE, Atlanta, GA 30309, Phone: 404-733-4400
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17.National Civil War Naval Museum
Georgia certainly has its fair share of civil war museums and monuments, but the National Civil War Naval Museum is the only one that provides the opportunity to learn about the war from the Navy standpoint. The centerpiece of the museum is the 180-foot warship C.S.S Jackson, a Confederate vessel that was used on the Chattahoochee River, but there are a handful of other replica ships for visitors to see as well. If you're looking for something more interactive, step into the battlefield with the ironclad ship simulator or participate in one of the living history programs regularly hosted by the museum.
1002 Victory Dr, Columbus, GA 31901, Phone: 706-327-9798
18.North Georgia Zoo and Petting Farm
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With more than 400 animals representing a diverse range of species, the North Georgia Zoo and Petting Farm is the perfect place to bring your kids if they're crazy about animals. Visitors can interact with all sorts of rare and miniature farm animals, including potbelly pigs and donkeys, and admission to the zoo also includes a guided hour-long nature walk that helps visitors spot wild animals like alligators and lemurs. For an additional fee, you can also participate in one of the zoo's specialty encounters, which allow visitors to interact with more exotic animals like fennec foxes, kangaroos, and tropical birds.
2912 Paradise Valley Rd, Cleveland, GA 30528, Phone: 706-348-7279
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19.Seminole State Park
Situated on the shore of the picturesque Lake Seminole, Seminole State Park is best known as an excellent destination for water-based outdoor recreation. The park is nestled around a small cove, where the calm water is perfect for swimming and water skiing, but boaters can also venture out further into the lake to fish and enjoy the scenery. If you'd rather stay on dry land, you can relax in one of the picnic areas on the shore or go for a stroll along the 2-mile nature trail, where you might spot gopher tortoises, bald eagles, and other wildlife.
7870 State Park Rd, Donalsonville, GA 39845, Phone: 229-861-3137
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20.Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum
Housed inside the elegant former residence of steamship businessman William Scarbrough, the Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum is another excellent place to learn about the maritime side of Georgia's history. The impressive collection includes model ships, antiques, and paintings that tell the story of maritime travel during the 18th and 19th centuries, and although the museum is primarily set up for self-guided tours, special educational programs for kids are sometimes offered. After exploring the museum, visitors can also browse the gift shop or spend some time in the two acres of beautiful gardens surrounding the mansion.
41 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Savannah, GA 31401, Phone: 912-232-1511
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21.Tellus Science Museum
Opened in 2009, the Tellus Science Museum is a modern natural history and science museum proudly affiliated with the Smithsonian Institute. Highlights of the exhibits include the replica of the first Wright brothers’ flyer, the extensive rock and mineral collection, and the fossil gallery, which features a massive T-Rex skeleton. Kids will also love visiting the Fossil Dig and Gem Panning activity area, where they'll discover exciting treasures they can take home. It typically takes three hours to tour the museum, and if you have some extra time, you can also watch a 45-minute show in the state-of-the-art planetarium.
100 Tellus Dr, Cartersville, GA 30120, Phone: 770-606-5700
22.The APEX Museum
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Created to celebrate and bring awareness to Georgia's African American heritage and culture, the APEX Museum tells the rich story of a part of American history that sometimes gets overlooked. The exhibits contain artifacts and photographs that date from 6,000 years ago to modern times, and visitors can expect to learn about a wide range of topics, including African contributions to art and science in 6500 B.C and the first black-owned businesses in Georgia. The museum is best suited to children aged 7 and older, but special storytelling programs can sometimes be arranged for larger groups with young children.
135 Auburn Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30303, Phone: 404-523-2739
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23.The World of Coca Cola
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Coca Cola is easily one of the most iconic beverage brands in the world, and at the World of Coca Cola, you'll learn all about how the famous drink got its start right here in Atlanta. Exhibits tell the story of how the secret formula was created, and there is also an interactive section where visitors can try making their own formula just like the original inventors did. Visitors can also watch a functioning bottle line, get their photo taken with the seven-foot Coca Cola Polar Bear, and sample more than 100 different beverages from all over the world.
121 Baker St NW, Atlanta, GA 30313, Phone: 404-676-5151
24.Wild Animal Safari
There are more than a handful of excellent family-friendly animal attractions in Georgia, but the Wild Animal Safari is one of the only places that lets you have an African-style safari experience without having to leave the state. The 500-acre park is home to approximately 500 animals, including zebras, camels, and even a rhino. Guests often choose to drive along the 3.5-mile trail on their own, but a tour bus is also available on a seasonal basis. After completing the drive-through section, don't forget to head to the Walk-About, where you can spot even more animals like hyenas, monkeys, and ligers.
Bk, 1300 Oak Grove Rd, Pine Mountain, GA 31822, Phone: 706-663-8744
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Zoo Atlanta is a wonderful zoo that can be found in Grant Park, and if you're looking for a truly unique animal experience, it's an excellent place to visit. It's one of only four American zoos to house giant pandas, but this isn't the only thing that sets it apart; it also boasts the country's largest gorilla habitat, and it's home to the largest population of orangutans of any zoo in America. You could spend all day exploring the exhibits, but when your kids have had enough of the animals, they can play in the splash fountain or take a kid-friendly train ride.
800 Cherokee Ave SE, Atlanta, GA 30315, Phone: 404-624-5600
25 Fun Things to Do in Georgia with Kids of All Ages
- Bear Hollow Zoo, Photo: Daniel Meunier/stock.adobe.com
- Birdsong Nature Center, Photo: Brian Lasenby/stock.adobe.com
- Cool River Tubing, Photo: Christine/stock.adobe.com
- Dauset Trails Nature Center, Photo: Laura Ballard/stock.adobe.com
- Elachee Nature Science Center, Photo: bettys4240/stock.adobe.com
- Fernbank Museum of Natural History, Photo: davidnickow/stock.adobe.com
- Fernbank Science Center, Photo: mojza/stock.adobe.com
- Flint RiverQuarium, Photo: Maksim/stock.adobe.com
- Forsyth Park, Photo: jovannig/stock.adobe.com
- Fort Yargo State Park, Photo: _jure/stock.adobe.com
- Georgia Aquarium, Photo: Wollwerth Imagery/stock.adobe.com
- Georgia Sea Turtle Center, Photo: elharo/stock.adobe.com
- Georgia State Railroad Museum, Photo: Gudellaphoto/stock.adobe.com
- Gold City Corral and Carriage Company, Photo: Oleksandr/stock.adobe.com
- GRHOF Thunder Road Museum, Photo: gesrey/stock.adobe.com
- High Museum of Art, Photo: f11photo/stock.adobe.com
- National Civil War Naval Museum, Photo: konstan/stock.adobe.com
- North Georgia Zoo and Petting Farm, Photo: Derrick Neill/stock.adobe.com
- Seminole State Park, Photo: Pixel-Shot/stock.adobe.com
- Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum, Photo: stock.adobe.com
- Tellus Science Museum, Photo: KCULP/stock.adobe.com
- The APEX Museum, Photo: Asmus Koefoed/stock.adobe.com
- The World of Coca Cola, Photo: The World of Coca Cola
- Wild Animal Safari, Photo: ccestep8/stock.adobe.com
- Zoo Atlanta, Photo: Eric Gevaert/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: Linda/stock.adobe.com