I look back at my childhood, growing up near Atlanta, and one place towers over everything else: Stone Mountain. I had the pleasure of rediscovering Stone Mountain Park, this past weekend, exploring with my own children.
There are two sides to Stone Mountain Park that give it a unique place in the hearts of all who visit. I have come to appreciate the effort that’s been put forth to balance modern fun, historic charm and the natural world.
We struck a perfect balance, for our family, with a Stone Mountain Camping Package that included one night of camping and four adventure passes. Ready, Set, Camp!
Not-to-be-missed highlights of our 24 hours at Stone Mountain Park
The Carillon Bell Tower – Free with Parking
We packed a dinner picnic to enjoy during the evening concert of the Carillon Americana. The Carillon Americana is an interesting instrument played by the same musician for over 30 years. The bell tower, originally exhibited at the 1964 World’s Fair, plays 732 notes that dance upon the waters of the lake. While enjoying the gentle bell tones, we watched the waters as many turtles–including the cutest baby turtles– came up for air and dipped back below the surface. There’s also a nearby geocache.
Confederate Hall, Geology & Ecology Museum – Free with Parking
Located at the trail head of the hike to the mountaintop, Confederate Hall has become a wonderful museum to help visitors connect with the geology, ecology and history of Stone Mountain. Our visit was greatly enhanced by checking out the exhibits on how the mountain formed and what types of plants and animals are found living on Stone Mountain. Visiting the museum before hiking to the top gives visitors a useful knowledge of interesting sights to look for while walking on this unique geologic formation.
Hike to the Top – Free with Parking
Both of my boys exclaimed that this was their favorite part of Stone Mountain. At two miles, round trip, the hike is moderately strenuous in places. But, experiencing the mountain this way is always very rewarding. If you don’t want to hike to the top, you can take the SkyRide–for a fee. There is a covered picnic area, a little more than halfway up because hiking a mountain can make visitors mighty hungry! Don’t forget your water & a camera. The top of the mountain, and all along the trail, you’ll find gorgeous vistas and interesting rock formations that make great backdrops for family photos.
Train Ride – Fee, Adventure Pass
Riding the rails all the way around the base of the mountain is an Atlanta tradition. While younger kids may always be ready for a train ride, my two boys were much more interested in the relaxation it offered after our mountaintop hike. For the best views of the mountain, sit to the right when you board the train!
4D Movie – Fee, Adventure Pass
I sat out the 4D movie for a little mom-time. But, both of my boys really enjoy the 4D movie experiences and always come out with big happy grins!
SkyHike – Fee, Adventure Pass
This newer addition to Stone Mountain Park contains 3 levels of aerial obstacle courses. Harnessed in a safe and secure system,Families complete obstacles ranging from easy to advanced. Alternate routes help younger, smaller or more cautious SkyHikers avoid obstacles that seem too difficult or scary. For the youngest adventurers, check out the Highland Outpost! It’s a lot like SkyHike without the heights.
Great Barn – Fee, Adventure Pass
For a wild and crazy time beating the heat or waiting out storms, enter The Great Barn. It’s difficult to describe The Great Barn, but I think old-fashioned gaming does the trick. The entire playplace centers around foam balls that are collected, in tote bags, for game play. Toting bags filled with the foam balls, children make their way through four stories of active play games and air-powered shooters.
Cherokee Trail, Grist Mill – Free with Parking
The 5-mile Cherokee Trail is designated as a National Recreation Trail. While we didn’t have the opportunity to hike the entire trail, the part we did hike left us wanting more. We began by exploring one of the most picturesque locations in the park, a Grist Mill with working water wheel. This quiet spot is a great place to hunt down a couple geocaches located nearby. Continuing on, we walked the natural trail through the woods and upon a stone path along the water’s edge until we reached the Covered Bridge.
King’s Trail at Indian Island – Free with Parking
This was probably the most peaceful area we visited in the park. After crossing the Covered Bridge, we hiked King’s Trail around Indian Island. I wanted to mention this location because it struck me as the perfect place to bring the family for a picnic. The trail is an easy hike with picnic tables positioned throughout. The Covered Bridge is passable by cars and there is a parking lot available for picnickers and hiking families.
Lasershow Spectacular – Free with Parking
Stone Mountain’s Lasershow Spectacular is the longest running laser show on planet earth. The community of visitors gather on the lawn, laying out blankets and folding chairs, to enjoy the light show displayed on the mountainside. The lasershow is designed around many popular songs including, “Georgia on my Mind,” “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” and the national anthem.
Camping – Fee
There’s just no better way to end a day of exploring Stone Mountain than to camp right in the park. The campground offers convenient restrooms, showers and a camp store. There are several options for camping Stone Mountain ranging from primitive campsites to full RV hookups. Read my Stone Mountain Park Campground Guide.
Disclosure: I was fortunate enough to receive complimentary camping & adventure passes for my family thanks to Stone Mountain Park. But, let me assure you that does not influence my opinion of this fantastic experience.