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'Looking back on the last 12 picks, we chose quite a range of activities'

Canoe Kides
Panning for minerals is one of the many hands-on activities at Tellus.

By: Melissa Lowrie
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Photos by Melissa Lowrie

Melissa Lowrie
Melissa Lowrie

Museums, water parks and hikes—oh my!
It’s hard to believe we’ve enjoyed a whole year on the high seas of fun. Who knew last June when we set sail on the USS What Are We Going To Do Today we’d have such a good time.

While writing is a solo sport, entertaining kids is not. Any tip or trick from another parent who’s been there helps the cause.

A quick refresher: I was asked by my Smoke Signals editor to write a column about fun things to do around the area with kids. We (my testing staff, aka, kids) check out a place, give a review and share the details. My only requirement was that the destination be within an hour’s drive of Big Canoe.

Ideas are especially important and timely this month, as traditionally parents and grandparents are scrambling to get summer activities on the schedule. Not that the pool isn’t a great time, but we all need choices in life. Not to fear; I’m here to help.

I’ve tried to strike a balance with indoor and outdoor activities, near and far drive times, and cheap and not-so-cheap fees. Looking back on the last 12 picks, we chose quite a range of activities and all are appropriate for year-round outings.

Canoe Kids
Kids can build and race cars at Legoland Discovery Center in Atlanta.

Kid-testers’ top picks
From the 8-year-old representing the boys: Legoland Discovery Center in Atlanta and Andretti’s Indoor Karting rated at the top of his list. Both of these were indoor destinations perfectly suited for the male contingent. Legos and go-carts? A no-brainer.

From the young lady’s perspective: All-weather tubing at Cherokee Valley Ranch in Jasper and ice skating at The Ice in Cumming. The all-weather tubing was a hit with all ages when we tested (the group that day was seven kids ranging from 5 to 13 years old). Tubing is all-weather, meaning no snow is needed, but it is outside, so visit on a pretty day.

There was one spot both kids agreed on — perfect for the searing heat of summer: Helen Water Park. This was a winner for all ages, not too expensive and a relatively easy drive. The park is just the right size; not so huge you can get lost, but plenty to do. There is also the option of tubing down the Chattahoochee. Enough action to occupy the troops for a day (and wear ’em out).

Since I’m the chauffeur, I figure I’ve earned a vote. While I have enjoyed different places for different reasons, Tellus Science Museum in Cartersville for overall value plus things to do for all ages makes it my top pick.

All the destinations from previous columns have websites, so check those out for more information before visiting. Also, all my Canoe Kids columns are archived on

Thank you, readers, for coming along for the ride over the last year and for the kind notes and comments. We’re ready to embark on another year of adventure, so grab a life jacket and climb aboard!

A quick list of the last 12 months:

Miranda Lowrie shows a few of the minerals in the Weinman Mineral Gallery at Tellus.

June: Consolidated Gold Mines and Chestatee Wildlife Preserve
July: Helen Water Park
August: Amicalola Falls State Park
September: Hike Inn
October: Burt’s Pumpkin Farm
November: Cherokee Valley Ranch
December: The Ice
January: Tellus Science Museum
February: Andretti’s Indoor Karting
March: Fernbank Museum of Natural History
April: Legoland Discovery Center
May: Amicalola Deer Park


Kids         Kids         Kids        
Replica of Turner Field at Legoland.         Gavin gets a push at Cherokee Valley Ranch.         Helmets are required for racers at Andretti's        




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