Friday, December 5, 2014

Georgia Travel Log - December 2014 - Holiday Fun Edition

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We have been super busy lately traveling around Georgia and experiencing some of the newest exhibits and attractions. Because there are so many wonderful things I need to update you on I came up with a brilliant idea (well I think it's brilliant). I am calling it the "Georgia Travel Log." Once or twice a month I will give you an update on several of the newest attractions, exhibits, etc. Most of them will be ones that we actually get to experience that way I can share our personal experiences and show you some personal photos too. I hope you enjoy this edition of the Georgia Travel Log. Please leave comments with information on any other new attractions or exhibits that you know of. Also remember to follow us on Instagram to keep up with our daily adventures!

If you are hosting an upcoming event or promoting a new exhibit or attraction please email me to discuss getting it covered in the next Georgia Travel Log edition.

I know I missed a few months and I am so very sorry...I won't even bother making excuses because there are just too many!

This edition is going to be filled with lots of holiday events. Check out what The Rock Ranch, Stone Mountain, Atlanta Speedway, Historic Westville and Fernbank have to offer your family this holiday season.

The Rock Ranch:
In October we visited the Rock Ranch for one of their Fall Family Fun Days. Sadly I wasn't able to get a post up up sooner about our experience so I am going to share some of that with you now so you can start planning for next year. Hopefully you saw our photos and shout outs on social media and were able to attend this year. What you may not know though is that The Rock Ranch also has Christmas events like breakfast or lunch with Santa, Santa's workshop and country Christmas in lights (FREE).


The Rock Ranch is a family friendly outdoor destination that offers family's seasonal fun. Though they offer events throughout the year their Fall Family Fun Days from September - November (Saturday only) always draw in the crowds. Each Saturday they have a different theme which adds even more fun on top of the main attractions.

We visited on lumberjack day and had an absolute blast. The weather was perfect and we spent an entire day soaking in all that The Rock Ranch has to offer. All of the attractions on site are included in the cost of admission with the exception of the rock wall, carousel and zipline which there is a nominal charge for. The adventure starts out with a hay ride from the parking lot to the attraction area. Inside the attraction area which is encircled by a train track you will find pony rides, slide hill, tiny town (my children's personal favorite), pedal carts, corn maze, cane pole fishing, corn cannon, toddler playground, cow train, rope maze, horse shoes, no left turn maze, wagon jolly jump, paddle boats, petting zoo, corn box and more! There are also several places to pick up some scrumptious food and 2 stores to pick up great gift items.

If you enjoy corn mazes you will love the one at The Rock Ranch. Each year the ranch chooses a special theme for their corn maze. This year's theme celebrated 75 Years of Wizard of Oz, the movie. Throughout the day Wizard of Oz characters were available for photo ops. Throughout the maze there were informational placards, movie quotes, displays and more. If you got lost the corn cops were on duty to give you hints. We were really proud of ourselves for navigating the maze without any assistance. It took us about 1/2 an hour.

More Details:
The Rock Ranch is a 1,500 acre cattle ranch located one hour from Atlanta that offers visitors an "agritourism" experience unlike any other. The Rock Ranch is owned by Chick-fil-A owner S. Truett Cathy and dedicated to "Growing Healthy Families." The Rock Ranch offers seasonal events, educational fieldtrips, unique camping experience, and meeting spaces for events.

Stone Mountain Christmas:
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, everywhere you go...and Stone Mountain is no exception. Stone Mountain has been decked out with more than 2 million beautiful LED lights. We got a sneak peek of the Stone Mountain Christmas festivities and it was pretty awesome. From now until January 4th families can enjoy a variety of holiday shows including Forever Christmas, Toyriffic, A Crossroads Christmas Carol, Holly Jolly Cabaret and The Gift (religious show). Our family was able to catch two of the shows and Toyriffic was the children's favorite of the two. But there's will definitely want to catch the 4-D Ice Age A Mammoth Christmas film, get your photo taken with Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer and Bumble the Abominable Snow Monster, and take a ride on the Sing-Along Christmas Train. If you stay through dusk you can also enjoy the high energy Christmas parade, meet with Santa and experience some holiday magic as the Snow Angel flies overhead creating a nightly snow and fireworks show. If you want to see everything including the night time parade and Snow Angel magic be sure to arrive early I would say no later than noon. Stone Mountain Christmas will definitely get you into the holiday spirit.

All of the above mentioned fun is included in a Stone Mountain Christmas Adventure Pass plus the Summit Skyride, Discovering Stone Mountain Museum and the Antebellum Plantation and Farmyard are also included in your pass. Stone Mountain Christmas Tickets are $24.95 for adults and $19.95 for children.

And don't forget about Snow Mountain which will offer visitors hours of fun in something we rarely get to see here in Georgia...SNOW. Tickets are $28 for Snow Mountain and there are combo deals available for both Snow Mountain and Stone Mountain Christmas. Snow Mountain operates through February 22, 2015.

More Details:
Stone Mountain Park is Georgia’s most popular attraction and features a wide variety of family activities. Located on 3,200 acres of natural beauty, adventure awaits as you discover interactive family friendly attractions and many natural and historical sights. Plus you won’t want to miss dozens of fun annual events such as Spring FUN Break, Summer at the Rock, Yellow Daisy Festival, Indian Festival and Pow-Wow, Stone Mountain Christmas and Snow Mountain. Stone Mountain activities are suitable for all ages.

Fernbank Goose Bumps Exhibit and Winter Wonderland:
This is another review I totally slacked on but thankfully special exhibits stick around for a little bit at Fernank. Goose Bumps the Science of Fear will be on display through January 4th.

This special exhibit was tons of fun for both children and adults. If you have ever been curious about coulrophobia, pyrophobia or aviophobia then you will definitely want to visit this exhibit before it's gone. You will learn about the physiological, neurological and sociological aspects of this often misunderstood emotion through immersive and engaging hand-on activities.

The first part of the exhibit contains a wall of display boards which highlights several phobias. After learning about phobias such as aviophobia, dentophobia and pyrophobia head over to the Fear Lab where you will meet "Mr. Goose Bump"s the exhibit host. Mr. Goose Bumps will demonstrate how the bran and body work together through hands-on activities, video and exhibit interactives. Right across from Mr. Goose Bumps you can get an up close look as some real brains. Learn all about the amygdala aka the threat center of the brain.

Other hand-on experiences in the first half of the exhibit include the "Trigger Fear" table, "Science in the Works" study, "What are the Odds" test and the children's favorite "Freeze Game" a game that demonstrates predator vs prey.

Next you will head into the "Challenge Course." Here you will face four common fears through immersive displays. The first challenge is the Fear of Animals. In this room you will reach into concealed terrariums that may just house a creepy-crawly creature. In the next room you will face the Fear of Electric Shock. If you are brave enough place your finger into the slot and prepare for a shock! The 3rd room is the Fear of Loud Noises challenge. This demonstrates how this instinctive fear can help keep us out of harm's way. And the final challenge is the Fear of Falling challenge. This one was one of my favorite's. In this challenge you are safely strapped to a table which then falls backward. Afterwards you can head around to the back of the exhibit to watch the recording of your fall and examine your fear face.

Other exhibits include discovering how fears, both real and perceived can be spread and the impact they have on society, how to cope with fear in extreme situations, how to identify facial expressions and more.

The exhibit is great for all ages and is not "scary" in the traditional sense. Visitors can easily bypass any experience they do not wish to participate in or have fun watching others.

Also be sure to read our review on the Winter Wonderland exhibit which will be on display until January 11th. Special events will be going on just about every weekend in December.

More Details:
Ferbank museum offers immersive, hands-on exhibitions that make science, culture and natural history come alive in a big way. From the largest dinosaurs ever discovered, to the biggest movie screen in Atlanta, Fernbank Museum offers world of adventure for all ages.

Atlanta Motor Speedway Gift of Lights:
If you are looking for an affordable light show near Atlanta then the Atlanta Motor Speedway Gift of Lights is it. The Lights will be on display through January 3rd and is bigger, better and brighter than ever. The light show is on the track field and is 1.5 miles with over one million lights. How cool will it be to tell your friends you drove on the famed Atlanta Motor Speedway oval? Proceeds from the show benefit the Speedway Children's Charity.

There are over one million LED lights and the light display is broken into themed segments. Themes include nativity, nursery rhyme, underwater, outer space, patriotic, race car and 12 Days of Christmas. Before you enter the light display through the blue light tunnel you will want to make sure your radio is tuned in to the correct station so you can experience some fun holiday music.

You may drive your own vehicle through the light display at your own pace...and you may only drive through once so take your time. So sit back relax and get into the holiday spirit as you drive on the Atlanta Motor Speedway infield, cross the checkered finish line and even go up on the banking between turns 3 and 4 (if you are brave enough).

We enjoyed the light show very much, however it is not one that I would recommend driving over an hour to visit. Even driving at slow speed we still made it through in less than 1/2 an hour and my children were not happy that we drove so far for something that was so short. If you live close to the speedway be sure to hit it up because it is a fun, affordable family outing during the holidays.

On the following weekends December 5th-7th, 12th-14th and 19th-21st you can even visit the Christmas Village near the Atlanta Motor Speedway Gift Shop which includes a decorated tree, a Santa with his sleigh (professional photos available for a fee), bonfire, and gift shop.

The light display is open 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays. 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and holidays. Admission is $15 Monday-Thursday, $20 on Fridays-Sundays & holidays

However, my readers Save $2 to Gift of Lights.

Six Flags Holiday in the Park:
For the first time ever Six Flags Over Georgia is open during the holiday season. Our family got to attend a special preview night of Holiday in the Park and we definitely left filled with holiday cheer. The park has totally been transformed and is filled with millions of bright, LED lights. Only certain areas of the park and certain rides are open to visitors during this holiday event...but there is still plenty to see and do. Visitors of all ages can enjoy holiday shows, fun games, thrilling rides, sweet treats and even a ride to the North Pole to see Santa Claus.

From the moment you enter the park you will be blasted with holiday cheer and a winter wonderland experience as you admire the many lights hanging overhead, enjoy the falling snow and meet some very fun characters.

The park is broken into 10 sections A Main Street Christmas, Peppermint Plaza, Retro Christmas USA< Candlelight Carousel, Bugs Bunny World, A Georgia Christmas, North Pole, Rejoice!, North Pole Express and S'mores Village.

If you have little ones you will definitely want to go visit Santa. You can either walk through the park to the North Pole or board the North Pole Express. I personally recommend taking the train so you can enjoy the many beautiful lights. The Santa was amazing with the children and spent time getting their wishlist. The lights at the North Pole were white and blue which truly gave the impression of being in a winter wonderland.

Next we headed to the giant snow globe for a fun photo op. I made a recommendation that they put a fake snow blower in the globe to really enhance it...hopefully they will add one.  The children really wanted to rid the Candle Lite Carousel so we made our way over to the other side of the park. Along the way...which took a while thanks to a wrong turn we enjoyed the over one million lights and 400 trees. And the children insisted on stopping every few minutes for a photo op. One of my favorite things about Holiday in the Park was the various tributes to the brave men and women who serve our country. There were several patriotic light displays and patriotic photo ops throughout the park.

We only experienced two of the rides the Candle Lite Carousel and Rockin' Tug. And the Carousel was well worth our long walk. It was spectacular!!! There were beautiful lights adorning the carousel, candles dangling from above and up beat Christmas music. Other rides that are open during Holiday in the Park include Goliath, Dare Devil Dive, Georgia Cyclone, Up, Up and Away, Dahlonega Mine Train, Sky Buckets and most of Bugs Bunny World. 

It's been a pretty mild winter so far but if you are worried about cold night don't be. There are fire pits and propane heaters stationed throughout the park to warm you up. There is also hot cocoa and soup being served at the many cafes that are open. 

And in addition to all of the above there are also several fun shows going on in the park too like A Looney Tunes Christmas, Carols at the Carousel, Hometown Holidays and Because It's Christmas.

Holiday in the Park will be open until January 4th (on selected dates). Times the park will be open are from  4-10 pm through Dec 23rd and 12-8pm through January 4th. I highly recommend arriving at opening so you have time to enjoy everything...during our visit we ran out of time. The cost for the event starts at $41.99.

I hope you enjoyed this edition stayed tuned for more Georgia Travel Log updates!

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