Hot Off the Press – Can’t-Miss Summer Fun in the ATL

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Hit a homerun with these lesser-known Metro options, from Hollywood to hydrangeas

How will you beat the dog days of summer? The ATL answers with boredom busters sure to engage all of your senses. From BLTs–not the kind you’re thinking of!–to catching zzz’s in the trees, leave it to the Atlanta Metro to make your summer Instagram-worthy.

Around town
Within close proximity to the Georgia Aquarium, 12,000-square-foot Game-X overlooks Centennial Olympic Park and offers over 60 of today’s favorite games with a few blasts from the past, making it the coolest place in the Metro to escape the summer heat. (275 Baker Street, Atlanta, 404-525-0728, www.GameXAtl.com)
All aboard The Peachtree Trolley Tour for a 90 minute, fully-enclosed, climate-controlled look at Atlanta. Tues-Sat, 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.; Sun., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. (275 Baker St., Atlanta, 770-425-1006, www.ThePeachtreeTrolley.com).

Lights, camera, action! Peachtree City’s Southern Hollywood Film Tour gives a glimpse of film sites such as Sweet Home Alabama, Fried Green Tomatoes and The Walking Dead. (201 McIntosh Trail, Peachtree City, 678-216-0282, www.VisitPeachtreeCity.com)

Hit a homerun with an outing to the Gwinnett Braves where, April through September, Coolray Field showcases the talents of the Atlanta Braves Triple A Affiliate, along with concessions, a Kids Zone and Friday night fireworks. (2500 Buford Dr NE, Lawrenceville, (678-277-0300, Gwinnett.braves.milb.com/index.jsp?sid=t431)
Get out! (doors)

Owls, hawks, bunnies and snapping turtles, oh my! From hammock gardens and teepees to the treehouse overlooking the wetlands boardwalk, find both serenity and adventure at the Dunwoody Nature Center. (5343 Roberts Drive, Dunwoody, 770-394-3322, www.DunwoodyNature.org)

Conquer adventure courses up to 55 feet above the ground and ride zip lines stretching more than 200 feet at Brook Run Park’s Treetop Quest, the ultimate summer attraction for thrill-seekers young and old. (4770 North Peachtree Road, Dunwoody, 770-365-0356, www.TreetopQuest.com/dunwoody)

Panola Mountain State Park offers a variety of Tree Top Excursions, rope assisted technical tree climbs ranging from introductory climbs to their ZZZ’s in The Trees Program. Participants can climb “Naomi Ruth,” a 100-foot Southern Red Oak, and into their “tree boat” where they will spend a restful night amongst the branches (2620 Hwy 155 Southwest, Stockbridge, 770-389-7801, GaStateParks.org/Panola-mountain)

Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary, with more than 1,500 permanent residents representing over 100 species, is the only place in the world where you’ll see the BLT family, a bear, lion and tiger that were seized during a drug raid as cubs and are living together as a family more than 14 years later. A park, picnic area and other animals round out the experience. Free to visit. Noon-3 p.m., Tues-Sat. (712 LG Griffin Road, Locust Grove, 770-957-0888, Noahs-Ark.org)
Don’t miss Roswell’s Old Mill Park, with an interpretive walk highlighting the old mill ruins of Roswell and allowing visitors to get close to Vickery Creek and its dam. Nearby, the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area is linked by the Vickery Creek Covered Pedestrian Bridge. (95 Mill Street, Roswell, 770-640-3253, VisitRoswellGa.com/what-to-do/nature/chattahoochee-river-attractions-and-trails/)

Save the date! Flitter over to Dunwoody’s Butterfly Festival, August 15, and get up close with butterflies and other animals, in addition to a nature scavenger hunt, a Birds of Prey show, games, educational booths, crafts, music, food, drinks and more. (5343 Roberts Drive, Dunwoody, 770-394-3322, www.DunwoodyNature.org/Butterfly-Festival)

Soak up the South at the 9th Annual Penny McHenry Hydrangea Festival, June 4-5.
Embark on a garden tour, artist marketplace and more, along with the official opening of the Butterfly Trail of Douglas County, which is registered with the Rosalyn Carter Butterfly Trail. (8700 Hospital Drive, Douglasville, 678-449-3939, www.PennyMchenryHydrangeaFestival.com)

April-June, Southern Belle Farm, a fifth generation dairy farm turned agritourism mecca, offers fun ripe for the picking with fresh, you-pick strawberries. The juiciness continues with blueberries, blackberries and peaches throughout the summer. (1658 Turner Church Road, McDonough, 770-652-1809, SouthernBelleFarm.com)

Cultural high
Head to the Atlanta History center for guided tours of the historic gardens and Cherokee Garden Library with living collection curators, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., May 6. (130 West Paces Ferry Road NW, Atlanta, Georgia  30305, 404-814-4031, www.AtlantaHistoryCenter.com)

Beginning June 3,  the High Museum of Art will unveil “Tiovivo: Whimsical Sculptures by Jaime Hayon,” a free exhibit of large-scale animal-inspired structures that will transform the Woodruff Arts Center’s Sifly Piazza into an outdoor art gallery and playground for children and adults alike. Midtown Alliance, High Museum and MARTA have partnered to extend the “Tiovivo” arts experience outside the Woodruff Arts Center’s campus, and visitors can take the MARTA train to Arts Center station to start this arts adventure. (1280 Peachtree Street NE, 404-733-4444, www.High.org/Art/Exhibitions/Tiovivo)

July 5 through August 5, check out Hometown Teams: How Sports Shape America at the Arts Clayton Gallery and celebrate what sports mean to individuals and communities with this traveling Smithsonian exhibit featuring little league teams, local sports heroes and items from the 1996 Olympic games. (Arts Clayton Gallery 136 South Main Street, Jonesboro, 770-473-5457, www.ArtsClayton.org)

When the weather isn’t cooperating, the Douglas County Museum of History and Art offers cool displays on pop culture as well as rotating art exhibits. The 1950s building, one of the nation’s last standing structures in the International style of architecture, is worth the trip alone. 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Tues-Fri; 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Sat. (6754 Broad Street, Douglasville, 678-449-3939, www.DouglasCountyMuseum.com)

May through September, savor the sound of music during a summer concert under the stars at Frederick Brown Jr. Amphitheater, the family-friendly 2,500 seat open-air amphitheater in the heart of Peachtree City. (201 McIntosh Trail, Peachtree City, 770-631-0630, www.Amphitheater.org)
Soar to new heights of adventure with the Army Aviation Heritage Foundation & Flying Museum, located at the Atlanta South Regional Airport in Hampton and open for tours and helicopter rides. The Museum has one of the only FFA exceptions that allows them to offer rides in Huey and Cobra helicopters. Hours vary depending on air show schedules. Museum is open 8 a.m.-4 p.m., Tues-Sat. (506 Speedway Blvd
Hampton, 770-897-0444, ArmyAv.org)

Mark your calendar! The Sandy Springs Lantern Parade – Take it to the River is a can’t-miss nighttime event, from 9 p.m. -midnight, June 18. The event will feature water-themed lanterns, live music, food trucks and more. (200 Morgan Falls Road, Sandy Springs, 770-206-1455)
Hungry for more?

Foodies delight with an afternoon in Marietta where the Marietta Square Food Tour embarks on an epicurean journey. This three-hour walking food tour allows you the unique opportunity to sample 10 appetizing tastings at seven different culinary stops while gaining knowledge about the area’s history, architecture and culture. (Tour begins at the Australian Bakery Café, 48 South Park Square, 866-736-6343, MariettaFoodTours.com)

If sitting down to savor a bite is more your speed, sink your teeth into pure Americana with hamburgers and hot dogs at the Village Burger. (1426 Dunwoody Village Parkway, Dunwoody, GA, 30338; 770-522-1600, www.VillageBurger.com.)

Satisfy hunger pangs at Gwinnett Restaurant Week, July 17-21, where you can indulge in mouth-watering temptation from top restaurants with menus available for only $25, plus tax. 770-814-6048 or 770-814-6046, www.ExploreGwinnett.org)

Gather the girls and make memories at the only American Girl Boutique and Bistro in Georgia, which serves scrumptious treats like a two-foot long banana split. Give your doll a “do” at the exclusive Doll Hair Salon. Tip: The Alpharetta Convention and Visitors Bureau is giving away the Ultimate American Girl weekend package complete with a doll, American Girl package hotel stay and gift card for the boutique – a prize package worth over $1,000. Click here to enter. (1202 North Point Cir, Alpharetta, 877-247-5223, Awesomealpharetta.com/what_to_do/american-girl-boutique-bistro)
Alon’s Bakery & Market is the ultimate dining destination for fresh food, offering specialty food items made from scratch, from breads to cheeses, pastries and cookies. Stock up, then take a picnic in one of the metro parks. (4505 Ashford Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody, 678-397-1782, www.Alons.com).

Can’t miss event: Midtown Atlanta welcomes the return of the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival to Piedmont Park, June 2-5. Full of familiar Southern charm and surprising indulgences, the culinary journey through the South delivers over 80 Learning Experiences, Tasting Tents, Dinners and Events, more chefs and talent than ever before and a weekend-long pop-up vineyard. (Piedmont Park, 404-474-7330, www.ATLFoodandWineFestival.com).