Summer Fun Guide
Beat the Heat with Atlanta’s Coolest Happenings and Events
by Kevin Forest Moreau
Summer in Atlanta means higher temperatures, but it also meansa heightened sense of anticipation. That's because the city offers more entertainment options than most people can fit into a mere three months. Whether you're into water slides, outdoor concerts or festive fireworks, you're sure to have a good time while getting to know your new city.
Get in the Water
Summer’s warmer weather provides the perfect excuse to break out the bathing suit and cool off at one of Atlanta’s watery attractions. Lake Lanier offers plenty of recreation, whether you’re into boating or working on your tan at the Lake Lanier Island Resort, which includes a waterpark for the kids. Six Flags White Water offers a daunting array of waterslides as well as play areas for the kids. Or, of course, you can just run through the synchronized water jets in the Fountain of Rings at Centennial Olympic Park.
Listen to Some Music Outdoors
There’s no better way to spend an evening than enjoying a cool breeze and some great music. Chastain Park Amphitheatre plays host to Sting, Willie Nelson and Al Green, while the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s "Classic Chastain" series presents artists like Gavin DeGraw, Diana Krall and AnitaBaker.
Crosby, Stills & Nash are among the acts performing at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre, situated on a sprawling 45-acre spread in Alpharetta. Near the airport, Aaron’s Amphitheatre at Lakewood hosts the likes of Phish, Jimmy Buffett, Def Leppard and many others.
The Frederick Brown Jr. Amphitheater offers shows by Peabo Bryson and Billy Ocean in an intimate, 2,352-seat venue and the newly renamed Southern Ground Amphitheater welcomes Travis Tritt, the Kingston Trio and the Zombies, among others.
Summer in Atlanta means you’re never far from an outdoor festival full of music, food and fun. In June, the Virginia-Highland Summerfest showcases the picturesque Midtown neighborhood with a 5K race, artist market and more.
And August brings the 10th annual Grant Park Summer Shade Festival, a weekend of art, music and children’s entertainment, as well as a race and Corks & Forks, a food and wine event.
Do the Tomahawk Chop
Treat your family to more than just peanuts and Cracker Jack when you attend an Atlanta Braves game. Cheer on the city’s baseball heroes as they face off against divisional rivals like the Phillies, Marlins, Mets and Nationals at Turner Field, one of the country’s best ballparks. Plus, take a tour of the Braves Museum & Hall of Fame, bring your dog on "Bark in the Park" days, test your swing at Scouts Alley and much more.
Celebrate Your Independence
Atlanta has many ways of commemorating Independence Day. Lenox Square Mall’s Legendary Fourth of July Celebration turns the area around the Buckhead shopping mall into a giant outdoor party with live music, food from top local restaurants and the Southeast’s largest fireworks show.
Downtown, Centennial Park’s 4th of July Celebration includes a fireworks spectacular as well as live music and family-friendly entertainment.
And the Fantastic Fourth Celebration at Stone Mountain Park features two days of festivities on the park’s Memorial Lawn, culminating in the popular Lasershow Spectacular, followed by an impressive display of fireworks.
Do the Peachtree
By now it’s too late to enter the Peachtree Road Race. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be a part of the world’s largest 10K event. Every Fourth of July, "the Peachtree" draws tens of thousands of participants and more than 150,000 spectators line world-famous Peachtree Street to watch the action. Whether you watch the festivities from a restaurant patio seat, dance to the music near Piedmont Hospital or cheer the runners near the finish line at Piedmont Park, you’re sure to have a blast.
Ride a Roller Coaster
Or two. Or more. There are 11 to choose from at Six Flags Over Georgia, including Superman: Ultimate Flight, Ninja and the Great American Scream Machine. But there’s even more fun to be had at Atlanta’s favorite amusement park, whether you’re a fan of bumper cars, train rides, carousels or water slides. From the Monster Mansion to live shows such as the visual spectacle of iLuminate, there’s more than enough entertainment to while away a few summer afternoons.
Catch a Movie at the Fox
The Fabulous Fox Theatre usually plays host to concerts and touring productions of shows like Stomp and Spamalot! But each summer the Coca-Cola Summer Film Festival projects a mix of recent blockbusters and classic films on a giant screen. This year’s selections include Casablanca (June 14) The Godfather (June 15), The Sound of Music (June 24) and The Princess Bride (July 15). Snack on popcorn and sing along to crowd-pleasing songs performed on the majestic "Mighty Mo" pipe organ.
See Something Spectacular
More specifically, the Lasershow Spectacular in Mountainvision at Stone Mountain Park. Newly enhanced with state-of-the-art digital effects, this longtime attraction is dazzling audiences like never before. Watch as Confederate Generals Lee, Davis and Jackson seem to break free from the side of the mountain and float in the night sky, among other multidimensional illusions that accompany the famous fireworks display and a booming soundtrack of popular music. Make a day of it by arriving early to enjoy miniature golf, outdoor challenges, the Antebellum Plantation, the Sky Hike, the Summit Skyride and the new Geyser Towers.
Say Goodbye with a Bang
Labor Day weekend serves as the traditional end of the season, and Atlanta offers a number of ways to say goodbye. Dragon*Con, the Southeast’s largest science-fiction, fantasy and pop-culture convention, draws thousands of fans with celebrities, panels and a costume-filled parade.
The Decatur Book Festival, the country’s largest independent book festival, fills the Decatur Square with author events, writing workshops, book signings and plenty of activities for kids, including readings and signings by noted children’s book authors and and illustrators.
And Drive-Invasion fills the Starlight Six Drive-In Theatre with vintage cars, live music, corn dogs and, of course, classic drive-in movies.
5 GREAT OUTDOOR DINING SPOTS
Summertime is ideal for enjoying a great meal al fresco. Atlanta is home to more patio restaurants than you can shake a wine list at, but here are a few of our favorites.
- Canoe: The semi-private patio at this upscale Vinings restaurant offers a beautiful view of the Chattahoochee River.
- Einstein’s: This Midtown mainstay is a no-brainer for local diners, thanks to its large patio looking out on Juniper Street.
- Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q: Enjoy some of the best brisket and pulled pork in town at one of the umbrella-covered outdoor tables at this Candler Park destination for Texas-style barbecue.
- Shout: The small plates and thin-crust pizzas at this see-and-be-seen Midtown spot are best enjoyed on the upstairs patio, which offers a side of people-watching.
- Six Feet Under: Both locations of this casual seafood hangout reel in loyal regulars who love to lounge on the rooftop patios.