On to part two of our epic Summer Family Road Trip – after the Georgia Aquarium, we planned to head to Stone Mountain to explore the state park and experience the famous laser light show at night. However, the leaving at 3am, driving 7 hours, and walking in an aquarium for about 7 more, it was starting to catch up to us. We checked in to our hotel for the night, freshened up and grabbed a quick dinner. It was kind of late, around 7:30, by the time we decided to head over to Stone Mountain, but I at least wanted to see it and see the laser show. I figured we could come back another time and spend the day here, because there really is a lot to explore and do.
As we drove down the road leading to Stone Mountain, we just curved a little bit and the giant mountain loomed before us. Now I know there are many, many mountains bigger than this, but my kids only remember living in flat flat flat Florida, and I haven’t been back to Massachusetts where I grew up, or Virginia where I lived briefly since 2004 and 1987 respectively. And although we had been to California and Disneyland, the San Gabriel mountains were far enough off in the distance that Stone Mountain was pretty impressive to us all. And really, it IS impressive in its own right. Less than 20 minutes from the hustle and bustle of Atlanta, lies this monolith of stone, surrounded by beautiful forests and lakes and natural beauty. After being in the car and inside for most of the previous night and day, we were all ready for some fresh air.
I really had no idea just how much there was to do at Stone Mountain. There are nature trails, a golf course, a quarry exhibit, a grist mill, a carillon, fishing in the lakes, the mountain itself and a sky lift up to the top, and on top of all that, a little amusement park area with kids activities and water fun, 3-D movies. mini-golf and more. On top of that, they have Duck tours, and a railroad for train rides. It really is at least a whole day’s worth of fun.
We got there right as everything was closing down, and though I would’ve loved to do the Sky Ride or the train around the park, it just didn’t work out. So we got our tickets for the laser show and went down to the huge lawn area in front of the mountain and waited for it to start. It really is a fun, family atmosphere at Stone Mountain, with families playing ball and frisbee, having picnic dinners on blankets, you could just tell that for generations, this was a family tradition to come here and enjoy the park and the nighttime show too. Coming from a world of theme parks, this was great to see.
There are many ticket options to enjoy the various activities and attractions at Stone Mountain, including tickets to see the laser show in special terraced seating, which includes drinks and snacks for everyone in your party to enjoy the show. There is another option for a dinner package, which includes a traditional southern dinner before the show starts. They even have a member pass which pays for itself in two visits, which I just may look into myself!
The laser show was a fun tribute to all things Georgia. Again, you definitely got the sense that it was a time-honored local tradition. Fireworks capped off the show with a very patriotic finale to the night. Then began the trek back to the car, similar to trying to leave Epcot after the 4th of July. Being theme park experts, we took that in stride, but those not used to that kind of a crowd and wait in the parking lot should be prepared. It was beautiful to see the mountain lit up at night.
All in all, I’m very glad we got to experience a little taste of Stone Mountain, and definitely want to return for the day to explore all parts of it. We had a wonderful whirlwind visit to Atlanta, and were now ready for a good night’s sleep before we began the next leg of our journey, into new territory, bigger mountains, and more amazing memories. Stay tuned for part 3!