Outfitted in gloves, coats and boots, my family was eager to tackle the cold white stuff blanketing Stone Mountain Park’s Memorial Lawn.
We started our adventure at Tube Runners, Snow Mountain’s signature tubing hill. Having an early tubing time (10 a.m.) worked to our advantage, as there were no lines. The crowd grew throughout the day.
The entire family can go tubing individually or together at Tube Runners (smaller children must meet the height requirement of 42 inches to make a solo trip downhill). A moving sidewalk gets you to the top of the hill where attendants help get you started on your breathtaking ride. My children were mesmerized by their first tubing experience, shouting with excitement each time they went flying down the hill, and immediately jumping up to head back to the top.
Younger children will want to try Avalanche Alley, the 400-foot tubing hill. The height requirement here is 36 inches, and up to five people can fit into one tube and enjoy a family tube ride.
My 4-year-old daughter and her 8-year-old brothers had a blast at Snow Zone, an open play area perfect for all ages to get active together. Although the man-made snow doesn’t have a powdery consistency like real snow, it is a good substitute and shapes well. My daughter built a snowman, made snow angels and threw snowballs with her brothers at the Snowball Shootin’ Gallery.
In the Little Angels section, toddlers can ride down a gentle slope in SnoBoggans. A tubing carousel and the Snow-Go-Round are features added this year to give the young ones more snow fun. We wrapped up our day by warming up with some s’mores we made ourselves at Snow Fire Point.
Insider Tips: Wear water-repellent boots or shoes and pack dry clothes for the ride home. You can’t believe how wet your clothes and socks can get from snow play! Bring your camera – Avalanche Alley attendants can snap your family’s photo before you head down the hill.
– Marteeta Cannon Spradling
Snow Mountain at Stone Mountain Park
1000 Robert E. Lee Blvd., Stone Mountain
Cost: $28 includes two-hour tubing session and all-day access to snow areas; younger than 3, free. Parking, $10. Advance reservations required; special offers available online.
Hours: Through Feb. 17 on select dates; check calendar.
Atlantic Station’s outdoor ice rink – set among the shops and restaurants – glows with colorful lights. On a weeknight evening, my kids (ages 7 and 11) couldn’t wait to get on the ice and check out the “loop” rink. Skates are buckle closure, so we could get them on and off quickly. Lockers and benches are adjacent to the rental tent (bring quarters to stash your stuff.) The rink is a track-style design, like an oval doughnut, with walls on both the inner and outer rings. It’s easy for inexperienced skaters -like us! – to hold on to either side for support.
We had never skated at an outdoor rink before, and during breaks, my kids kept gazing up at the skyline, and commenting on how cool it was to have the view of the buildings from the ice.
Rink attendants told us that the least crowded times to visit are weekdays and Sundays, as early in the session as possible. As expected, Fridays and Saturdays are the busiest days. Weather can impact the rink’s opening, so it’s a good idea to check the forecast before heading out.
Because you get a wristband that’s good for the entire day’s session, it’s no problem to get off and grab a bite or go the bathroom and then return. We paused for treats at the nearby rink outpost that sells hot chocolate, egg nog, and cold drinks and snacks. Then we got back on the ice and went around several more times before reluctantly calling it a night.
– Dalia Faupel
Skate Atlantic Station
1380 Atlantic Dr., Atlanta
Cost: Adults, $13 including skate rental; ages 4 and younger, $10. Season Pass, $99.
Hours: Through Feb. 14; Mon.-Thurs., 4-7 p.m. and 8-10 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 3-7:30 p.m. and 8-11 p.m.; Sun., 3-6:30 p.m. and 7-9 p.m.
Park Tavern’s festive skating rink is entirely tented, heated, filled with music and decorated with bowls of fire around the perimeter.
Before visiting, make sure to reserve tickets online. The site notes ‘fully committed dates’ when the rink is not open to the public, and an optional fast pass can get your group to the front of the line if there’s a wait.
The skating area is about half the size of an Olympic rink, but still gives plenty of space to accommodate both experienced and non-experienced skaters. When we visited, there were no more than 50 people on the ice, but it can hold up to 200. My 5-year-old son didn’t feel intimidated by the teenage or adult skaters and stayed close to the wall while warming up. After five times around, he was ready to fully skate the ice with our older kids!
A snack break is a good idea for tired skaters. As my son said, “This is hard work, Mommy!” A full Park Tavern menu with waiter service is available at both ends of the rink, and hot chocolate (we had some for $8 apiece) and s’mores are served as well. Adults can order beer or wine.
All of us enjoyed the family-friendly atmosphere and warmth of this rink. A skating outing will now be one of our family must-dos during the winter!
– Kim Curnutt
Southwest Rink at Park Tavern
500 10th Street NE, Atlanta. 404-249-0001; parktavern.com/about/swarink/
Cost: $15-$20/All day skate
Hours: Through Feb. 17; Mon.-Fri., 4:30 p.m.-midnight. Sat.-Sun.11 a.m.-midnight. (Adult skate nightly 8:30 p.m.-midnight.)