On our way to warmer weather in Florida, we took a side trip to the Stone Mountain Park Campground outside Atlanta, Georgia for a few days.
My knowledge of Stone Mountain was that there was a carving of Civil War leaders on the side of the huge granite mountain, so I was in for quite an experience. The campground is in a wooded area, and since we were there in November, the leaves (and temperatures) were falling rapidly.
The site we picked was a pull-through site, but was too narrow for a campfire once we had our slides out. However, we were able to sit out at our picnic table and admire the view of the mountain and surrounding lake. The campground was laid out in different loops along the lake. We were in the “M” loop and would probably recommend one of the other loops as this one got very crowded once everyone arrived. Also, the loop road was narrow, making it more difficult for bigger rigs to maneuver.
The main attraction, of course, is Stone Mountain Park. I’ll get into what to do, but first a few tips.
1. Order your tickets to the attractions online, and go ahead and splurge for the meal ticket as well. You’ll get a discount without it, but this way you can also get the complimentary refillable drink cup to use all day!
2. Get to the park when it opens, or a little before. Park in the Skyride lot. You’ll beat the crowds and be able to walk to most everything from there.
3. Wear comfortable shoes because you will walk — a lot!
4. Of course, bring your camera, GoPro, etc.!
5. We were at the park during their Stone Mountain Christmas Celebration. Many of the attractions were geared toward the Christmas season.
Here are a few things to do at Stone Mountain, but you’ll have to buy the all-access park ticket to do them!
1. Take the Summit Skyride to the top of the mountain. You can see the carving closer this way, and the views from the top of the surrounding area are spectacular. Be sure to do this early in your day to beat the crowds at the top, especially when you want to come back down.
2. If you really want to, you can hike up and/or back down. We could see this trail from the train ride we took later in the day, and it was pretty steep.
3. Be sure to check out the Historic Square across the street and behind Stone Mountain Inn. The collection of historic homes from around Georgia and antiques in them is exquisite. These buildings were built between 1792 and 1895 and brought to this location from around the state. There is also a working farmyard with live animals.
4. Walk back across the street and head to the Crossroads section next. Here you’ll find shops, restaurants where you can redeem your meal ticket, we chose BBQ, and plenty of photo opportunities. We got our picture taken with Bumble from Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer fame.
5. Mini-golf is included in your admission ticket, so enjoy a round at the base of the mountain. This is behind the railway station.
6. Be sure to take a ride on the Stone Mountain Express. This is a five-mile train ride around the mountain! There is where you can get a view of the walking trail I mentioned earlier, and the only way you can see the back side of the mountain. In keeping with the Christmas theme, we sang Christmas songs all the way around. If you take one of the night-time rides, you’ll see lighted displays on the ride as well.
7. We also went to the 4-D 10-minute showing of The Polar Express. This was also included in our ticket price, and we enjoyed this as well. This was an interactive movie experience, so be prepared for loud noises, water spray, snow falling from above, and your chair moving backward, forward, and side to side. The movie may be different at other times of the year.
8. There is also a Christmas parade nightly, as well as fireworks when the park closes at 10:00 PM.
For an extra fee, you can also take advantage of Snow Mountain, with man-made snow, tubing in various heights and distances, and the Snowzone. Keep in mind these attractions are only available for a limited time, so check their website for more details.
During the summer, Stone Mountain is also home to biking, boating, fishing, golfing and other outdoor activities. A few days at Stone Mountain Campground are educational, beautiful, and definitely relaxing.
Jennifer Skinnell is also the author of the Hope Springs Romance Series available on Amazon.