From championship golf courses to a dazzling laser light show, this 3,200-acre local park has attractions galore
STORY: Karon Warren
While many Atlantans head to Stone Mountain Park for the day, there’s much more to do at Georgia’s most visited attraction than a mere 24 hours can hold. Its most notable features include the Scenic Railroad, Summit Skyride and the popular Lasershow Spectacular, a 45-minute production projected on the side of the mountain. A wealth of activities take advantage of the park’s natural setting as well.
Kayaking, biking, fishing, golf and hiking, including the 1-mile trek up Stone Mountain, are just some of the ways to enjoy the great outdoors. But the park also contains some historical sites, starting with the quarry exhibit detailing the park’s heritage.
Long before Stone Mountain was sought out for its scenic beauty, the 1,686-foot dome, visible from the highest spots in Buckhead, was mined for its granite. Quarry operations ran from the 1840s to 1978, all of which is documented in an outdoor display along one side of the mountain. Signage, photographs, artifacts and scarring come together to tell the story not only of the quarry operations, but also of the many workers who carved the mountain into acre-size pieces of granite.
Located at the base of the walk-up hiking trail in Confederate Hall, the Historical & Environmental Education Center documents the area’s geology and ecology through displays, interactive science exhibits and videos. One not-to-miss exhibit is the life-size cave that contains a video on the mountain’s origin.
A great place for a photo or quiet reflection, the Grist Mill was built around 1869 in Fannin County in North Georgia, where it served the community for nearly a century. After being abandoned, it was renovated and relocated to the park around 1965.
Just down from the Grist Mill, the Washington W. King Bridge is a lattice style covered span constructed in Athens in 1891. After being damaged by floods, it was relocated to the park in 1965. Today, visitors can drive or walk across the bridge or enjoy a meal in the shade at the adjacent picnic area. Stone Mountain Park also served as the venue of the archery and cycling events during the 1996 Summer Olympic Games.
That same section of the park now serves as a songbird habitat that includes two 1-mile walking trails. The Meadow Trail is a loop around the habitat’s meadow that’s perfect for all ages and skill levels. The Woodland Trail starts along the Meadow Trail before forking off into the woods. It contains some hills but remains a good walk for all skill levels.
For visitors who choose to stay overnight, a variety of lodging options are available. Since 1965, the Stone Mountain Inn has invited guests to experience the Southern charm and grace of its 92 guestrooms, outdoor courtyard, swimming pool and large veranda filled with rocking chairs. Opened in 1989, the Atlanta Evergreen Marriott Conference Center and Hotel offers a more modern stay.
When not in your room, take a dip in either the indoor or outdoor swimming pools, head to the fitness center or relax with a drink at the Rocks Pool Bar and Grill. Those looking to take full advantage of the park’s bucolic setting can do so at the Stone Mountain Park Campground, which boasts more than 400 RV, pop-up and tent sites, as well as yurt, safari tent and RV rentals. Alongside the lake, campers can enjoy a swimming pool, playground, horseshoe court and more.
Stone Mountain Park may be best known for its long-running Lasershow Spectacular, but there’s much more to see and experience
at this local treasure.
STONE MOUNTAIN PARK
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