One of the most popular Atlanta day trips is Stone Mountain Georgia. Located approximately fifteen miles east of downtown Atlanta, Stone Mountain rises 825 feet from the surrounding Stone Mountain Park like a monolith, drawing people from all over the world. Some come to see the quartz monzonite dome itself, some come for Atlanta family entertainment, and others come to see the largest bas-relief sculpture in the world. Whatever your motivation, there is something for everyone at Stone Mountain.
Many visitors to Stone Mountain Georgia are outdoor enthusiasts that take advantage of the hiking opportunities. Visitors can choose between five trails, including the popular one-mile Walk Up summit trail. For those with limited mobility, the summit is also accessible by Skyride cable car. However you choose to scale the mountain, the views from the summit are rewarding, offering vistas of the Atlanta skyline, Kennesaw Mountain, and the Appalachian Mountains in the distance. During the rainy season, visitors to the top of Stone Mountain will also find pools of rainwater that contain a type of fairy and clam shrimp, unique specifically to Stone Mountain.
One of the most popular draws to Stone Mountain Park is the Confederate Memorial Carving. Gracing the side of Stone Mountain, Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson sit astride their favorite horses in the largest bas-relief sculpture in the world. Although the idea of a Civil War monument was first commissioned in 1916, the sculpture wasn't officially complete until March 3, 1972. Several sculptors contributed to the creation of Stone Mountain, including Gutzon Borglum, who went on to sculpt Mount Rushmore. The carving is recessed 42 feet into the stone 400 feet above the ground, and measures 90 feet tall by 190 feet wide. The deepest part of the carving is twelve feet deep at Lee's elbow.
The historical significance of Stone Mountain Georgia is best displayed at Confederate Hall, operated by the Stone Mountain Memorial Association. This museum educates visitors on the history and geology of the mountain and the surrounding area. History also comes alive at the Antebellum Plantation and Farmyard open-air museum, made up of nineteen historic pre-Civil War Georgian buildings that were carefully moved to the location for preservation. Tours of the plantation are self-guided, and demonstrators are located throughout the grounds to teach visitors about life in eighteenth and nineteenth century Georgia.
One of the popular kids things to do in Atlanta and a unique way to see Stone Mountain is by the Scenic Railroad. Climb aboard the diesel locomotive with open-air cars, and ride the five-mile circumference of the mountain on a standard gauge railroad. Or perhaps the open waters suit you better, in which case you can cruise Stone Mountain Lake on the Scarlett O'Hara, a reproduction of a Mississippi side-wheeler riverboat. Each cruise lasts twenty minutes.
In addition to these, Stone Mountain Park is filled with kids things to do in Atlanta. Visit Crossroads, an 1872 Southern town recreation, complete with glassblowing and candy-making demonstrations. It also includes a 4-D movie theater, an amphibious tour called the Ducks, shopping, and dining options. Challenge your friends and family to the Great Locomotive Chase Adventure miniature golf course or the Skyhike ropes course. Kids will enjoy games, climbing gear, trampolines, and super slides in the Great Barn. Reserve a spot early to see the popular Lasershow Spectacular on summer nights. One of the most popular kids things to do in Atlanta is to visit the park during the holidays when the entire park is transformed into a winter wonderland for their large Christmas festival.