Have a Grand Time Making Memories to Last a Lifetime

story by Pamela A. Keene

With affectionate names like Mimi and Gammi, Pop-Pop and Daddy-Bob, grandparents hold a special place with their grandchildren. Whether the kids are toddlers or teens, spending time with their grandparents can be special.

“Northeast Georgia has many opportunities for grandparents and their grandchildren to enjoy time together,” says Stacey Dickson, president of the Lake Lanier Convention and Visitors Bureau, which promotes tourism in Northeast Georgia. “It’s becoming a national trend that attractions and destinations are promoting multi-generational activities to encourage families to do more things together, and that includes grandparents and their grandchildren.”

The Lake Lanier CVB has grouped activities and attractions, based on age, on its website, www.discoverlakelanier.com. Groups include toddlers, kids 3 to 9, pre-teens aged 10-12 and teens aged 13-16.

“We’ve developed suggested itineraries for each age group, from where to have breakfast or lunch to places to go swimming or experience hands-on learning,” she says. “Here in Hall and Northeast Georgia, we are fortunate to have many choices for fun things to do.”

The Atlanta Botanical Garden, Gainesville offers weekly story time every Wednesday from 10 to 11 a.m. It’s followed by a chance for youngsters ages 4-6 to try their skills creating art.

“We’ll begin our Discovery Stations family programming in April,” says Wanda Cannon, education and volunteer coordinator with the Atlanta Botanical Garden, Gainesville. “We offer hands-on learning to learn about nature, from bees and butterflies to trees and shrubs and other things around the Atlanta Botanical Garden, Gainesville. This is a wonderful way for children and their parents and grandparents to engage in fun activities and share together.”

Discovery Stations will be open every Saturday and Sunday starting in April. The Atlanta Botanical Garden, Gainesville, has other kid-centric attractions that can be enjoyed with their grandparents, including the Model Train Garden that’s also integrates unusual plants. Plans are to create a special children’s garden later this year at the facility.

For information about family-friendly happenings at the Atlanta Botanical Garden, Gainesville, visit atlantabg.org/Gainesville-garden/.

INK, Interactive Neighborhood for Kids Museum, specializes in all things kids. Like its name says, it’s filled with interactive exhibits that help children learn about careers and the real world through role-play. INK’s 20 exhibits recreate the real world and allow children to experience various careers, including banking, medical and dental, and transportation. Weekly arts and crafts sessions give them hands-on opportunities for exploring their creativity.

“Children can play and learn, plus their imaginations can run wild,” says Jenny Staley, assistant director. “We have a paint-your-own pottery studio so that they can create a gift for their grandparents and parents, or something to keep for themselves.”

INK offers special memberships for grandparents. For information about INK’s activities, visit www.inkfun.org.

Consider taking a road trip to a simpler time when people had farm animals. The North Georgia Zoo and Petting Farm in Cleveland is filled with hands-on chances to get up close to goats, pigs, sheep, llamas, ponies and cows. But further surprises await.

“We have many unusual animals, too,” says Stephanie Varady, director of sales at North Georgia Zoo and Petting Farm. “You can see African Crested Porcupines, kangaroos, sloths, camels and even feed parakeets at our Parakeet Landing.”

The zoo hosts regular Mommy and Me programs that are popular with grandparents and their grandchildren. These kid-focused walks generally last about 30 minutes. Schedules vary throughout the year.

For more information about programming at the North Georgia Zoo and Petting Farm, visit www.northgeorgiazoo.com.

These are just a few of the many activities that grandparents can do with their grandchildren. As spring arrives, the opportunities are limitless.

“Everyone wins when grandparents spend time with their grandchildren, especially by doing activities that are special,” Dickson says. “It helps keep the grandparents young, both the grandparents and the grandchildren learn sometime new and it’s a wonderful way to create memories that will last a lifetime.”

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