We hit the road bright and early knowing that Atlanta traffic is notoriously bad. Our friend lives in the middle of downtown, so at his recommendation we wanted to arrive by 3 pm. We gave the kids a quick breakfast and then said our goodbyes.
We stopped for lunch at a barbecue place in Tifton Georgia. I think it was called the Pit Stop. My husband found it on line, and when we arrived realized it was a popular place with the locals - always a plus. Lunch was good, and after seeing all the signs for pecans, we stopped and picked up a few bags of those as well. Can't visit Georgia without getting some pecans.
We made it to Atlanta in good time and pulled up to his building shortly before 3pm. He lives in a high rise condo - one bedroom unit. It's loft style so the walls to the bedroom don't go all the way up to the ceiling - this was going to be a challenge for bedtime. We went to the pool for a bit to let the kids burn off some energy and then went to the Mellow Mushroom for pizza. Before heading home, we stopped in Piedmont Park to let the kids run some more.
We decided the best sleeping arrangements were for our whole little family to sleep in the bedroom, and our friend offered to sleep on the couch. We set up the pack n play, and two air mattresses in a horseshoe around the bed. Knowing that the kids wouldn't fall asleep if we stayed in the apartment, we set up the cell phone monitor and went downstairs for a beer. Once we were sure the kids were asleep we headed up to bed.
The next morning we headed to Stone Mountain. Our friend wasn't feeling well so stayed home, but we had a fun day. I didn't really know what to expect with Stone Mountain, and while it was more expensive than I had thought it would be, there was a lot yo do. We parked near the base of the gondola, and took that to the top of the mountain. As you ride up you are able to get a view of the carving on the mountain, which is great as it makes it easier to appreciate how big it really is. There is a small restaurant on top and a viewing platform on one side but most of the summit us wide open for people to walk around on. The rest of the surrounding area is flat and you can see pretty far.
We had read before going up to the top that it's a mile and a third walk down, with some steep spots tgat have handrails. Seemed doable. In hindsight, shouldn't have done it with the kids. It was pretty hot at the top, and while we should have bought drinks for the walk down we didn't. There were a few trees here and there towards the top but for the most part we were under the blazing hot sun for a most of the walk down. The steep parts are slippery as they have worn down over the years from people walking down. The handrails are pretty slick too. Add to that that I wore flipflops that day, and the kids were wearing sandals. Not the best idea since we all had sneakers with us. My son was going pretty slowly and soon started asking me to carry him. I held off as long as i could but did finally end up carrying him the last third of a mile or so.
At the base is a exhibit hall with water fountain and bathrooms as well as a geologic exhibit detailing how the continents formed and explaining why there is a mountain in the middle of flat Georgia. There was a short movie on how the carving was made, but at that point our kids were thirsty and hungry and we didn't stop to watch it. We caught a shuttle to a different area of the mountain for lunch. The shuttles don't run very often but there is a schedule. Try to get one when you arrive so you can plan ahead.