Whether you’re a parent, grandparent or babysitter, you know that keeping kids busy while they’re out of school can be difficult. It’s been over a month since the start of the summer holidays and, let’s be real, there are only so many times you can rewatch “Moana,” or let the kids play in the sprinkler before everyone gets a hint of cabin fever.
We’ve compiled a list of six different things to do in Athens throughout the rest of the summer — many of which are free or low-budget — that will keep the kids entertained while keeping you sane.
Treehouse Kid and Craft
Treehouse Kid and Craft is a toy store that hosts regular art classes for kids between the ages of 2 and 12 years old. In addition to classes, Treehouse hosts two day camps each week throughout the summer, with fun themes like “A Night at the Museum” and “Calico Critters.” Caretakers are allowed to hang around during class or camp if they want to, which is a perfect opportunity to check out the shop’s fun and quirky wares or to head next door to Ideal Bagel Co. for snack. You can buy tickets for a class,$12, or a five day camp session, $170 at Treehouse Kid and Craft’s website.
World of Wonder (WOW) Park
Funded by SPLOST 2011, the new World of Wonder (WOW) Park playground on Whit David Road was opened in 2016 to replace its 13-year-old predecessor that had begun to deteriorate. The playground was designed in conjunction with the Little Tikes Commercial Custom Design Studio and features a three-story slide, a rock climbing wall and a multitude of swing options. The park is also Biba Activated, which means its compatible with the Biba Playground Games app, an augmented reality game for kids that combines new technology with outdoor fun.
“Where’s Waldo in the ATH?”
July 1 marks the beginning of Avid Bookshops ’s “Find Waldo Local” event. Those interested in participating in the hunt can pick up their free “Waldo passport” at either of the bookshop’s two locations at Five Points or Prince Avenue. Waldo is hiding in 25 small businesses in the Athens area, and anyone with at least 20 confirmed Waldo sightings who attends the celebration on July 31 will be entered into a prize raffle with items donated by participating businesses. The first 250 participants to spot Waldo in 10 different locations will get an “I Found Waldo” button and a coupon for $1 off a “Where’s Waldo” book.
Athens-Clarke County Library
The library has a huge amount of kids programming all throughout the year, and summer is a great time to utilize the Children’s Area and free events. The library serves children of all ages, starting at birth with its Infant Storytime every Monday morning. Afraid the kiddos aren’t getting enough mental stimulation while out of school? Get them involved in the library’s book club, which is reading the ageless classic “Tuck Everlasting” in July. If you’re looking for more physically active fun, bring the whole family to Summer Family Folk Dancing and get your “Cotton Eyed Joe” on. The library has even more activities on its calendar, so check it out and make sure to look and see if the event your bunch wants to attend requires registration.
Bear Hollow Zoo
Bear Hollow Zoo is home to animals who are unable to be released into the wild, so they serve as educators to those interested in learning about the environment. The zoo offers free admission and the opportunity to see many interesting animals that are native to Georgia, such as bears, deer and owls. If your group is more interested in seeing animals of the creepy-crawly kind, there’s an exhibit hall that is home to reptiles and amphibians. For the extreme-animal lovers and future zoologists, the Athens-Clarke County Unified government offers three different day camps that explore Bear Hollow Zoo, ranging in price from $40 to $85.
Alice H. Richards Children’s Garden
Just this March, the State Botanical Garden of Georgia at the University of Georgia unveiled its new Alice H. Richards Children’s Garden. The interactive garden features fun elements such as a giant ladybug, towering mushrooms and acorns the size of small boulders, among many others. Kids are provided gardening tools to plant vegetables in a section of the garden, and aspiring archaeologists can dig for fossils in the dinosaur pit. The State Botanical Garden of Georgia is free to visit, but has several kids day camps throughout the summer, ranging from $60 to $225, which will visit some of the Children’s Garden’s many hands-on areas.