Train on display at the Southeastern Railway Museum.
Less than 20 years ago (during the 1996 Summer Olympics) a trip to Gwinnett County invoked thoughts of visiting "the country", but today the area has grown into a modern area boasting shopping centers, museums and growing neighborhoods. If you've planned a trip to the Atlanta area, be sure to travel up north just a few miles and experience some of the following fun attractions that Gwinnett County has to offer.
Visitors have the ability to view displays of what freight rooms, mail rooms, and railway waiting rooms would have looked like over the years. Additionally, the museum features more than 90 retired trains and/or train equipment on over 30 acres, which visitors are allowed to roam around at their leisure.
Interestingly, the Southeastern Railway Museum contains the second oldest steel rail-car in existence, which also happens to be the very railcar used to transport Presidents Wilson and Harding cross-country. It was also the same car used to transport Harding's casket from San Francisco to Washington D.C.
The museum also features non-train exhibits too, such as old cab cars, buses and trolleys. Most display pieces are open for viewing and walking around inside. Plan on visiting the museum on a nice day, as there is no air conditioning inside the trains; there is air conditioning inside the gift shop and exhibit hall.
Roam the grounds independently or with a group tour. Tickets are $4 for kids ages 2-12, $8 for adults, and $6 for Seniors. Check the website for hours of operation, which vary by the season. Rental facilities available for booking parties, as well as riding on a park train.
Southeastern Railway Museum 2013
Entrance to the food court at the Mall of Georgia.
Buford's Mall of Georgia is conveniently located between highways 85 and 985 on Buford Hwy. It features top of the line shops, such as Pottery Barn, the Apple Store, as well as big anchor stores such as Nordstroms, Belk, JcPennys and Macy's.
Kids will enjoy shopping at the Mall of Georgia as well, since there is a small playground area (located in the Nordstrom's wing) as well as a large carrousel in the food court. (Tickets are $2 each, with one parent free to accompany children under a certain height.)
As pictured below, the mall also features a fountain where kids can cool off in the summer heat. Footwear required. Other summer activities include live music, movie nights and a yearly Independence Day firework show.
Sugarloaf Mills Mall (formerly known as Discover Mills) boasts the best of both regular and outlet mall shopping. Built in a circular-like shape, you can roam Sugarloaf Mills and see great shops of all kind, or find plenty of activities for the family too.
In addition to the LEGO store, which often has free monthly activities for kids, you'll find other family-friendly attractions such as Medieval Times, a glow-in-the-dark miniature golf course, a paint-your-own-pottery storefront and much more.
The Gwinnett County parks system has been recognized by several agencies for their excellence. In addition to offering a variety of things to do sports-wise, the parks all offer great settings to enjoy nature.
For example, visit Rabbit Hill park in Dacula for a treat for your dogs and for the entire family. Rabbit Hill features a separate dog park, as well as a large recreation area for kids. Take your kids on a nature walk, let them splash in the water river feature, or let them exert some energy on the playground. Plenty of courts and official sport areas about too- with a sand volleyball court, and several basketball, football, soccer, and baseball fields.
You could also visit Bogan Park for traditional park features, or even take a dip in the indoor pool. Gwinnett county boasts several aquatic centers with a variety of options. Whether you are looking for a traditional lap pool, outdoor playground water features, or even a lazy river, you are sure to find a nearby aquatic center that meets your needs. Prices vary based on if you are a Gwinnett County resident or not, and which aquatic center you visit.
Movies are always fun to watch, but they are even more fun when they are at a discounted price, thanks to Venture Cinemas. At the time of the writing of this article, tickets to Venture Cinema-- located inside the Santa Fe Mall (near Gwinnett Place Mall)-- are only $3.50 for regular movies and $5 for 3D flix. Keep in mind that on weekdays the location opens at 3:30pm; on weekends and holidays the location frequently opens at 12:30pm. Visit the website for showtimes and listings.
Libraries aren't just about books anymore! The Gwinnett County Public Library has a system has a wonderful variety of exciting activities for youngsters and older adults alike. While each branch has their own monthly calendar of events, many branches hold the same events on different days. Past activities have included a puppet team or petting zoo that travele from branch to branch, or a NASA sponsored event discussing the solar eclipse. Multple groups also have weekly or month meetings- such as for homeschoolers, pre-schoolers, middle/high schoolers, and older adults. Topics of activities include things such as chess clubs, story time, employment seminars, knitting/crochet groups, crafts, LEGO activties, homework tutoring and (of course!) book clubs.
GCPL is also a great resource for non-book related items as well, such as a vast supply of board games, chess sets, blu-ray and DVDs. Several branches also host a 'Learning Lab' with resourcess such as 3D printing, dremel workstations, sewing machines, audio/video equipment, and computer editing programs.
No matter what you choose to do in Gwinnett county, Georgia, you're sure to have fun and be welcome by some of the nicest people in the country.