Experience Summer Olympic Sports Near Atlanta

Find places to experience the summer Olympics near Atlanta

The Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympic Games begin this week. It will be fun to watch the world’s best athletes compete, and of course watch the USA’s medal count start adding up. But I can only watch for so long. After awhile, I’d like to actually get into the game. Not at an Olympic level of course, but at an amateur hey that might be fun kind of level. If you’re like me, then read on for places you can try summer Olympic sports near Atlanta

Experience Summer Olympic Sports Near Atlanta

Attending the Summer Olympic games was an amazing experience. In 1996 the entire world came to Atlanta and places I knew well were transformed into someplace completely different. A simple ride on MARTA became an international adventure. I met people from all over the country and the world during those few weeks. One of my favorite activities, beyond watching the Olympic competitions, was the Coca-Cola Olympic Experience. In a makeshift tent city, we were able to try our hand at various Olympic sports.

I never understood why Coca-Cola didn’t make that a permanent attraction, or maybe even part of the World of Coca-Cola. You can’t visit the Coca-Cola Olympic experience anymore, but you can visit these nine places and play summer Olympic sports near Atlanta

Whitewater Kayaking: Former Olympian Joe Jacobi trained for the whitewater rafting competition on in Sandy Springs on the Chattahoochee River. For those of us who aren’t quite up to Olympic competition, maybe just grab a kayak and paddle 7 miles along the small rapids of the Chattahoochee River. Begin the journey at Island Ford Park, the Chattahoochee National Recreation Area Headquarters, first navigating through the speedy ripples in the water before making way to smooth waters. Stop for a snack at the mid-point, about 4 miles in, and enjoy the picnic pavilions at the Chattahoochee River Park. Wander off into the nook of Vickery Creek for some quick open water swimming and nature exploration. Finish the paddle to Morgan Falls Overlook Park and enjoy the river’s trees and wildlife along the calm, peaceful waters.

Whitewater rafting at Whitewater Express in Columbus, Ga. Whitewater Rafting: Farther down the Chattahoochee River in Columbus, Ga., about an hour and a half southwest of Atlanta, you’ll find Whitewater Express. The same folks who built the 1996 Olympic Whitewater Course on the Oconee River, also built the this course. What makes this section of the river especially interesting is the daily water release. Until about 4 pm, there are over five class III rapids with things starting to pick up after 3 pm when the dam begins to release. After 4 pm, the dam release is complete, and that same course becomes class IV plus. For the real thrill seeker, Whitewater Express has special black rafts that are smaller, and easier to surf, as well as tip. 

Track and Field: According to  a Top End Sports poll, Athletics, or track and field, is the second most popular Olympic sport at the Rio Games (gymnastics was first). Ease your self, and your kids into running with the Running Nerd Nation’s One Mile Race Series. The next race is on August 27, so you have a little time to train.

Learn Archery at Panola Mountain State ParkArchery: Whether you’re looking for a place to hone your archery skills or want to learn from scratch, we know where you can go. Georgia State Parks features two types of ranges: the first is a traditional static ranges, where archers shoot into “bow butt” targets in free-standing target sheds, and the second is a series of trails with realistic targets (deer, turkey, etc.) on several lanes. Static and 3-D ranges can be found at: Elijah Clark, Panola Mountain, and Victoria Bryant state parks. Classes, taught by certified instructors are also available throughout the month at these state parks for beginners through advanced levels, and the parks provide you with gear. 

Fort Yargo State Park is a great place for Mountain BikingMountain Biking: First-timers and advanced riders can check off more than 68 miles of mountain bike trails at Georgia State Parks with the Muddy Spokes Club. The club highlights designated trails at 11 state parks, the most popular being Cloudland Canyon, Fort Mountain, Fort Yargo, Unicoi State Park and Watson Mill Bridge state parks. Trails range in difficulty from easy, predominantly gravel paths to difficult, single-track technical trails. To join the Muddy Spokes Club, mountain bikers buy a $10 membership punch card. Complete all the trails, and receive a Muddy Spokes Club t-shirt.

Dick Lane Velodrome in East Point Georgia is a perfect place to experience summer Olympic sports near AtlantaVelodrome Biking: If mountain biking seems just a little to ‘ordinary’ for you, try velodrome or track cycling. East Point’s Dick Lane Velodrome (DLV) is one of only 22 velodromes in the United States. Ironically, when the Olympics were in Atlanta in 1996, a velodrome was brought in and built instead of using the DLV. It was actually constructed much earlier in 1974, inspired by a group of residents and City officials that visited the Munich Olympics. The 1/5 of a mile track is banked at 36 degrees, making for high-speed, tactical racing.

Three “pro series” races occur throughout the summer, where track cyclists from across the country come to race in a variety of different races. The fun of watching races at a velodrome, is you can see the entire field of action-including every tactic by the cyclists-from the stands. The last of the pro race series is The Velodrome Cup on August 27. If you want to try your hand at track cycling, the DLV hosts programming from March through October for beginners who want to get involved in the sport, including a Youth Cycling League for kids ages 8-16. More info on .

horseback riding at AH Stephens State Park in GeorgiaEquestrian: Make a vacation out of trail riding on 200 acres at Southern Cross Guest Ranch outside Madison Georgia. Trips here aren’t your normal nose-to-tail trail ride. At Southern Cross, guests are involved in the entire process of riding. The barn manager helps select a horse with the appropriate temperament.

Georgia State Parks also have more than 100 miles of horseback riding trails. Trail rides through Georgia’s pristine state parks pass through a variety of landscapes, from lush forests to open fields and pastures. The hundreds of streams, rivers and lakes along the way make for a scenic stop. Most of Georgia State Park’s horseback riding trails are loop rides with links to other trails, allowing you to customize your horse riding adventure. You can bring your own horse or opt for horse rental at F.D. Roosevelt’s guided horseback ride concessionaire. For horse owners, Georgia State Parks provide horseback riding trails, equestrian campsites, horse stalls, and riding rings. 

Golf: Golf is back at the Olympics for the first time since 1904. If you are a golfer, it’s pretty easy to find a course around Atlanta, but have you tried the latest crazy in golfing? Foot golf is played with a soccer ball on a golf course, but with separate greens. Players see who can land the ball in the hole with the fewest strokes (kicks).  Sandy Springs’ Steel Canyon Golf Club is the closest home to the sport of foot golf, a fusion game of soccer and golf that originated in the Netherlands and is gaining worldwide popularity. We played the game at Sea Palms on St. Simons Island. It’s a lot of fun and literally anyone who can kick a ball can do it.

The IronKids Triathlon in Alpharetta has three different age groups and is a perfect way to experience summer Olympic sports near Atlanta.Triathlon: Kids can get a taste of what it’s like to compete in an Olympic triathlon on Sept. 18 in Alpharetta. The IronKids Alpharetta Triathlon brings kids from across the Southeast to compete in three age categories: junior (ages 6-8), intermediate (ages 9-12) and senior (ages 12-15). Race distances are tailored to each age group. The junior age group will swim 50 meters, bike two miles and run 500 yards; the intermediate group will swim 150 meters, bike four miles and run one mile; and the senior age group will swim 300 meters, bike eight miles and run two miles.

1996 Atlanta Olympic Games
A vintage picture in front of the Coca-Cola Olympic Experience during the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games. We’re holding a replica of the Olympic torch.

 

About Sue Rodman 174 Articles
Sue Rodman is the mom of 3 boys and publishes Field Trips with Sue, an award winning family travel blog about the Southeast and fun places to visit from the Southeast, covering outings, day trips, weekend getaways and family vacations. Field Trips with Sue is a Nickelodeon Parent’s Pick Winner, a Red Tricycle Best Family Travel Blog and a Parents.com best blog nominee. Sue has been interviewed on Family Travel in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, The Northside Neighbor, Publix Magazine, and on all three major networks. For four years, Sue produced a Field Trips with Sue travel segment for CBS Better Mornings Atlanta, and has filled in for the host of WXIA Friday Freebies. Sue offers inside information about must-see Atlanta attractions and more in her popular book “100+ Free Things to do in Atlanta.”

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