Now that students' are out for summer vacation, the question becomes how to keep them occupied for the next couple of months without breaking the bank. Thankfully Newton County has plenty to not only keep the kids occupied, but also enjoy time together as well.
Academy Springs Park
Located just off Conyers Street, Academy Springs Park is owned and operated by the Lion's Club. But you certainly don't have to be a Lion to enjoy all it has to offer. For younger children, there are swings and slides, but there are also concrete picnic tables, a covered pavilion area and paths and a bridge that surround a small lake right in the center of the park. Pack a picnic lunch and go enjoy the park. Not only is it free, but it's a nice way to get out of the house for at least a few hours. If you have smaller kids, make a day of it.
Factory Shoals Park
Take a drive down Ga. Highway 36 and turn onto Factory Shoals Road to find a scene out of the North Georgia Mountains. Factory Shoals is much larger than you first think. Right past the bridge that goes over the shoals is a gravel parking lot. You can park there and walk through the woods (on a well-worn path) to the shoals. Keep in mind, this beauty is dangerous. The current is stronger than it looks. But you can take a path down to the rocks and walk around or sunbathe on them. If you walk across the street there is another path that will take you down to the shoals and underneath the bridge. There is a donation request for parking in the actual park area, but there's no set amount.
Just down from the Newton County Sheriff's Office on Alcovy Road is Lake Varner. Don't let the initial entrance fool you - the gravel/dirt road soon turns into a paved road that leads to a fantastic lake, picnic areas, playground, docks for fishing and a boat launch. There's also plenty of green space to just wander around in. Smaller children will enjoy the shaded picnic area and play area, while older kids can go fishing, boating (if they are lucky enough to have one at their legal disposal) or just hang out under the trees and feed the ducks that are scattered around the lake. For photography aficionados, you could spend hours there with a camera and friends or family.
Newton County Library/Chimney Springs
Another freebie, the Newton County Library on Floyd Street (and also the one in Oak Hill on Ga. Highway 212) offer several programs throughout the summer. You can do a summer reading program; they have shows (usually geared toward younger kids) and different programs to participate in, including clubs like the anime club and knitting groups for all ages. Another great thing about the library? Books! I know, I know, books are lame, right? No! For those who refuse to lose themselves in the fabulous stories available in the thousands of books there, then try a book on CD, or rent a movie, or a CD to listen to. The library has all of these things, as well as computers.
Use this summer to help strengthen the bond with your kids and to get out of the house. All it takes to make it fun is you.