If you’re in Buckhead, you know there’s a road named after it. If you’re in East Atlanta, you think it might be somewhere in Georgia. But if you’re in the know—wherever you live—you know that Roswell has a thriving downtown, tons of family programming and plenty or restaurants by some of Atlanta’s best chefs (but generally more family-friendly and without the forever-and-a-day reservation wait). Ready to explore? These are our five favorite things to do in Roswell as a family.
Visit the Chattahoochee Nature Center
This nature center on the banks of the Chattahoochee is a not-to-miss destination for families across the metro area, and beyond. With preserved natural habitats, local wildlife—including an incredible owl habitat and pond with scores of turtles—the Nature Center also offers incredible seasonal programs. In the spring, don't miss the Butterfly Encounter, where you can go into an enclosed area full of the most vibrant butterflies you could imagine. Grab a nectar stick and delight as they land on them, and grab some incredible pictures. Or, go for the Family Fun Days, which include family canoeing, hiking, and water play.
Don't Miss: The CNC has partnered with American Adventure Park Systems and Historic Banning Mills to bring you Screaming Eagle Aerial Adventures at the Nature Center. Choose to do the Aerial Adventure Course, Zipline Canopy Tour, or both. See nature from a different perspective and spend a day in the trees.
9135 Willeo Rd.
Hike at Old Mill Park
Expect lots of company on weekends at this extremely popular spot, but it's popular for good reason. The trail runs up from the Chattahoochee River towards the dam, and has a covered bridge, ruins of the Roswell Manufacturing Company Mills—constructed in 1839 and 1853 and burned by Union forces on July 7, 1864—and a waterfall that was created when the creek was dammed to provide water power. The bridge and waterfall are favorite spots for amateur and professional photographers.
Good to Know: Parking is available near the trailhead as well as up the hill, and at the trail head you will find a Little Free Library where you can take or leave a book.
95 Mill St.
Tour Historic Homes & Gardens
Roswell's history runs alongside that of Atlanta, with the difference being scale and preservation. While many of the historic sites in Atlanta were razed for developers claiming progress, slower-paced Roswell has held on to some of its more interesting historic homes and sites.
Good to Know: Hidden among the trees in downtown Roswell, you'll find historic-homes-turned-museums that give visitors a glimpse into life during Roswell's earliest days. With ties to slavery, these historic sites explore the role of slaves in the South, in Roswell, and as the foundation of the agricultural economy. For more information on how Roswell addresses its history as it relates to slavery, check out programming and information available through Roswell Roots.
Constructed by one of Roswell’s founding families, the Archibald Smith Plantation Home was built after the family and 30 of their slaves left two struggling plantations along the Georgia coast to make a new start with 300 acres of cotton farmland north of the Roswell Square. Their home, built by slave labor in 1845, was preserved by three generations of the Smith family and is now open to the public as a museum.
Barrington Hall sits on seven acres in downtown Historic Roswell. In the 1830s, Barrington Hall's builder, Barrington King, and his father, Roswell King, co-founded the colony which became Roswell. On your visit you'll hear stories spanning from 1838 until the city of Roswell acquired the home in 2005. On the grounds, explore the only antebellum public garden in the greater Atlanta area, along with numerous original outbuildings.
The childhood home of President Theodore Roosevelt's mother, Martha Bullock, is an 1840 Greek Revival mansion called Bulloch Hall and features restored rooms with period furnishings.
To tour all three historic homes, you can opt between guided tours and self-paced ones.
535 Barrington Dr.
180 Bulloch Ave.
935 Alpharetta St.
Eat Your Way Through Canton Street
Canton Street is home to Roswell's dining and shopping scene, and is named a Great Georgia Street. During the spring and fall, this area hosts Alive in Roswell and the third Thursday of every month allows diners to walk with drinks on the pedestrian street.
Good to Know: Families looking for food should put The Fickle Pickle—known for it's unusually delicious lunch fare and a solid kids menu—at the top of their list. For dessert, you don't have to look hard, but if you're in the mood for a little bit of an unusual experience, head a few streets over for Mr. Tino's Ice Cream. A darling of reviewers, this spot has classic ice cream, "some unique Latino flavors" and excellent service.
1085 Canton St.
Mr. Tino's Ice Cream
1255 Grimes Bridge Rd., Ste. E
Play at the Aurora Cineplex & The Fringe Mini Golf
Enjoy first-run movies in a comfortable, clean theater at Aurora Cineplex, featuring 10 screens of 100% digital picture and sound with Sony 4K Cinema, RealD 3D, stadium seating, and high-back rocker chairs. Pair your ticket with access to two 18-hole mini golf courses filled with amusing surprises, and you'll have an unbeatable, easy, and economical family staycation in the Metro Area.
Good to Know: This family funplex is called Area 51 in reference to the Roswell, New Mexico city famous for its alien sightings and secret government sites. To our knowledge, you'll encounter no aliens nor will you be chased by large SUVs, but knowing the history makes some of the ambiance more fun.
5100 Commerce Pkwy.
Featured image Chaz P. via Yelp