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Atlanta for Adventurers
Are you a thrill seeker? Or maybe just looking for an out-of-the-ordinary experience? Then the next time you pack your bags for Atlanta, you might want to include your bucket list as well – amazing and one-of-a-kind experiences await you. Whether you’re a daredevil looking for that next hit of adrenaline or just wanting to try something different, here are some of the adventures that Atlanta and its environs have to offer.
Embark on a Quest
Urban scavenger hunts have been increasing in popularity in America’s big cities, and Atlanta is no exception. What better way to get to know a city than through a guided tour that brings you to famous or historical sites and tests your acumen along the way? The tours are typically based off of smartphones; participants join the scavenger hunt for a fee (usually $35-$50 per group), which gives access to a website that leads them through the city, following clues, answering questions and completing challenges. The experience can be tailored for the length of tour and type of participants (i.e., whether you need a more family-friendly adventure), and can be undertaken at your convenience. Ongoing programs include Urban Adventure Quest, Scavenger Hunt Atlanta, and Watson Adventures.
Swim With Whale Sharks
This may be the definitive cure for the “been there, done that” blues: Georgia Aquarium’s Journey With Gentle Giants program, where you can swim with whale sharks, the largest fish in the world. The two and a half hour experience includes 30 minutes of swimming in the Ocean Voyager exhibit with the whale sharks and a behind-the-scenes view of the aquarium. The $235 fee also includes admission to the aquarium, its dolphin show and its 4-D theater, as well as all equipment, the swim, a certificate of participation, a t-shirt and a souvenir photo. (Georgia Aquarium; 225 Baker St NW, Atlanta, GA; (404) 581-4151; www.georgiaaquarium.com)
Fly Like an Eagle
Unleash your inner Superman or Wonder Woman at the zip line courses at Banning Mills. Located about 45 minutes west from some of the other Atlanta attractions, this non-profit nature conservancy center features the Amazing Flight of the Falcon zip line, where you zip “Superhero Style” (laying face down) for a 3,400 foot long flight -- one of the longest single lines in the mainland United States. If breaking records is your thing, sign up for the Screaming Eagle zip line tour, which has just been named the Guinness World Record holder for The Longest Continuous Zip-Wire (line) Course/Tour in the world. The tour includes sky bridges, ropes challenge courses, and zip lines that’ll zoom you to 60 m.p.h., all offering unparalleled scenic views of Snake Creek Gorge below. Banning Mills also features the World’s Tallest Freestanding Climbing Wall, a hike and bike trail that includes a sky bridge (don’t look down!), a 100-foot free fall, and a children’s aerial obstacle course, as well as the perfect antidote to an adrenaline-packed day: a relaxing day spa and treetop lodging for overnight guests. (Historic Banning Mills; 205 Horseshoe Dam Road, Banning, GA; 770-834-9149; www.historicbanningmills.com)
Join the Circus
No face paint required, we promise – just a willingness to learn some spectacular tricks! Atlanta’s Circus Arts Institute teaches numerous courses and workshops, including low trapeze, Spanish web (soft rope climbing with tricks), circus rings, aerial silks, tightwire, hand-balancing, hula-hooping, balance board and juggling. New students begin with a 90-minute introductory class ($46), then can sign up for individual classes desired (availability varies, so call or visit the website in advance). (Circus Arts Institute; 206 Rogers Street N.E., Suite 214, Atlanta, GA; 404-549-3000; www.circusartsinstitute.com)
Ride the Rapids
Whitewater rafting might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Atlanta, but the area’s numerous rivers, streams and creeks offer a range of rafting experiences, from a calm paddling tour to the thrilling Class IV-V rapids that experienced rafters seek out. Where to go, and how much it will cost, depends on what experience you’re looking for. Atlanta Whitewater Rafting (1-855-445-8794) has tours based on the location (some starting from Atlanta on the Chattahoochee River), the length of the tour and the intensity of the rapids, so they’re a great place to begin if you have a specific experience in mind or need to stay near the city. If you’re a die-hard white water enthusiast, Rolling Thunder River Company boasts being the only Georgia rafting company to offer access to the Ocoee River, site of the white water events of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, and its continuous Class III-IV rapids would be well worth the hour and a half drive north of the city. (Rolling Thunder River Company, Ocoee River/Toccoa River Centers: 20 Hughes Street, McCaysville, GA; 1-800-408-7238)