A groundhog-based guide to activities for late winter or early spring

Once Gen. Beauregard Lee has checked out the weather on Feb. 2, we can make our plans accordingly. Georgia’s groundhog will either see his shadow, requiring us to hunker down for six more weeks of winter, or he won’t, allowing us to prep for picnics and other ways to enjoy an early spring.

RELATED | Gwinnett’s famous groundhog finds new home in time for Groundhog Day

To help set your schedule, here are eight Atlanta activities to make the most of each eventuality through mid-March, as well as a bonus event to be enjoyed not matter what the groundhog predicts.


Snow Mountain

Embrace wintertime’s signature brand of fun as Stone Mountain generates frozen precipitation to create Snow Mountain. Continuing on select dates through March 4, the park showcases Avalanche Alley, a 400-foot snow tubing slope that includes two moving sidewalks to deliver you back to the top. The SnowZone features multiple snow play activities, including a Snowball Shootin’ Gallery and spots for building snowmen and making snow angels. Warm up with hot chocolate, funnel cake and other snacks.

Snow Mountain. Through March 4. Passes begin at $31.95 for adults or kids; children 2 and under get in free. Stone Mountain Park, 1000 Robert E. Lee Blvd. 1-800-401-2407, stonemountainpark.com/Events/Snow-Mountain.

The Cooler

Atlantans can seldom ice-skate safely outdoors no matter how cold it gets, but the Cooler offers a chance to give your blades a workout. Also called the Alpharetta Family Skate Center, the facility includes two 85-by-200-foot ice arenas for skating as well as a roller rink, pro shop, weight training room and a snack bar called the Cooler Café. In between hockey practices, the Cooler offers public ice and roller skating slots at two-hour increments. By the way, if you’re eager to try the ice but worried about wiping out, bring a bicycle helmet from home.

The Cooler. Public ice skating: 11 a.m.-12:45 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays; 11 a.m.-12:45 p.m. and 3:15-5:15 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays; 10:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m., 3:30-5:30 p.m. and 8:15-10:15 p.m. Fridays; 1-3 p.m., 3:15-5:15 p.m. and 8:15-10:15 p.m. Saturdays; 2-5 p.m. Sundays. $8-$9 plus $4 skate rental. The Alpharetta Family Skate Center, 10800 Davis Drive, Alpharetta. 770-649-6600, www.coolerathletics.com.

Best picture movie marathon

The 90th Academy Award ceremony will be broadcast March 4 on ABC, so there’s ample time to catch up on this year’s nine best picture nominees. Several theater chains, including Regal, devote weekends to marathons of the films, allowing for hours to wallow in popcorn and Hollywood’s finest. If it’s particularly icy and gray, be sure to bask in “Call Me by Your Name,” a bittersweet, summertime romance in rural Italy with lots of swimming and sunbathing.

Regal Best Picture Film Festival. Feb. 23-March 4. $35 pass on Regal mobile app. Participating theaters include Regal Hollywood 24, 3265 Northeast Expressway, Chamblee; Regal Perimeter Pointe, 1155 Mount Vernon Highway, Atlanta; Regal Atlantic Station, 261 19th St. NW, Atlanta; Regal Avalon 12, 3950 First St., Alpharetta; Regal Medlock Crossing, 9700 Medlock Bridge Road, Johns Creek; Regal Cherokee 16, 355 Cinema View Drive, Woodstock; Regal Mall of Georgia, 3333 Buford Drive, Buford; and Regal Arbor Place, 6600 Douglas Blvd, Douglasville. regmovies.com/promotions/best-picture-film-fest. 

RELATED | New and veteran talent define Atlanta critic group’s Top 10 films

Soup’s on

Nothing staves off the cold like piping hot soup, and Atlanta restaurants offer plenty of hearty choices, such as the matzo ball soup at the General Muir or the Thai chicken coconut Tom Ka soup at Little Bangkok. If you’d like to choose from multiple top-notch options, you’ll be pleased by the variety at Souper Jenny, which has locations in Brookhaven, Decatur, the Westside and at the Atlanta History Center. The Everything Veggie soup is a reliable favorite, whether in a $4 cup, $7 bowl or $12 quart.

Souper Jenny. 4274 Peachtree Road, Atlanta. 404-968-9361; 130 W. Paces Ferry Road, Atlanta (at the Atlanta History Center); 1082 Huff Road, Atlanta. 404-603-9977; 1 W. Court Square, Decatur. 404-378-1500, souperjennyatl.com.

The General Muir (soup, $7), 1540 Avenue Place, B-230, Atlanta. 678-927-9131, thegeneralmuir.com.

Little Bangkok ($3.50 small, $8.95 hot pot), 2225 Cheshire Bridge Road NE, Atlanta. 404-315-1530, littlebangkokatlanta.com.


Oakland Cemetery

Atlanta’s historic cemeteries are underrated places to enjoy a nice day: They’re quiet, green, well-tended and replete with information about the past. Decatur and South-View Cemeteries are definitely worth a visit, but 48-acre Oakland Cemetery should not be missed. The Victorian-style “garden cemetery” provides the final resting places of 27 former mayors and six Georgia governors and multiple monuments. Plus, ahead of Valentine’s Day, the facility offers a tour called “Love Stories of Oakland Cemetery,” which takes a special focus on symbols of romance and epigraphs that express devotion that extends from this world to the next.

“Love Stories of Oakland Cemetery.” 2:30-5:30 p.m. Feb. 10-11. $16; $10 for students and seniors; free for children 5 and under. Oakland Cemetery. 248 Oakland Ave. SE, Atlanta. 404-688-2107, oaklandcemetery.com.

The Beltline Westside

If you like the Beltline but find the Eastside Trail to be overcrowded, consider walking the Westside Trail, which opened in the fall and has a vibe like the Eastside’s early days. Stretching 3 miles from Ashview Heights in the north to Adair Park, the paved trail features 16 points of entry as it winds behind Westside neighborhoods and office parks and through some picturesque tunnels, with art pieces subtly placed along the way. Don’t expect as many dining options as the Eastside Trail, but do be prepared to enjoy the trail’s unique charm. Note that the southern part of the trail has less tree cover, so bring a hat or sunscreen.

Atlanta Beltline Westside Trail. Northern trail entrance near Washington Park Tennis Center, 1125 Lena St., Atlanta. 404-477-3003, beltline.org.

Auburn Avenue

An early spring combined with Black History Month makes an ideal occasion for a firsthand visit to the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site. A tour can begin at King’s birth home, a two-story Queen Anne-style house at 501 Auburn Ave. The visitor’s center at 450 Auburn Ave. features exhibits from King’s life and the civil rights movement. At 407 Auburn Ave., Ebenezer Baptist Church commemorates the place where King delivered some of his first sermons. After scoping out the other historic buildings along Sweet Auburn, grab a meal at the Sweet Auburn Curb Market’s voluminous food court a few blocks away.

The Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site. Free. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. 450 Auburn Ave., Atlanta. 404-331-5190, nps.gov/nr/travel/atlanta/kin.htm.

Sweet Auburn Curb Market. 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturdays; noon-5 p.m. Sundays. 209 Edgewood Ave., Atlanta. 404-659-1665, thecurbmarket.com.

RELATED | Atlanta locations that played role in King’s story

The Silver Comet Trail

The Atlanta area has been offering an increasing number of paved bicycle lanes and trails in recent years, but none holds out quite the challenge of the Silver Comet Trail, which begins in Smyrna and stretches more than 60 miles to the Georgia/Alabama state line (and then continues on the 33-mile Chief Ladiga Trail). Ambitious bicyclists can train to go the distance, but the trail’s Smyrna end alone makes a shady, diverting place to pedal around for a few hours or enjoy on foot.

The Silver Comet Trail. Entrance at the end of Mavell Road (past Nickajack Elementary School, 4555 Mavell Road, Smyrna). silvercometga.com.


The Groundhog Day Jugglers Festival

For the 40th year, the Atlanta Jugglers Association celebrates the craft of juggling with events that include unicyclists, hoopers, live music and fun for all ages, including classes for first-timers. Expect well over 100 jugglers to display their talent at the Yaarab Shrine Center.

Groundhog Day Jugglers Festival. Feb. 2-4. Free for spectators, $30 registration for participants. Yaarab Shrine Center, 400 Ponce de Leon Ave., Atlanta. atlantajugglers.org.

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