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Arts & CultureKiddie Dope

How to Entertain Guests of All Ages Over the Holidays


Holiday weeks in Athens may seem quiet, but not if you’re on the hosting end of the deal. Inevitably, you’ll want to leave the house with out-of-town guests and show them the sights, which can be tricky if there is a range of ages involved. Luckily, we have several options for entertaining relatives, especially with kids (or, just places to go while school is out). 

Active Climbing

Kids are natural climbers, so spending an afternoon with a climbing wall is a much better alternative than watching them try to scale the walls of the living room on a cold day. If you’ve never done this before, don’t worry — the staff will show you some tips to get you started, including a lesson in how to belay (using a harness to go up and down; $8.50 but worth it). Since the regular crowd is (very fit) college students and those in their 20s, trying out climbing during the holidays is a great way to get a feel for it without feeling like you’re fumbling around, looking for a place to grab that’s more than four feet up. A room set up for kids and beginners also has a slide and a kid-friendly “giant” to climb, so it’s like an indoor playscape. Prices are $12.75 for adults, $10.75 for students and kids, plus equipment rental. Families can come on Friday evenings for a free belay lesson. (Active Climbing, 665 Barber St., Athens; 706-354-0038 or activeclimbing.com)

Don’t think your child is too small to take part. If they can walk, they can climb—something I witnessed recently, as a toddler scaled the wall securely strapped into a belay harness, happy to ring the bell at the ceiling.

Roller Skating

We’re lucky to have two roller rinks in our town. I’ve been to both, and it’s pretty much how you remember it from 1985, only with fewer leg warmers and friendship bracelets. Admission ranges from $3 (Thursday evenings and Saturday mornings at Athens Skate Inn in Bogart) to $10 (the Saturday night Soul Roll at Fun Galaxy on the Eastside). The roller rink is also a good place to watch as the grandkids flop around on the rink, so grandparents (and other non-skating adults) can be entertained as well. (Athens Skate Inn, 295 Commerce Blvd., Bogart, 706-353-3113 or athensskateinn.com; Fun Galaxy, 3030 Cherokee road, 706-546-5951 or fungalaxygeorgia.com)

Getting Crafty

Here’s one for the grandparents: On the Saturday after Thanksgiving (and every Saturday, for that matter) find a buffet of crafting classes suitable for a range of ages. These drop-in classes don’t have a theme, but rather are geared to specific age ranges (younger than 24 months, 2- to 4-year-olds, and kids 3-6 and 6-10 years old). Projects include puppets, prints, and sensory fun in the form of stories and singing. Classes are $10 per child. (Treehouse Kid & Craft, 815 W. Broad St., Athens; 706-850-8226 or treehousekidandcraft.com)

Get Cultured

Even though most of the University of Georgia campus closes during holiday weeks, the Georgia Museum of Art remains mostly open (closed Thanksgiving). If you have older kids in town, take them to see “The … of E6” and prove your coolness. On exhibit at GMOA, the collection features album covers and show posters from the iconic Athens music collective Elephant Six. The exhibit is part of a citywide collection that’s now closed in most venues. (Though you can still see a sculpture installation by Dana Jo Cooley at Hotel Indigo’s GlassCube through the end of December.) Lyndon House Arts Center is a double-shot of culture, where you can find rotating art exhibits along with the Lyndon House itself, an historic home that’s furnished in period items and open to the public. (And, you can shop local artists on Small Business Saturday in the Lyndon House store.) Admission to these venues is free, but donations are happily accepted. (Georgia Museum of Art, 90 Carlton St., georgiamuseum.org; Lyndon House Arts Center, 297 Hoyt St., facebook.com/LyndonHouseArts)

The Great Outdoors

In giving you this list, I’m hoping to offer ideas for things to do inside, yet still leave the house. You have the option of both inside and outside activities at Sandy Creek Nature Center, where on a chilly day it’s fun to just stay inside and explore the exhibits. (Learn about electricity or what makes soil!) But if the sun is shining and you want to stretch your legs, take a hike around the property. The trails are flat and appropriate for all ages. Bring your bikes and explore the Greenway, too, which connects the nature center to downtown. Or, head to Bear Hollow at Memorial Park and wander among the raptor and alligator pens. Seriously, I cannot say enough wonderful things about either of these places, and we’re amazingly lucky to have them in our community. Admission is free! (Sandy Creek Nature Center, 205 Old Commerce Road, 706-613-36165 Bear Hollow Wildlife Trail, 293 Gran Ellen Drive, 706-613-3616)

Stay Cool

I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least mention the ice rink at the Classic Center, but note that it’s closed during Thanksgiving. It will reopen Dec. 10, corresponding with the Christmas at the Classic Center event during the weekends before Christmas. Skating ($12) is available through Dec. 26, though, so mark your calendar if you’re looking to try something that most Northerners can do in their front yards.  (The Classic Center, 300 N. Thomas St.; classiccenter.com)