Planning the best family vacation that all ages will love is as simple as hitting the road toward Columbus, Georgia. From amazing eats, epic adventure, free concerts and a thriving nightlife, Columbus has it all. Read on for the ultimate Columbus planning guide. From whitewater rafting to kayaking to ziplining and aerial courses, there is something to make everyone’s vacation one to remember.

Photo Credit: Susie Kellogg

Photo Credit: Susie Kellogg

After three years of full time travel, we would put Columbus, Georgia in the top three of my family’s list of Favorite Places for family fun and adventure.

Columbus boasts adventures that you would expect to find in some remote mountain town, rather than in Georgia’s second largest city.

Uptown Columbus is home to the Chattahoochee Whitewater Park, the longest urban whitewater course in the world that has recently ranked as the “BEST man-made Whitewater Park on the PLANET”  by USA Today!


Given that we are big time kayakers, we couldn’t stay away from a city that boasts big water, epic surfing, amazing fishing, a zip line and top notch whitewater rafting!!  I mean no way!!

TMOM Travel Disclosure

And anyone who travels with their family ought to take note as well.

Just recently I was talking to a few moms who were bemoaning the fact that their teens no longer wanted to join them on their family vacay. They said they would much prefer to stay home with their friends.

Gasp! The horror!

I can’t imagine, but if you find yourself in the same boat, you should really take a step back and re-evaluate your family trips. Take it from me, there is no kid (tween, teen, whatever) who wouldn’t absolutely love to take an adventure vacation, complete with all the thrills and crazy action!

I’m telling you, Columbus, GA is the ultimate southern vacation destination for families looking for adventure, fun, great eats, and even a little night life. And you have to trust me on this next point … the locals are honest to God the nicest people you will meet! It’s southern hospitality at its finest.

To help you plan the most amazing Columbus, GA adventure vacation, I’ve taken the liberty of listing a few of the must-do activities.

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1: Kayak Lessons/Rentals with Outside World Outfitters

As avid paddlers, we highly recommend all families give kayaking a go. It’s one of the most fantastic family activities I have ever experienced.  I know when you think of whitewater kayaking, you immediately conjure ideas of waterfalls and death defying rapids, but that is not mainstream kayaking, and it’s certainly not what you will be experiencing in Columbus. On one side of the island you have calm flat water for a peaceful introduction to kayaking. If you feel like pushing the envelope a little, or if you have some experience under you belt, you can paddle around the island and experience a few little waves all the way up to intense whitewater, where we like to play!

In fact, when you head to Columbus, I encourage you to contact Outside World for all your paddling needs.  Outside World will help determine your skill level, from never ever paddled before to expert and they will customize your experience based on this.

2: Whitewater Rafting with Whitewater Express

Photo Credit: Dan Kellogg

Photo Credit: Dan Kellogg

Oh yeah!  Totes amazing. There is no one on this planet who will not enjoy a rafting trip on a hot Southern day! And the folks at Whitewater Express have more than 30 years of experience and their safety record is impeccable.

And, just so you moms know … river sports are incredibly safe, provided you wear a PFD (life jacket) and a helmet and go with someone who knows the river. Moreover, the guides are fully trained for every situation. I know. My daughter is a raft guide in Colorado and she went through extensive training in order to be able to bring people down the river.

What’s more, there are trips for every level of adventure. Not the wild, get thrown out of the boat extreme adventurer?  No problem! There are quiet, beautiful floats where you literally get up and personal with nature.

The stretch of river you will run has been described as “Warm as Costa Rica—Wild as Colorado.” I mean, seriously, who on earth would pass that up?  And, as I mentioned above, you can choose the wild and crazy evening trip or the early morning float trip … or sign up for both!!  LOL!


3: Zip Line with Blue Heron Adventure

Photo Credit: Dan Kellogg

Photo Credit: Dan Kellogg

If you haven’t been zip lining before, you are missing out on a major thrill!! The Blue Heron Zip takes you over 1,200 feet across the Chattahoochee River and is the only dual-zip that connects two states, GA and AL. And, drum roll please, my favorite aspect of this zip line is that it reaches speeds of up to 40 mph!!  Yep, it was such a rush!

But the fun doesn’t end there … on the other side of the Hooch is the Blue Heron Aerial course.  At first sight I thought I’d love the zipline experience way more than the aerial course, but I’m super psyched to say they were both equally awesome.  I’d never been on an aerial course before.  While our kids were zip lining through the course, I was honing my balancing skills, my climbing skills, my jumping skills and more.  Fearless, due to the safety line, I was quite skilled!!


4: Lunch at The Black Cow

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Food is a top priority for our family before, during and after a day of adventure. We are totally consumed with the thought of food … ALWAYS!   And if your family is anything like mine, they will be starving if they don’t have a protein rich lunch prior to a day of adventure.

Do it right while in Columbus and visit The Black Cow, an acclaimed local restaurant voted Best Burgers by Garden & Guns Magazine.  With burgers like the Bacon Pimento Cheeseburger, and sandwiches such as the Salmon BLT, these folks even make meatloaf taste amazing.  And the decor, yeah, I need the decorator’s card!!  A beautiful mix between modern and rustic.

5: Night Life & Free Concerts

Photo Credit: Susie Kellogg

Photo Credit: Susie Kellogg

Typically we find killer rivers out in the middle of nowhere. To find such an amazing river scene smack dab in the middle of Uptown Columbus is golden, truly!  After a day of adventure, it’s so great to be able to walk a block or two and be able to hit up restaurants, clubs and free concerts.

Columbus has a city vibe and the nightlife to accompany it.  It has great local restaurants, live music, fabulous coffee, and offers safe, yet adrenaline charged activities for everyone from the timid to the untamed junkie.


 Give Your Teens A Vacay To Remember

If you want a great relationship with your kids and you want them to enjoy spending time with you, you must participate in things that they enjoy and talk about things that interest them. I mean that makes sense, right?

So sharing the planning for family vacations is just one of many things you can do to help engage them in family life!

And parents, teens have the amazing ability to keep us young. They are the fountain of youth. Teens push us to be faster, braver, smarter, and stronger … instead of looking at them as annoyances with the ability to ruin a day with a word or a smirk, look at your teen as having the potential to make your vacation outstanding!

And, hey, moms and dads, Columbus is crazy rich in history too, so a day of museums and exploration can easily be incorporated as well. And it’s only a mere 1.5 hours from Atlanta, the capital of Georgia.  If you do venture to Atlanta be sure to check out Stone Mountain Park and this list of free things to do in Atlanta or even this page for a page full of free things to do in all of GA!