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Hall County venues offer outdoor fun before children head back to school
Abbitha Hutchinson, 2, plays in the sprayground prior to fireworks at Laurel Park in Gainesville. The sprayground and park is one of several venues in Hall County offering activities for children this summer. - photo by Get Out file photo

How to build an elephant toothpaste

Need to entertain the kids for small amount of time inside your home? Then try an activity that combines science and a little messy fun by making elephant toothpaste.

According to Pinterest, it is a four-step process to make the toothpaste.

The first is to gather supplies. Parents will need to find a clear water or soda bottle to see what’s going on inside. Next grab a cooking sheet out of the kitchen cabinet. Then locate the ingredients, including a teaspoon of yeast, a half cup of 6 percent hydrogen peroxide, a bit of dish soap and optional food coloring.

Next, place your bottle on the cooking sheet to catch the toothpaste when it comes oozing out.

Mix two tablespoons of water and the teaspoon of yeast in a separate container for one minute. Put the hydrogen peroxide, the food coloring and the dish soap in the bottle. Pour in the liquid and yeast mixture.

The foam should shoot up out of the bottle and make what looks like elephant toothpaste.


It’s almost time to head back to school, but there is just enough time for one last hoorah.

If the weather cooperates, a picnic at an area park is always fun, inexpensive and sometimes free activity if you know where to go. Bring a few water balloons along to have some cool fun.

Picnics are welcomed in Gainesville at Don Carter State Park at 5000 N. Browning Bridge Road  and Ivey Terrace at 607 Ridgewood Terrace. In South Hall County, Van Pugh North allows picnickers at 6749 Gaines Ferry Road in Flowery Branch.

Don Carter State Park costs $5 for parking while Ivey Terrace and Van Pugh North are free.

Residents can also go for a dip in the lake at Don Carter State Park or two city-run parks with lake access. Clarks Bridge Park has a beach while Longwood Park has a fishing pier.

For a complete listing of parks managed by Gainesville Parks and Recreation, visit

The Atlanta Botanical Garden, A Smithgall Woodland Legacy, in Gainesville is another option for outdoor fun. Adults and children alike hike along three trails, see the stickworks sculpture “Woven Whimsy” exhibit by Patrick Dougherty and play on the event lawn filled with cornhole and other children’s toys.

The garden, at 1911 Sweetbay Drive in Gainesville, is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Admission is $8 for adults, $5 for children ages 3-12 and free for children younger than 3. Outside food and drinks are prohibited.

For more information, visit

Taking the children out to splash around is another alternative in Hall County.

The J.A. Walters YMCA pool is open 6 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 6 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Saturday and 1-6:30 p.m. Sunday.

For nonmembers, a day pass to the YMCA costs $10. For more information, visit

Laurel Park, at 3100 Old Cleveland Highway, has a splashpad open to kids from sunrise to sunset for $2 per child.

For more information, visit

The Frances Meadows splash zone, 1545 Community Way NE, is also open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.

The Interactive Neighborhood for Kids, or INK, is available for summertime fun when the weather is too hot or rainy outside. The museum, at 999 Chestnut St. SE in Gainesville, is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday for $8 per person. INK is open from 1-5 p.m. Sundays for $6 per person.

For more information, visit

If you want to venture to Atlanta for a day, Zoo Atlanta is open 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Sundays.

“Zoo Atlanta is a destination where there’s truly something for everyone,” said Rachel Davis, director of communications for the zoo.

More than 1,000 animals call the zoo home, including two baby monkeys. One of them, named Gus, is a Schmidt’s guenon, and Orlando, the Angolan colobus.

Two giant panda bear twins also reside at the zoo. They are the only twin pandas in the United States.

“It’s our hope that people will leave the zoo not only with great memories of a fun day with family or friends, but also feeling inspired and empowered to help make a personal difference for endangered species and their habitats,” Davis said.

From now until July 31, the zoo is offering a “Beat the Heat” special discount for those who arrive before 10:30 a.m. Just mention the “Beat the Heat” and get $5 off per guest.

For more information, visit

If the zoo isn’t for you, or if you want to hit more than one attraction, CityPASS is another alternative to utilize. The pass comes with admission to the Georgia Aquarium, World of Coca-Cola, Inside CNN Atlanta studio tour, Zoo Atlanta or the Center for Civil & Human Rights, and Fernbank Museum of Natural History or the College Football Hall of Fame.

Adult tickets are $76.75 and children’s tickets are $62.50. The booklets are good for nine days after your first use, if you can’t fit all of the attractions in one day.

To purchase tickets, visit

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