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Summer fun all year round
Here are some ways to help ease the transition from school break to school work
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The Gainesville Bowling Center is one of many ways teens in Hall County can have some fun and not worry about spending too much money.

No Mic Night

Come to hang out and showcase your musical skills. All music is acoustic with no microphone, and art will be displayed around the room.

  • Ages: 15-18
  • When: 7-9 p.m. the first Tuesday of each month
  • Where: 1086 Rainey St., Gainesville
  • How much: Free

HallowSCREAM Party

Hall County Parks and Leisure presents a scary good time. There will be music, dancing, games, costume contest and a haunted house.

  • Ages: 12-15
  • When: 7:30-10 p.m. Oct. 30
  • Where: East Hall Community Center
  • How much: $12 in advance, $15 at the door
  • More info: 770-535-8280

Just hangin' out

Her are a few places around town to help you hang on to summer fun just a bit longer

  • Inman Perk Coffee
    102 Washington St. NW., Gainesville; 678-943-8080
  • Skate Country
    2276 Thompson Bridge Road, Gainesville; 770-532-3248
  • The Upper Deck
    118 Main St. SW, Gainesville; 770-718-1059
  • Ted's Pro Music
    118 Main St. SW, Gainesville; 770-535-2370
  • Gainesville Bowling Center
    2317 Browns Bridge Road, Gainesville; 770-536-5563
  • Frances Meadows Aquatic and Community Center (opens Aug. 30)
    1545 Community Way NE, Gainesville; 770-533-5850

Sorry, kids.

Just when you were starting to get the hang of summer - long, lazy days of lounging by the pool or sleeping in - you're snapped back to reality. School's back in session.

But just because you have to go to school five days out of the week doesn't mean you have to stop having fun. Believe it or not, there are things to do in Hall County that don't involve hanging out at the home of your friend who has a Wii (although, we can't blame you too much for doing that).

Here are a few fun places to hang out after school or on the weekend if you're old enough to drive - or have friends who drive - but too young to hang out at a bar.

Around the square

True, a lot of the retail stores close after 5 p.m. on the weekdays, and it's pretty quiet on the weekends, too.

But a couple changes around the square have made it more amenable to hanging out after school or on a Saturday afternoon. At Inman Perk, for example, groups of high schoolers hang out throughout the weekend, with many staying right up until closing on Sunday nights. Jenny Wren, a barista at the new coffee shop on Washington Street, said the shop sees the biggest crowds on Saturday afternoons up through 10 p.m., when they close.

"We have several groups who come in pretty regularly," she said. "Sundays we should probably stay open an hour later than we do."

Just a couple doors down at Sweet Home Georgia, plans are under way to open a loft-like space above the restaurant. Already, a couple churches meet in the space on Sundays, said new owner Tanvir Panjwani, but his wife had the idea to make the room into a place for bands to perform or to screen old movies.

"It's a fairly large space; it's like a loft. We have couches that are set up there for churches that meet there on Sunday," he said. "We're thinking of doing a movies night, with slightly older movies, and then one night with a music or performance night."

The restaurant's chef, Chason Flanders, is a musician who is thinking of performing Aug. 29, he added.

And just around the corner in the Main Street Market, more music is being made at the new location of Ted's Pro Music, which recently moved from its location on Dawsonville Highway. Owner Ted Tuck said he's looking to create a space that's more youth-centered, with lessons, equipment demos and an atmosphere that encourages kids to try out the instruments, hang out and just have fun.

Add that to The Upper Deck, a skateboard shop that's also in Main Street Market, and you have the perfect environment to grab some food, play some music and chat with your friends.

A lot of people are dropping by and a lot of times we get into an acoustic guitar jam," Tuck said. "We haven't been able to organize anything real serious, but pretty soon we'll have lots of different stuff like group classes and gear demos, different things like that. Stuff that's fun."

While some businesses might not like groups of teenagers hanging around their store, Tuck said it's something he embraces. Young people and rock 'n' roll go together, he said.

"The difference is, with my business a lot of the stuff I cater to is to younger people," he said, adding that he doesn't mind when a large group is in his store, as long as they're in for a purpose.

"I don't want to deter anyone from coming in, so as far as what we do, it's different for us. We enjoy having the young folks and they like to play music."

Movies, bowling or roller skating

It's not just the older folks in their bowling leagues who take up the lanes on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights at Gainesville Bowl. Pam Harwell, who works part-time at her family's business, said many high schoolers will come in after 8 p.m. during the week to take advantage of specials that can get you a couple hours of bowling, with shoes, for less than $11.

"They'll come in, some of them a pair and some of them a group of like 10 or 11," she said. "We'll pair them up on the lanes, and of course it's just for fun."

But some students are a little more serious about it, she said.

"You've got some in here and it's like they're really trying to learn how to bowl," Harwell added. "So they're bowling on a lane by themselves and they may bowl 15-20 games.

"I don't see how they lift their arm the next morning."

Sixteen-year-old Shenice Brow, a student at West Hall High School, said she'd like to go roller skating, "because it's fun."

And at Skate Country on Thompson Bridge Road, it doesn't take much money to have a fun-filled evening. Skating from 7-11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays is only $6, with a $1 skate rental. Can't get enough skating? There's an all-night skate planned Aug. 31, where $20 will buy you 12 hours of roller skating, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

You can also catch a movie at a local theater, where prices range from $6 for matinees and $8.50 for evening shows.

Get outdoors

While the weather is still nice, you can also take advantage of the many parks and even a couple swimming pools in Hall County. Granted, Lake Lanier is off-limits for swimming. But Green Street Pool is still open on weekends through Labor Day, said Gainesville Parks and Recreation's Marketing Coordinator Julie Butler.

"I think that is a great opportunity for them after school, all year 'round. We have a number of parks and it's a great place to walk and that sort of thing, " she said.

At the end of this month, the Frances Meadows Aquatics and Community Center officially opens, which means teens can swim - and take in lots of other nonswimming programs - all year long.

While the outdoor Splash Zone is open seasonally, said Jennifer Colvin, division manager of the center, there are also two indoor pools and a community center offering educational activities. The pools are kept a balmy 84-86 degrees, she added, and one even has a built-in basketball hoop.

I think its a wonderful opportunity because it's a safe haven," Butler added. "We do realize there are other similar facilities in the area, but you don't have to have a membership (At the Frances Meadows Center). People can try it out for a day or for a season and see how they like it."

Daily admission to the center is free for children younger than 2, and $4 for ages 3-54.

Katie Nuckolls, program coordinator for Hall County Parks and Leisure Services, said Hall County has several organized programs going on right now and throughout the fall. They range from a hip-hop dance class for kids ages 11-15 to a Junior Trojan mini volleyball clinic at the East Hall Community Center. Parks and Leisure Services also holds a No Mic Night on the first Tuesday of each month for ages 15-18, where kids can showcase their acoustic talents. And on Oct. 30, enjoy a scary good time at the county's HallowSCREAM party.

But if you still can's decide what to do, then just do what Steve Brow, 13, does on the weekends.

"Stay home with mom," said the West Hall High School student.

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