15 Best Things to Do in Kennesaw, GA

Kennesaw, GA
Rob Hainer / shutterstock.com

In the heart of Cobb County lies Kennesaw, Georgia, a charming, laid-back city steeped in history and culture.

It’s part of the Greater Atlanta Metropolitan area, but it has maintained a small-town charm and has an inviting community.

The city also played a considerable part during the Civil War, and this past is still evident in the various facilities and events seen in town.

And from the gorgeous gardens to informative museums, from the large parks to bombastic festivals, you’ll never run out of things to visit during your stay here.

So for your next weekend getaway, why not make this your top destination?

Here are the 15 best things to do in Kennesaw, GA:

View the Exhibits of Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History

Outside View of Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History
Rob Hainer / Shutterstock.com

On April 12, 1862, volunteers of the Union Army boarded a train and proceeded to do as much damage to the Western and Atlantic Railroad, a network that was integral to the Confederate efforts.

This event came to be known as the Great Locomotive Chase, and the stolen train is the main attraction of the Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History.

Called “The General,” this steam locomotive is just one of the many artifacts and exhibits in the museum that tell the story of a conflict that tore the country apart.

There are also collections of the trail and railroad industry that shaped the city’s past even before the Civil War.

During your tour, you’d see blueprints, photographs, correspondence, and other fascinating items that show a glimpse of the industry back in the day.

Smell Fragrant Blooms at Smith-Gilbert Gardens

Plant and art lovers will have a grand time touring the marvelous displays of Smith-Gilbert Gardens, a lovely botanical garden spanning 6.5 hectares.

Within the gardens, you’d see more than 3000 species of trees, shrubs, and other types of native and imported plants.

From rows of blooming tulips to diminutive yet regal bonsais, you’d discover lots of beautiful and unusual plants on display.

And thanks to the great weather of Georgia, the garden can grow plants all year round.

This means that every season, there are new plants to see and flowers to smell.

Along the way to the various exhibits, you’d see contemporary sculptures that add a sophisticated and modern ambiance to the location.

There’s also an artificial waterfall, tea house, and a historic home that you shouldn’t miss during your tour!

Trek the Trails at Kennesaw Mountain

Near the city of Marietta, all the way south, lies the city’s only high-elevation destination and the highest point in the Metro Atlanta area.

Kennesaw Mountain is an 1808-feet land feature with miles of wilderness, trails, streams, and other natural attractions.

In fact, this place is a major stopover for migrating birds, making it a favorite spot for birdwatchers.

At the park entrance, you’d find an interpretative center and a museum where you’d learn more about the mountain, its past, and its many features.

After you’ve learned the ins and outs of the destination, then you can go on a self-guided tour to see the natural and manmade attractions of the park.

You can even reach the summit, which offers beautiful views of the surrounding areas.

Just make sure not to visit during winter, as the trails are closed due to the heavy snows that typically fall on the area.

Immerse in History at Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park

Outside View of Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park
Judson McCranie, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park is a distinct attraction that is connected to Kennesaw Mountain.

However, it’s located on the southernmost end and has its own entrance, and the particular area is also listed under the National Register of Historic Places.

It was the site of a Civil War battleground, with the Union and Confederate Army fighting one of the heaviest battles during the war, which led to 5,350 people losing their lives.

Outside View of Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park
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The park now stands as a reminder of the conflict, with several artifacts from the battle still on display at several spots.

You’d find cannons, earthworks, monuments, and military trails along the 2,923-acre grounds.

If you want to get a more in-depth idea of how the fights unfolded, there’s a movie theater that shows documentaries and reenactments.

The museum also has artifacts, reading material, and other collections that provide more information about the battles.

Outside View of Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park
Judson McCranie, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Marvel at Modern Works in the Zuckerman Museum of Art

Zuckerman Museum of Art serves as the center of art and design for the students of the Kennesaw State University and the rest of the city’s community.

But of course, visitors are more than welcome to visit this grand facility.

With its diverse permanent and rotating collection of artworks, the museum always has something new in store, even for frequent visitors.

Most of the displays are contemporary works by local and national artists, allowing even small but talented individuals to have a space to showcase their pieces.

If you’re lucky or if you schedule your trip accordingly, you may even catch the various activities held on the facility.

From performance art shows and workshops, these events encourage the exchange of ideas and the proliferation of different art forms.

Visit the Attractions at Swift Cantrell Park

Swift Cantrell Park is the premier family park in Kennesaw, and it’s no surprise owing to the many attractions and amenities built into the outdoor destination.

The 130-acre facility is located in the city's heart and has sprawling grounds, sports facilities, and even a dog park.

Perhaps the most well-known of these attractions is Kennesaw Skatepark, which has a Street League Skateboarding Foundation-Certified skate plaza, a concrete bowl, and a fun flow course.

For those with kids, you can bring them to the splash pad and let them have fun with other children.

There’s also an inclusive playground design for ADA compliance, so kids with disabilities will have a memorable and exhilarating playtime.

On occasion, the park holds movie nights that show some recent blockbusters—great for bonding moments with the family!

Join the Big Shanty Festival

In the past, Kennesaw was called Big Shanty because of the large population of railroad workers who built shantytowns in the area.

Today, the ingenuity and determination of those workers are celebrated in the Big Shanty Festival.

This event is one of the biggest gatherings in the state, and it showcases the rich heritage and history of Kennesaw.

So aside from the railroad era, the events of the Civil War are also remembered during the festival.

With more than 250 booths, colorful parades, carnival rides, and many other attractions, this occasion brings in throngs of people from all over.

You’ll have a great time with your friends or family watching the live entertainment or trying out the hearty Southern dishes served by the stalls.

There’s even a Kid’s Zone where your children can hang out and socialize with other young visitors.

Play a Sport at Adams Park

Adams Park is an outdoor facility that’s focused more on active recreation.

Spanning around 33-acres of total area, the community park is home to the city’s most number of sports facilities.

So you can enjoy playing at the baseball and softball diamonds, football fields, and tennis courts scattered in key sections of the park.

There are even indoor and outdoor batting cages where you can practice your swinging skills.

Of course, you’d still find grassy grounds, picnic pavilions, and shaded areas where you can simply have a fun family day with your loved ones.

And if you need to refuel in between rounds of games, the park has a concession building where you can grab a satisfying and energizing bite.

Shop Quality Produce at Kennesaw Farmers Market

For those who are looking for fresh veggies and fruits during your stay in the city, Kennesaw Farmers Market is the place to be.

It’s open from April to August on Wednesday mornings, and you’d typically see around 30 stalls offering harvests from local farmers and gardeners.

So to get the high-quality selections, make sure to visit early.

You’d find seasonal vegetables, various fruit cultivars, root crops, and other produce farmed from nearby agricultural lands.

The vendors also sell products by local businesses such as homemade preserves, cured meat, fragrant flower bouquets, and baked goods.

Don’t forget to mingle with the other shoppers and stall owners to make friends during your visit.

Play a Few Rounds at Marietta Country Club

For those who want to practice their teeing and putting skills, head over to Kennesaw’s premier course, the Marietta Country Club.

While it’s named after the neighboring city, it’s still well within the borders of Kennesaw, so it won’t be an inconvenience to reach this scenic destination.

It’s a 27-hole course with a resort ambiance owing to the views of Kennesaw mountain in the background and the Civil War-era farm setting.

With its well-planned layout, excellent fairways, and streams that serve as water hazards, the course offers challenging yet fun gameplay for all ages and skill levels.

If golf is not your thing, the clubhouse also has a tennis complex, fitness center, and even an aquatic facility.

So whatever preference you have, you’ve got plenty of options here.

Have Fun at Aviation Park

As the name implies, Aviation Park is all about the majestic flying machines—airplanes, that is.

It’s actually positioned next to McCollum Cobb County Airport, making this place a great spot to watch aircraft as they land or take off.

The most prominent structure in the three-acre park is the restroom building, which looks like an air traffic control tower.

And radiating from it are many other features with aviation-related designs.

These include an airplane wing picnic pavilion, an aviation-themed STEM playground, and a vast open area resembling an airport runway, albeit without the actual aircraft.

The park also offers access to the Noonday Creek Trail, a scenic route that brings you to some natural and manmade attractions along the banks of Noonday Creek.

Remember the Past at Museum of History and Holocaust Education

Another educational facility set within the Kennesaw State University campus is the Museum of History and Holocaust Education.

While some people might find this destination too grim to visit during a vacation, many others still take their time to see and understand why it’s there in the first place.

You’d learn more about World War II and the atrocities that the nazis did to other groups of people from the collections, artifacts, and learning materials displayed on the halls.

There are also oral history programs where you can get a first-hand account from survivors, as well as interviews and documentaries about the event.

It’s all part of the mission to start conversations about the Holocaust and let future generations understand the effects of this tragic past.

Enjoy the Attractions at Adventure Air Sports Kennesaw

When looking for a destination where the whole family can have tons of fun, then visit Adventure Air Sports Kennesaw.

They have everything you could ask for: power trampoline courts, obstacle courses, foam pits, and even virtual reality games.

Even the trampolines have attachments and modifications, allowing you to play basketball, dodgeball, and gymnastic tumbles on bouncy surfaces.

For the more adventurous, you can try the zip lines and rock climbing walls, which both test your upper body strength and endurance.

It’s the perfect place for special events like parties and team-building activities with your coworkers.

If you need to refuel, the facility has concession corners that offer satisfying American staples and refreshing drinks.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Once you’re done touring the attraction of Kennesaw, why not visit these other places within a few minutes away?

Tour the Attractions of Atlanta Botanical Gardens

View of Atlanta Botanical Gardens
Nicholas Lamontanaro / Shutterstock.com

Located next to Piedmont Park in Atlanta’s Midtown area, this lush attraction contains thousands of plants species.

And it’s only less than 20 minutes away from Kennesaw!

View of Atlanta Botanical Gardens
Nicholas Lamontanaro / Shutterstock.com

You’d find towering trees, rows of blooming flowers, Japanese zen gardens, and ethereal sculptures made from plants.

Plant and nature lovers will surely have a fun time exploring all the wonders of this destination.

Have a Wild Ride at Six Flags White Water

A few minutes away from Kennesaw is one of Marietta’s—and probably the state’s—most visited attractions: Six Flags White Water.

This seasonal destination has more than 69-acres of water-related attractions that bring more than half a million visitors annually.

Divided into four distinct sections, the park’s layout offers fun for everyone, with areas for families, kids, and thrill-seeking adults.

You can enjoy wave pools, whitewater streams, lazy rivers, towering slides, and so many other activities in each section.

It’s a great way to cool down and have fun with your loved ones during the hot summer months!

Final Thoughts

With its perfect blend of history, modernity, and nature, Kennesaw has turned into a family-friendly destination in the Greater Atlanta Metropolitan Area.

From battlegrounds to huge festivals, from verdant gardens to a modern art museum, the list of things to do is endless.

So make this city your next destination for a weekend holiday!