Jim and Jeanette Greiner have been helping people escape the concrete ecosystems of everyday life since 1971. That's the year that they founded Wildwater, and as its name suggests, it started as a rafting outfitter that led groups down the rushing waters of the Chattooga River. Today, Wildwater's trained guides still navigate a number of rivers?the Ocoee, Nantahala, and Pigeon, in addition to the Chattanooga?but they've expanded their reach to the land as well. The company offers canopy tours with a combination of ziplines and elevated bridges, inviting guests to take a thrilling trip through the treetops. If clients prefer to stay within a few feet of the ground, they can opt for jeep tours that explore paths beyond the main roads.
Since Wildwater's team values the beauty of the natural environment, they embrace eco-friendly practices intended to help protect the areas they explore. Each of the company's locations strives to minimize its impact by using solar-powered water heaters for the showers, composting leftover food, and painting all of the outdoor equipment with chlorophyll.
In 1975, four friends with hearts full of the great outdoors decided they needed a place to get gear indoors. This quest for adventuring equipment lead Bubba Sloan, Gerald Marshall, Denny Mays, and Ned Buxton to found High Country Outfitters as a gear shop for all manner of activities performed under the sun. These days, Bubba runs the retail side of things in Buckhead, while Gerald continues to captain daring cruises down the Ocoee River's relentless rapids. The store kits out customers for safe communing with nature with tools and togs from manufacturers including The North Face, Patagonia, and Big Green Egg, whose verdantly painted smoker grill creates hot meals in the midst of a long trip or particularly boring wait in the airport. Meanwhile, guides lead expeditionary parties along on waterborne trips down the Middle and Upper Ocoee’s burbling banks, recapturing the sun-dappled fun that inspired the store's creation in the first place.
Foaming white rapids rush down the Ocoee River as birds chatter from within the leaves of towering trees. For more than two decades, this has been the home of Adventures Unlimited, an environmentally sustainable full-service resort rolling with 30 acres of campgrounds, cabins, and whitewater-rafting facilities. Landscaping and gardens highlight native plants and animals, vehicles run on biodiesel fuel, and any construction efforts use sustainable materials or rocks that everyone was always tripping over anyway. The family-operated adventure company launches groups on whitewater-rafting trips through the tumultuous currents of the local Ocoee and Hiwassee Rivers or further afield in Costa Rica. To facilitate dry-land exploration and provide an energy outlet for serial finger painters, they also recently opened an outdoor wooded paintball field supplied by a full rental shop.
North Georgia Corn Maze twists and turns for seven acres, or nearly three miles. Beyond this vast stalk-linked labyrinth lies an abundance of family-friendly activities, including hayrides that circle past stunning mountain views and grazing cattle. More fun awaits in the kid's corner, where youngsters can greet petting zoo critters or frolic in a sandbox filled with 8 million corn kernels left over from a giant's popcorn bowl.
When night falls, the maze's grounds turn into a theater for the movie under the stars series, which shows some of Hollywood's latest on a giant outdoor screen. The films' soundtracks mostly drown out the screams emanating from the nearby House of Burm, a "dungeon of fear" teeming with giant pythons, bloodied zombies, and other creepy characters.
At more than 900 learning centers across the world, Sylvan offers kids a leg up through personalized, one-on-one programs prescribed by an in-depth skills assessment. Students build on past lessons to learn progressively, and sessions may hone in on different disciplines, granting kids the confidence to interpret literature and the rhetorical skills needed to negotiate a later bedtime. The positive mindset of personable, invested instructors helps to inspire kids to greater academic feats, as does a prize program that rewards hard work with CDs and gift cards.
At Benton Sporting Clays, marksmen take aim at airborne clay pigeons from 14 fully automated shooting stations and a tournament-grade clays tower. A fully covered five-stand shooting station protects shooters from wind, rain, and real pigeons avenging their clay cousins. Between sessions, shooters traverse the expansive grounds to try different stations in one of the facility's comfortable carts. Members enjoy benefits such as year-round shooting, waived cart-rental fees, and discounted clay pigeons at the range’s fully stocked pro shop.