Trip to Stone Mountain and Snow Mountain Park with lunch at Thali, Atlanta

The weekend before Christmas, we went to Stone Mountain National Park. This was totally a last minute trip. We had been thinking about it for a while but with the husband's work schedule, it was difficult to plan ahead. On Friday morning, we decided this weekend would be spent in Atlanta. I checked Stone Mountain website for tickets. We decided on Snow Mountain and Christmas Combo Family Value Pass. For 50$, we had 2 hours of snow tubing, snow play, all stone mountain attractions along with a meal, hot chocolate and drinks. This is the best value ticket if you want to do both the snow and christmas parts of the park. After that the hotel (Wingate by Wyndham, Norcross) was booked, which turned out to be really nice for the price.
It was already lunch time by then. So after lunch, I had to just dive into packing. We had planned to leave by 5 in the evening. Yeah, fat chance! What with the husband leaving office on time to come home and then go back to pick up a rented car and come back to load us up! To the husband's credit, he was home by 4 but I was still not done packing. I got him to help a bit and then he was off to get the car. On his way back, he was stuck in traffic and we were finally able to leave by 7 :) 2 hour variance is pretty much how we travel.

With a dinner stop on the way, we reached the hotel a little before 12 in the night. There was nothing left to do but crash and sleep. We had to get up early the next morning because the only tickets we were able to get for Snow Mountain were the ones at 8 in the morning. The times on the tickets are only for the 2 hour tubing session. After the free eggs and waffle breakfast at the hotel, we were able to reach Stone Mountain around 9 in the morning.
After parking, loading up the stroller, getting wrist bands and passes, we strolled up to the snow tubing area. The friendly girl at the entrance told us we could check if a different time was available since we only had half an hour of tubing time left on our pass. We got a new pass for 12 o clock.

So, we went to the snow play area which is the one we really came for. I thought our daughter would love to play in the snow. She was excited at first.  But the fake snow is a little icy and slippery which she did not like.

There is a snowman's closet where buckets, hats, scarves and brick molds for making snow forts are kept. We went and collected the supplies for making a snow man.
The daughter was not having as much fun as we expected. She didnt like touching the icy snow and she didn't like the constant threat of slipping on the snow. She didn't intend to complete her snow man.

We moved on to the Christmas part of the park. All the buildings were decorated for Christmas. We had some hot chocolate and fries to warm up after the snow play.

We walked around and saw a glass snow angel made from scratch. It was quite amazing to see glass being manipulated like that to make something beautiful, all in 20 minutes.
After that we went to the 4D theater to see Polar Express condensed into a 30 minute 4D movie. The 4 part of the 4D experience had gusts of wind and some shaving cream snow fall :) Good experience for the kids.

It was already 1 by then. We were not too keen on going back for snow tubing once we were out of the snow zone. But I am glad we went for the tubing. It was a lot of fun and the highlight of the day. We went in the family tube which is a large tube accomodating 6 people. I thought the daughter might be scared after the first time. But she was raring to go for a second turn which pleasantly surprised me. For the first time, I sat at the top of the tube and the second time, I sat at the bottom of the tube. A drastically different experience. The drop experienced from the top causes a big pit in the stomach (I enjoy it) which is non existent when you sit at the bottom.
After tubing, even though everyone was hungry, we squeezed in the train ride since the train was all ready to go. It was good to see the entire park sitting in the train and a little bit of history and facts thrown in.
We went straight for lunch after that which was typical park fare. We had a little rain here and there during the day but not enough to ruin the day.

The  kids were completely exhausted by this time and were fast asleep in their stroller. We still hadn't done the sky ride which is the key attraction all year round. We walked over to the area where there was a huge queue but it was moving along reasonably well. We found out that strollers are not allowed on the trolley and the daughter was still fast asleep. We were not about to hold her all way and break our backs. This is when the good friends who were accompanying us came to the rescue. They had already seen the park once so they volunteered to watch the kids while we went up on the stone.

BTW, it is called Stone Mountain Park because there is this gigantic stone in the middle of the park with confederate carving on it. The stone was formed during the shifting of the earth plates when magma came up and solidified to become this huge one of a kind mountain.
We were finally on the sky ride as they call it. It is a short ride to the top of the "stone mountain" 825 feet above the ground. They cram people on the trolley, so everyone has just enough space to stand.
If you are first in the queue to get into the trolley, you are lucky and will get the best place (the back of the trolley) to see the carvings up close as you go up the mountain. The carvings are bigger than you might have imagined. The narrator in the trolley tells how 20 people had lunch on the shoulder of one of people in the carving.

The views from the top of the stone.

We were exhausted by the time we came back. The last trolley comes back at 5. We decided to just go get a good dinner and go to bed. While we were leaving, we were able to catch the small Christmas parade and Christmas lights in the dark.
We went to Chaat Patti restaurant after our exhausting day at Stone Mountain Park. The intention was to eat chaat but seeing undhiyo on their thali, I was swayed in favor of the gujarati thali. But sadly, all the dishes were too spicy for me to eat. The husband did eat chaat which was good enough. He even loved the palak paneer from my thali. I was unable to enjoy the dinner because of all the spiciness.

The next morning, we had a slow start after a much needed good night's sleep. It was raining cats and dogs that whole day. We were glad we were not going to stone mountain in the rain. After checking out from the hotel, we went to see the swaminarayan temple and bought some snacks at the store/restaurant in the temple. After that, we were on our way to the much awaited "Thali" restaurant. It is a Gujarati thali restaurant with a village decor. They have a fixed thali menu which varies a bit everyday. You have the choice of drinks : chaas, jal jeera, soft drinks. The chaas is great but the husband was not a fan of jal jeera. Then they bring out a plate of 5 appetizers. We had yellow khaman dhokla, white khatta dhokla, dahi vada, peas kabab, batata vada. All appetizers were good except dahi vada which was very hard, not good at all. My favorite, though was khatta dhokla, of which I had a second serving. After your fill of appetizers, the main course plate comes out. It has half of a bajra roti (rotlo), a puri and a roti along with a variety of curries. We had sev tameta, lobia curry (kathor), potato (bataka nu shaak), paneer with mixed vegetables and gujarati dal. Everything was a little too sweet but I would rather have sweet than burn my tongue with overly spicy food like last night. Next comes khichadi, kadhi and rice. You would have to ask for more dal if you want to have it with rice. The dessert course has a choice of icecream (which tasted suspiciously like costco's vanilla icecream) and a really good masala chai. They had also given gulab jamun with the main course. But it was not good at all. A bit too hard and the syrup was not absorbed. It is a lot of food for the price (15$). The food could be better but I am happy there is atleast a place I can go to when I get homesick and crave a Gujarati thali.
The Patel Brothers store next door is huge and has everything Indian you could ask for. The store had a garba song on which made me feel I was back in Gujarat. I picked up what looked like fresh paav. Got it home and promptly stuck it in the freezer to keep the freshness. I made paav bhaji later in the week. 


  1. Nicely written....was good to read.

  2. I enjoyed reading about the food part as much as the other parts. Perfectly well written English too :)

    1. Thanks Achyut! That means a lot coming from the English expert :)

  3. Ooh the Thali restaurant sounds good. It has been years since I've eaten a thali. We live only an hour away or so from this park so maybe next year I'll take my daughter there.

    1. Yes, it is a good restaurant to get the thali experience. The Stone mountain park is good all year round. The snow part is only till feb i think. I hear they have a really nice laser show every night.


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