Located in Georgia’s Cobb County, the city of Kennesaw forms a part of the greater Atlanta region.
First settled by European-Americans in the 1830s, Kennesaw was known as Big Shanty until 1887, since it developed from a shanty town for railroad workers.
The city played a significant role in the American Civil War, and having preserved much of this history, was declared a federal Preserve American Community in 2004 by the then First Lady, Laura Bush.
Rated as one of the safest cities in Georgia, despite (or perhaps because) it is mandatory for all households to possess a gun, Kennesaw has a range of attractions to keep visitors entertained while in this part of Georgia.
Here are the best things to do in Kennesaw, Georgia.
1. Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park
Protecting the mountain from which the city took its name, the battlefield park preserves the site of a major battle during the American Civil War.
It was a battle that would last almost a month during the summer of 1864, before the forces of the Confederate south triumphed against General Sherman’s Unionist troops.
The summit of the mountain provides spectacular panoramic views across the region, while elsewhere visitors to the park can explore the historic Peter Valentine Kolb’s Farm House.
A visitor centre within the 12 km2 park contains a museum displaying an array of civil war artefacts, while earthwork defences dating to the battle can be explored as part of the 28 km of interpretive walking trails.
2. Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History
For a greater understanding of the events around the American Civil War, pay a visit to Kennesaw’s very own Southern Museum.
It occupies a historic barn that was once the site of a cotton gin (a machine used to separate the cotton fibres from the seeds). Inside, visitors will find an array of items relating to the Atlanta Campaign portion of the war.
The museum’s centrepiece is almost certainly a steam engine known as the General. This engine was involved in what has become known as the Great Locomotive Chase.
In 1862, the General was stolen by Unionist forces seeking to do damage to the southern railroads, resulting in a chase that has gone down in history for the daring of both sides.
3. Sky Zone Trampoline Park
While the Sky Zone Trampoline Park in Kennesaw has sadly closed, there is still another in the nearby city of Roswell, just 30 minutes east.
Open to children and adults, here you can challenge your overall fitness on Sky Zone’s ninja warrior course, or have a slightly more relaxed time bouncing on the wall-to-wall trampolines of Freestyle Jump.
If competition is your thing, you’ll probably delight in the Ultimate Dodgeball trampoline court, while would-be acrobats can try out new tricks with the safety and security of a soft and foamy landing in the Foam Zone.
4. Lake Acworth
Lake Acworth is a one-hundred-hectare man-made reservoir less than ten kilometres northwest of Kennesaw.
However, its beautiful surrounds of mature woodland might have you think the lake has been here for centuries.
Much of its shoreline is marked by parkland, including East Lakeshore Park and Overlook Park, which sits on the earth dam that separates its waters from Lake Allatoona.
Popular with anglers, the lake boasts 18 different species of fish, including bluegill and yellow perch. Boating is also a common leisure activity enjoyed on the lake, while Acworth Beach provides a great alternative to the far-off Georgia coast.
5. Lazy Guy Distillery
Kennesaw’s Lazy Guy Distillery is something of a new kid on the block when it comes to the distillation of whiskey, but this doesn’t mean this easy-going attraction isn’t worth a look.
Step beyond the front stoop and you’ll discover everything that goes on behind the scenes to create a craft spirit, with tours guiding visitors around the distillation equipment.
Tours include sample tastings of the various whiskeys that Lazy Guy creates, and visitors also have the chance to enjoy cocktails designed to make the most of the spirits distilled.
If you don’t like whiskey and bourbon, there’s also the opportunity to check out their Atlanta vodka and gin.
6. Museum of History and Holocaust Education
Part of Kennesaw State University, this museum was founded in 2010 to help educate the general public on the events and fighting of the Second World War and the Holocaust.
Both thought-provoking and informative, its displays range from archive photographs to the oral history of those who lived through, and survived, this turbulent period of history.
While relatively insulated from both the European and Pacific theatres of the war, the museum also helps to explain the role Georgia and its people played, bringing to home the effects this war had right across the globe.
7. Smith-Gilbert Gardens
These 6.5-hectare gardens provide a delightful escape for anyone who enjoys time out in the open air.
Its dappled forest floor is known to be home to around 3,000 different species of plant, including some rare examples for the region.
Among them, visitors to the Smith-Gilbert Gardens will also find a number of outdoor sculptures, a waterfall, teahouse, and bonsai tree exhibition, in addition to camellia and rose gardens.
What’s more, thanks to Georgia’s incredible all-year weather, the gardens offer something in every month of the year, be that during the spring, summer, autumn, or winter.
8. Marietta Gone with the Wind Museum
Set in nearby Clayton County, Georgia, and written by Atlanta author Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind remains a much loved book.
This museum in the city of Marietta, ten kilometres south of Kennesaw, centres on the even more famous film of the same name, that starred Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable.
Its exquisite collection includes costumes such as the honeymoon gown worn by Leigh as she played the heroine Scarlett O’Hara, as well as scripts, and original artworks.
There is also Mitchell’s personal copy of her bestselling book, and displays that look specifically at the trials faced by the African-American cast members during the time of racial segregation in the American south.
The museum sits within the confines of Brumby Hall, which dates to 1851.
9. Dry County Brewing Company
If you prefer beers rather than spirits, then you might want to swap a trip to the Lazy Guy Distillery for one to the Dry County Brewing Company.
Like Lazy Guy, this brewery offers regular public tours of their facility, which has won highly-regarded awards for their small-scale craft beers.
Made by local Georgians for local Georgians (and visitors of course), the barrels here are filled with everything from traditional American style ales, to those flavoured with bourbon, double chocolate imperial stouts, and a rose-inspired beer.
10. East Palisades Trail
While we’ve already highlighted a couple of inspiring natural wonders in and around Kennesaw, another that cannot be missed in the East Palisades Trail.
The hiking and walking trail passes through the Palisades section of the Chattahoochee River, one of the most attractive of any of the river’s areas in suburban Atlanta.
The class I and II rapids here are a favourite with kayakers, while few can deny the beauty of the vistas accompanied by the sound of flowing river water.
The various trails that wind around the river banks are well signposted, but if you feel nervous about heading out into the wilds, you can instead head to the paved trails of Paces Mill Park, 26 km south of Kennesaw.
11. Six Flags White Water
On the way to the East Palisades Trail you might well pass Six Flags White Water, one of the United States’ premier amusement parks, which is located on the eastern outskirts of Marietta.
Spanning a massive 280,000 square metres, the park has 20 main attractions divided between four themed areas.
Most consist of water slide-based rides, some of which have been specially designed so that younger children can also safely enjoy the adrenaline rush.
The Pine Valley section is home to a wave pool, called the Atlanta Ocean, while the Little Hooch lazy river tube ride is named after the Chattahoochee River.
12. Old Railroad Depot
Kennesaw’s historic link with the railways was lost in 1968 when passenger services were permanently stopped after more than 100 years.
The depot – or station – which served passengers was subsequently converted into a small museum which details the most important aspects of Kennesaw’s past within its own historic walls.
This small wooden structure in a traditional southern style recalls the importance of the railroad in the early days of Kennesaw.
Other areas show the plight of the native Americans that were forced from their ancestral homeland in what became known as the Trail of Tears.
13. Farmers Market
The city’s farmers market sets up shop on the edge of Adams Park at the heart of downtown Kennesaw.
Attracting a range of vendors, the farmers market is not only a great place to find fresh, locally-grown fruits and vegetables, but also an excellent way of exploring what it means to be southern.
It’s probably wise to avoid eating too much before you turn up, as you’re sure to be tempted by some of the breads, jams, pickles, baked goods and other foodstuffs on display from small time producers you won’t find in the Atlanta malls.
14. SkyView Atlanta
As its name suggests, SkyView Atlanta offers a bird’s eye view of downtown Atlanta. Situated in a ring of attractions that include Centennial Olympic Park, Georgia Aquarium, and the World of Coca-Cola, this Ferris wheel rises some 20 storeys.
Just 30 minutes’ drive from Kennesaw, you can step aboard one of the gondolas right up into late evening for the 15-minute ride.
A personal experience, each gondola has a maximum of just six people. Further, visitors aren’t expected to cram in to a gondola with those they don’t know, meaning it could turn into a magically romantic escape, especially once the sun has set.
Each gondola has fitted seating, while the VIP experience includes a gondola with glass floor too.
15. Splash Pad
Children are sure to love Splash Pad, part of Swift-Cantrell Park’s varying family amenities and facilities.
A wonderful way to cool off on hot Georgia afternoons, Splash Pad consists of a series of colourful water features which spray water in odd and unusual ways.
Triggered by motion sensors, attractions include a child-friendly water geyser, magic mist, and jet stream.
Other facilities within the park include two dry children’s playgrounds, shaded picnic pavilions, and plenty of benches.