Sandy Springs: The Southern Sports Oasis
31 Aug, 2010By: Juli Anne Patty
Have your city, but escape it too. Just fifteen minutes north of downtown Atlanta, Sandy Springs offers proximity to all of the attractions of Georgia's capital along with a host of events and facilities all its own. Sandy Springs is a charming community nestled within the hills and bends of the iconic Chattahoochee River, making it not just an ideal place to play, but also a place you'll want to stay.
A Highway Above All Expectations
Sandy Springs is part of the Hospitality Highway, which encompasses the full length of scenic Georgia 400, linking Sandy Springs with metro Atlanta, its North Fulton neighbors and the North Georgia mountains.
But this is not your typical highway. First of all, it leads to abundant natural beauty, historic attractions, upscale shopping, gallery hopping, ground-breaking performing arts, and a rich restaurant scene. And while the Hospitality Highway is an attraction that draws thousands of visitors annually all on its own, it tantalizes more than just tourists. The Highway is actually a sports destination, as well.
Riding the Hospitality Highway
In its third year in 2011, the Hospitality Highway Century Ride gives cyclists the chance to experience a ride that is usually a strictly cars-only zone. The 2011 race, which took place on Sun., June 10, started at exit 7 of Georgia Route 400 and wound through Sandy Springs, Milton, Roswell, Johns Creek, Alpharetta and other scenic North Fulton communities.
The race isn't just for the serious cyclists, though. With several course options-9 miles, 35 miles, 64 miles and the full 100-mile century-this is a cycling event that anyone can enjoy. Registration was $35 ($40 if received after July 3, including day of event) and included a t-shirt, food, water and full mechanical support along the route.
The 2010 Hospitality Highway Century drew more than 1,500 athletes and raised more than $55,000 for the Georgia Transplant Foundation.
The Art of Spring & Cycling
The Annual Global BMW Sandy Springs Cycling Challenge is a free event featuring the best criterium cyclists in the world, racing the downtown streets of seven southern cities. Because these races are historically run on short laps through city streets, this has made the criterium format the most spectator-friendly form of cycling. The Sandy Springs Cycling Challenge is the final race of the city circuit. The atmosphere is charged with excitement, energy, and international good will, making the Sandy Springs stage a destination of choice.
The 4th Annual Global BMW Sandy Springs Cycling Challenge drew participants from all over the world, adding a decidedly festive international flavor to the event. The race features international cyclists, and locals and visitors can cycle in their own race before the professionals set out in their electrifying completion.
The Sandy Springs Challenge is a 501(c)3, non-profit that formed as an effort to raise monies for various charities in and around Sandy Springs. The organization achieves this by providing sporting events for residents and visitors, along with arts and related events. The 2011 event raised money for the Sandy Springs Fire and Police Departments, who also conducted their own race during the event, providing a huge draw for locals.
The day also featured the 2nd Annual "Race to the Arts" festival. During the day's exciting amateur and professional cycling events, participants and spectators shopped the outdoor festival, which featured dozens of the region's finest artists and offered visitors the opportunity to view artist demonstrations and enjoy live entertainment.
Always Make a Splash
The Chattahoochee River is a picturesque part of the Sandy Springs landscape, but this is one destination that's not content to simply be a pretty picture. Sandy Springs is a city of activity. Making the most of its riverside location with a number of beautiful parks, Sandy Springs also makes the most of every chance to celebrate its natural gifts, including a summer tradition that brings hundreds of residents and visitors each July to spend some quality time on the Hooch.
Equal parts athletic event, celebration and relaxing family outing, the Sandy Springs Summer Splash is a way to escape from the heat. As the mercury rises, Georgia's most famous river beckons, and Atlantans, along with hundreds of visitors, bring or rent kayaks, canoes, and rafts for a six-mile journey of discovery down the Chattahoochee River, culminating in an afternoon of fun activities at Powers Island.
The Summer Splash is a three-hour adventure, depending on current strength and paddling, as well as a unique chance to take in some of the Hooch's beautiful scenery. It's also a tradition that has experienced major growth in its first four years and looks forward to even more.
Singular Sandy Springs
The perfect balance of outdoor opportunity with major metropolitan amenities, Sandy Springs' list of facilities, events and attractions is not just long, but also distinctive.
Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area. Providing 48 miles of public riverfront access for residents and tourists, the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area is the perfect place to hit the Hooch. Visitors can rent canoes, kayaks, rafts and tubes or have an adventure on the park's many miles of hiking trails, biking trails and even horseback riding trails.
Morgan Falls Overlook Park. The newest park in the Sandy Springs system, Morgan Falls Overlook Park offers an extraordinary view of Bull Sluice Lake, a 673-acre reservoir on the Chattahoochee that is one of Atlanta's best-kept fishing secrets. After a $3 million investment, Sandy Springs opened Overlook Park in 2010 to rave reviews by the community.
Morgan Falls Athletic Complex. A ten-field multi-use facility, Morgan Falls Athletic Complex is home to the Sandy Springs Youth Sports (SSYS), an organization whose primary objective is to provide quality competitive youth programs that promote player development, teamwork and sportsmanship. A sought-after venue, Morgan Falls Athletic Complex offers best-in-class competitive facilities that the SSYS aims to continuously update. Immediate plans include investing in additional teaching/practice areas that will include a state of the art, indoor training facility. The park, owned by the city of Sandy Springs, will also be connected to a broader master plan that includes running/biking trails, a connection to the Silver Comet trail and community access to the Chattahoochee River.
Hammond Park. Set on 13.3 acres, Hammond Park features a multipurpose building, gym, game room, Astroturf soccer field, lighted tennis courts, basketball courts, picnic pavilions and several playgrounds.
Steel Canyon Golf Club. The city of Sandy Springs has 31 golf courses within an easy drive of no more than 20 miles. The city's public course, Steel Canyon Golf Club, offers an 18 hole, par 61 executive golf course with all-new greens and recent course renovations. The Club features PGA instruction, a lighted practice facility and spectacular views unmatched by any course in the area.
Sandy Springs Tennis Center. Named by Tennis Magazine as "one of the finest public facilities in the country," Sandy Springs Tennis Center offers 24 lighted courts (20 hard and 4 clay). The Center serves as the hub for tennis activities in North Fulton, Dunwoody, Roswell, Cobb County and Buckhead and is home to over 130 United States Tennis Association (USTA) and Atlanta Lawn Tennis Association teams. The Center hosts numerous USTA-sanctioned tournaments and offers instructional programs suited to all levels and age groups.
Chastain Amphitheatre. In neighboring Buckhead, Chastain Amphiteathre is an intimate outdoor stage nestled in the trees of a 268-acre park. Chastain Amphitheatre features world-renowned performers including Aretha Franklin, James Taylor and Santana.
Sports the Sandy Springs Way
"We are a city that loves to work hard, play hard and in general enjoy life, and the events we host show that enthusiasm," says Kym Hughes, executive director, Sandy Springs Hospitality & Tourism. "If you're looking for a unique event destination that gives you access to big-city assets without the big city hassles, we invite you to experience Sandy Springs."
More than just enchanting attractions, Sandy Springs also has all of the practical points covered. The city offers over 2,800 hotel rooms and countless restaurants to suit any taste, craving or budget, putting world-class comfort, economy and hospitality at your fingertips. Find out more at www.visitsandysprings.org.