Escaping, Competing, and Birthday Bonding

Adventure and fun on a family getaway in Alpharetta, Georgia

Ten is a big birthday—it’s double-digits! As such, I wanted to make it a special celebration for my daughter, Lila.

The other thing that’s great about this age? Ten year olds generally still love to hang out with their family. When Lila said she wanted a day of play with us for her birthday, I knew just the place: Alpharetta, Georgia.

I always look for spots that can bring our crew closer together while keeping us on our toes. Alpharetta stood out as the perfect fit. After simply stating the attractions out loud, the birthday girl was sold. Even my husband, Jeff, and our 14-year-old, Zack, were ecstatic.

Aiming to please

Before we left on our trip, I showed my family the website for Topgolf, a multi-level golf facility with giant, illuminated targets on the ground that players aim golf balls at. All the balls there are microchipped and you get points for distance and for reaching targets. In a sense, it looked much like a typical driving range, but set up like a bowling alley.

We all gathered into a bay, input our names into the computer and picked one of eight games. We went with TopScore, a competition that rewards distance and accuracy. Jeff went at it with the seriousness of a pro, strategizing which target to aim for according to his strengths. Zack went for distance, and even wound up rolling a ball into the “end zone” 240 yards away! I was terrible—another similarity to bowling—but it was a ton of fun just playing with my family. Lila, who exclusively aimed for the nearest target and steadily crept up the rankings with her accuracy, surprised us all. We each walked away with bragging rights of a different sort.

The main event

Escaping, Competing, and Birthday Bonding

Next, we headed to Main Event Entertainment—part bowling alley, part laser tag, part arcade and part restaurant—down the road. Lila and Zack were drawn to the sounds and bright lights of the more than 100 arcade games. They took off together, cheering each other on at Skee-Ball, competing for racing records on the driving games and rocking out to songs on Guitar Hero. Jeff and I tried our hand at air hockey and had an old-fashioned Pac-Man tournament. The kids looked on for a while, rooting for each of us, before returning to their own competitions.

The day’s activity certainly worked up an appetite, so the four of us called time-out on our games to head to Main Event’s restaurant. Our table made the most of the menu: skillet macaroni and cheese for Lila, a char-grilled steak for Jeff, crispy chicken and candied pecan-topped waffles for me, and a juicy bacon cheeseburger for Zack. At the end of the meal, Jeff and Zack excused themselves and blew Lila away when they returned singing Happy Birthday and carrying Cookies and Cream smoothies. Ten is a big birthday, and a fun one.

A true family escape

So far we’d competed against each other at Topgolf and played on our own at Main Event—it was time to really work together. Next up was a trip to Odyssey Escape Game. Odyssey follows the standard escape room experience of solving clues to find a key before time runs out. Of the four themes, Lila chose the Titanic. We had one hour to seal the doors, call for help, get our lifejackets on and get into the lifeboats.

The pressure was on, but I was happy to see that the birthday girl was having fun. In fact, we all were. Each riddle and puzzle was a challenge that we all contributed to—there were even a couple red herrings that caught us off guard. Time was nearly out when Lila figured out the final trick. Back in a safe space, we made sure to thank Lila for getting us out of there alive. It was so cool to see my family getting even closer and working together.

On our way back to the hotel at the end of our adventure-packed day, we took Lila to the American Girl store at Alpharetta’s North Point Mall because Zack wanted to get her a gift—pierced ears and earrings for her doll, Gabriela McBride, American Girl’s 2017 Girl of the Year™. Lila had seen some earrings for the dolls in a catalog and since her ears are pierced, too, she wanted Gabriela’s accessories to match. Zack got Lila’s doll a silver heart and star set that Lila clearly had her eye on, and Gabriela left wearing them.

As we started our drive home, tenth birthday undoubtedly successful, Zack said, “You know, there are four birthdays between us.”

Wondering where he was going with this, I asked, “Yeah?”

He responded, “I’m just saying, Alpharetta makes for an awesome birthday celebration.”

“Yeah!” Lila jumped in.

I couldn’t argue with that.

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