Disclosure: I was provided with a complimentary for myself and my son to zip line at Historic Banning Mills for purposes of review. All opinions are my own.
I’d like to think that I can be badass when I need to be. I’ve got three boys and I feel like I need to step up sometimes and give them the illusion that their mom is Not Scared. I’ve conquered some fears over the last couple of years for no other reason than to show out for my children. There was that first zipline experience in Sevierville with son #2. More recently, there was the stand up paddleboarding.
When I was invited to zip line at Historic Banning Mills in Whitesburg, GA I jumped at it. My oldest and youngest are a bit timid, but I knew my thrill seeking middle son would be all over this, and I would get “cool mom” cred.
Before we get to the zip lining, though, let’s talk about our accommodations. They put us up in a tree house, y’all. Here’s the video tour of our digs for the night. The video is just under five minutes.
We were on the 10am zip lining tour in the morning. During breakfast (which is included with an overnight stay) I found myself getting nervous. Like, really nervous. I started thinking about zip lines of up to 1500 feet long. 200 feet high. We were scheduled for three levels of zip lining; this was not going to be my one-and-done experience like it was in Sevierville. I pushed away my half eaten breakfast and was grateful we weren’t on a later tour.
Our group totaled 8 people, and I realized that you can’t really fit more people than that on the zip line platforms. Our guides, Jessie and Spencer, are students at the University of West Georgia. They were awesome about guiding us through putting all the gear on and telling us what each piece was for. They gave us a thorough talk about what to expect and how to manage ourselves out on the course.
Level 1 zip line at Historic Banning Mills
We started out on Level 1 which is a series of zip lines at lower levels. This level is perfect for first-timers and younger kids. Kids need to be at least 8 years old and 50 lbs to participate; anything lighter and they just won’t have enough momentum to get from platform to platform. The maximum weight is 250lbs for women and 285lbs for men.
One guide would stay with us on the platform while the other would go ahead to the next platform and be ready for us. On the platforms you are hooked into a safety cable at all times.
I wore jeans because all my shorts are, well, short. You can see where those harnesses hit. If you are wearing shorter shorts, nothing bad is going to happen, but they might ride up and be uncomfortable. When you are flying high above the ground, the last thing you want to think about is your wedgie and if your cheeks are hanging out of your pants. They advise no sleeveless shirts, but I’m not sure why. We weren’t wearing any gear on our torso that would have interfered.
I don’t have a lot of pictures from out on the course, because I was pretty terrified that my butterfingers were going to drop my phone from a platform. When you are actively zip lining you need your hands free when it comes time to stop / slow down so don’t think that you’re going to hold your phone and video the whole thing. If you want to do that, borrow a Go Pro to strap to your helmet.
I used my SPIbelt Sports / Running Belt to carry my phone. (affiliate link) It’s a tiny little pouch that straps around my waist, like a sporty version of a fanny pack. It was just big enough for my phone, car keys and emergency Skittles. (Hey, I hadn’t eaten much at breakfast and I get low blood sugar.)
Level 2 zip line at Historic Banning Mills
Level 2 gets a little more adventurous. Since these zip lines are a little longer and a lot higher, kids need to be a minimum of 90lbs and 10 years old. That’s pretty big for a 10 year old, so suffice it to say that most kids will stick to level 1. You can’t skip to level 2; all levels are done in succession.
Level 2 is a workout, y’all. It adds in sky bridges, like you would find on a high ropes course. Again, you are strapped into a safety cable every time you step off a platform, so on the off chance you do slip, you’ll just dangle a little before you get yourself right again.
This is where I started sweating. And busted out the Skittles. If you are not in moderately good shape, you can still do this but it’s going to wear your butt out.
The best part about Level 2 was the upgrade in views. Higher platforms and longer zips reward you with a lot more to see. I love instructions such as, “When you go over the green roof, look for signals to slow down.” Over the lodge, over the trees. By the end of Level 1 any nervousness I had was completely gone and I was nothing but excited for what was ahead.
Level 3 zip line at Historic Banning Mills
By the time we got to this level, our group had lost half its members. No, not like that. There were only four of us going on to level 3. Level 3 includes the Big Daddy – 1500 feet long and you can go as fast as 55-60 mph.
Y’all, I wanted it to be longer. I was a full-on adrenaline junkie at this point. I could not wipe the smile off my face. Our last zip could arguably be considered the best, since instead of crossing over the Snake River Gorge, you zip along it. The views were amazing.
Would I do this again? In a heartbeat. It’s a perfect family adventure for those with tweens and teens. The views were amazing and I would love to do this again in the fall when all those leaves turn gorgeous colors.
What You Need To Know To Zip Line at Historic Banning Mills
I already gave you the age and weight restrictions, and advised on what to wear. Obviously, flip flops are not acceptable and shoes must be closed-toe. I’d ditch the crocs and just go with athletic shoes.
Where is it?
Historic Banning Mills is in Whitesburg, GA which is west Georgia. This is about 90 minutes from my home in East Cobb County; it’s not far from Six Flags Over Georgia. The closest towns are Carrollton and Newnan. It could certainly be a day trip for a metro Atlanta family.
How much does it cost?
Each level includes the level prior to it. For example, if you go up to Level 2, you will pay $79 pp TOTAL, not an additional $79 after Level 1.
Level 1: $49 pp Level 2: $79 pp Level 3: $99 pp Level 4: $149 pp
There is a Level 5 experience that involves an all day adventure and lunch. $249 pp; see website for details and any restrictions. The Power Free Fall got a mention from National Geographic!
Tips for your guides are not required but are appreciated. If you don’t have cash, you can leave a tip with plastic when you check out after the tour. A lot of the guides are college kids. Your tips could pay for a stockpile of Ramen noodles, y’all.
Is it really safe for kids?
There was not one moment where I didn’t feel safe. I was nervous, yes, but not because I didn’t feel safe. Our guides, while laid back and fun, took our safety very seriously. There were a couple of times where some participants came in to the platform pretty fast and our guides were always there to catch them and keep them from injury. I sent my baby out there ahead of me; I can tell you that I wouldn’t have done that if I had the least little concern.
The Million Dollar Question
“You got to do this for free, Amy – would you pay for this if you had to?” The answer is an honest and unwavering yes. Some families could afford to spend $99 pp just because it’s Tuesday, but our family is not like that. For us it would most likely be a special occasion, like a birthday, and would include just one parent and the birthday kid. But I feel like the experience and that bonding time with your kid is well worth it.