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Summer escapes
Local businesses offer ways to beat the heat
Coffee House 2 es
Robert Burke makes a cold coffee drink for a customer Tuesday at Caribou Coffee in Johns Creek. - photo by Emily Saunders

• AMC Avenue Forsyth 12: (770) 781-0633,

• Barnes & Noble: (770) 781-0867,

• Caribou Coffee: (770) 622-0842,

• Movies 400: (678) 513-4400,

• Stars and Strikes: (678) 965-5707,

Sure, summertime offers fun in the sun, but many Forsyth County businesses offer a good time without having to use sunscreen.

From bowling to books and movies to mocha, there are many fun and inexpensive ways to beat the heat this season.

“During this recession, [people] want to be provided with escape,” said Andy DiOrio, spokesman for AMC Avenue Forsyth 12.

“They don’t want to be reminded of the problems they’re facing in their current life. They want to be taken away to something different, something new, something they can just sit back, relax and enjoy.”

Whether it’s escaping the summer heat or daily stress, options abound in Forsyth.

Bowling and beyond

Stars and Strikes in Cumming is celebrating the season with a 97 Days of Summer promotion.

Through Labor Day, the family fun center is offering 97-cent games of bowling from 9 to 11 a.m. on weekdays. There are also specials on laser tag, video games and food.  

“We try to offer something for everyone and it’s someplace that’s a fun, safe environment for kids and adults to come and enjoy,” said Cheryl Campbell, event sales manager. “Obviously it’s hot outside, so a lot of people like to come in and find a cool place.”

The center may also appeal to families who aren’t taking vacations this year.

“We’re more of your ‘stay-cation’ kind of destination, because we’re affordable family fun,” Campbell said.

Cool time on the big screen

Affordability is the key at Movies 400 in Cumming, said manager Jessica Smallwood. The theater offers free family films every Tuesday and Thursday mornings, as well as $1 popcorn and drinks.

Free family films pull in anywhere from 1,500 to 2,000 people, Smallwood said.

“We also have digital 3-D movies here, and [the animated film] “Up” met all of our expectations and pulled in a lot of people,” she said. “Children and adults really liked the movie.

“Ice Age 3 [Dawn of the Dinosaurs] is going to be in 3-D and we expect that to be huge,” she said of next week’s release.

“I would think because it’s so hot outside, they know they can come in here to cool off and be entertained, and with all of the movies that are coming out, they’re great for either adults or children.”

Other big blockbusters expected this summer include “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” “Public Enemies” with Johnny Depp and Christian Bale, and “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.”

AMC Avenue Forsyth 12 offers movie camp every Wednesday. Tickets are $1 and all proceeds benefit Variety—The Children’s Charity and the Will Rogers Institute.

“It’s a good fun way for families to get out and enjoy a movie while proceeds are going to charity at the same time,” said Andy DiOrio, AMC spokesman.

Summer blockbusters kicked off this year with the hits “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” and “Star Trek.”

“I think this year we saw products really drive the industry, so if we have a product that people want to see, then they’re going to come out and see it,” DiOrio said.

Books also offer escape

Movies aren’t the only way to escape the heat. The number of children attending storytime at Barnes & Noble continues to rise with the thermostat, said manager Sharon Castleberry.

The bookstore in the Avenue Forsyth at Exit 13 off Ga. 400 holds storytimes at 11 a.m. every Tuesday and Saturday. Tuesday’s event drew about 50 people.

“We’re doing a lot of fun things with storytimes this summer,” Castleberry said. “... We’ve had special costume characters come in, and we’re having special guests come in.

“Our children’s department has put together some special programs for the kids.”

Saturday’s storytime will be about bears. June 30, there will be a western roundup party, where children are invited to wear their cowboy gear.

The bookstore also offers a summer reading program, which grants children a free book for every eight they read through September.

It may not be nearly as fun, but the store is also offering summer study sessions for the SAT and ACT tests in partnership with the Princeton Review.

Sessions continue through December.

Perk up, cool off

For a cool treat, Caribou Coffee features eight blended drinks “topped with whipped cream and cool mixings,” said Stephanie Edwards, manager of the shop in Johns Creek.

Flavors range from turtle mocha and mint condition to apple blast and chai tea. Though caramel high rise is Caribou’s top seller, Edwards prefers vanilla white chocolate mocha.

“I guess because it’s mixed, and the white chocolate is a little sweeter, and the vanilla gives it a different added flavor,” she said.

Beginning July 6, the store will offer real fruit smoothies.

E-mail Jennifer Sami at