Too hot outside? Here are 5 places to beat the heat around Columbus

It’s summer in Columbus. The sun is out, and the temperatures — and air conditioning costs — are soaring.

If you’re not one of those people who love 95-degree, humid weather, then you’re in luck. Here are a few places around the area to escape the heat and have fun.

National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center

Located in Fort Benning, the National Infantry Museum opened its doors 10 years ago. This self-guided museum has no admission fee, although the NIM does ask for a $5 donation. The museum has a theater, combat simulators and a full-service restaurant and bar.

The NIM recommends that visitors block off about three hours to complete the tour, which includes exhibits on the Vietnam War, World War I and II, the Cold War and many more notable eras of the U.S. military.

The museum is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays.

Georgia Aquarium

The Georgia Aquarium bills itself as the “largest aquarium in the U.S.” and is getting even bigger, with plans for a new gallery that will include sharks.

Located in the heart of Atlanta, this attraction is a bit of a drive from Columbus but is worth the commute. The aquarium features countless animal species, and has various shows throughout the day.

The aquarium is open 365 days a year, though hours of operation vary. General admission tickets run from $29 to $35.

Don’t want to make the drive to Atlanta? No worries. You can watch some of the animals via webcam at the aquarium’s website.

Whitewater Express

One of Uptown Columbus’ newer and most-popular attractions, Whitewater Express offers the chance to raft down the Chattahoochee River through man-made rapids for people with a variety of rafting experience.

If extreme rapids are not your thing, there’s kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding and bike rentals available.

Rafting prices start at $39 for the low-water trip, recommended for families, and go as high as $64 for the high-water trip.

The Lunchbox Museum

Recognized as one of the most unique museums in the world, the Lunchbox Museum features more than 2,000 lunchboxes, Thermos containers and meal trays.

Characters appearing on the metal lunch boxes include Roy Rogers, Hopalong Cassidy, Scooby Doo, Lone Ranger, Incredible Hulk, Indiana Jones and The Brady Bunch.

The museum is located in RiverMarket Antiques and is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sundays from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Robin Lake Beach at Callaway Gardens

The closest “beach” to Columbus, Robin Lake Beach boasts a variety of activities for all ages. You can swim, hang out at the wifi-enabled beach pavilion, play shuffleboard or catch a performance from the Florida State University Flying High Circus.

The beach pavilion has a snack bar, an actual bar and an ice cream truck.

Admission to Callaway Gardens costs about $25 for adults and $15 for children, so there’s plenty more to do once you’ve had your beach fix.

Joshua Mixon is a reporter for the Ledger-Enquirer. He covers sports (Auburn and preps) and local news, and is a member of the Football Writers Association of America. He previously covered Georgia athletics for the Telegraph. You can follow him on Twitter @JoshDMixon.