FAMILY VACATION: ATLANTA
TOP TWELVE TRAVEL TIPSHEET
By Kim Berry
Editor’s Note: Top Twelve Travel Tipsheet is a ParentsPost.com series on favorite FAMILY-FRIENDLY places and activities outside Houston. Kim Berry is a Katy SuperMom with a son and daughter. She grew up in Atlanta and attended Georgia State University.
#1 GEORGIA AQUARIUM
225 Baker Street, 404-581-4000
The Georgia Aquarium is an all-time favorite for Atlanta. This magnificent home to aquatic creatures is the world’s largest aquarium. Families can see whale sharks, manta rays, beluga whales, lionfish, sea turtles and thousands of other animals in more than ten million gallons of water. The aquarium offers behind-the-scenes tours, sleepovers and lectures. The Dolphin Tales show is very popular with kids and parents. Reserve tickets in advance – some shows sell out.
#2 ATLANTA BOTANICAL GARDEN & PIEDMONT PARK
1345 Piedmont Avenue NE, 404-876-5859
These two nature spots are side by side. Stroll through the many stunning sections of the Atlanta Botanical Garden including the Rose Garden, the Orchid Center, the Rock Garden, the Japanese Garden, the Edible Garden. Many families head straight to the Children’s Garden where a variety of activities are offered like Storybook Time at the Amphitheater. At Piedmont Park, you can go bike riding, roller-blading or swimming at the new Aquatics Center. Families can have a picnic, or go on a nature scavenger hunt searching for spiders and stone and the like.
#3 LEGOLAND DISCOVERY CENTER ATLANTA
3500 Peachtree Road NE, Suite G-1, 404-848-9252
Lego Lovers celebrated when this attraction opened in 2012, designed for kids ages 3-10. It’s fascinating to see miniature versions of cities and their landmarks made with Lego bricks – and that’s what you’ll find in MINILAND. Children can enjoy Duplo village, build and test Lego racers, learn building secrets from master builders, climb around in the soft-play area, ride the chariots in Kingdom Quest, or watch an action adventure flick in the 4D Cinema.
#4 FERNBANK MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY
767 Clifton Road NE, 404-929-6300
Kids are often awestruck with the size of the dinosaurs in the Giants of the Mesozoic exhibit. The world’s largest dinosaurs were found in Argentina, and these fossils are cast replicas of the original specimens. (The fossilized bones remain in Argentina). The Fernbank is also known for its galleries depicting Georgia’s natural history along with the Earth’s transformation over millions of years.
#5 CENTENNIAL OLYMPIC PARK
265 Park Avenue West NW, 404-223-4412
If you’re looking for relief during a hot, muggy summer day, then Centennial Olympic Park offers an inexpensive way to cool down. Thanks to the 1996 Olympics, kids (and even adults) can run through the Fountain of Rings, an interactive fountain featuring the Olympic Rings symbol. On Fourth Saturday Family Fun Days, parents bring their children to the park to enjoy family-friendly performances and a host of activities including art and crafts, life-size chess games and educational workshops. From April through September, you can bring a blanket to enjoy the Wednesday Wind Down free concert series. You can picnic at the park or cross the street to CNN to grab some tasty lunch.
#6 INSIDE CNN STUDIO TOUR
1 CNN Center, 404-827-2300
Kids usually find this tour “pretty cool.” CNN, the first 24-hour news station, was launched in Atlanta and this is a look into the global headquarters. The tours take you through the studios, newsrooms and control rooms, and depending on when you visit, you may see your favorite anchor at the news desk.
#7 STONE MOUNTAIN PARK
1000 Robert E. Lee Drive, 770-498-5690
Stone Mountain is known for its large exposed granite outcropping with the Memorial Carving which depicts three Confederate heroes of the Civil War: Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. The 3,200-acre Stone Mountain Park offers many adventures for families. You can hop on the Summit Skyride, a cable car that takes you 825 feet above ground to the top of Stone Mountain. From the top, you can see the Atlanta skyline and the Appalachian Mountains. You can ride on the 1940s locomotive train with open-air cars. You can trek through the treetops on Sky Hike adventure courses, or get wet going through the net tunnels at Geyser Towers. Be sure to stay for the signature Lasershow Spectacular.
#8 JIMMY CARTER LIBRARY AND MUSEUM
441 Freedom Parkway, 404-865-7100
The Museum features photographs and memorabilia from the life and political career of Jimmy Carter, the 39th President of the United States. He was born in Plains, Georgia. Visitors can see a full-scale replica of the White House Oval Office, furnished as it was during the Carter administration (1977-1981). The Carter Library is home to an archives collection of more than 27 million pages of presidential papers donated by Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter.
#9 MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE
450 Auburn Avenue, 404-331-5190
This site was established to commemorate civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. You can visit the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, the King Center, as well as Dr. King’s Tomb, which rests on a brick island in the Reflecting Pool. Tickets for the King Birth Home are issued on a first come, first served basis on the day of the tour. The National Park Service helps operate the facilities.
#10 ZOO ATLANTA & GRANT PARK
800 Cherokee Avenue SE, 404-624-9453
While the elephants, tigers, lions, orangutans and gorillas are all great to see, my kids love the pandas. You can observe or interact with more than 1,000 animals representing more than 200 species. Animal lovers can feed the giraffes or purchase a seed stick and feed hundreds of free-flying parakeets in Boundless Budgies. Younger children enjoy the train ride, the carousel and the petting zoo with its goats, sheep and pigs. Zoo Atlanta is located in historic Grant Park.
#11 SIX FLAGS OVER GEORGIA & SIX FLAGS WHITE WATER
SIX FLAGS OVER GEORGIA, 275 Riverside Parkway, Austell, 770-948-9290
This amusement park offers families more than three dozen rides and attractions ranging from bumper cars and swings for small children to roller coasters for thrill seekers.
SIX FLAGS WHITE WATER 250 Cobb Parkway N #100, Marietta, 770-948-9290
This water park has dozens of wave pools, falls, tunnels and rapids. The water slides range from toddler size to the Dragon Tail with its 250-foot triple drop.
#12 IMAGINE IT! THE CHILDREN’S MUSEUM OF ATLANTA
275 Centennial Olympic Park Drive NW, 404-659-5437
Exhibits are designed for children age eight and under. Kids can learn about the farm to store to table chain with the play materials and mock supermarket and kitchen at Fundamentally Food. There are painting stations, a sand table, a tree house, even Crawl Space for the very little ones.