When planning a vacation I, like many, tend to look way beyond my own backyard. But the truth is, I often take for granted just how many things there are to do in Atlanta, especially with a toddler or two in tow. Millions of visitors head to the Peach State capital every year (make that 35 million according to Wikipedia), and I’m betting they’re here for more than just the airport.
So whether you’re headed to the North Georgia Mountains, Lake Lanier or over to Lake Martin, metro-Atlanta is an easy drive in and a fantastic way to spend some time during your next Georgia family vacation. A vast array of venues in every part of town may make choosing where to start a little difficult, but look on the bright side – if (when) you hit a traffic jam, just go in the clearest direction and you’re sure to run into a kid-friendly activity sooner or later. But let’s put the suburbs on hold for a minute and head straight to the heart of the city. Downtown and Midtown Atlanta are home to some of the best urban spots to take your tykes, with several in walking distance to one another. A big plus when you’re attempting to navigate the one-way maze of traffic that springs up like kudzu.
Our (kid-approved) picks for the Top 7 Spots to Take Kids on a Downtown/Midtown Atlanta Vacay:
1. The Georgia Aquarium - The largest aquarium in the world recently got even bigger with the opening of the dolphin habitat this Spring. Housing everything from sea dragons to beluga whales, this hand’s on, interactive experience is an awesome substitute for the beach any day. Plus, it’s within walking distance to the Children’s Museum, World of Coke and CNN Center (via a quick stop at the fountains of Centennial Olympic Park), meaning for one $10 parking fee you can have all the fun you and the kids can handle in one afternoon.
2. World of Coke – The soft drink company is a cornerstone of the Atlanta economy and an integral part of the city’s history. The tour will teach you more than you ever imagined about it’s signature drink and the tasting room at the end is worth the price of admission. Gorge yourself on flavors from every corner of the world, then send the kids out to the front lawn to run off all that sugar. A word to the wise – it’s all coke down here, with the capital “C” reserved for the namesake dark brown fizzy stuff. “Soda” and “Pop” are only served on planes headed north.
3. Imagine It! - The Children’s Museum of Atlanta – As hand’s on as it gets, the exhibits are geared to kids under 12. If you’re catering to a wide variety of ages, the adults may want to divide and conquer, with the older kids visiting the World of Coke and the younger set at the Children’s Museum. Their across the street locales make this the easiest decision you’ll face all day.
4. CNN Center – A behind-the-scenes tour of the original Cable News Network appeals to parents and older kids. The younger ones will be intrigued by the whole “behind the scenes” mystique of a television network while the adults gain a better understanding of exactly where the news comes from. A massive food court in the center of the building makes a well-timed lunch stop before or after the tour. And Centennial Olympic Park is just outside, providing acres of grassy lawn and cool fountains for splashing to escape the heat of a Georgia summer
5. Zoo Atlanta – Located in the Grant Park area of Midtown, the Zoo is home to more than 1,300 animals, including Po, the newest member of the Zoo Atlanta panda family. The Children’s Zoo has an open-concept petting zoo with farm animals, rides and an extensive playground. The carousel and train are of particular interest to my preschooler…and apparently every other kid in town. For about $8.50 parents can purchase an “all you can ride” pass and let the kids enjoy until the sun goes down.
6. After spending the afternoon at the zoo, pick up some sandwiches at Alon’s and head over the Piedmont Park for a good old fashioned picnic. Acres and acres of green space, meandering trails, a dog park, a lake, ball fields and even a mid-century modern themed playground provide an in-town escape from the surrounding concrete jungle. Parking can be a little tricky, so pack some patience and circle the neighborhoods around 10th Street or head to the pay lots. Then spread out a blanket and enjoy the sunshine and the views of the mid-town skyscrapers.
7. Picnics not your style? The pull out your mitt and head to The Ted. That’s Turner Field, home of the Atlanta Braves. Built in 1997, Turner Field is a fantastic place to watch a game. Choose the $5 cheap seats for a bird’s eye view or spring for a family pack that includes concessions vouchers. Nothing says summer like watching the Bravos at their best.
This entry was posted on Monday, May 23rd, 2011 at 12:16 am and is filed under Festivals and Events, Georgia, Kid-friendly Travel, Museums, Parks, Things To Do, Travel Tips, Zoos and Aquariums. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.