Atlanta is such a fun city and I have been several times for conferences and as a layover spot when traveling. I recently had a conference in Atlanta and this time around I decided to bring the family and turn it into a mini vacation.
If you find yourself visiting Atlanta in the near future, here are some fun, family friendly activities to consider:
WHAT TO DO~
Atlanta has some pretty major tourist attractions that are very popular: The World of Coca Cola, Centennial Olympic Park, Georgia Aquarium, CNN Studio tour, College Football Hall of Fame, Zoo Atlanta and the Center for Civil and Human Rights.
There are also some stunning trails and parks and outdoor adventures that make Atlanta a great place to visit.
Stone Mountain. We loved Stone Mountain. It about 30 minutes away from Atlanta and well worth the trip as it is Georgia’s #1 attraction. The park is 3,200 acres and includes a SkyHike Adventure course, train rides, campgrounds and you will end your day with a fun laser light show. We spent the entire day at the park and the kids just loved it. The activities change a bit from summer to winter but there is just so much to do. We went during summer and the park is outdoors but offers tons of opportunities to cool off a bit indoors. My children loved the Great Barn area which has trampolines and games, slides, bouncy nets – all of which is located indoors so a perfect stop to get out of the heat.
If you are lucky enough to visit Atlanta in the fall, County Living magazine has an annual event that sounds amazing. Be sure to check out the Stone Mountain events page to see what might be going on during your visit. (PS: You can purchase standard tickets or for $5 more, upgrade to a ticket that includes a meal. We thought this was a great deal as the meal is priced at $8 and includes unlimited refills of Coke products during your visit. We went on a very hot day and had several refills of lemonade, Sprite and Powerade.
Oh and Stone Mountain is actually a huge mountain made out of granite. On the side of the mountain is the world’s largest relief drawing carved on the side with images of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson as a monument to the Civil War.
The World of Coca Cola. This was a fun stop and provides a little glimpse into the Coca Cola company. You get to see and taste the products from all over the world, hear about the history of Coke, watch a 4D movie and head into the vault to learn the secret recipe of Coke.
College Football Hall of Fame. This is a fun stop for sports fans. My husband is a sports fanatic so we made this quick stop. The Hall of Fame is three stories with a fan experience (kick and receive footballs), an interactive area to play interactive games and the actual Hall of Fame for the athletes. *Note: We found slightly cheaper parking at the Georgia Aquarium and walked.
Centennial Olympic Park. Centennial Park was not a major highlight for our trip but it was a great stop to get out, let the kids run around and cool off in the splash pad. There are some fun events at the park so you might check before you go, during our visits there were free concerts running all day. The park was built for the 1996 Olympics and spans over 21 acres.
Georgia Aquarium. The Georgia Aquarium is right by Centennial Park, World of Coke, CNN and the Football Hall of Fame. The aquarium is one of the top ranked in the United States and by far the best aquarium we have visited. The dolphin show (get there early) and the sea lion show were our favorites. They do a lot of other events for families beyond just a standard visit so be sure to check the events page first. *NOTE: If you plan to eat at the Aquarium, there is very limited seating so you might plan around peak hours.
Atlanta CityPASS. One thing to consider if you are planning on hitting a few of the popular spots is buying a CityPASS. You will pay a flat fee of $76 for adults or $62 for children (prices subject to change) and receive a ticket packet to tour the following spots for free:
World of Coca-Cola
CNN Studio Tours
Zoo Atlanta OR Center for Civil and Human Rights
Fernbank Museum of Natural History OR College Football Hall of Fame
Most likely you will save money with the CityPASS plus you get VIP entrance into the World of Coca Cola. That saved us probably 20 minutes or more. You can get more details on the CityPASS here.
WHERE TO EAT~
There are some fantastic restaurants in Atlanta. We had very limited time so we didn’t get to all the places I had hoped to visit. We stayed in Buckhead on our visit and I really wanted to check out Empire State South for at least one meal. Check the menu out and you will see why. Sadly I have to save this one for next time.
Shake Shack. We flew into Atlanta pretty late and found ourselves in the verge of hangry at about 10pm at night. We tracked down Shake Shack right by our hotel in the most gorgeous, upscale mall. Y’all. This was really good. Really good. For a quick burger and fries Shake Shack may have surpassed my affection for In & Out Burger. I got a portabella burger and cheese fries and literally inhaled them. The cheese was a real bechamel sauce not canned yuck cheese you might normally expect from a fast food restaurant. You better bet I will be working on a copycat version of the burger once I get home. Delicious.
Georgetown Cupcakes. Georgetown cupcakes is obviously a Washington DC based company but I have heard raves about the cupcakes and have wanted to visit for ages. You can find locations in NY, MD, CA, MA and Atlanta – yeah! The cupcakes were delicious- strawberry was the favorite from our stop.
Mary Mac’s Tea Room. This is a popular local spot for traditional southern cuisine. We didn’t get a chance to stop here but if you visit please come back and leave a comment below with your review.
Sublime Doughnuts. Very popular spot that has been featured on all sorts of magazines and tv shows. They have all sorts of varieties of unique and interesting doughnuts. Stop at one of the locations on your visit if you can.
Ponce City Market. This is a huge market hall with all sorts of retail shops and specialty foods and local cuisine. They do have special events like a Farmer’s Market, special classes and more so check out the site before your trip. There is a rooftop beer garden and a rooftop patio with mini golf, games and rides. Perfect spot for families.
All in all we had a great time in Atlanta and I am so glad I got to see a bit more of the city. We did struggle a bit to find things (you will find lots of streets called Peachtree) but the wrong turns wound up being very fortunate as we were able to see some charming neighborhoods and beautiful homes in Buckhead.
Enjoy your trip and please come back and share some of your favorites if you do decide to visit!