2007, Kevin C. Rose/AtlantaPhotos.com.
is home to some of the best family-friendly attractions and entertainment venues in the world. Really. The area boasts the world’s largest aquarium, one of the world’s tallest free-fall rides, the world’s largest piece of exposed granite and even some of the world’s largest dinosaurs. Not only that, but where else can your child embark on a rafting adventure, sleep overnight at the zoo or sample 60 different Coca-Cola products from around the world—all in one day!
Here’s a look at just some of the family fun Atlanta
has to offer. Whether you’re planning a day, a weekend or a week of fun, your new city has you covered all year long.
From whale sharks to beluga whales to cownose rays to piranha to otter to alligators, the world’s largest aquarium has it all. Boasting 8 million gallons of fresh and marine water and more than 100,000 animals representing 500 species around the world, the Georgia Aquarium
is undoubtedly one of the best places in Atlanta to view aquatic life. Sections include Cold Water Quest, Georgia Explorer, Ocean Voyager, River Scout and Tropical Diver, which features a re-creation of a tropical Pacific coral reef. A $110-million dolphin exhibit is scheduled to open in winter 2009.
A 4-D theater allows guests to not only see jellyfish swim by but to feel tentacles brush their arms. The aquarium offers Family Behind the Scenes Tours, as well as Family Sleepovers, where families stay long after the aquarium has closed to enjoy a scavenger hunt, animal encounters and other exciting activities. Guests are provided with mattresses and get to sleep next to the amazing exhibits.
Six Flags/White Water
| White Water
Photo: © 1994, Kevin C. Rose/AtlantaPhotos.com.
With exciting rides for guests of all ages, Six Flags and White Water
are certainly two of the most thrilling family-friendly attractions in Atlanta. With 60 rides combined, the parks even provide a thrill rating for each ride—from mild to max—so that guests can choose accordingly. At Six Flags, little ones will enjoy meeting Tweety Bird in Bugs Bunny World or riding Thomas the Tank Engine in Thomas Town, while bigger kids (including grownups) can brave a white-water rafting adventure on Thunder River or speed through the air, twisting and turning on one of the Southeast’s tallest and fastest stand-up coasters, The Georgia Scorcher. For non-stop water fun, White Water offers Tree House Island for younger guests, complete with chutes, bridges, slides and a gigantic water bucket, while the Tornado is a hit with older guests. Four-person tube, giant funnel, swirling water. Need we say more?
Atlanta History Center
For families looking to step into the past, the Atlanta History Center boasts one of the Southeast’s largest history museums. And it’s not just for history buffs. The museum offers permanent, temporary and traveling exhibitions, historic homes and gardens, and entertaining programs for everyone, including summer camps, writing camps, storytelling, crafts, Family FunDays, Family Weekends, workshops and more. One permanent collection, Turning Point: The American Civil War, features 1,400 objects, such as cannons, uniforms and flags, that record the devastating event that took more than 600,000 lives. Touch-screen computer stations engage all ages, providing answers to visitors’ questions. The permanent collection devoted to the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games features computer kiosks throughout the exhibit that visitors use to answer trivia questions about the Olympics. At the end of the quiz, participants stand on a victory platform from the Olympic Games and their scores are revealed.
The Jim Henson exhibit opening Oct. 25 is sure to attract attention. Set to run through January 2009, Jim Henson’s Fantastic World, featuring art, photographs, documents, film, video clips and puppets, will give visitors an inside look at the puppet master’s creative genius.
Imagine It! Children’s Museum of Atlanta
|Imagine It! Children’s Museum
The rule at the Children’s Museum of Atlanta is that all kids must be accompanied by an adult—and all adults must be accompanied by a kid. The museum’s goal is for children to engage in learning with other children as well as with adults, and its exhibits are designed with this goal in mind. The Morph Gallery, which changes throughout the year, features Under the Big Top: You’re the Ringmaster through Sept. 14. This exhibit teaches kids about exercise, the food pyramid, healthy snacks and self-image—and it gets them moving. In fact, moving is a big part of what goes on at the museum. Kids can operate fork lifts and load boxes to learn about gathering and delivering food; they can build sand sculptures; create a painting on the wall; or pretend to be a pirate or ballet dancer. For additional family fun, the museum also hosts birthday parties and summer camps.
The NEW World of Coca-Cola
For a “classic” family experience, visit the 60,000-square-foot NEW World of Coca-Cola. The original World of Coca-Cola at Underground Atlanta closed its doors in March 2007—and the new and improved World of Coke near Centennial Olympic Park opened two months later, after two years of construction. The attraction houses the world’s largest collection of Coke memorabilia and features something for everyone—interactive exhibits, a pop culture gallery, a 4-D theater, a fully functioning bottling line, the seven-foot world-famous Coca-Cola Polar Bear and perhaps its best feature: the tasting experience. Here, guests can sample over 60 different products from around the world. Now, that’s refreshing.
Fernbank Museum of Natural History
|Fernbank Museum of Natural History
Photo: © 1998, Kevin C. Rose/AtlantaPhotos.com.
With its exciting exhibitions and five-story IMAX screen, the Fernbank Museum of Natural History
is indeed one of Atlanta’s best family-friendly attractions. A must-see at the museum is its permanent exhibit Giants of the Mesozoic, where some of the world’s largest dinosaurs, unearthed in Patagonia, Argentina, tower over visitors’ heads. The museum is hosting a Dinosaur Birthday Bash Aug. 23 to celebrate the exhibit’s seventh anniversary—the family event will include dinosaur-themed activities. Another permanent exhibition, A Walk Through Time in Georgia, takes guests on a journey through the development of the planet and Georgia’s natural history, from the Piedmont to the coast. In the special exhibit Ends of the Earth: From Polar Bears to Penguins, visitors can look at polar bear hair and penguin feathers under a microscope, test their “Ice Q” to learn how the North and South poles differ, and see what it’s like to walk and slide like a penguin by donning a penguin suit. To enhance the “cool” experience, the shows at the museum’s IMAX Theatre include the Academy Award-nominated Alaska: Spirit of the Wild, playing through Aug. 22, and Antarctica, showing through January 2009.
Stone Mountain Park
Home to the world’s largest piece of exposed granite, the 3,200-acre Stone Mountain Park
offers attractions, festivals, concerts and plenty of outdoor activities such as camping, fishing and hiking. Ride to the top of Stone Mountain on the Skyride (or if your family is feeling adventurous, take the 1.3-mile walking trail), climb aboard the train for a five-mile journey around the mountain, hit the miniature golf course, or hop into a pedal boat or board the riverboat for some fun on the lake. Don’t miss the latest attraction—the new $1-million Sky Hike is the nation’s largest family adventure course in the treetops. While secured to the patented overhead safety system, visitors can traverse suspended wooden bridges, leap from one wooden slat to another, balance on a single rope high above the ground or climb to the top on vertical net bridges. A very family-friendly attraction, the park will even plan and host your family reunion.
Centennial Olympic Park
Centennial Olympic Park
|Centennial Olympic Park
Photo: © 2000, Kevin C. Rose/AtlantaPhotos.com.
is home to the world’s largest interactive water fountain featuring the Olympic Rings symbol—the Fountain of Rings. Synchronized water shoots up from the ground in time to familiar tunes, complete with lighting effects. A popular family summer hangout, it’s common to see younger visitors dancing on the rings to dodge the water—without much success. But the park isn’t just about the fountain. Many familyfriendly activities take place here throughout the year. From spring to fall, the park hosts events such as Music @ Noon, 4th of July Celebration, Wednesday WindDown and 4th Saturday Family Fun Days, which feature specialty workshops, street performers, children’s crafts, life-size chess games, appearances by local sports mascots and more. Every winter, the park transforms into a winter wonderland for its annual Holiday in Lights event. Visitors can enjoy a stroll through the 21-acre park decorated with thousands of lights, or they can show off their skating prowess on Atlanta’s only outdoor ice skating rink.
There’s much more to do at Turner Field
besides watch a thrilling Atlanta Braves baseball game. In fact, if you’re taking your family to Turner, then be sure to arrive early. The state-of-the-art attraction, which opened just over 10 years ago, quickly became one of the city’s landmarks, changing the meaning of the word “ballpark.” The minicity is quite literally a “park,” featuring Cartoon Network’s Tooner Field; games where visitors can test their hitting and throwing skills; Braves Chop House, an 8,000-square-foot restaurant that offers amazing views of the baseball field; Braves Clubhouse Store; and Scouts Alley, an entertaining, educational area with skills games, interactives and touch-screen kiosks. Learn about the history of the team, from 1871 to the present, at the Ivan Allen Jr. Braves Museum and Hall of Fame. For an inside look at Turner Field, tours that begin in the museum are offered year-round. Tour stops include the dugout, press box, luxury suite and broadcast booth. Bonus for kids: After every Sunday game this season, those 14 and under can run the bases.
Photo: © 2002, Kevin C. Rose/
houses more than 200 species of animals, including the clouded leopard, giraffe, African lion, red-necked wallaby, milky eagle owl, American alligator and Komodo dragon. In May, the zoo welcomed a litter of African lion cubs, the first African cubs born at Zoo Atlanta
in more than 10 years. In addition to offering plenty of animal viewing, the zoo features rides and attractions such as Rock Climber, Nabisco Endangered Species Carousel, Norfolk Southern Zoo Express Train and Wild Like Me, a creative indoor space built for younger visitors. Family programs include Keeper for a Day, where guests can assist zookeepers with their daily routines; Mommy and Me, a hands-on program that teaches children about animals; and Family NightCrawlers, a special family sleepover where guests embark on a night-time adventure at the zoo.
Atlanta History Center 404-814-4000 www.atlantahistorycenter.com
Centennial Olympic Park 404-222-7275 www.centennialpark.com
Fernbank Museum of Natural History 404-929-6400 www.fernbankmuseum.org
Georgia Aquarium 404-581-4000 www.georgiaaquarium.org
Imagine It! Children’s Museum of Atlanta 404-659-5437 www.imagineit-cma.org
The NEW World of Coca-Cola 800-676-2653 www.worldofcoca-cola.com
Six Flags/White Water Six Flags 770-739-3400 www.sixflags.com
White Water 770-948-9290 www.sixflags.com/whitewater
Stone Mountain Park 770-498-5690 www.stonemountainpark.com
Turner Field 404-522-7630 www.braves.mlb.com
Zoo Atlanta 404-624-5600 www.zooatlanta.org