There are infinite activities in Atlanta. Despite the heat and traffic, it is a very child-friendly city. The biggest problem to watch out for is traffic and timing. When planning your trip, don’t try to fit too much in. One stalled car 20 miles away could cause traffic to ruin your whole day. Bottom line, don’t spread yourself too thin.
All that said, following are two different options for a fun-fulled day in Hot-lanta!
Option 1 – The Big 3:
The Georgia Aquarium, Centennial Park and The Children’s Museum
You can’t come to Atlanta without seeing the world’s largest aquarium. Because of its size, you easily can spend all day at the Georgia Aquarium. However, you also can limit it by really focusing on one or two exhibits. The best for kids are the Ocean Voyager, featuring a moving sidewalk through a glassed-in tunnel and a viewing area of the entire tank with a floor-ceiling window, and the Tropical Diver where kids can see Nemo, Dory and all their friends. The 4D theater also is a big attraction, but take note – it may be scary for small kids (simulated thunder, a dark room, loud noise, etc.) There is an interactive kids area you can hit before you leave. Park in the parking deck for easy access. (It is slightly more expensive than private lots, but your car is shaded and there is a shorter walk.) Now through August 11, the aquarium opens at 9:00AM. Plan to arrive when the doors open to avoid major crowds.
You can’t bring outside food into the aquarium, and their options are very expensive. For a fun and delicious throwback to the good ‘ole days, walk on over to Johnny Rockets for hamburgers, hotdogs, french fries and milkshakes – and fantastic music from the ’60s and 70s spontaneously performed by the waitstaff.
Burn off your lunch by walking to Centennial Park. It’s FREE fun for everyone! There are several playgrounds, lots of green space and, most famously, the Fountain of Rings, where you can splash around and perhaps see a water show. (Check the web site for show times.)
If you and your kids aren’t sufficiently exhausted, and you don’t mind spending just a little more, Imagine It! The Children’s Museum is another short walk away. The museum is full of interactive, imaginative, and learning exhibits for kids of all ages. It closes at 4:00PM, though, so plan accordingly.
Option 2 –
Animals new and old
Just southeast of the city is Zoo Atlanta, the oldest cultural institution in Atlanta and features all manner of animals kids would love to see – lions, tigers and bears, snakes, turtles and dragons (Komodo Dragon, that is) and everything in between. It is relatively shaded but will be hot nonetheless…and crowded so plan accordingly! You can bring a picnic lunch or buy from the Zoo’s restaurant. Or we suggest eating from one of several child-friendly restaurants in historic Grant Park (the neighborhood in which the Zoo is located).
For a quick break in the AC and a bit of a history lesson, check out the Atlanta Cyclorama (right outside the Zoo), a giant panorama depicting the Battle of Atlanta on July 22, 1864.
If you still have some time, drive a few more miles east to visit Fernbank Museum of Natural History. Much of it is slightly dated but kids of all ages will LOVE seeing the giant dinosaur skeletons and exhibits. They also just remodeled NatureQuest, an interactive exhibit that immerses kids in all the wonders of the natural world. Note: It is crowded early in the day, but thins out after lunch. The little ones will have lots of room to move and explore.
At this point, no matter what you choose to do, you and the family will be sufficiently educated and exhausted. Now it’s time to sit back, relax, and recover from a fun-filled day!