Discover a whole “new” world of fun in the Centennial Park District of Atlanta that you may not know about.
Published: May 1, 2018
By: Carol Muse Evans
A family trip to Atlanta brings to mind the thrill rides of Six Flags over Georgia, the splash fun of Six Flags White Water and things like the zoo and other great attractions.
But there’s a whole “new” world of fun in the Centennial Park District of Atlanta (www.centennialparkdistrict.com) you may not know about. And it’s not just the Georgia Aquarium. There’s so much to do here – and you can stay and play and park yourself and your automobile for the whole weekend. If it’s hot, you can get indoors for much of the fun.
Centennial Olympic Park (www.atlanta.net/things-to-do/outdoors/centennial-park) is 21 acres of land developed in 1996 for the Summer Olympics, and the leftover park is something for Atlanta and its visitors to enjoy. It is the centerpiece to this area of town, and features a large green space, water features, outdoor concerts and music, special events and more. You can even ride the permanent Skyview Ferris Wheel for a bird’s eye view of this part of the city (www.skyviewatlanta.com).
If you have a child approximately age 8 or younger, you will want to visit the Children’s Museum of Atlanta (www.childrensmuseumatlanta.org). Think McWane Science Center meets Itty Bitty Magic City for the whole museum, and you’ve got the fun and educational aspects of the Children’s Museum of Atlanta. You can spend a couple of hours or more here. From the power of play – the foundation of the museum – you will see plenty of fun things to do through the museum’s learning zones, programs, and outreach efforts. You’ll see zones for building, with giant blocks, the build-it lab and move balls through the museum’s giant ball machine. Climb on the John Deere Tractor, milk a cow and gather eggs on the “farm,” and even load the delivery truck and ship the food to their grocery store. Visit six continents here, launch a rock and climb through the layers of the earth at the large globe and climbing place in the center of the museum.
Just across the street from the Children’s Museum is the World of Coca-Cola (www.worldofcoca-cola.com). Take a self-guided tour about the history of Coca-Cola, enjoy a free sample of the beverage and taste Coca-Cola products from around the world. See the giant safe where the world’s only handwritten copy of the recipe for Coca-Cola is stored, unopened since 2011.
Have a little spare time to unwind? Enjoy some fun video games at Game-X on Baker Street (https://gamexatl.com/). You can enjoy a beverage here while you play, or even some “pub style” food including salads and sandwiches. Buy a card to play games with, and play individual games or fun family games till your card runs out.
And of course, right in the heart of it all is the Georgia Aquarium (www.georgiaaquarium.org), housing more than a hundred thousand animals and representing several thousand species, all of which reside in 10 million gallons of marine and salt water.
One of our favorite parts of the trip was a guided tour on the Peachtree Trolley (http://thepeachtreetrolley.com). While it might not be the best for very young kids (could be a napping opportunity), older ones may find the history of Atlanta very fascinating, as we did. This 90-minute narrated tour is lively and brings history to life. You’ll want to call ahead to schedule your tour. Learn about Atlanta from its inception, through the Civil War to today. Get the low-down on the Mercedes Benz NFL stadium, Phillips Arena where NBA games are played, and the state capitol building. Atlanta also is the birthplace of Martin Luther King Jr., and you can see his childhood home, the MLK History Site and the Center for Civil and Human Rights, along with the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library.
Looking for good food? A MUST visit is dinner at Ted’s Montana Grill (www.tedsmontanagrill.com). Owner Ted Turner, the former owner of CNN, has a penthouse on top of the building and a special curtained dining room at the restaurant for times when he is in town, but one of the most interesting things about Ted’s Montana Grill is that their specialty is bison, a protein-rich, nutrient-dense meat. Turner is often credited as being one of the major players in keeping bison from becoming extinct, and he serves bison in all his restaurants. Much like a steak, it is amazingly good and lean. Sample the bison with a filet or even the bison pot roast, and there’s a great kids’ menu in this very nice but family-friendly eatery.
For our visit, we stayed two days and one night, but you could easily make an entire weekend or long weekend out of the trip. Nearby is the CNN Headquarters, where you can take a tour, and you are blocks from the former Atlanta Braves stadium.
Carol Muse Evans is publisher/editor of Birmingham Parent.
Where to Stay:
Home2Suites by Hilton Atlanta Downtown
87 Walton St.
Atlanta, GA 30303
We cannot say enough great things about this hotel! New rooms with “hardwood” floors are spacious and feature all the luxuries such as a comfy bed and bedding, wifi, big-screen television, and almost a full kitchen with dishwasher, microwave, cooktop and mini fridge, with dishes, too. A family could easily stay here and eat in the room, but the hotel also offers a free breakfast that is “continental,” but includes things like fruit, yogurt, waffles and more. Park your car here and walk to all the Centennial Park attractions. You’re in the middle of it all. Families with young children note: Ask about rooms with a tub if you must have one. Our room only had a shower, but it was huge and luxurious. Expect to spend approximately $250 a night.