We have close family living in Georgia and have found ourselves visiting Atlanta a few times with kids. Most days are spent indoors chatting and catching up with cousins but when we do get out of the house, here are some of our favorite things we like to do in Atlanta with kids.
If you have just a weekend in Atlanta and want to make the best use of it, make sure to add the Coca Cola Factory, Georgia Aquarium, National Center for Civil and Human Rights, CNN Studio to your itinerary. While not in the downtown area, The Botanical garden, Atlanta Zoo and the Fernbank Museum of Natural History other attractions that are worth a visit.
A trip to see the tumbling twin falls at Anna Ruby near Helen, GA is another excursion from Atlanta that I highly recommend!
Our Favorite Things to do in Atlanta with Kids
World of Coca Cola (Coca Cola Factory)
One of our favorite things to do in Atlanta was the Coca Cola Factory. It was fun learning the history of the company, seeing the original bottles and machines and sampling the soda. Kids enjoyed learning about the process of how it is made and also taste the different flavors of Coca Cola from around the world.
We loved meeting and taking photos with the Coca Cola Polar Bear. Hours vary so be sure to check their website here before planning a visit.
Our kids love the Georgia Aquarium! We get to visit the World Aquarium in Dallas often but it pales in comparison. The Atlanta aquarium is considered one of the biggest aquariums in the western hemisphere! Our favorite part of the aquarium where you stand on the moving walkway that goes through an enormous tank, you can see animals on either side and above you. You can see Beluga Whales, Dolphins, African Penguins (similar to the ones we saw in Boulders Beach) and so many more sea animals here.
We love seeing wildlife in their natural habitat (especially Masai Mara in Kenya) and a few zoos do a good job creating those environments and are involved in conservation efforts. Zoo Atlanta is one of the oldest zoos in the country. You can feed the giraffes and visit the different sections that feature animals from different continents like Asia and Africa. The zoo is known for being one of only three U.S. zoos to have giant pandas and also for having one of the largest populations of great apes in North America.
Dallas Zoo and Denver Zoo are a couple of our other favorite zoos.
Important Things to Do in Atlanta with Kids that you can’t miss
There are a few places in Atlanta that you can visit to inspire young minds to learn about American civil rights and global human rights movements. Start with the National Center for Civil and Human Rights. In many ways, it is the heart of Atlanta!
National Center for Civil and Human Rights
The first exhibits when you enter the National Center for Civil and Human Rights somber and moving, so be prepared. Both adults and kids will learn a lot here. The museum doesn’t just talk about the past. It is also dedicated to current Civil and Human Rights issues.
It is a museum and institution that connects the U.S. Civil Rights Movement to the human rights challenges of today. Visit the Voice to the Voiceless Gallery, a metal structure featuring fragments of engravings in King’s handwriting illuminated by light. See the Spark of Conviction: Global Human Rights Movement which features the stories of courageous advocates – from the past and today – and how they have worked to ensure individual rights and dignity are protected.
Pay homage to Dr. King at Freedom Hall
Learn more about Dr. King and his work through the exhibits on display at Freedom Hall, the exhibition location on The Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent and Social Change, or The King Center. Pay homage at the Reflecting Pool where both Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his wife Coretta Scott King are buried. You can see the Eternal Flame, a symbol of the continuing efforts to realize Dr. King’s dream of justice, peace and equality for all.
Freedom Hall’s second floor has an exhibit space where memorabilia of Dr. Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement are displayed. You can see his Bible, clerical robe and handwritten sermons.
Visit Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Birth Home
Did you know that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was born in Atlanta? His birth home is protected by the National Park Service. They offer free ranger-led tours every day that lasts 30 minutes. The tour runs every day of the year except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Day. Pick up a timed ticket at the information desk inside the Visitor Center or King Center.
Explore the Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church
Ebenezer Baptist Church, just down the street from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birth home. It is where he delivered his first sermon in 1947 and then went on to deliver many speeches here. You can go on a self-guided tour of the church from 10:00AM-5:00PM.
International Civil Right Walk of Fame
Added to the National Historic Site more recently in 2004 this site honors some of the amazing people who made contributions to the Civil Rights Movement. It is a walkable promenade near the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site that features actual granite and bronze footstep impressions of those honored.
Gardens and Green spaces in Atlanta
I love how green Atlanta is, we love the many parks and trails the city has to offer. I adore the tall pines we saw during our the hour long drive to Helen, GA!
Atlanta Botanical Gardens
The Atlanta Botanical Garden features dozens of permanent pieces of art, including sculptures and water features, and lovely gardens. You will also find the largest permanent display of works by Dale Chihuly in a botanical garden. Nine permanent sculptures displayed throughout the Garden beautifully combine art and natural surroundings in unexpected ways. Keep an eye out for them.
Don’t miss the Garden’s ever-growing icon, Earth Goddess, who beautifully boasts 18,000 live annuals. She has become a permanent installation greeting guests as they enter the Cascades Garden. The Children’s Garden here is also great place for kids.
See: Dale Chihuly exhibit at the Dallas Arboretum
Centennial Olympic Park
Atlanta hosted the 1996 Olympics and the park which housed many events is still there, you can also see the Olympic Rings. Kids will love splashing in the Centennial Olympic Park fountain. There is a huge Ferris wheel and the park often has live music. It’s is located right next to the Coca Cola Factory.
The College Football hall of fame is nearby.
After a visit to the Atlanta Botanical garden spend some time at Piedmont Park. The Atlanta Gardens is actually inside the Piedmont Park. There are two play areas here that families will love: Noguchi Playscape and Mayor’s Grove Playground.
You can grab a bite to eat at Ponce City Market‘s food hall and then head up to the Roof to play a round of mini golf or ride down the three-story slide at Skyline Park. THE ROOF has some of the best views of Atlanta! You can see Buckhead, Midtown, and Downtown all from this one location.
Explore Atlanta’s neighborhoods by foot or bike on the BeltLine Trail and discover the murals and work of hundreds of visual artists displayed all along the BeltLine corridor. It is essentially a 22-mile railway loop around the downtown area that was converted into a multi-use paved path lined with native plants and art installations.
You can also go on docent-led walking tour with This Trees Atlanta which tells the BeltLine story and focuses on native trees, grasses, wildflowers and greenspaces along the corridor.
Other things to do in Atlanta, Georgia
If your kids love Legos, then you have probably been to Legoland in San Diego or Orlando. D loves his LEGOs and The Discovery Center in Dallas in one of his favorite places when he was younger. While smaller and much different, it is a fun place to visit with young kids. It is all indoors. The Discovery Center in Atlanta has 12 attractions including a couple of rides, a 4D theater and a virtual reality experience.
Visit the Fernbank Museum of Natural History, they have many hands-on exhibits and beautiful scenery. Don’t miss a photo of the dinosaurs at the Dinosaur Plaza entrance – they are a hadrosaur species known as Lophorhothon atopus, which once lived in the region that is now Georgia.
Go behind the scenes of breaking news with a CNN Studio Tour (currently closed for tours).
Another place kids will love in Atlanta is Imagine It! The Children’s Museum of Atlanta. Lots of interactive learning experiences for young kids.
Try hands-on STEM and design activities at the Museum of Design Atlanta. Plan a visit on the second Sundays when MODA is FREE for families.
If you like amusement parks and thrill rides, then Six Flags Over Georgia in Atlanta is a must-visit.
Here is how to save on tickets to Atlanta attractions
You can get the most out of your trip to Atlanta and enjoy access to five of the city’s top attractions with the Atlanta CityPASS. These are the best discount tickets to Atlanta attractions. The booklet grants you free entry into sights including:
Anytime pass to Georgia Aquarium
General admission to World of Coca-Cola
General admission to Zoo Atlanta
General admission to Fernbank Museum of Natural History indoor and outdoor exhibits, nature trails and dinosaur adventures
Plus you can enjoy a wealth of useful Atlanta tips and other savings at other venues and retailers. You have 30 days to visit attractions once you use the CityPASS for the first time.
Where to Stay in Atlanta with Kids
Like I mentioned earlier, when visiting Atlanta we usually stay with our family who lives in the suburbs. I have visited Atlanta for work a few times and have stayed at hotels in the downtown area. The drive to downtown from in ‘burbs is painful to up it mildly.
There is quite a bit to do in Downtown Atlanta and there are some great options if you staying here with kids. Here are a few hotels in Atlanta that you might like if you are traveling with or without kids 😉
If you are looking for some further away from downtown Atlanta, Buckhead is a great option. It is a glamourous neighborhood about 10 miles north of downtown Atlanta. A few hotel options here are:
Where to Eat in Atlanta
When visiting Atlanta the one place I can’t miss is a meal at Chai Pani! Chai Pani means “tea and water” a slang in India for going out for a cup of tea, a tasty bite, a snack. The casual Decatur spot features delicious Indian street food with an equally nostalgic ambiance! I love their Samosa chaat, Paneer Kathi roll and matchstick okra fries. The rest of the family vouches for their Kheema Pav, James Beard Nominated Chef Meherwan Irani’s take on Sloppy Joes made with spiced lamb.
*Photos featured here are from multiple trips to Atlanta with our kids
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