There’s a bit of old Southern charm left in Atlanta, Georgia. Not only a capital and the country’s most populous hotspot, but a “world city” as well, Atlanta merges urbanism with elegance and modernism with traditions. Internationally cherished as a city of rich culture and progressive views, Atlanta has risen from the ashes of history and grown into a multicultural hub and cosmopolitan commerce center. With prominent business and artistic status, it sits on the crossroad between South and East, awaiting visitors.
And there is so much to see, do and taste! Thanks to its visionary outlook and rapid growth supported by local, but world-renowned empires like Coca Cola, extended with now revitalized neighbourhoods once built as the Olympic Village for the purposes of hosting the summer games in 1996, Atlanta is now virile and vibrant.
Very much eclectic, the capital of Georgia offers a bit for everyone – sizzling nightlife and spicy restaurants for hedonists, long walks beneath the oak canopies and enthralling outdoor activities for the adventurers and nature-lovers, as well as lavish museums, galleries and cultural sights for uplifted souls. Whatever it is you’re looking for, opulent Atlanta has it all.
Once in Atlanta, one cannot simply sniff the old Southern air and stay disenchanted. It suggests history, led by the great Civil Rights Movement, culture, now uniquely ethnic and multicultural and with only a dash of peaches and sweet tea. With temperatures reaching 90°F in the summer, the capital swiftly turns into “Hotlanta”, as locals call it. It’s advisable, therefore, to schedule the family trip for spring or autumn, when Atlanta is green and picture-perfect for outdoor adventures with kids. Here’s our pick for the city’s most pleasant family-friendly endeavors.
1. Keep your feet busy
All throughout the U. S, Atlanta is famous for its magnificent oaks, Southern pines and dogwoods. But opulent forests, so uncharacteristic for metropolises, aren’t the only natural treasure of the city – it is also known for its hills, lakes and ponds, Chattahoochee River and Stone Mountains. Taking its urban planning to perfection, the capital extends into its many parks, all of them among the top attractions for both parents and kids.
As a public area, Centennial Olympic Park has been built for the purposes of the Centennial 1996 Summer Olympics and its eminent guests, and with the major city sights surrounding it, it is now perfect for long, lazy walks. Piedmont Park, just northeast of Downtown is an ideal meeting place for barbecuing, fishing and recreation. To admire the city treetops, visit The Atlanta Botanical Garden and its Kendeda Canopy Walk, the breathtaking skywalk through one of the greatest urban forests in America.
Zoo Atlanta gushes about its collection of orangutans and gorillas, which is the nation’s biggest, but also houses 220 more species, including the giant pandas. Whale sharks and beluga whales can be found in The Georgia Aquarium, together with 500 other marine species.
2. Take a ride (or a spin)
If you do happen to find yourself in Atlanta during hot summer months, be sure not to miss the superbly refreshing and incredibly entertaining Six Flags White Water aqua park. Located in the Cobb County northwest of the city, this bundle of family fun is the home of the greatest water rides, with uncountable games, activities and a lounge space for busking in the Southern sun.
With five separate sections, the park is the greatest of its sort in the whole American South. With the same name, but a different theme, Six Flags Over Georgia is another family amusement centre you should take your inner child to while in Atlanta. Situated in the same county, the park is a proud owner of one of the country’s greatest collection of roller coasters.
Laugh and scream on numerous thrill rides, and enjoy your kid’s reactions as their experience some of the family-friendly ones. Near the Centennial Olympic Park, Atlanta’s skyline is impressive from the Skyview Atlanta, the charming Ferris wheel for the whole family to enjoy.
3. Get inspired
Every family has a little know-it-all in its midst, and for them, Atlanta is a pure wonderland. Its many museums, galleries and theatres all offer an inspiring ride through national history and Georgia’s plenitude of culture and arts. And they are all perfect for after-school indoor activities in Atlanta during those tedious, gloomy days.
Combining fun and education, Fernbank Museum of Natural History presents empowering exhibitions, the most notable of them being A Walk Through Time in Georgia, reminding us along the way of all the world’s wonders and the importance of preserving them. One of the most momentous national sites, the childhood home of Martin Luther King, situated on Auburn Avenue in the Sweet Auburn historic district is intensely uplifting. The High Museum of Art, which is the leading of its kind in the Southern States, is the incredible opportunity to enjoy and learn.
World famous, the museum’s permanent collection holds over 14,000 works of 19th and 20th century art, both national and European. For national history exclusively, visit the Civil War Museum and its fascinating main attraction, the Atlanta Cyclorama. Being the world’s largest panoramic oil painting, Cyclorama gloriously presents the American Civil War Battle of Atlanta.
4. Cheer on
Atlanta prides itself in its three leading sports teams – the Atlanta Braves, the Atlanta Hawks and the Atlanta Falcons, with each ruling the major national baseball, basketball and football leagues. And locals are especially keen on supporting their winning athletes, thus making the city’s sports centres an enthralling experience that kindles the cheering spirit of the whole family. Initially designed as the Olympic Stadium, a centrepiece for the 1996 Summer Olympics, the Turner Field is now transformed into a baseball park and a home for the Atlanta Braves.
With an exciting atmosphere and great service, it is certainly a place for the whole family to engage in some fun sports rivalry. For aficionados of national college football, the College Football Hall of Fame immortalizes some of the greatest sportsmen from Atlanta, with an attractive museum exhibitions and memorabilia, and more fan-related interactive activities.
The Atlanta Falcons found their home in the Georgia Dome, one of the greatest domed stadiums nation-wide. In addition to football matches, it hosts many other events, including basketball games and wrestling fight shows.
5. Meet your inner child
The capital of Georgia cares deeply for the youngest ones. With that in mind, even though most of the city’s attractions are kid-friendly, it’s no wonder that there are few designed mainly for youngsters to enjoy. Some of the museums and theatres are also modified to suit the playing needs of the youngest visitors. And as it always goes, they are blast for youthful parents as well.
One of those, with a catchy title and children-oriented programming is just near the Centennial Olympic Park in the Atlanta’s Downtown. Imagine It! The Children’s Museum of Atlanta presents themed exhibitions, like Fundamentally Food or Tools for Solutions, both didactic and fun, mini-musicals and art performances, as well as the interactive play area for guests to enjoy each other’s company. Located in the Midtown, The Center for Puppetry Arts uses performances and museum exhibitions to promote the unfairly neglected art of puppetry.
The Center’s Family Series is being held each year, adapting and showcasing some of the most beloved classic stories. Promoting its brand as family-oriented, Coca Cola have certainly became the biggest attraction on the family dining tables. The company’s museum, The World of Coca Cola, is situated right here in Atlanta, and offers a unique look into the workshop of the every child’s favourite delicacy.
Diverse and exciting, the capital of the new South is the latest hip destination of free spirits and nightbirds. A city with not one, but three imposing skylines, hot new culinary scene and all year-round open air festivals, Atlanta is now in flames. In one unique place, it gathers businessmen and artists, lovebirds and daredevils, bon vivants and science fiction fans. Whether you prefer the outdoor adventure or the indoor lounging, Atlanta’s urban jungle has it all. Here are some suggestion on what not to miss.
1. Take a film trip
Countless worshipers of the motion pictures rush to Atlanta from all over the globe. The reasons are many, with mentions of Gone with the Wind and Fox theatre in the lead. Luring visitors for over fifty years now, the Margaret Mitchell House & Museum is one of the most prominent historic sites in Atlanta. And no wonder – the residence is the very place where the famous author wrote “Gone with the Wind”, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel and the most beloved love story of all time.
One of the early American movie palaces, the Fabulous Fox, or the Fox Theatre in Midtown Atlanta is now among the most prestigious movie theatres in these parts of the world, hosting a variety of artistic events.
And that’s not all! Over the past few years, Atlanta has become the major filming area, with its locations earning screening time in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Driving Miss Daisy, Zombieland, and everyone’s favourite, The Walking Dead. The city now arranges numerous movie tours that cover all of those sites and fulfils the cinematic experience of every film enthusiast.
2. Dance under the trees
Whatever part of the year, at least one pop-culture gathering is bound to happen under the treetops of Atlanta. The city’s mild climate and opulent greenery provide perfect conditions for festivals to be held under the open sky. Atlanta’s most famous arts and crafts happening, the Dogwood festival, takes place in Piedmont Park during spring, with nation’s native dogwoods in the bloom. The main music festival, however, is Music Midtown, a two-day event with long tradition and many followers, hosting mainstream bands like Pearl Jam, Arctic Monkeys and Coldplay.
Indie sound can be heard from Midtown’s Peach Tree Music Festival’s two stages, with Atlanta Jazz Festival and Montreux Festival just around the corner. For local scene, pay a visit to CorndogOrama, Atlanta’s cult multi-genre festival, turning eighteen in November 2016. Festival Peachtree Latino is considered the largest multicultural party in the South, and with Atlanta Pride and Atlanta Black Pride, it celebrates ethnic, sexual and racial diversity each year.
For a dash of fandom frenzy, there’s always Dragoncon, the unmissable convention for science fiction and comic books fans.
3. Crash a party
There is a party going on in Atlanta, and it is a fancy one. With few of the city’s districts vigorously spurring new clubbing scenes over the last couple of years, it seems that Atlanta is steadily becoming a Southern capital of celebration as well. Impeccably chic, Buckhead is certainly the neighbourhood to watch – it’s a little down the way from the centre of the city, still, the vast area is now a grandiose shopping and fierce clubbing district.
Not to be confused with Five Points area in Downtown, Little Five Points, an intersection between Inman Park, Kirkwood, Candler Park and Poncey-Highland is adorably alternative hanging place for lovers of all things quirky and vintage. Two of the city’s most touristy areas, Midtown district and Virginia-Highland, both offer a plenitude of trendy, but also laid-back options for late night fun.
For a less usual and a bit nerdier thrill, try one of the Atlanta’s live action escape the room games, organized by professional puzzlers and brought to you and a group of friends to solve.
4. Spend a dime
Atlanta is considered a paradise for both fancy spenders and arts and crafts addicts. With one of the greatest retail markets in the United States, extravagant shopping centers and bohemian shopping neighborhoods, you certainly won’t leave Atlanta with empty bags. If antique shops and galleries are your spending choice, dig into The Galleries of Peachtree Hills and The Miami Circle.
Charming vintage shops can be found in Little Five Points, East Atlanta Village and Virginia-Highlands. Besides being the hotspot of partygoers, Buckhead district is also an exquisite shopping site with more than 1500 retail stores, the most fashionable among them in Phipps Plaza and Lenox Square. Below the Five Points neighborhood in downtown Atlanta lays yet another shopping surprise.
Established in 1969, Underground Atlanta is a unique shopping and entertainment venue constructed underneath the viaducts built over the railroad tracks to accommodate the traffic. It now spreads beneath six city blocks and holds place for stores, bars and a few nightclubs.
5. Take a bite
Peaches and sweet tea are certain to humour even the sweetest of tooth in Georgia’s city of abundance. As the city’s trademark, those should be the first delicacies to smell and taste in Atlanta. Luckily, they are not the only goodies on the menu. Atlanta has put a lot of work into its restaurant scene, enticing some of the greatest Southern chefs and cooking some of the spiciest traditional dishes, and by now, the scene has flourished magnificently.
And like everything else in the city, it honours tradition without being afraid to put a little twist on it. Truly American, it includes classic, but stirring fast food feasts – be sure not to miss bona fide Southern fried chicken at Mary Mac’s, one of the nation’s ten best pizzas at Antico and the most satisfying hangover sandwiches at Sawicki’s.
For a slightly finer palate, try spicy tuna on crispy rice at Umi, oshi roll, the one of a kind work of art by Miso Izakaya and a big glass of bubble tea from Sweet Hut Bakery & Cafe for the road.
* With roller coaster rides and puppet shows for youngsters, escape the room quests and fandom conventions for proud nerds, Atlanta is certainly much more than shopping malls and fancy restaurants. Its enticing fuse of cultural heritage and avant-garde statements, dogwoods and contemporary architecture is what makes the capital of the growing South a bewitching new destination to visit.