Growing up in Atlanta has its advantages, including the many resources the city has to offer its youngest generations. In case you haven’t explored every nook and cranny of this southern city, we’ve compiled a top 25 list to check off this season. Kids, grab your parents, the sunscreen and hit the town!
Stone Mountain offers a bevy of activities in one spot. A traditional hike up the mountain will yield skyline views of the city and surrounding areas, as well as get some ants out of little one’s pants. But don’t stop there. The Summit SkyRide, a high speed Swiss cable car, provides a stunning view of the Confederate Memorial Carving as it transports you more than 825 feet above the ground. For locomotive fans, climb aboard their 1940’s open air rail-car and take a lively five-mile excursion around the mountain while conductor “Fire Box Floyd” cites exciting tales of real life train adventures. www.stonemountainpark.com
“Take me out to the ballgame” is as simple as heading for Turner Field. Kids love watching their home team hit one out of the ballpark, along with munching on the traditional popcorn, peanuts and hotdog. If you’re crowd adverse or have young ones, tour Turner Field when the team is not playing. Guided tours of Turner Field are offered year-round and begin in the Braves Museum and Hall of Fame. Tours start on the top of the hour and last about an hour, yielding visits to the Sky Field, Broadcast Booth, Dugout and Clubhouse. Reservations not necessary, tickets can be purchased on the day of the tour and free parking is available in the Green lot. www.atlantabraves.mlb.com
Atlanta residents don’t have to go all the way to China to see a panda bear. Zoo Atlanta is one of a few zoos in the United States that studies pandas, warranting a visit on its own. While there, check out the two children’s playgrounds, the petting zoo and one of Atlanta’s favorite families: the western lowland gorillas (some heir to the famous Willie B). This playful troop is the nation’s largest collection of gorillas, and is most active in warm weather, amusing children of all ages. On any given day Zoo Atlanta also features crafts, shows, speaker talks and Zoo Clues, fun monthly games hidden within the zoo, to entertain active minds. www.zooatlanta.org
Chastain Memorial Park is one of Atlanta’s best playgrounds because it is at the epicenter of an outdoor park that has jogging and bike paths and even an equestrian center! Kids can play for hours on play equipment, go for a walk with mom down one of the many paved paths or even arrange a riding lesson at Chastain Horse Park (Pony Parties available for groups of children with reservations in advance). In addition to lessons that continue throughout the summer, Chastain Horse Park offers very popular day camps during the summer. www.chastainhorsepark.org
Centennial Olympic Park
Don bathing suits and dance through this park’s famous Fountain of Rings, where synchronized water dances through Olympic rings, beating to familiar tunes with sound and light effects. The show plays four times a day, 365 days a year and is free. Each fourth Saturday (May – September) the Centennial Olympic Park hosts “Family Fun Day” a themed day of free activities that include workshops, tours, street performers, children’s crafts, contests and prizes. www.centennialpark.com
School May Be Out But Learning is Still In!
Fernbank Museum of Natural History
Come face to face with the world’s largest dinosaurs, explore the development of life on Earth through the landscapes of present day Georgia, touch a fossil and engage in a variety of hands-on exhibits (where keeping your hands to yourself is NOT allowed!) Fernbank offers a variety of activities for all age groups that include story-telling, ask a scientist, weekends tailored for families in the Naturalist Center and shows at the ever-popular IMAX Theatre. www.fernbankmuseum.org
Leap into learning at the Children’s Museum where exhibits are tailored for the young at heart (and body). Play in streams and water, paint walls, crawl through small spaces, or catch a 20 minute musical via the “Imaginators”, the museum’s professional troupe of actors and educators. www.childrensmuseumatlanta.org
Everything is larger than life at the Georgia Aquarium, residence of sea dragons, spider crabs, sting rays, otters and whale sharks, among many other species. Join Deepo, an orange garibaldi fish and the Aquarium’s mascot, as he takes the audience on an undersea adventure with a variety of entertaining characters, including friendly sharks, singing sea turtles and playful dolphins in the 4D theatre. Grab lunch at Café Aquaria where the food is kid-friendly yet appeasing to parental palates. For the brave at heart, spend the night at the Aquarium and sleep beside one of their world-class exhibits. www.georgiaaquarium.org
Arouse your inner actor by touring the world’s largest news-gathering organization, a uniquely Atlanta experience. The CNN Center is headquarters for CNN, CNN International and Headline News. A 50-minute guided walking tour will give you behind the scene glimpses at the high-tech world of 24 hour TV network news in action. Middle-school aged kids and “tweeners” searching for a budding identity will enjoy having a videotape made reading the day’s top stories from behind a CNN anchor desk. If you’re fortunate, you may catch a glimpse of a famous anchor. www.cnn.com
Trace Your Roots
Atlanta History Center
Located on 33 acres, the Atlanta History allows kids to step back in time and visit two historic houses: the Tullie Smith Farm which dates back to 1840’s and the Swan House, a classic mansion built in 1928. Throughout the year, the Center brings history to life through living history programs, lectures with award-winning authors, toddler programs, home-school days, school tours, summer camps, music series and annual festivals such as Sheep to Shawl. www.atlantahistorycenter.com
The King Center
Older children will be inspired by the words of Atlanta native and America’s best-known civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., at the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site in Atlanta. Tour the two-story home where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was born, Ebenezer Baptist church where Dr. King served as co-pastor alongside his father or the gravesite where he was laid to rest in 1968. Begin your visit at the National Park Service Visitor Center. There, you can sign up for a free guided tour of Dr. King’s birth home. You can also watch a half-hour video about MLK’s life as well as a short video about the children of the civil rights movement. For an introduction to the words of Martin Luther King Jr., you can browse through the exhibit “Courage to Lead.” www.nps.gov/malu/
Since its completion in 1968, the Governor’s Mansion has been the stately home of Georgia’s governors. Located on 18 acres, the Mansion offers tours throughout the year on Tuesday through Thursday from 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Docents are stationed in each room to describe the surroundings and answer questions. Children may receive handouts that include coloring sheets, a review of Georgia’s government structure and trivia on Georgia’s culture and history. Don’t miss the Mansion’s special activities which are listed on the web and include reading under the stars and an annual Easter egg hunt. http://mansion.georgia.gov
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra for Kids
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s Family Series, involving storytelling and classical chestnuts, brings families together and gives children a head start on musical appreciation that will last a lifetime. Aspiring musicians will enjoy seeing the Youth Symphony Orchestra play, a group of young musicians that perform 3 to 4 times a year and perform classical pieces. The Orchestra returns to Alpharetta this year for its third summer, launching a spectacular summer line up of concerts tailored for families. www.atlantasymphony.org
Atlanta’s Fox Theatre was designed in the 1920’s and is a rich, opulent monument to the roaring 1920’s. Seeing a show at the Famous Fox Theatre is grand event. This summer kid-friendly show schedule includes Mary Poppins, David Copperfield, Phantom of the Opera and The Sound of Music. www.foxtheatre.org
Since 1978, the Center for Puppetry Arts has drawn children of all ages to its magical productions and fostered the art of puppetry. The center includes a museum where children can get up-close and explore puppets as well as several family oriented series of shows. Birthday Honorees will hear their name announced before a show and at any time children can take a Create-A-Puppet workshop. www.puppet.org
Get your hands messy and create a cool piece of art. Grab a backpack filled with projects and puzzles and take off for an adventure in one of our galleries. Experience the latest special exhibition with a family audio tour, and then share your impressions over lunch in the family-friendly High Café. There is an impressive and never-ending line-up of family fun and events every day at the High Museum of Art. From toddlers to teenagers, everyone in the family will enjoy looking at, talking about, and sharing the art experiences together. Don’t miss Toddler Thursdays, Second Sunday Fundays (for families) and the High’s biannual Family Day. www.high.org
Have an Adventure!
Get your head in the clouds by heading to Peachtree Dekalb Airport (PDA), a kid-friendly destination where flights take off and land in perfect view. Your little pilots in training can burn off steam at the playground and park which includes a mini-runway for kids and educational area which highlights the historical significance of the airport. Pack a picnic lunch and dine in the hangar-inspired pavilion (complete with restroom) or lunch at the Downwind Restaurant (where kid-friendly fare includes chicken tenders, hot dogs, grilled cheese sandwiches and juice boxes.). While the airplanes are the attraction here, PDA does house a Rosenbauer Panther 4×4 Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting (ARFF) Fire Truck guaranteed to rev up the adrenaline. www.pdaairport.org
Balloons Over Georgia
Take your child’s breath away with a hot air balloon ride over North Georgia. From your lofty perch you will take in some of Georgia’s renown sites including Lake Lanier, Stone Mountain, Kennesaw Mountain, the Atlanta city skyline and the beginning of the Blue Ridge and Appalachian Mountain Ranges. Pinch yourself if you are lucky enough to spot a deer running or a red-tail hawk. www.balloonsovergeoria.com
Thomas steams into town this summer at Six Flags over Georgia. If this doesn’t net you hero status immediately, you’ll soon receive your crown after taking the kids on one of the many thrilling rides located within the theme park. While Six Flags has enough rides to keep kids entertained all summer, there’s more to do than just ride. Grab a show featuring Bugs Bunny and Friends, cool off in the White Water theme park or attend one of their “40 Fun Things for Kids” events this summer. www.sixflags.com
Get ready for an intimate look at the city’s hustle and bustle aboard this hop-on, hop-off tour. Kids will enjoy the novelty of riding on a real trolley while parents will enjoy time off from behind the wheel. Your journey takes you through many of Atlanta’s neighborhoods including Downtown, Grant Park, Cabbagetown, Martin Luther King Jr. Historic District, SoNo, Midtown, Georgia Tech and Centennial Olympic Park. While riding, hear tales of famous writers, see beautiful parks and revel in the triumphs of the Olympics throughout the city. www.atlantatrolleytourline.com
Bike ride on Georgia’s new PATH
Explore this recently completed series of scenic greenways with more than 100 miles of trails. Get the blood pumping and the body moving by biking or roller-skating along these pathways. Be sure to follow trail etiquette which includes yielding to pedestrians, keeping right or passing on the left, keeping pets on leashes and picking up after your own trash. www.pathfoundation.org
Visit a local Farmer’s Market
Jump on the “farm to table” food bandwagon and provide a lesson in eating healthy to your family. An exploration of one of Georgia’s many farmers’ markets will allow the kids to pick their own vegetables and fruits, learn how food grows, try new tastes and cultivate a budding interest in culinary fare.
Whether you choose the intimate Morningside’s Farmers’ Market (where chefs give cooking lessons and children can pick up organic soaps or salts for the bath) or go for a big experience by visiting the Atlanta State Farmers’ Market (the largest farmer’s market in Georgia), there’s an experience for everyone.
Chattahoochee Nature Center
Nature comes alive at the Chattahoochee Nature Center where kids get a little dirt under their fingernails and a lot of exploration under their belt. Especially good for your rambunctious boy or athletically inclined tom-girl, the Center offers early childhood programs for youngsters, story time by the river, animal breakfasts (where you dine on a light breakfast while learning what animals eat), night hikes, backyard campouts and much more. www.chattnaturecenter.org
The Atlanta Botanical Garden is home to the Children’s Garden combining plant education and interactive entertainment. Little hands will enjoy exploring the vegetable garden where encounters with purple tomatoes and polka-dotted watermelon can be had. Climb a tree house, visit a beehive, check out the Bullfrog Pond and cool off in the Sunflower Fountain where you will be watered by flowers. www.atlantabotanicalgarden.org
Piedmont Park’s New Pool
Things this summer go swimmingly well at Piedmont Park’s new pool! Piedmont Park Conservancy recently presented the new Piedmont Park Aquatic Center as part of the $41.2 million “Breaking New Ground” campaign to expand the park. Pool season begins May 30 and runs through September 6. Entrance is obtained by purchasing a season pass which gives you access to lap lanes, beach entry, concessions, the pool deck and pool-level locker room and showers. Dubbed as “THE kiddy social hang-out in Atlanta”, a visit to the pool is nothing less than a big splash! www.piedmontpark.org
Zip Code: 30329