15 Exciting Attractions for All Ages
By Kevin Forest Moreau
By now, you might already know that metro Atlanta is filled with
By now, you might already know that metro Atlanta is filled withgreat neighborhoods, restaurants, entertainment venues and other draws for adults. But it also has plenty to offer for families with children, including attractions filled with history, fascinating wildlife and exhilarating activities.
Now that spring is here, it’s the perfect time to pack everyone into the car and explore your new city’s family-friendly destinations. Here are 15 that everyone can enjoy.
Atlanta is home to the Atlanta Braves, its own Major League Baseball team, and Truist Park, located just northwest of Atlanta, is the current home of the Braves. Travel to the ballpark, located inside The Battery Atlanta complex, to cheer on the team. Come early to watch batting practice, stay after the game on Fridays for the free Friday Night Fireworks show and check the team’s website for special themed days, giveaways, postgame concerts and more. 404-577-9100, braves.com.
Atlanta History Center
Dedicated to highlighting and celebrating Atlanta’s rich past, this 33-acre complex in the Buckhead neighborhood allows kids and adults alike to step back in time and tour the Swan House, an elegant 1928 mansion. Visitors can also experience a glimpse of life during the Civil War at the Smith Family Farm, where they can interact with characters from the period and participate in daily chores. The permanent exhibit Turning Point: The American Civil War features more than 1,500 artifacts, including cannons, flags and other items guaranteed to capture your child’s imagination. 404-814-4000, atlantahistorycenter.com.
Center for Puppetry Arts
Learn about puppets from all over the world and create your own puppet at this entertaining and educational attraction in Midtown Atlanta. The center also hosts special exhibits as well as performances and film screenings for families, teens and adults (current shows include Click Clack Moo: Cows That Type, through March 14, and The Wizard of Oz, March 18 through April 3). The center features the Jim Henson exhibit, an interactive exhibition following his life as a puppeteer. Visitors can view icons like Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy. 404-873-3391, puppet.org.
Centennial Olympic Park
Located in downtown Atlanta, Centennial Olympic Park opened in 1996, when the city hosted the Summer Games. Since then the 22-acre greenspace has served as a tribute to the Olympics with several landmarks and features, including the Fountain of Rings Plaza, the Gateway of Dreams sculpture and every child’s favorite, the Fountain of Rings. The park also includes more than 500,000 commemorative engraved bricks that were installed before the Games. 404-223-4000, gwcca.org/centennial-olympic-park.
Children’s Museum of Atlanta
Located in downtown Atlanta, the nonprofit Children’s Museum of Atlanta encourages creative, imaginative play with interactive exhibits. Watch your children climb through the layers of the Earth, catch colorful fish, create art on a giant paint wall, climb on a John Deere tractor and more. The museum’s current special exhibit, Storyland: A Trip Through Childhood Favorites (running through May 30), provides children with experiences based on seven beloved books, including The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter. 404-659-5437, childrensmuseumatlanta.org.
Fernbank Museum of Natural History
From the bronze dinosaurs that greet you on your way inside to eye-popping documentaries screened in its IMAX theater, the Fernbank Museum is a fun mix of education and entertainment. Walk beneath skeletons of two of the world’s largest dinosaurs in the Great Hall’s Giants of the Mesozoic exhibit, and explore the history of the planet and the state via A Walk Through Time in Georgia. Or catch the special exhibit Nature Gallery, featuring special nature-themed exhibits rotating year-round in WildWoods, a unique outdoor space. 404-929-6300, fernbankmuseum.org.
Home to more than several hundred species from around the world, this downtown Atlanta landmark offers a truly immersive experience. You don’t have to be a budding marine biologist to be amazed by the Georgia Aquarium’s impressive collection of whale sharks, beluga whales, manta rays, penguins and many more aquatic creatures—more than 10,000 in all, inhabiting more than 11 million gallons of fresh and marine water. Exhibit galleries include Truist Pier 225 features California sea lions in an intimate setting, and Aquanaut Adventure: A Discovery Zone permits guests to learn about aquatic life in some of the Earth’s most extreme environments. 404-581-4000, georgiaaquarium.org.
Legoland Discovery Center
Located on the top floor of Phipps Plaza in the Buckhead neighborhood, Legoland Discovery Center features 14 different attractions for children ages 3 and older. Kids can learn how Lego bricks are made at the Factory Tour, destroy ogres in the Kingdom Quest Laser Ride, create their own race cars and check out Miniland, a replica of Atlanta’s landmarks. Guests can also participate in the Great Lego Race VR Experience, where they can compete against brick-built vehicles in the hopes of becoming the next champion. 404-848-9252, legolanddiscoverycenter.com.
Ponce City Market
Located in the heart of Atlanta, Ponce City Market is the perfect place to spend a day. The building is an exciting urban mix containing flats, offices, restaurants and stores, so people of all types can enjoy it. With tons of restaurants and food counters to choose from, Ponce City Market is a great place to explore the wide variety of food Atlanta has to offer. From classic American dining and Indian street food to an Italian market and Latin-inspired fare, you can find something for everyone. After fueling up (and maybe a stop by the edible cookie dough counter for dessert), you can explore the various shops located in the building and shop ‘til you drop. 404-900-7900, poncecitymarket.com.
Six Flags Over Georgia
Featuring everything from pulse-pounding thrill rides to kid-friendly entertainers, this amusement park is on every Atlanta kid’s summertime to-do list. Your little ones can take a tour of the park on a steam-engine locomotive, indulge in good-natured fun in the bumper cars or take a ride in a log down a mountain river. Don’t forget the Dare Devil Dive and exciting roller coasters including Goliath, Georgia Scorcher, Great American Scream Machine and Superman: Ultimate Flight. There’s also a water park, Hurricane Harbor, which offers a zero-gravity wave slide along with a giant, interactive children’s area. 770-739-3400, sixflags.com/overgeorgia.
After some fun at Ponce City Market, hit the skies at Skyline Park, located right on top of the building. Enjoy fun carnival games, the Skyline slide, mini golf and more as you look out at the amazing view of the city. Skyline Park has fun events throughout the year, such as Rooftop Igloos to dine in during the winter, so keep an eye on its calendar to plan your visit around the perfect event for you! 770-999-1530, skylineparkatlanta.com.
Southern Museum of Civil War & Locomotive History
The Southern Museum of Civil War & Locomotive History in Kennesaw is the place to be for all train enthusiasts, offering locomotives of all sizes. It features The General steam locomotive, the train used in the Great Locomotive Chase during the Civil War. The facility includes permanent exhibits on not only the Chase and The General but also Civil War railroads and the Glover Machine Works collection. Its 8,000-square-foot Jolley Education Center hosts the weekly Mommy & Me preschool program and the monthly Homeschool Workshop series. The museum, which opened on April 12, 1972, will celebrate its 50th anniversary with activities throughout April. Each January the museum hosts Trains, Trains, Trains!, a locomotive lover’s dream. 770-427-2117, southernmuseum.org.
Stone Mountain Park
One of Georgia’s most popular attractions, this beautiful 3,200-acre park offers a non-stop array of events and activities. Climb (or take a cable car) to the top of the mountain, brave the SkyHike adventure course or cool off while navigating the rope bridges and tunnels of the Geyser Towers. Go camping, fishing or hiking on the property, enjoy a train ride around the park or play a little golf while the kids enjoy some live entertainment. Then cap it all off with the famous Lasershow Spectacular. 800-401-2407, stonemountainpark.com.
Woodruff Arts Center
Located in Atlanta’s Midtown community, the Woodruff Arts Center is home to the Alliance Theatre, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (ASO) and the High Museum of Art. The Alliance, which hosts award-winning plays and musicals, including children’s ones, will bring Bina’s 6 Apples to the stage in March and Trading Places: The Musical in May. The High, which boasts of a variety of art genres and exhibitions, will host The Obama Portraits Tour through March 20 and Oliver Jeffers: 15 Years of Picturing Books April 15 through Aug. 7. ASO hosts a variety of concerts ranging from classical to rock and roll. 404-733-4200, woodruffcenter.org.
Sprawling over nearly 40 acres in the Grant Park neighborhood of Atlanta, Zoo Atlanta is home to more than 1,000 animals representing more than 200 species. The zoo boasts one of the largest populations of gorillas in North America, and it is one of only four in the country to house giant pandas. Other famous residents include giraffes, lions, meerkats, black rhinos, parakeets and a Komodo dragon. The zoo also features train rides and Savanna Hall, its new event space overlooking African animals such as elephants and giraffes. 404-624-5600, zooatlanta.org.
Family Fun Destinations: A Short Drive from Atlanta
Lookout Mountain (Chattanooga, TN): Featuring three top-rated, world-famous natural attractions— including America’s deepest cave and largest underground waterfall accessible to the public—Lookout Mountain is the perfect getaway for extraordinary experiences and breathtaking beauty. 800-825-8366, lookoutmountain.com.
Biltmore Estate (Asheville, NC): As the largest private home in the country, this 8,000-acre property sits in the Blue Ridge Mountains and offers visitors tours of the historic locale built by George Vanderbilt along with sweeping vistas from its spacious gardens. 800-411-3812, biltmore.com.
Amelia Island (Amelia Island, FL): Enjoy one of the Sunshine State’s best-kept secrets with this beach town nuzzled up to the Georgia border at the Atlantic Coast that boasts an array of lovingly preserved Southern Victorian homes. 904-277-0717, ameliaisland.com.
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The Center for Puppetry Arts
The Center for Puppetry Arts is a unique cultural treasure situated in Midtown Atlanta— a magical place where children and adults are educated, enlightened and entertained. Since Kermit the Frog and Jim Henson joined Vince Anthony in cutting the ribbon on the Center for Puppetry Arts in 1978, the Center has introduced millions of visitors to the wonder and art of puppetry.
Now, more than 40 years later, the Center for Puppetry Arts produces 600+ performances a year, offers 50+ types of educational programs, and is home to more than 5,000 puppets and artifacts. This season, the Center welcomes new pop-up exhibitions in the museum atrium, stage adaptations of award-winning, bestselling children’s books and classic literature, a critically-acclaimed adult puppet performance, and new experimental works for adults. Its Family Series in-person performances continue this spring with The Wizard of Oz and Pete the Cat.
Their New Directions Series for adults welcomes Chimpanzee (by Nick Lehane), a “gorgeous puppet play… a meticulous, deeply felt nonverbal memory play,” said New York Magazine. The New Directions Series continues with XPT: Xperimental Puppetry Theater. Celebrating 36 years of experimentation, come find out what this year holds! From traditional forms of puppetry to films and installation pieces, artists of all disciplines employ puppetry in startling new ways. XPT offers an array of stories, puppetry styles, and sensibilities in a single evening. Guaranteed to inspire, surprise, amuse and provoke.
In the coming weeks, the Center will be announcing new programming in the Worlds of Puppetry Museum, Explore Puppetry Workshops for adults, and special events. The Center truly has something for everyone and invites you to be a part of the magic. For more information, call 404-873-3391 or visit puppet.org
Children’s Museum of Atlanta
Located in downtown Atlanta, the nonprofit Children’s Museum of Atlanta encourages creative, imaginative play with interactive exhibits. The museum is the only educational venue of its kind in the city designed for children. All exhibits and programs invite children to play as a means to solve problems, form their own rules, communicate with others, make exciting discoveries and use their imaginations to engage in new activities. Its current special exhibit, Storyland: A Trip Through Childhood Favorites (running through May 30), provides children with imaginative, book-based experiences and models early literacy experiences to parents and caregivers. All exhibits, programs and offerings are continually enhanced to further its commitment to the community as a world-class children’s museum. For more information, visit childrensmuseumatlanta.org or call 404-659-5437.