We spent spring break in Atlanta, Georgia with good friends of ours. They just moved to Atlanta in December for a job so they had not had a chance to explore the city yet either. We had been talking for months how we wanted to see Coca Cola, the Atlanta Aquarium, CNN, the Atlanta Zoo and Stone Mountain. We were so excited to discover our spring breaks were the same.
My two kids are very close to their four kids – Holland, 11, Roman, 10, Elliot, 8 and Winston, 7. I think of these kids as my own and am very close to their parents Deacon and Amanda. So the day after Easter, the kids and I loaded up the car early morning and headed to Atlanta. We made it to their home in the small historical town of Newnan by dinner time. With several stops, it only took us 8 hours from Northern Kentucky and they live a little south of the city. We did pack lots of snacks and had a picnic lunch at a rest stop in Tennessee.
Day 1: We packed up the six kids ranging from 7 to almost 14 and the cooler with lunch inside and headed to Grant Park. We had lunch at the park and then walked over to the Atlanta Zoo. This zoo is smaller than the Cincinnati Zoo but honestly, I liked it better. The exhibits are all very close to the viewing the area so you get a much better look at the animals. They had adorable otters, kangaroos, several gorillas and panda bears, which is something I had never seen before. I was super excited about the kangaroos and pandas since my children have always been Joey, the baby kangaroo, and Andi Pandi, the panda bear. After spending a few hours watching the animals play and petting the goats in the petting zoo, we spent a half hour or so at the playground.
We drove about a half hour to the MARTA train station and took a train downtown. It cost $2.50 per person versus dealing with traffic and paying $10 to $20 to park each car downtown.The kids were very excited about the train experience. We then walked a few blocks to CNN where we were able to tour the station. I’ll be honest. This was not what I expected at all. I have toured NBC in New York, which was awesome so I assumed this would be similar but it was not. We really only saw people on their computers from a viewing area. Needless to say, the kids were bored. The courtyard at the CNN center offered plenty of food choices so we had lunch there.
We then walked a few blocks to World of Coca Cola. The tour starts off with a short presentation and a really goofy animated short-film (this was weird). Then you are on your own to see the Coke artifacts, how Coke is made, the history of Coke and then to taste more than 60 types of Coke. It is amazing how different it tastes from different parts of the world. My favorite was the one from Georgia, Europe. I was disappointed in the Italy flavor as well as many others. It was definitely a fun experience though.
We then hopped back on the train and headed back to our cars. This is where one of the funniest things of the whole trip happened – well at least we find it funny now. The train was very crowded since it was rush hour. Amanda and Winston were sitting pretty far from the rest of us. Elliot was on my lap and the other four kids were standing near me holding on to the poles. A man boards the train, looks around and yells “Attention, Attention everyone!” Right then I thought “OMG, this is it. He’s going to shoot us all or he’s going to rob us.” He continues “I see a lot of sad faces on this bus and life is just too short to be sad all the time.” And I see the kids’ faces and realize they are all thinking the same as I am. I think “how can I cover all five of these kids at once and protect them.” Then he continues “so I want to see everyone smile.” Oh my goodness, I think everyone on the train smiled right at that moment out of relief that we weren’t being held up.
We took the train downtown again and started to walk to the Atlanta Aquarium. But it was freezing and raining out so I hailed down a cab. WARNING: ask the cab driver what it’s going to cost immediately. He did not run the meter and then charged me $24 for taking us a mile. According to Taxi Fare Finder, it should have cost about $9. But it was almost worth it because none of the kids had ever been in a taxi. You would have thought it was Christmas by how excited they were.
This is one of the largest aquariums in the world. The exhibits were amazing. I loved watching the Beluga whales, the otters and the penguins. We arrived around noon and immediately asked for tickets to the dolphin show. We couldn’t see it until 5:30 because the other shows were sold out. There was no way all these kids were going to make it that long. By the time we would watch the show, take the train and then drive back, it would be 8 p.m. or later. I was extremely disappointed I did not get to see the dolphin show. It was more disappointing that we didn’t even get to see the dolphins because apparently you can only see it at the show. So my advice would be to get there when it opens to get tickets to the dolphin show.
I loaded the car with lunch and the four older kids to head about one hour away to Stone Mountain. It was very easy to get to and we were able to buy a one-day parking pass for $10. We had bought our adventure passes (admission to all the activities at a discounted price) in advance. We headed straight for the Summit Skyride. It took us to the top of Stone Mountain, which was breathtaking. We started exploring the side of the mountain stopping to take in the view of Atlanta several times. The kids had a blast playing on the rocks. We eventually hiked our way down the mountain. They say it takes about 35 minutes at a normal pace but since we stopped and played so much, it probably took closer to 90 minutes.
What they don’t tell you is if you hike down, you will be about one mile from the adventure area and your car. So after a long walk, we decided to rest our legs by riding the train. The 35 minute ride around the park was very relaxing and informative. The next stop was the SkyHike where we did an obstacle course 64 feet off the ground. We walked over narrow, moving planks, tight ropes and other obstacles while harnessed in. I nearly had a panick attack so bad on one obstacle that an employee was coming over to save me. Luckily I made it across before he had the chance since my kids would have never let me live that down. Although it was scary, it was totally worth it and I would do it again. After that, the kids rock climbed and then cooled down with Geyser Tower.
This really was an amazing trip. I do have a few tips for you if you plan to visit Atlanta.
1. Buy the Atlanta CityPass. It includes five of the major attractions and allows you to save over 40%. This really made the trip affordable. This pass also helps you avoid some lines.
2. Buy the Adventure Pass at Stone Mountain. You will cover the cost if you choose even two activities.
3. Avoid Atlanta rush hour if possible and note that rush hour is from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 4-7 p.m. Take the train if you can.
4. Get to the Aquarium early and get your tickets to the dolphin show.
5. Every single attraction lets out through the gift shop so be mentally prepared for that with kids.
6. Check to see if you can get a discount on the city or adventure passes – they offer a discount for some companies.
7. Atlanta temps can vary so wear layers.
8. Atlanta is definitely a southern town. Everyone will say hello and calls you mam or sir. Return the southern hospitality.
Have you ever been to Atlanta? What was your favorite part? Is there anything else I should have seen? Tell us about your favorite trip and tips you might have!
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