Wanting one last getaway before summer was over, we flew to Atlanta, Georgia for 3 days of fast-paced fun. From Football to LEGOs to Coca-Cola, Atlanta is full of tons of fun thins to do with kids. Here is your itinerary for 3 Days in Atlanta with Kids.
Last summer on our Austin 2 Boston road trip, we had one day to spend in Atlanta. We crammed a lot into that one day but it left us wanting more. Luckily, we had the chance to come back to this very kid-friendly city for a long weekend and really get to explore Atlanta more.
Quite honestly, there is so much to experience and do in Atlanta, you could stay an entire week and not get bored. If you visit at the right time, you can snag tickets to see the Atlanta Braves or the Atlanta Falcons, but you don’t need to attend a major sporting event to fill your itinerary up. Myself, my 13 year old son and my 7 year old son found lots of fun. Check out some of the cool places think are must sees when visiting Atlanta with Kids.
While most of the attractions we visited were in the Downtown area of Atlanta, we recommend staying up north in the Buckhead District. Known for it’s beautiful neighborhoods and upscale shopping, we found this area to be more relaxed and easier to navigate than the busy downtown streets. We stayed at the beautiful Ritz Carlton Buckhead, which had fun children’s events that we enjoyed such as dive in movies & cotton candy happy hours. It’s a beautiful property that is very welcoming to families.
Atlanta with Kids – Stop #1: High Museum of Art
We decided to begin our visit to Atlanta with a little culture at the High Museum of Art. Located near the Buckhead area, the High Museum of Art has a great combination of classic to modern art. I wanted to visit as I had heard about the excellent children’s programming they have. While visiting, we checked out a “Discovery Pack” which had puzzles, a story book, and other hands-on activities that helped us understand & connect better with certain pieces of art. It really made a difference in our visit – my 13 year participated and enjoyed it too.
Mom’s Tip: Check out the traveling exhibits. When we were in town, Eric Caryle’s original book illustrations were on display and they were amazing!
Atlanta with Kids – Stop #2: LEGOLAND Discovery Center
Being that this visit was with my 2 boys, we had to go to the LEGOLAND Discovery Center. Also in Buckhead, we walked across the street to it from the hotel. Everything is themed in LEGOs, so my boys were bound to love it, which they did. What I enjoyed was the top-notch employees that really interact and play with the kids. Several times, my 7-year-old would be getting some “helpful advice”on how to build a car out of LEGOs to race down the track. And we took a Master Builders class where we all made a ball out of LEGOs – even mom! LEGOLAND has rides, a 4D movie, a playscape, a karaoke studio and more. If you have a LEGO fan, this is a MUST DO.
Mom’s Tip: Weekdays during the school year are least crowded.
Atlanta with Kids – Stop #3: Dinner in Buckhead
There are many excellent choices for dinner in Buckhead, from fast-food to romantic meals. But since you are with your kids, grab a fun burger at FLIP Burger or Shake Shack. We sat on the low-key patio and relaxed as we enjoyed a slice of delicious pizza at Fellini’s Pizza. I liked that everyone could get their own slices of pizza – and they were HUGE.
After dinner, head back to the hotel for a fun dip in the pool while they show a movie (most summer nights).
Atlanta with Kids – Stop #1: Inside CNN Studio Tour
CNN is based out of Atlanta and you can go behind the scenes to see how the studio works with the Inside CNN Studio Tour. It begins with a ride on the world’s largest freestanding escalator (196-feet long!) and takes you to the top of the building where you learn how a green screen works, how to read from a teleprompter and see how a producer conducts the news – LIVE! You also get to stand behind a window and watch the live broadcasts as they are happening (depending on the time you are there) and see all the hustle & bustle of the newsroom.
I didn’t know if my boys would enjoy this tour but both of them were fascinated to see how it all works.
Mom’s Tip: Get to the Inside CNN Studio Tour right when it opens to see the CNN morning broadcasts filming live.
Atlanta with Kids – Stop #2: College Football Hall of Fame
Did you know the College Football Hall of Fame was in Atlanta? We didn’t either, but as my 13 year old is really getting into football, this was another must-do. This is so much more than just a room full of trophies. The College Football Hall of Fame and Chick-fil-A Fan Experience is 3 stories filled with interactive experiences and fun. It starts with you picking your college team and encoding it on your badge, which enables you to learn more about your team at the various exhibits around the museum.
My 13 year old really enjoyed the virtual reality fan experience, while the 7 year old had so much fun on the field running plays & doing drills with some of the employees. We filmed a GameDay newscast, measured our jumps with various football hall-of-famers, and even built our own dream team. Needless to say, this was another one of my sons’ favorites from the weekend.
Atlanta with Kids – Stop #3: Lunch at The Varsity
You can’t come to Atlanta without a quick bite to eat at The Varsity. Located near downtown, this classic burger restaurant is no-frills but fun for kids. It holds the world record for being the world’s largest drive thru restaurant! Make sure to order the onion rings, a Frosted Orange and get a hat while you are there!
Atlanta with Kids – Stop #4: Center for Civil & Human Rights
One of the most moving places we visited in Atlanta was at the Center for Civil & Human Rights. The museum highlights the Civil Rights Movement in the United States, with many of the most controversial events happening in Atlanta. It also takes a look at many modern Human Rights that are happening all over the globe. I found this museum to be an excellent way to teach children about Civil Rights. It is graphic & emotional, but so well done.
At one point, you sit at a Drugstore countertop, put headphones on and experience what it was like to participate in a Drugstore sit-in. You hear the hatred, feel the kicks from the chair, and practically feel the hot breath on your neck. It is very hard not to get emotional thinking of the bravery these men & women went thru to ensure basic rights. Again, this is a fantastic place to visit.
Mom’s Tip: We recommend the Center for Human & Civil Rights for ages 10 years and up. My teenager got the most out of the experience.
Atlanta with Kids – Stop #5: World of Coca-Cola
Did you know that Atlanta was home to Coca-Cola too? Have a little fun learning the history of this famous brand at the World of Coca-Cola, located next door to both the Georgia Aquarium & the Center for Civil & Human Rights. This fun museum features a historical exhibit, a 4D movie, a bottling factory and a tour of the vault where the secret formula is kept. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say that my favorite part was sampling over 60 different flavors of soda from around the world.
Mom’s Tip: Give yourself about an hour to get thru all the exhibits and then take your time sampling all the yummy sodas. There is a comfortable couch area past the soda room to relax in.
Atlanta with Kids – Stop #6: Centennial Olympic Park
Spend the rest of the day at the beautiful Centennial Olympic Park, located across the street from the World of Coca-Cola. Developed for the 1996 Olympic Games, it now has modern play grounds and the famous Olympic Rings fountain. Children (and adults) can splash in the fountains most of the day, except when the lights & water show is happening (4 times a day/365 days of the year). Also, you can take a ride on the SkyView Ferris Wheel to get a bird’s eye view of Atlanta.
In most cities we visit, we seek out parks to give ourselves some outdoor time to stretch our legs and play. My 7 year old loves this as he just gets to run around & play and gives parents a much needed break to sit and relax too.
Atlanta with Kids – Stop #7: Dinner at Mary Mac’s Tea Room
Before heading to Atlanta, I asked for dining recommendations from my friends and many people came back with Mary Mac’s Tea Room. Known for true southern cooking, you can get fried green tomatoes, grits, southern fried chicken, peach cobbler and more. Makes me hungry just thinking about it. Mary Mac’s tends to have a wait, so keep that in mind if you plan on going at prime meal times.
Atlanta with Kids – Stop #1: Breakfast at The Flying Biscuit
If you didn’t get your fill of southern cooking yet, then make sure to try breakfast or brunch at one of the Flying Biscuit locations. Yes, they have amazing biscuits – flakey, butter, and warm, but they have a big breakfast menu as well. My boys both ate their weight in pancakes and I enjoyed a little shrimp & grits.
Atlanta with Kids – Stop #2: Fernbank Museum of Natural History
One last museum on our itinerary, but before you think “not another one…”, hear me out. The Fernbank Museum of Natural History has one of the coolest hands-on exhibits for children that I have ever seen in a Natural History museum. The Fernbank NatureQuest is filled with nooks & crannies for kids to crawl thru & discover – the cave features all kinds of cool gems, the treehouse takes you up in the trees to see what lives there and you can walk through the “waterfall” to see what’s behind it. NatureQuest was perfect for my 7 year old – probably 8 and younger would enjoy this the most.
Later this fall, WildWoods opens up with elevated trails, tree pods, and more, this is a great way for tweens & teens to experience nature. I also loved the amount of presentations and classes that the Fernback offers. And if IMAX movies interest you, there were 3 ongoing movies to choose from while we were there.
Mom’s Tip: The earlier you go, the more choices of IMAX movie times will be available. We didn’t arrive until mid-morning and didn’t get a movie time until afternoon.
Atlanta with Kids – Stop #4: Stone Mountain Park
For years I have heard about Stone Mountain Park outside of Atlanta. This monolithic dome has a stunning Confederate Memorial caved into the face of it, the site of nighttime laser shows. And the park that surrounds the dome features all sorts of fun, from train rides, to water playscape to Duck tours on the nearby lake.
But the most important thing you want to do is climb to the top and you can do that one of 2 ways – hike the mile-long trail or take the Summit Skyride. Being that it was the middle of August, what do you think we choose?
Once you get to the top, take the time to explore the summit and make sure to sit down for a bit and soak it all in.
The boys played on the Skyhike Adventure course (make sure you have closed toed shoes) and cooled off at the Geyser Towers before we grabbed some dinner and made our way to our reserved spot for the nightly laser show.
The LaserShow Spectacular is nightly in the summer and on Saturdays during the fall & spring. You can grab a space on the lawn to sit on a blanket or you can reserve a seat. The show was fun, with themed music, lasers, fireworks and more.
If you visit Atlanta during the Spring, Summer, or Fall, we definitely recommend a trip out to Stone Mountain. The view from the summit was fantastic and we enjoyed all the fun activities there was to do in the park.
Mom’s Tip: Fully read all that Stone Mountain Park has to offer and make a plan to arrive out there in enough time to do it all. It’s about a 20-30 minute drive from downtown Atlanta.
Three days in Atlanta go quick. To make these three days affordable, we recommend purchasing the Atlanta CityPASS – the World of Coca-Cola, Inside CNN Studio Tour, College Football Hall of Fame Fernback Museum of Natural History, and the Center for Civil & Human Rights are all on the pass, as well as the Georgia Aquarium. We simply did not have time to visit the Georgia Aquarium on this trip, but we have previously and it is fantastic!
One of the best resources we found to plan our trip was at atlanta.net. They have great Insider’s Guides to all the attractions and plenty of restaurant recommendations.
Disclosure: My family & I were invited to visit Atlanta. All opinions are my own.