From its beginning as a railroad town, Atlanta has grown to become one of the ten largest metropolitan areas in the nation. The city is also home to the world’s busiest airport, making it an easily accessible transportation hub. With warm weather throughout the year, outdoor pursuits are popular. Atlanta is a center of southern culture where kids and their families can explore the history of the region or take in a family-friendly show. Alongside the learning opportunities, Atlanta offers many venues that allow kids to have fun while burning off excess energy.
The Atlanta Beltline was once a railroad corridor around the city. It’s now being developed as a multi-use trail that links parks and neighborhoods. Active families can join a bike tour or hire bikes to go exploring. There are numerous places to stop for a picnic lunch and plenty of parks where parents can rest while their kids play. One popular spot is the Historic Fourth Ward Park, which features a playground, athletic fields, and a world-class skatepark.
Stone Mountain Park is a nature reserve and theme park all rolled into one. The biggest attraction is Stone Mountain, which has great views over Atlanta. The hike up is only a mile long and kids as young as four can easily make the climb. The park’s 3,200 acres also feature train rides, mini-golf, a laser show, and high-speed cable cars. There’s a campground for families who want to stay overnight and enjoy the festivals or special events.
The botanical gardens may not be the first place you think of to amuse the kids, but the Atlanta Botanical Gardens have the Lou Glenn Children’s Gardens. This 2-acre spot features a treehouse with slides and climbing nets, a splash pad for cooling off, and plenty of plants to catch kid’s attention, including a bog with Venus flytraps. On select days, the little ones can also help horticulturists with planting, watering, and harvesting in the garden.
For a relaxed day in green surroundings, Atlanta’s parks are a good option. Centennial Olympic Park is 21-acres of fun in the center of downtown and features the Ring of Fountains, a popular spot for kids to cool off. Piedmont Park is another green spot in the city, with a pond, swimming pool, walking trails and athletic facilities. For people willing to head out of the city, Cloudland Canyon has trails leading to deep gorges and waterfalls that older kids will enjoy.
Atlanta has many options for kid-friendly shows. The Center for Puppetry Arts is a firm favorite, with daily puppet performances and a collection of 200 puppets that include Jim Henson's creations. The Wren’s Nest was once home to Joel Chandler Harris, who wrote the Uncle Remus stories. Today it’s a museum and on Saturdays has a segment for storytime that captivates kids. The Woodruff Arts Center offers family programming that allows kids to learn about art, music, and theater in an interactive environment.
There are plenty of opportunities to explore history in Atlanta. One of the city’s most popular attractions is Martin Luther King Jr. Historical Park. Kids can pick up a Junior Ranger booklet to help them explore King’s philosophies while visiting the spots where he lived and preached. Fernbank National History Museum features outdoor play zones, interactive exhibits, and one of the largest dinosaurs ever discovered. Older children may appreciate the APEX Museum, dedicated to African American history, or the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum, which features a life-size replica of the Oval Office.
Sports fans young and old can enjoy seeing the Braves play at SunTrust Stadium. The kid’s zone has carnival games, rock climbing, and zip-lining. After Sunday games, kids aged 4-14 are also invited onto the ground to run the bases like the pros. For kids that prefer football, Atlanta is home to the College Football Hall of Fame. There’s an indoor playing field where young athletes can kick a field goal or run through the obstacle course.
The Chattahoochee River runs through Atlanta’s suburbs and has many opportunities for families to enjoy watery fun. Locals recommend visitors to "shoot the hooch" and go tubing down the waterway; there are other places along the river that hire out rafts, kayaks and other watercraft. The Chattahoochee Nature Center offers a more educational view of the river, with exhibits, trails, and programs on 127 acres of natural habitat. Many kids enjoy seeing the wildlife and it’s not unusual to see beavers, hawks and opossums in the center.
Located at Centennial Olympic Park, SkyView Ferris Wheel towers 20 stories over Atlanta. The gondolas are all climate controlled, so it’s a comfortable ride no matter what the weather is like. Some gondolas also boast a glass floor, luxury seating and longer flight time. Kids will love looking down on the city while adults relax and take in the panoramic views of downtown Atlanta.
Atlanta’s past as a railway terminus makes it a great place to explore the history of trains. Nearby Duluth is home to the Southeastern Railway Museum, where there are 35 acres of rail cars, buses, and taxi cabs to explore. Families can also take a ride on a restored caboose. Kids interested in flight might prefer the Delta Flight Museum. Here they can see historic aircraft, including the first-built 747, among other exhibits.