So you’re planning a visit to Atlanta? Great! We’re happy to have you. Atlanta is a treasure trove of history and culture and offers guests and residents many opportunities for family fun.
Not only is Atlanta home to the busiest airport in the world and all the things that metropolitan cities are known for, but it also features beautiful green spaces, world-class restaurants, professional sporting teams, venues and plenty of interactive museums and centers for the entire family to enjoy.
We have assembled a list of the top 50 places you need to visit when you are in town, whether you’re visiting Atlanta for the first time, the second or beyond.
With a diverse selection of fun adventures to explore, Henry County, Georgia appeals to a variety of ages and interests. The things to do in Henry County can range anywhere from picking fruit with the family, taking an exhilarating track tour at a NASCAR circuit speedway, devouring delicious food with good friends, flying high in helicopters or learning personal stories of veterans who spent time at war. The cities of Henry County each offer unique experiences and attractions that are guaranteed to pique the interest of visitors. Not sure where to start? Choose an area of interest and prepare for memorable moments!
Get active with the whole family this Fall as one of the largest youth triathlons returns to Alpharetta! The Alpharetta IronKids Triathlon allows children ages 6 to 15 an opportunity to test their strength with a swim, bike and run competition. The race is divided into age-based categories: Junior (ages 6-8): 50 m. swim, 2 mi. bike and 500 yd. run. Intermediate (ages 9 to 11): 150 m. swim, 4 mi. bike and 1 mi. run. Senior (ages 12 to 15): 300 m. swim, 8 mi. bike and 2 mi. run. No triathlon experience necessary. Bring the whole family and make it a weekend getaway in Alpharetta!
Hear a unique perspective on the history of the racial equality movement at the King Historic District Tour. This two-and-a-half-hour walking tour of Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward district is guaranteed to offer a new and personal look at this most dynamic period in our nation’s history.
When it comes to Atlanta History Tour’s newest offering, it’s all about connections. Connections between the people that influenced Dr. King from his youth, and the places that that inspired him during his life cut way too short. And the best part – you’ll be walking and breathing-in these inspirational locations while you learn about their immense significance from an Atlanta History Tour expert guide.
And speaking of connections, visit locations off the beaten path that played a significant role in this important period, like the Atlanta Race Riot of 1906 that put so much in motion, and WERD, the nation’s first black-owned radio station. You will not find an MLK tour like this anywhere else.
One of our most favorite places to explore in Atlanta is at Fernbank Museum. The kids love to gaze up at the gigantic dinosaurs, take a break in the 4-story 3D Theater, and get their thrills in the National Geographic exhibit, Monster Fish. This is not just a place for indoor fun though. Take a walk on the wild side and explore 75 acres of new outdoor nature adventures in WildWoods and Fernbank Forest. It’s all waiting for you at Fernbank, Atlanta’s Science and Nature Experience.
Challenge your friends and family to a 60 minute adventure at The Escape Game, located in The Battery!
At The Escape Game, you and your team will choose from 5 unique adventures: Prison Break, The Heist, Gold Rush, Special Ops: Mysterious Market, and Playground. Your team will have to work together to find clues, conquer challenges, and complete your mission before time runs out. These escape rooms are perfect for any group looking for a fun, new, and different experience in Atlanta.
Maximizing Your First Atlanta Visit
Georgia Aquarium is the largest aquarium in the nation and with 10 million gallons of fresh and salt water it is home to the largest aquarium habitat in the world. In addition to the aquarium habitat the center also features interactive displays, educational programs, theatres, animal interactions and more, making for a truly magical experience.
Insider’s tip: Check for stay and play packages in conjunction with local hotels or purchase a CityPASS for discounted admission.
Featuring over 1,000 animals representing over 200 species from around the globe, Zoo Atlanta is a must-visit when in town. From well known species and animals on the brink of extinction to all time favorites like the Giant Panda twins, the zoo is a comfortable place to get up close and personal with creatures great and small. Zoo Atlanta is on the cutting edge of conservation and education and delights in sharing animal experiences with everyone.
Read more: Treetop Trail
Art enthusiasts of all ages will enjoy a visit to the High—the leading art museum in the Southeast. Featuring a celebrated collection of art from contemporary to classic, award-winning architecture and many educational programs and special events. It’s easy to see why the High is a top spot for tourists and locals alike.
A fascinating look into the world’s most famous brand. The World of Coca-Cola is a dynamic, multi-media experience with tours, tastings, educational displays, a 4D movie and more. There is always something new and exciting at the World of Coca-Cola.
Fans of the little bumpy brick won’t want to miss LEGOLAND and all of its family fun. Featuring 2 rides, build stations, a 4D cinema and more. Stop in for toddler time any Tuesday at 10 a.m. Enjoy guided play and story tie for 30 min. and then stay as long as you wish.
Get a behind-the-scenes peek into the studio and everything that goes into producing global news. Tours start at $12 for a 55-minute tour with VIP and morning news tours also available.
Visiting Atlanta for a few days? Check the schedule at the historic Fox Theatre’s website for tickets to a show for a memorable night out. Broadway plays, concerts and professional dance performances grace the stage of the amazing theatre, as well as your child's beloved television favorites "in real life"! Can’t catch a show? Make time to stop in for a tour and learn how the fabulous Fox was saved from the wrecking ball to become one of the top performance venues in the world.
When visiting Atlanta, make sure this is at the top of your list. Named one of the top 10 Botanical Gardens in the nation by USA Today and one of the top 3 places to visit in Atlanta by TripAdvisor, ABG is 30-acres of incredible plant life in every possible form. From the Fuqua Conservatory featuring the foremost collection of species orchids in the U.S. to its canopy walk and award winning children’s garden, ABG is sure to delight visitors of all ages. Atlanta Botanical Garden is open rain or shine. Dress for the weather and don’t let it deter you from visiting this wonderland of color.
If you’re visiting Atlanta with young kids, be sure to block out some time to take them to the Children’s Museum of Atlanta with its 6 interactive kid specific learning zones and feature displays. Kids can learn through play, view live performances and shop in the only kid-specific store located downtown.
Far from a stuffy old natural history museum, Fernbank is a wonderland of adventure filled with living creatures, dinosaurs, artifacts, hands-on exhibits and over 75-acres of nature. The outdoor space features interactive exhibits, giant old growth trees, boardwalks and more making it a fun spot to explore the outdoors for families even with young kids. Check their calendar from special events and exhibits.
Read more: Fernbank After Dark
This 33-acre historical site is a true, must-visit destination. Featuring the Atlanta History Museum, one of the Southeast's largest history museums; two historic houses, the 1928 Swan House and the Tullie Smith Farm, the Centennial Olympic Games Museum, the Kenan Research Center, the Grand Overlook event space, Chick-fil-A at the Coca-Cola Cafe, a museum shop, and acres of historic gardens and trails. Movie buffs will recognize the Swan House and some of its rooms from the Hunger Games movie “Mocking Jay: Catching Fire”.
Created in 1968 The Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change (“The King Center”) has been a global destination, resource center and community institution for 50 years. It is the “official, living memorial dedicated to the advancement of the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., leader of America's greatest nonviolent movement for justice, equality and peace." Visitors can view unique exhibits illustrating his life and teachings and visit the King Center, library, archives, his final resting place, his birth home, gift shop and other facilities. Admission and parking are FREE.
The Center for Civil and Human Rights is an engaging cultural attraction that connects the American Civil Rights Movement to today’s global human rights movements. Ranked as one of TripAdvisor's "Top 10 Atlanta Attractions," The Center uses interactive exhibits and cutting-edge technology that enables visitors to find inspiration in each story and learn more about history's civil rights' leaders .
Arguably the centerpiece of Atlanta, Centennial Olympic Park is a beautiful, walkable, vibrant and fun experience for visitors to Atlanta. Full of picturesque attractions like the Fountain of Rings, the park is fun to explore with maps and brochures from the Visitor’s Center. The park is open from 7 a.m. through 11 p.m. everyday. Check the website for attractions, audio tours, news and more.
Atlanta’s Piedmont Park is home to over 200-acres of green space, set up to be enjoyed by the entire family. Home to many festivals, concerts and special events, Piedmont Park also houses dog parks, playgrounds, an educational garden, lakefront and beautiful public pool. The park is home to concessions stands, green market and even a restaurant making it the perfect place to spend a few minutes or a few hours.
Outdoor lovers will not want to miss a visit to Stone Mountain Park. Open year around, this 3200-acre park features a variety of fun activities, attractions, special events and arguably the best views in the state. Whether you hike, bike or tram your way up, you won’t want to miss hitting the top of Stone Mountain for the unparalleled views of Atlanta. A variety of ticket packages are available; visit website for attractions dates and tickets.
While a visit to a cemetery might not top most people’s “must do” list, Oakland Cemetery is far from ordinary. Founded in 1850, this historic site is a secret treasure. It is beautiful, peaceful and educational; a showplace of sculpture and the final resting place to may of Atlanta’s founders and noted citizens such as Margaret Mead, Maynard Jackson and Bobby Jones.
“Kids” of all ages will love visiting the Center for Puppetry Arts and exploring their museum of puppets from around the world. In addition, check out the accompanying Jim Henson Collection— the most extensive in the world —with its interactive exhibits and behind-the-scenes looks at his most beloved and iconic characters. Check website for performance times and dates.
Atlanta loves its football and college ball is BIG here, so no sports lover’s visit would be complete with a trip to the College Football Hall of Fame. 95,000 square feet. A 45-yard indoor football field. More than 50 engaging and interactive exhibits. A shrine to the greatest to ever play or coach the game. All in the heart of Downtown Atlanta.
While the Michael C. Carlos museum (formerly the Emory University Museum) isn’t one of the best known museums, it is a hidden gem for history and art buffs. The museum, founded in 1919 is one of the premier ancient art museums in the Southeast, with an extensive collection including mummies, Egyptian, Near Eastern, Classical, ancient American, African, and Asian art, as well as its important body of works of art on paper from the Renaissance to the present.
The new Mercedes Benz Stadium is open for business, and it’s time to show it off. What better way to learn about the stadium and everything it offers than to take one of their new tours! Ironically, the 2-million square foot stadium holds 71,000 seats (it can grow to 80K if necessary) – which is LESS than the Dome held. What? Learn about this and so much more.
What To Do On Your Second Visit
Sweetwater Creek Park is one of our favorite spots to get outside, enjoy nature and take pictures! There are scenic backdrops at every turn and the easy walk to the ruins of the New Manchester Manufacturing Company. This 215-acre park is full of places to explore, playgrounds, picnic areas and even a museum and gift shop. If you have yet to visit this park, add it to you must-see list. You’ll be glad you did.
If the family loved science, put the Tellus on the list for your next visit to Atlanta. Housing exhibits from dinosaurs to space, the Tellus covers all kinds of science related things with lots of hands-on activities for the kids, a planetarium, fossil and gem panning, and so much more. Explore the museum, enjoy lunch at the cafe and learn while having fun. Museum admission includes Fossil Dig & Gem Panning.
In association with the Smithsonian Institution, the Booth Western Art Museum is known as one of the premier Western Art Museums in the country. Featuring permanent exhibitions in the Cowboy Gallery, the American West Gallery, Faces of the West and more in addition to temporary exhibitions and special events, the Booth caters to art fans and families of all ages. Kids will love visiting “Sagebrush Ranch” for the fun, hands on learning experience and can visit the exhibit halls with complimentary activity guides. Cafe on site. Closed Mondays.
Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA) is the only museum in the Southeast devoted exclusively to the study and celebration of all things design. MODA is a participating member of the Smithsonian Affiliate Program and offers exhibitions, education and programming for visitors of all ages.
Atlanta is home to Delta Airlines and The Delta Flight Museum offers guests an up-close look at it's history. Check out historic aircraft dating back to the '20s, fly the only Boeing 737 flight simulator, experience interactive exhibits and check out artifacts as well as cutting-edge technology. Afterward, shop for aviation souvenirs to commemorate your visit. The Museum offers free guided tours on Tuesdays at 1 p.m. Private tours are available for a fee.
The Jimmy Carter Museum is a wonderful spot for the entire family to visit. The museum is filled with fascinating facts and interactive displays that all will enjoy. Get a glimpse into a day in the life of an American President, peek into the Oval Office and learn about the Carters continuing endeavors to fight disease and promote democracy around the world.
Crazy about good food? Take some time out and sign up for one of Atlanta Food Walks and dive into the history, culture and food through this unique Atlanta tour. Learn about hidden gems and discover fantastic restaurants that might be off the beaten path. Plenty of food, fun and history. Most tours $69 for adults, $49 for kids. Book online.
Even as a resident Ponce City Market is one of my favorite places to people watch, window shop and eat! The historic Sears & Roebuck building has been revamped into a hip, urban “public market” full of upscale shops, taverns and eateries. In addition, PCM offers tons of special events like “Skate the Sky” their rooftop ice skating rink (seasonal), Winemaker Wednesdays, entertainment and so much more.
The Roof at PCM is an Atlanta destination in its own right. Take a freight elevator up to The Roof for panoramic views of the city, an 18-hole mini golf course, boardwalk-style games and more. Parents, get a sitter for the eve and enjoy craft cocktails during a relaxing sunset cocktail hour, before a friendly (or not so) competitive date night. Ponce City Market is conveniently located off the Atlanta BeltLine and near MARTA but also offers parking in 30 minute increments, max of $15.
If you didn’t do this during your visit to Centennial Olympic Park, it’s time to check it out. The SkyView Atlanta is a spectacular Ferris wheel style adventure aboard gondolas that lift you 20 stories in the air. Incredible views in every direction, twinkling lights, climate controlled gondolas and comfortable “Ferrari” style seats = a ride you will never forget! Each Gondola must have an adult riding with the children.
Active visitors and explorers will want to take advantage of the Atlanta BeltLine, 33 miles of multi use trails snaking through the city of Atlanta. The BeltLine joins various neighborhoods, transportation hubs, green spaces and scenery with a convenient trail to walk, hike or bike while viewing nature and a multitude of public artistic installations. The BeltLine conveniently meets stops such as Ponce City Market and Krog Street Market, making it a great place to spend a weekend morning for a little family time, exercise and the ability to stop for a cup of coffee, brunch or even meal fixings. Check website to see the BeltLine loop.
Although admission to the Margaret Mitchell house is included with admission to the Atlanta History Center, it is not located on AHC property. You can visit the Mitchell house on its own and join one of the daily tours.
Atlanta’s National Theatre brings high quality theatre to audiences of all ages. In addition to performances ranging from dramatic plays to “Theatre for the Very Young”, the Alliance offers acting classes, theatre camp, and tons of other educational programs. Check their website to see what is coming up for any member of the family.
Far from stodgy, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra offers classic and modern musical performances for everyone. Performances range from Star Wars musical scores to Mozart, to family-friendly programming but make up just one part of ASO’s offering. The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra also offers talent development, youth orchestra, educational programs and more. Check calendar for upcoming performances.
If you’re itching to get outdoors, Chattahoochee Nature Center is the perfect place to do it. The 127-acre, interpretive center dedicated to environmental education. Families will love getting closer to nature amidst the trees, gardens and Chattahoochee river front boardwalk. Take a canoe ride, interact with animals and and take advantage of the educational programs that are offered at CNC. More Nature Centers
There is so much more than just shopping at the American Girl store, that some girls call it one of the best Atlanta attractions. Ask about events, some of which are FREE. This is only one of two in the entire Southeast (the other is in Nashville.)
For Frequent Atlanta Visitors and Residents
Discover the beauty of Pine Mountain, located just over an hour from the airport. Explore 2,500-acres of gardens, trails, and natural beauty, including a visit to the Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center. On the website you can find out what's in bloom the season you plan on visiting. There are educational opportunities like shows, workshops, hikes and group programs. Annual memberships available. Gardens admission is included with all Callaway Resort lodging options.
Kiddos love airplanes? Then a trip to the Peachtree DeKalb Airport is on tap for your visit. Yep, the airport! Why? Because this airport has a super fun airport themed park right within awesome runway view. Kiddos can climb to the viewing platform, swing, slide and play; then take a break for a picnic at the covered picnic table (in a real hangar!) or hit up the Downwind Restaurant for a yummy burger as you watch the comings and goings of a multitude of aircraft!
Insiders Tip: Visit in morning or afternoon because the play area is not shaded and can heat up fast. Bring sunscreen, water and hats. More Atlanta playgrounds
Do you like to go fast? If so, then the Porsche Experience Center is for you. Sign up for a driving course and spend 90 minutes behind the wheel of your choice of Porsche with a coach at your side learning to how to handle it on the track. Simulators and tours also available or dine at one of the on site restaurants.
Nope! Not a farm for goats but a 10-acre historic property turned Art Center. The Goat Farm is home to over 450 artists and studios, dance and theatrical troupes, multiple performance spaces which showcase, dance performances, movie screenings, concerts, workshops, seminars and more. Visit the Goat Farm FREE, view art and performance or enjoy a cup of coffee at their acclaimed coffee shop.
The Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse is a unique venue that resembles being whisked back to Elizabethan times. Enjoy good food and drink while submersed in the costumes, awesome sword fights and a “passion for the poetry of the spoken word.” Ticket prices range from $22 to $45 depending on the day of the week, the show, the seating availability and the seating section you'd prefer. Visit website for dates, performances and tickets.
Anyone who can should take advantage of the opportunity to view this unique and educational exhibit. We can all view ourselves in the mirror but few ever have the opportunity to truly see what lies within our own bodies. This exhibition is comprised of over 200 actual human bodies and specimens that have specially preserved. No age limit is recommended but parental guidance is encouraged. View the website for info on age specific teaching guides and a children’s audio tour.
If you need a little laughter in your life, pick up tickets to Dad’s Garage! Since 1995 Dad’s Garage has been supplying side splitting improv comedy, scripted shows and a fully stocked bar. Their award winning comedy shows are a highlight of Atlanta’s nightlife. Tickets start at just $5. Don’t miss Wowee Zowee hour, every Tuesday at 2 p.m. for family-friendly programming. Just $7 for adults and $3 for kids (plus tax).
Enjoy a little blast from the past at the Starlight Six!! Always a double feature and fun for the entire family. Stop by on the weekends for the flea market too. Open 7 nights a week. See website for current showing and drive in movie tips! Adults (10+) $9.00; Children (ages 5 through 9) $1.00.
This annual event and parade, attracts thousands of sci-fi loving people to Atlanta each year (80,000 in 2017). The multi-day event comprises of panels and seminars, demonstrations and workshops, with programming that includes writing, art, anime, gaming, science fiction and fantasy literature, comic books, costuming, robotics, and more. The event and parade are known for the opportunity for constant cosplay, where adults and children alike enjoy the opportunity to dress up as their favorite comic book or movie characters and more. As a spectator of the parade the last two years, our son has enjoyed dressing in character as well!
Insiders Tip: This event is reasonably family-friendly. There are parties and meetups at night where their attendance wouldn’t be appropriate or legal in the case of a bar. Also, some of the costumes during the parade were a bit scary for our young son. Luckily, we could see quite a bit up ahead to alert him to turn around. It’s completely at your discretion. It didn’t take away any of the fun for him! Civil war
This completely unique "edu-tainment" center is the perfect indoor family-fun option. Their vision is to inspire a generation of safer drivers. They provide aspiring drivers (ages 3 through 15) the opportunity to drive high-tech mini cars on realistic streets, complete with road signs and traffic signals. In order to advance, young drivers must complete various educational activities from multiple-choice quizzes to successful rounds in the simulators. In addition to the two different level tracks, the facility has an arcade room, party rooms, restaurant, various parent waiting areas and more. Book online for discounts.
Chastain Memorial Park is the largest city park in Atlanta and includes jogging paths, playgrounds, tennis courts, a golf course, swimming pool, horse park and amphitheater. FYI, The pool is open to the public most of the time but there is a fee for non-members. The outdoor amphitheater is popular during the summer, with shows being offered between April and Oct. See the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra play here or one of your favorite musicians through Live Nation.
Insiders tip: There is limited covered seating so dress accordingly. Parking is also limited on sold out nights.
Featuring 1,500 scenic acres along the shores of Lake Sidney Lanier, this luxury resort and surrounding property is perfect for your next family vacation. Activities include golf, boating, camping, horseback riding, zip-lining, hiking, mini golf, beach volleyball and more. Kids can play games, do crafts and make friends with the Legacy Kids programs (details online) while parents slip into relaxation at the spa. There is truly something for everyone here. Cost varies. Special offers and vacation packages can be found on the website.
This treasure is “hidden” about an hour north of Atlanta. Gibbs Gardens is a 292-acre estate, 220 of which is the house and gardens making this one of the largest garden estates in the nation. The garden is full of surprises from a “Monet” bridge to waterfalls (there are 19), ponds, trees sculptures and more. Beginning Mar. 1 a Garden Cafe will serve tasty salads, sandwiches and other fare allowing visitors to spend more time enjoying the lush surroundings. Be sure to check the website “What’s in Bloom” section for “special” events like the Daffodil Festival (not to be missed) or Daylily Colorfest.
Daring visitors and residents may want to tackle a trip to IFLY for an indoor skydiving experience. Picture yourself suited up with wind rushing over your body for this thrilling activity. Packages start at $69.95 with flyers as young at 3 years old.
More flags, more fun. If you want to know what to do in Atlanta, Ga with tweens, this is your best bet. However, they also have a kiddie zone with rides for younger children and of course teens enjoy the big thrills. Be sure to check them out for Halloween and Christmas too.
To the west of Atlanta is Panola Mountain State Park. Panola has a 100-acre granite outcrop similar to Stone Mountain. In addition to forest hiking trails, they also have paved trails perfect for biking, roller blading, or pushing a stroller. Our favorite thing? Archery programs and climbing (and sleeping) in the trees
Imagine a town, with a post office, pizza joint, court house and more…all pint size and perfect for small kids. This Gainesville hands-on museum even has a life-size plane and firetruck that you can climb in!
Hear Ye, Hear Ye This trip back in time is a blast, and you get to eat with your hands too. This is one of those really fun places to go with friends too.
After 18 years in software development, Lesli bailed on the corporate scene. When she’s not traveling, she’s hiking in the mountains or checking out Atlanta’s culinary scene, whiskey in hand.
Lesli has two kiddos -Cooper and Elliot- plus two bonus kids currently at UGA, and she’s happily married to her soul mate.