Celebrating the world’s most popular soft drink, the World of Coca-Cola showcases all things Coke. The museum is an absolute must-see for every visitor to Atlanta. The highlight of the visit is sampling Coke products from around the world. But there are also Andy Warhol pieces to view, a 4-D film to catch, company history to learn, and what seems like 20 billion promotional materials to behold.
The World of Coca-Cola is divided up into two levels, called “The Hub.” On the lower level, a short film introduces visitors to the magic behind a bottle of Coke. After watching the film, visitors can browse a number of attractions, including the Milestones of Refreshment exhibit, which traces the history of Coke.
The second level is where visitors will be completely immersed in the world of Coca-Cola. At the Secret Formula 4-D Theater, you can watch a film about an eccentric scientist on a quest to uncover the mysterious secret formula for Coke.
The Atlanta CNN Center is the headquarters of the cable-TV news service. A visit here will give you a behind-the-scenes glance at the 24-hour news organization in high-tech action, including a visit to production areas not accessible to the general public.
Your first stop at the Atlanta CNN Center is in the lobby, where you can have a videotape made of yourself while reading news stories from a CNN anchor desk. Next, you’ll learn about the history of CNN through interactive kiosks and CNN memorabilia. In the special-effects studio, see how global news is produced via modern technology. The highlight of the a visit to the Atlanta CNN Center is watching the action of the main CNN newsroom from a glass-walled observation tower. You’ll see writers composing new scripts, camera operators positioning cameras, and maybe even a live broadcast.
Founded based on a need for space for former circus animals, Zoo Atlanta has been a mainstay attraction in Atlanta since 1889. Today, it houses more than 1,500 animals and has the largest number of gorillas and orangutans of any zoo in the United States. Additionally, Zoo Atlanta is one of only four in the U.S. that houses giant pandas.
The 40-acre zoo features seven exhibits, including the popular Ford African Rain Forest and the giant pandas exhibit with its two inhabitants, a male and a female, both on loan from China. Children love the petting zoo, where they can interact with sheep, goats and pigs.
A quintessential field trip experience for Atlanta students, the Fernbank Museum of Natural History allows children the opportunity to explore the planet and its people with both hands-on and hands-off exhibits. These explore everything from modern, foreign world cultures to prehistoric earth, and the Fernbank NatureQuest exhibit is by far the most popular. This interactive experience allows children to explore various ecosystems around the world, while the A Walk Through Time in Georgia exhibit walks through the state's natural history in the context of the development of the planet.
In addition to exhibits, Fernbank also has an impressive IMAX theater with a five-story-high, 72-foot-wide screen, making it the largest movie screen in Atlanta. While most of the films shown are educational, Fernbank does sometimes host special events and programming in the theater.
It is hard not to love historic Inman Park. Often called Atlanta’s oldest neighborhood, it was established in 1890 and named after Samuel Inman, a prominent Atlanta businessman in the late 1800s. The picturesque area features several parks with abundant green spaces, wide lawns, stately Victorian-era homes and a plethora of independent boutiques and restaurants. Winding, narrow streets make strolling through the neighborhood an appealing option, and on any given day, residents enjoy tea and lemonade on sweeping front porches flanked by azalea bushes, giving the area a charming, homey feel.
Inman Park is a celebration of historic Atlanta residential architecture from the 19th and early 20th centuries, and in addition to Victorian-style mansions, influences range from Romanesque to Queen Anne. The neighborhood is comprised of two parts–the Inman Park historic district and the Inman Park-Moreland Historic District.
The focal point of the Atlanta skyline is the stately gold dome of the Georgia State Capitol. Lady Freedom, a statue holding a sword and a lantern, stands atop the Capitol building; she has captured the attention of everyone who passes by since 1889. The design of the building draws from the neoclassical style, similar to that of the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C. Inside the building, Victorian and Florentine Renaissance influence is evident in the artistic motifs, while the site has been designated a National Historic Landmark.
The Capitol is the main operating building for Georgia’s state government. It houses the offices of the state governor, lieutenant governor and secretary of state, and is also the site where the General Assembly gathers. The fourth floor holds an educational museum and a visitors' center.
One of Atlanta’s major showstoppers is the Georgia Aquarium, a colossal facility billing itself as the world's largest aquarium. The aquarium’s 8 million gallons of marine and fresh water is home to more than 100,000 animals representing 500 different species. The aquarium's notable specimens include four young whale sharks, two beluga whales, and two manta rays.
The five permanent exhibits, each with its own habitat, will surely enthrall. Within these displays are Australian weedy sea dragons, giant Pacific octopus, Japanese spider crabs, otters, and piranha. There’s even a petting tank where visitors can touch horseshoe crabs, sea stars, stingrays, and shrimp. Take a walk through an acrylic tunnel, surrounded by water, and watch as gigantic whale sharks swim overhead.
If graves could talk, those that fill the Oakland Cemetery would never stop. Founded in 1850, this is the oldest cemetery in Atlanta and the final resting spot for many of the individuals who built the city, as well as those who helped it grow along the way. An estimated 70,000 people are buried at Oakland, including famous Georgians Bobby Jones, Margaret Mitchell and Maynard Jackson. The last plots were sold in 1884, but incredibly, burials continue today through the use of family-owned plots and city exceptions for notable figures.
The 48-acre site was built during a movement toward garden cemeteries, which has resulted in the cemetery also functioning as a beautiful park today, featuring winding stone paths, large trees and blossoming flowers. The cemetery encourages the public to visit and pay respects to those interred and to learn more about Atlanta's history.
When Margaret Mitchell wrote her epic, Pulitzer Prize-winning, romantic novel, Gone With the Wind, she didn't do it from a desk at a picturesque country cottage or a sprawling Victorian-era mansion. Instead, she wrote the novel that would be turned into one of the greatest movies ever made from a tiny apartment on the first floor of what was then known as the Crescent Apartments. The Tudor Revival-style home with red brick and white trim served as Mitchell's home from 1925 until 1932 and is today listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The site is known as the Margaret Mitchell House and Museum.
Here visitors learn about Mitchell's life in Atlanta as well as fun facts surrounding her writing of the novel. An adjacent building houses a "Making of the Movie" museum, to which entrance is included with the price of admission.
History buffs should make the Atlanta History Center their first stop. The center’s collections of photographs, maps, books, newspaper clippings, and decorative arts tell the history of Georgia, Atlanta, and the Southeast. In fact, the center has one of the largest collections of Civil War artifacts in the world. The Center itself is surrounded by 32 acres (13 hectares) of woodlands, including walking trails and five gardens.
Inside the Atlanta History Museum, hands-on discovery areas, displays, and photographs trace Atlanta’s history. Part of this permanent exhibit includes a fire engine used in Atlanta’s great fire of 1917 and a rare 1920 Hanson Six touring car. Another exhibit, the “Shaping Traditions: Folk Arts in a Changing South” shows the development and attributes of Southern folk art. It includes both traditional and modern forms ranging from clothing and food to singing and storytelling.
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Light streams through the stained glass windows of Ebenezer Baptist Church, illuminating the altar where Martin Luther King, Jr. was baptized as a child and served as pastor in adulthood. America’s most famous Civil Rights leader grew up in this church, and his legacy lives on inside its walls today, where the church serves as one of the foremost landmarks of the Civil Rights Movement in Atlanta and in the United States.
The church was founded in 1886 during the Reconstruction Era in the South after the Civil War, and by the mid-20th century, Martin Luther King, Sr. was leading the congregation from the pulpit on Sundays, setting the stage for his son to take over. MLK, Jr. joined his father as a co-pastor from 1960 until the fateful day of his death in 1968. His funeral, too, was held here. The church has since been restored to look as it did in the 1960s during the height of the Civil Rights Movement.
What would it be like to live in the world of Legos? At LEGOLAND Discovery Center, a Lego-themed entertainment park, children ages 3-10 years old have the chance to find out. The highly interactive and educational experience takes place entirely indoors, where there are play areas for kids to build anything they can dream up with more Legos than they can even imagine. The center also features a 4D cinema, special party rooms for birthdays and celebrations, two rides, a Lego-building class taught by a master model builder and an exhibit that showcases the skyline of Atlanta–made out of Legos, of course! The LEGOLAND Discovery Center also has the Ninjago Laser Maze, where kids can duck, dive and jump under, through and over laser beams. Of the two rides here, Kingdom Quest is by far the most popular and geared toward 5 to 10-year-olds. The play areas are separated–one for the older kids and one for children under 5.
“Home of the Braves” is a slogan most Georgians know by heart. Although Turner Field is best known as the home ballpark for the Atlanta Braves Major League Baseball team, it was originally constructed and used as the Centennial Olympic Stadium in the 1996 Olympic Games. It was converted to its current use the next year.
Turner Field, with its 49,000 seats, boasts state-of-the-art technology and high-class entertainment for visiting fans. There are 500 television monitors throughout the field, ensuring that fans catch every play, no matter where they are. The team’s catchy chant, the “tomahawk chop” is assisted by a 27-foot-long neon tomahawk situated over one of the large video boards. The Atlanta Braves announced plans in 2013 to move to a new stadium north of Turner Field by 2017, so while the stadium's past is ingrained in the minds of Atlanta fans, its future is undecided.
Glance up during a movie, concert or live performance at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta, and you will be dazzled by a gleaming starry sky. The man-made "sky’"projects 96 crystal stars and even clouds that drift, and this is only one of the many architectural features that make the Fox Theatre so fabulous. It opened on Christmas Day in 1929 to incredible fanfare and was designed and built to be grand and opulent, a decadent escape for patrons of the arts. That kind of opulence could not be maintained during the Great Depression, however, and the venue sunk into bankruptcy.
The salvation and revitalization of the Fabulous Fox, as it is known in Atlanta, was a community effort. Over $3 million was raised to protect the theatre, most of which came from Atlanta residents. The site reopened in 1975 and today ranks among some of the country’s most notable not-for-profit performing art theatres.
The High Museum of Art, Atlanta’s stunning temple of visual treats, is hard to miss. First, the building is built of white porcelain tile, and inside are four floors of galleries strung together by semicircular pedestrian ramps surrounding a sun-filled four-story atrium.
And that’s just the building. The High Museum of Art collection itself holds more than 11,000 works of art, including a stellar collection of American art, which includes fascinating works from the turn of the 20th century, plus contemporary pieces from the likes of Gerhard Richter and folk art from Georgia treasure Howard Finster. You can also see a marvelous collection of Italian paintings and sculptures from the 14th through the 18th centuries, as well as paintings by French Impressionists and German Expressionists. The collections of sub-Saharan African art and works by noted 19th and 20th century American and European photographers are also world-class.
In the middle of Midtown, Piedmont Park is where locals come to play, picnic, and commune with nature. Indeed, the park is a glorious, rambling urban park, filled with verdant lawns, rolling hillsides, and Lake Clara Meer – all set against the backdrop of the Midtown Atlanta skyline. The park also is the setting of many cultural and music festivals, as well as some superb people watching.
For the active, Piedmont Park has softball and soccer fields, tennis courts, a public swimming pool, and fantastic paths for jogging, skating, and biking. For leisure activities, there’s fishing on Lake Clara Meer, picnic tables and benches, and expansive lawns for lazing in the sun. The Atlanta Botanical Garden is also here. Children will have endless fun, as open, car-free spaces abound. Make sure they don’t miss PlayScape, at the 12th Street gate.
Antebellum, Georgia comes to life in the 1939 classic film, Gone with the Wind. Often thought of as the greatest romantic movie ever made, the film's heroine and hero, Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler, are featured in the film and in the halls of the Gone With the Wind Museum. Memorabilia from the iconic film lines the halls, and the exhibits transport visitors back to the Civil War and Reconstruction eras.
Opened in 2003, the Marietta Gone With the Wind Museum features an impressive collection of artifacts from the film. One of the top attractions on display is the original Bengaline honeymoon gown worn by O'Hara's character. The film is based on Margaret Mitchell’s 1936 novel of the same name, and many of the author’s personal volumes of the novel are on display here as well. Other notable displays include additional costume pieces, foreign prints of the novel and a personal script of an actress in the film.
Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream is realized every day at Atlanta's Historic Fourth Ward Park in the neighborhood in which he was born. Today the area houses the first completed urban park of the Atlanta Beltline Project, which brings modern, renovated park spaces to the city.
This 17-acre space celebrates Atlanta’s natural beauty with wide open green areas and its central two-acre lake, also used as a stormwater retention basin. Multiple lawns dot the park, all suitable for reading, a game of Frisbee and picnics. A modern playground with a splash pad is the crowning jewel of the park for young kids, and a skate park, athletic field and amphitheater round out the park’s entertainment options.
Immerse yourself in Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler's enigmatic romance at the Road To Tara Museum, which brings to life Tara, the mythical plantation where Gone With the Wind takes place. Margaret Mitchell, the novel's author, created Tara based on the sprawling Victorian homes she saw in Clayton County, Georgia ,so today, Clayton County and the city of Jonesboro have been officially designated by the Georgia State Legislature as the "home of Gone With the Wind." Fittingly, the Road to Tara Museum is housed in the 1867 Train Depot in downtown historic Jonesboro.
At the museum visitors can see original props, wardrobe items and keepsakes from the 1939 Atlanta premiere of the feature film. The centerpiece is a large original oil mural depicting Rhett and Scarlett from the film, while additional oil paintings flank this large one. The museum also has an exhibit on the Civil War, featuring the Battle of Jonesboro.
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