If you are planning a trip to Atlanta with kids, the city offers so many options. The kids and I spent a short-weekend in the city for spring break and packed in as much as we could in two days. (Read my tips for planning a simple weekend away with kids here.)
The cottage has llamas and alpacas on site, and visitors of the cottage can feed them with baby carrots at the fence. My kids were so delighted every time we came or went from the cottage. It also was very affordable – about the same price as a hotel room downtown and we had an entire house.
I really appreciated that the house had a lot of extras, like a washer/dryer with laundry soap provided, fresh eggs and snacks in the kitchen and lots of soaps in the bathroom.
Center for Puppetry Arts
Our family loves puppets and puppet based shows like Sesame Street, so visiting the Center for Puppetry Arts was a no brainer.
The Center is the largest dedicated center to puppetry arts in America and features a huge Jim Hensen muppet and Sesame Street collection. We went right at opening, which was great because we were in many of the exhibits by ourselves and it wasn't very crowded.
Photos cannot do this place justice. It felt like I was experiencing a behind the scenes view of all my favorite childhood shows. It is spectacular to see so many iconic puppets in person. The center also has a large collection of puppets from around the world. (Clearly my kids loved posing like the puppets – ha!)
It was fascinating seeing so many different kinds of puppets all in one place.
We also opted for going right at opening so that we could see the live puppet show The Cat in the Hat after going through the museum. (The show only runs twice a day and my sense is that this is typical for the live shows.) The hour-long show was incredibly well done and all three of my kids loved it. Pro tip- don't wait until the last minute to buy tickets for shows, as they sell out fast. We lucked out and 15-minutes before the show were able to get three tickets (Ezra sat on my lap).
We did not do the craft experience that they offered. It was very crowded after the puppet show and we were ready for lunch!
I will say that if you are just doing a self-guided tour, your visit won't be very long. Even with the oos and ahs and taking time to see so many iconic puppets up close, we got through the whole thing in an hour. My recommendation is to buy tickets for a show ($19.50), which include museum entry and the create-a-puppet workshop. This makes for a much more well-rounded experience and better value. I would have loved to do one of the center's guided tours, but it didn't work with our schedule.
Aquariums are always a fun family experience and the Georgia Aquarium was no exception.
Because we were visiting on spring break, it was very, very crowded, but my kids still had a great time. (As a parent, I found it stressful and less enjoyable!). Friends recommended that we go right at opening for a less crowded experience, but because we only had two days, we didn't have that option with our schedule.
While most of the aquarium is stroller friendly, some spots are tricky to navigate. I'd recommend bringing a small stroller if you choose to bring one.
My kids favorite part of the aquarium experience was the dolphin show. They had never seen anything like it and were blown away. Know that you need to get there about 45 minutes before it starts to get seats and that it fills up fast. Don't stop at the gift kiosk on the way in or you might not get seats (ask me how I know).
The aquarium had extended hours because of spring break, so we were there from 5:30-9. (The website says that the average visit is 2-4 hours. We spent 2.5 hours in the aquarium, which included seeing the dolphin show and seeing all the exhibits but one. It took about 30 minutes to park, walk in and get through the ticket line and then about 20 minutes to walk to the garage and get out of it.)
The most affordable way to get tickets to the aquarium is to buy them ahead of time on the Georgia Aquarium website. They offer 30% off if you visit after 4:30. If you are going to do enough excursions in Atlanta, the CityPass is the best way to get your Aquarium tickets.
Fernbank Museum of Natural History
The Fernbank Museum of Natural History was everyone's favorite experience in Atlanta. It was spectacular and is a must-visit!
At Fernbank, visitors have the opportunity to see so many fantastic exhibits including Giants of the Mesozoic and Dinosaur Plaza, featuring many amazing dinosaur skeletons, statues and bronzed dinosaurs. My kids couldn't get enough.
Wrangling three kids for pictures sometimes looks like this – ha!
The museum also had A Walk Through Time in Georgia which showed geographic regions and historic re-creations.
From their website: “Highlights include a dinosaur gallery, a giant sloth, a cave, and the sights and sounds of the Okefenokee Swamp.” It was really well done and again, the kids loved it.
We also saw the 3D movie Museum Alive, which Elias and Adeline absolutely loved (it had a vibe like Night at the Museum, with more learning and less comedy). We saw it at Ezra's nap time and he snoozed during it.
The outdoor spaces at Fernbank are also simply spectacular. We could have spent hours playing and enjoying the nature experiences they have created. Seriously, this place is 5-stars.
Food and other excursions
We also made a point to go to two highly recommended restaurants: The Varsity, which is a fast food restaurant with 50s flair and Sublime Donuts for unusual and tasty treats. We had fun at both. Mama also made a point to take everyone for a quick stop at Ikea, which is very close to the Center for Puppetry Arts.
We could have spent much more than two days in Atlanta with our kids. Here are a few other recommendations for fun things to do in Atlanta with kids (per my Facebook friends who shared all their tips before our trip).
Also, if you are going to visit Atlanta longer than we did, and want to do ALL THE THINGS, I highly recommend getting a CityPass. With CityPass, you get admission to:
World of Coca-Cola
CNN Studio Tours
Zoo Atlanta OR Center for Civil and Human Rights
Fernbank Museum of Natural History OR College Football Hall of Fame
I figured out that you need to go to 3 or 4 of the attractions for this to be a deal. Since we were only visiting two on the list, it didn't make sense to purchase (you must use the CityPASS within 8 days of using your first pass). The Atlanta CVB provided me with a CityPass to try out and I found that it was very easy to use at the attractions we visited that were on the list.