An Atlanta Staycation

Trip Start Aug 04, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  , Georgia
Monday, August 11, 2008

Atlanta is one of my favorite cities!  Yes there are some problems, as
there are with all large cities, but one of my favorite things about
Atlanta is that there is just so much you can do.  As a young mother, I
never had a problem finding something to do with my children, and not
everything costs a lot of money! 

My favorite destinations were the large variety of places you can pay a
relatively small fee, support a great cause and have a membership where
you can take your kids week after week.  The list in Atlanta can go on
and on.  Certainly my favorite has to be Zoo Atlanta.  Kids love
animals and there are miles of paths where you can walk and watch the
animals.  When I first started visiting the zoo as a child, there
wasn't much you could say nice about it.  Animals were dying
mysteriously and like most of the older zoos of that day and time, the
animals were basically in a jail, in concrete boxes with bars.  Zoo
Atlanta's most famous resident, a gorilla named Willie B. spent his
days watching tv and swinging in a tire.  I'm glad to report that
things have changed at Zoo Atlanta, partly due to its leadership of its
management and partly due to the financial support of its members. 
Many of the cages have been replaced by open enclosures where the
animals can live as normal a life as possible.  And Zoo Atlanta has
just announced a fifteen year plan to expand and renovate the zoo.  So
watch for more exciting updates to come!  While you are there, make sure you stop and see the Atlanta Cyclorama!

Another place that is a great is Fernbank Museum of Natural History. 
The exhibits there are a mixture of displays that are there year to
year and those that are traveling and stay for specific periods of time
and then leave for another exhibit to take its place.  The permanent
displays are great because some of them are age-specific, so that if
you are taking a toddler or preschooler, they have something to
interest them as well as older children.  I personally like visiting
the Georgia exhibit where I get to walk through a swamp and listen to
the sounds as it changes from days to nights.  The traveling exhibits,
for the most part, are designed for a broad range of ages.  Sometimes
it is about whales, or reptiles, or dinosaurs.  Speaking of dinosaurs,
don't forget to say hi to Gertie, the reproduction of a tyrannosaurus
rex!  (And while you are there, don't forget to drive a few blocks down the road to see the Fernbank Science Center where admission is less than a dollar (unless the fee has changed since I was there), and you can see a planatarium, exhibits and walk forest trails.)

Another great place that offers a membership is the Atlanta Botanical
Garden.  Admitedly more for adults than for children, there are still a
lot of things that they can enjoy.  They just may not appreciate all
the different varieties of plant life there.  The garden has traveling
exhibits also, most recently was one with sculptures in the garden. 
But some of the exhibits are more interesting to children, as the Bug's
exhibit or the Motion in the Garden exhibit (garden trains).  If
nothing else, it is always pleasant to walk the gardens.

A lot has been said about the Georgia Aquarium.  It is a great place to take kids of all ages.  The whale sharks, as well of fishes of every shape and size can been seen there (as well as a few mammals).  I would not hesitate to go and support this fine institution with one proviso.  Go early!  It is still extremely crowded during the day.  If you go early, around 8 am, you will not have as much people or problems with parking.  While you are there, visit the World of Coca Cola and Atlanta's Centennial Park!  The kids will love playing in the fountains and it is free!

Stone Mountain Park is one of my favorite places.  For only 8.00 you can get in for the day, or for a little bit more you can pay for parking for the whole year.  If you visit frequently enough, consider investing in a Rock and Roll Pass so you can ride the attractions all year without having to pay every time.  But if you are on a budget, just the parking pass is enough to keep you and your kids active.  There is the laser show nightly during the summer (lots of fireworks and pyrotechnics may make the younger children cry), loads of hiking trails, big fields to picnic and run in makes this is must not miss attraction.  And if you have never done it, make sure you pay the small fee to "Ride the Ducks".  The newest exhibit is the Sky Hike which has three levels of adventure ropes travel.

A museum that not every knows about is the Michael C. Carlos museum.  For the Indiana Jones that is in all of us, here is a museum that you can view mummies from Egypt, pottery from the time of Christ, Hindu artwork.  It is history presented in a way that makes you want to learn more.  Currently they are having a special exhibit on King Tut.  It is located on the Emory University campus in Decatur and you can donate 7.00 for the day or pay a slightly higher fee to come year round.  It make take a little work to find it, but it is well worth it.  Special events are held throughout the year including "Mummies and Me" on Mother's day.  Right now (extra fee) they have a special exhibit on King Tut!

Another history oriented museum that is a great value is the Atlanta History Museum.  Not only are the exhibits interesting, but you get the triple value of being able to visit the Tullie Smith Farm and Swan House.  There are special events that go on but one of my favorite is visiting during the evening or on sheap shearing days.  There is something for everyone there.

Finally, I want to end this with a couple of places that are for entertainment only:  Six Flags over Georgia, Six Flags White Water and Lake Lanier Islands.  All of these offer yearly passes which pays for itself in two or three visits.  I do not know a child who does not enjoy going to a water park week after week.  They are safe enough to let your kids run around (as long as they are old enough to meet you back for check ins).  Each water park has a special feature that the other doesn't.  Both have water slides, but White Water has a lazy river and is located next to an amusement park for young children called American Adventures (check out the foam factory).  Lake Lanier Islands has an actual beach located on the lake in addition to the water slides and wave pool.  Six Flags over Georgia is basically an amusement park for teenagers and young adults, but there are rides that younger children will enjoy as well as concerts for adults and musicals.  Anyone can find something they like.  My favorite happens to be Halloween in the park when they have characters dressed as ghouls wandering the park.

NEXT WEEK come back to find out more about things you can do for little or no money in Atlanta and future issues of my blog will concern day trips in Georgia as well as short stays in nearby cities such as Chatanooga and Nashville, Ashville and more!  Come back again, yall!
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