A Weekend Adventure in Atlanta
When traveling from Chicago to Atlanta one would expect warmer temperatures and sunny skies, but that was not my experience on my recent trip to Atlanta, Georgia. Other than this past weekend, I hadn’t seen much of Atlanta. I’ve traveled through the Atlanta airport and driven past the city in the Peach State, but not much else. I was in town for a wedding and I got the opportunity to really see what the city had to offer.
First of all, the Atlanta airport could be an attraction itself it’s so large. I had to take a shuttle from the terminal to baggage claim and ground transportation. It was massive and a bit confusing, but I knew going into it that the ATL airport is one of the biggest and busiest in the country. Secondly, the weather was nothing like I had expected. Leaving mid-30s in Chicago, I thought I’d be in for a treat of mid-60s in Georgia, but it was far from it. Atlanta was within 2 degrees of the cold Midwest and I was, for a lack of words, disappointed. But I wouldn’t let the cold rain and wind get me down. There had to be more to Atlanta than imaginary great weather, right? Here are some places to visit if you ever find yourself in peach country.
225 Baker St NW
Atlanta, GA 30313
Would you believe the largest aquarium in the country and one of the largest aquariums in the world is right in Atlanta? The Georgia Aquarium was built in 2005 and remained the world’s largest aquarium until 2012. The Georgia Aquarium is not only massive, but it is home to species of fish and whales and whale sharks that aren’t seen anywhere else outside Asia. Here you can see the only manta rays in aquariums in the country. If you’re looking for a magical time full of wonder and you’re in the area, you have to check out the Georgia Aquarium. It’s a national landmark and still our country’s largest aquarium. Tickets are a little pricey at $31.95 + tax for adults, but it is worth the visit when it’s basically a water-themed Disneyland.
World of Coca-Cola
121 Baker St NW
Atlanta, GA 30313
The original location was opened as part of The Underground Atlanta in 1990, but was moved and reopened at its current location in 2007. If you’ve ever been curious about the Coca-Cola product, this is THE place to visit. There are so many exhibits and interactive displays. They even have a vault which houses the mystery, secrecy and history behind the famous Coca-Cola formula. It includes how the formula has been imitated, but never duplicated, and how over the many years many myths and legends have emerged over the secret formula. At the end of your journey inside the vault you can see how well you can keep the formula’s secret through a series of virtual-reality sequences. The World of Coca-Cola also has a bottle process factory to show customers and Coca-Cola lovers everywhere how the beverage is bottled. There are multiple theaters including a 4-D theater to engage all of your senses. And of course you can’t leave the museum without tasting a cold beverage. There’s a “Taste It!” sample bar where you can sample one or many beverages owned by the Coca-Cola brand.
Atlanta Botanical Garden
1345 Piedmont Ave NE
Atlanta, GA 30309
While it wasn’t the ideal weather this past weekend, I recommend in the future visiting the Atlanta Botanical Garden. With the holidays just around the bend, the garden already is preparing for its Garden Lights, Holiday Nights. They prepare a grand display of lights and decorations each year that attract visitors. I personally love to see the beauty of nature in any city I visit, so seeing a botanical garden is always one of my favorite stops. The South can be so beautiful and I often forget because I don’t associate Georgia with gorgeous trees and greenery, but it is everywhere. Give nature a chance. The cold and especially the rain can make it difficult, but Atlanta weather is much nicer during the winter.
190 Marietta St NW
Atlanta, GA 30303
The CNN Center in downtown Atlanta is the world’s headquarters for the global news station. The main news stations for several shows are located in the building. I never realized how many television stations and news organizations were located in Atlanta, but I saw several stations in addition to CNN. For $15 you get a studio tour of one of the sets for a show filmed at the CNN Center. For a little more money you can also choose VIP tours to get even more behind the scenes and visit behind the scenes with “HLN Morning Express Tour with Robin Meade.” The tour also includes meeting the host of the CNN morning show.
Centennial Olympic Park
265 Park Ave W NW
Atlanta, GA 30313
The city of Atlanta hosted the 1996 Summer Olympics and as a result has one of the largest downtown parks developed in the last 25 years. What once used to be a rundown eyesore in the heart of the city was developed into a beautiful 21-acres of green space that the whole city and all of its visitors can now enjoy. The 1996 Olympics was a proud moment in the city’s history and it shows in the care they put into the park today. The Centennial Olympic Park is central to downtown and can be an easy stop next to the Georgia Dome and Georgia World Congress Center. And best of all – it’s free!
There are many things to do and see in Atlanta. These are the top five things I’d recommend. I enjoyed my time in Atlanta. There are a lot of similarities to other cities I’ve visited, including downtown Milwaukee. Atlanta had that college town feel, but in a metropolitan area that felt a little like Milwaukee. The cold definitely didn’t make it feel like Atlanta. I would recommend visiting because it’s only an hour and half flight or an 11-hour drive. Your call, but I went with the flight because it’s incredible cheap to fly from O’Hare to ATL. I’m talking $80 round trip. So travel on friends!