Centennial Olympic Park, Atlanta

RR October 19, 2010 No Comments


Centennial Olympic Park Atlanta GeorgiaLocated in downtown Atlanta Georgia, amidst luxury hotels, restaurants and towering offices is the city’s popular landmark and pride – Centennial Olympic Park. Conceived and built in 1996 to mark the Olympic Games that Atlanta hosted, the park serves as a weekend family hangout, concert venue, children’s haven, walker’s paradise and much more. 

Location, location, location 

Centennial Olympic Park holds a special place in Atlantans’ heart for many reasons. For one, its location is unbeatable. Situated smack in the middle of Atlanta’s hot spot, right next to CNN, The World of Coca Cola, Philips Arena, Georgia Aquarium and other attractions, the park is a hub of activity throughout the day and year. There’s hardly a season or month when the park isn’t hosting a concert, a festival, family fun day or some other event. 

Activities Gallore 

The park hosts weekly ‘Music at Noon’ events and concerts featuring all various genres of music ranging from jazz to contemporary. International festivals such as Diwali (from India) are also celebrated at the park with cultural events, games and food stalls attracting people from all communities.   

But, it’s not just what happens there that makes it special.  It’s one of those places you could go to without any rhyme or reason and even when nothing’s going on, there’s always plenty to keep you entertained. 

In-house Entertainment – On the house 

Take its Fountain of Rings for example – a huge hit with kids through the summer months. Atlanta experiences scorching summers and an afternoon splashing around in Centennial Olympic Park’s fountains is sure to offer a cool, refreshing respite to anyone who ventures in.  Of course, the fountain’s ‘timed performances’ are not to be missed. Nothing as fancy as Bellagio, perhaps, but hey, this is a warm and welcoming Southern version. 

Fountain of Rings Centennial Olympic Park Atlanta Georgia

Fountain of Rings where the kids can splash and play in the heat!


When your kids are done splashing (which won’t be any time soon), enjoy refreshing beverages and a snack at the café just across from it before exploring more of the park. Concerts and family fests take place at the entrance near the Philips Arena parking lot. The first Saturday of every month, families get to enjoy a day of activities, crafts and games designed around a certain theme. At zero cost. I  remember, the theme was once ‘Sports’ and my then 2-year old got to make a pompom, swing a baseball bat and even scored her first slam dunk in a baby basket. 

The other three weekends when there’s no family fun-fest are no less fun though. Centennial Olympic Park has a great children’s play area safe and suitable for babies, toddlers and older kids. Swings, slides and monkey bars coexist with educational centers such as an interactive space-rocket board and a musical notes corner.  The park is great for walking, and very child-friendly. Several interesting features greet you throughout the park, such as the Gateway of Dreams (a monument built in honor of the father of modern Olympics which displays the Olympic rings), Centennial Plaza and others. 

Centennial Olympic Park also houses the city’s most popular and only outdoor ice skating rink – a huge crowd-puller during the winter months. Speaking of winter, do not miss holiday lights at the park if you’re in town. There’s something magical about the park that the holidays seem to bring out – its musical, multicolored fountain, the enormous Christmas tree, the charming horse-driven carriage rides and the fact you can experience both the spirit of downtown Atlanta and Southern warmth in one place. 

Around the Park 

It’s not just what you can do in the park that makes it so special, but all the cool attractions around it too. Visitors to Atlanta definitely want to check out a few places and The World of Coca Cola, CNN Center and Georgia Aquarium have got to be among them. After all, it’s not every day that you get to tour the world headquarters of two phenomenally well-known brands and an aquarium that is touted to be ‘the world’s largest’. Having Centennial Park right next door makes it a convenient meeting point for families, a rest stop and just a place where you can relax and catch your breath before heading off to the next tour. 

The Park’s Olympic Facelift  

Centennial Olympic Park wasn’t always this popular or this inviting, of course. The 1996 Olympics changed the fate of the park, which, until that point was just a part of town people ignored, even avoided.  Many considered it an eyesore in the heart of Atlanta. However, the Olympics changed all that and this 21 acre park in its current form was conceived as a ‘gathering point’ for visitors and residents to enjoy during the games and afterward. One of the distinctive aspects of this park is its brick-floor – over 800,000  bricks make up this park, almost 500,000 of which are inscribed with the names of donors and benefactors. 

If you visited the park today, you’d hardly believe its humble origins or insignificant history. And that’s all the more reason to include it in your itinerary the next time you’re in the area.  

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RR writes on intentional parenting, holistic living, travel and other topics. Visit her blog on reading to kids

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