Things Go Better with Atlanta and the Coca Cola Museum

Genie Davis December 6, 2010 No Comments

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Look, Atlanta, Georgia is a city with tons of history behind it, interesting ethnic neighborhoods, and an enormous and spectacular aquarium. But what child – or adult for that matter – won’t be excited by the chance to taste test dozens of sodas they’ve never heard of, and visit an old fashioned soda parlor – in a museum.  

World of Coca Cola Atlanta

We drank our soda fill at Atlanta’s World of Coca Cola.

 

That’s the World of Coca Cola, the well known tourist spot that we hit straight from the airport, having been lured by plush white polar bears wearing Coca Cola insignia scarves into Coke’s airport satellite gift store. The Coca Cola museum enthuses that it’s the “only place you can explore the complete story of the world’s best known brand…” and I’m sure that’s true. For kids the twelve hundred plus artifacts of Coca Cola advertising, toys, art work, and culture are just plain fun. If your children are old enough to taste test, there are over sixty different sweet beverages ranging from the obscure to the foreign to the old fashioned (Tab) to chose from at a tasting center in the heart of the museum. We spent the most time here, experimenting with, abandoning, and championing different soda tastes. It might not have been the most nutritious beverage experience around, but it was certainly a lot of fun.  

We also enjoyed the 4-D theater and the pop art gallery. A caveat: it took us thirty minutes waiting in line to get into the museum, and we were told that’s not an uncommon occurrence at peak times.  

Although we’d had our fill of sugary sodas, we were still hungry for lunch, and a great, homey southern stop is, Mary Mac’s Tea Room, open since 1945. We found plenty of options for our wide variety of family diets including delicious sweet potatoes and collard greens. The Southern Special is an all you can eat feast with choices of meats and sides, including a rich and delightfully gooey macaroni and cheese and desert. The banana pudding was amazing, and I’m not a big pudding fan. Kids ten and under can gorge at half the adult price.  

If you can stagger out of the restaurant without stopping for a nap and your kids are old enough to appreciate the experience, take the CNN Studio Tour. Running just under an hour, this guided walking tour offers a glimpse into the working life at CNN studios.  

For younger children, why not choose the unique, beautifully curated Center of Puppetry Arts. The center offers delightful puppet shows, brief enough for the smallest child’s attention span, as well as a museum that explores the craft of puppetry and puppet making. Check the Center of Puppetry Arts website for details, as the center often offers a make your own puppet workshop for a one of a kind souvenir.  

Kid Friendly Hotels 

There’s no lack of chain hotels and motels in Atlanta, and the Marriott Residence Inn Atlanta Midtown and Marriott Residence Inn Atlanta Kennesaw both have the advantage of kitchens, a feature we love. However, for our brief stay in this Southern urban center, we chose the Hyatt Regency Atlanta, with its mammoth multi-storied atrium and prime location around the corner from the hugely popular Georgia Aquarium. Along with exciting exhibits, the Aquarium is a renowned facility for aquatic animal conservation and research; the only combination aquarium and veterinarian teaching hospital in the country. 

Georgia Aquarium - Atlanta

The enormously appealing fish at the Atlanta Aquarium kept us occupied for most of an afternoon.

 

But your kids will care more that the Aquarium is beautifully designed and divided into five major sections that depict different aquatic life forms: Cold Water Quest exhibits include beluga whales sea otters and penguins. The penguin exhibit is an expansive one with a well thought out viewing space that brings you close up with the penguins. With whale sharks and manta rays, Ocean Voyager’s enormous exhibit displays giant whale sharks in 6.3 million gallons of water in a thirty- foot-deep indoor tank. The huge IMAX sized viewing window is riveting. The Georgia Explorer section provides several touch tanks along with nice exhibits of turtles and lion fish. In the River Scout section, African, Asian and Georgian river creatures are on display. And in the Tropical Diver section you’ll find jelly fish and plenty of colorful tropical fish.  

After spending the better part of a day in the Aquarium, we walked over to Centennial Olympic Park, a good grassy space to let off a little steam. There are also some exhibits that honor the Olympic athletes for whom the park was built during the 1996 Olympic games held here. 

There’s more history to be found at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site which offers a moving summary of the civil rights leader’s life as well as a ranger-led tour of his birthplace and Ebeneezer Baptist Church where he preached. This is a site best appreciated by older children, but it is stroller accessible and even the youngest will enjoy the quiet reflective space around King’s tomb. Our children also enjoyed The Peace Plaza area outside the visitor’s center that includes the lovely “I Have a Dream” World Peace Rose Garden and a pretty fountain.  

Fascinating for all ages is The Atlanta Cyclorama. Created in 1893, this impressive painting in the round reveals the Civil War’s Battle of Atlanta in a rotating theater. Old fashioned in design and approach, with a diorama added in “modern” times – 1936 – this is riveting even in today’s high tech era, and the art work and motion will keep your kids involved in the exhibit.  

Before we headed back to the airport, we stopped at a local favorite, The Varsity Restaurant, for a snack. This seventy-nine year old Atlanta based chain offers a tasty treat called the Frosted Orange, a thick beverage that’s almost a desert. Having begun our Atlanta stay at the World of Coca Cola, we thought it fitting to conclude it with the taste of a beverage alternative. Also on the menu, decadent fried pies and crispy onion rings filling enough to last the length of almost any plane ride.

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Genie Davis is a multi-published fiction author, screen and TV writer, and travel writer. If it was possible, she'd like to spend every day traveling. www.geniedavis.com

Tags: , Reviews, Travel Excursions

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