My home state of Georgia is a wonderful place to visit any time of year. I moved here in 2005 and have had the pleasure of living, working, and raising a family in the Peach State. Over the past fifteen years, I have also traveled all over the state and enjoyed some of the best parks and attractions this country has to offer.
I am so thrilled to be writing this article, introducing Mommy High Five readers to Georgia! From beaches, to mountains, to the big city, make Georgia your first stop if you want to a taste of southern living. There is something for everyone and you will not be disappointed!
Start with this list of different attractions in Georgia to begin making your next travel itinerary.
Some Things to Plan Before Your Trip to Georgia
- Temperature. Depending on the time of year, Georgia can be extremely hot. Starting around mid-May until September, the heat can be stifling, and the humidity is sweltering. Most every indoor establishment is air conditioned but remember to bring water bottles to stay hydrated and consider personal fans or cooling towels for extended outdoor activities.
- Budget. As with any trip, it is important to have a budget in mind for attractions. There are several free attractions in this article, but some others do have ticket costs. Remember to budget for souvenirs and of course food!
- Tickets. Speaking of ticket prices, due to Covid19, many attractions now require ticket purchases in advance at certain times. This will make creating a timed itinerary especially important. Be sure to research the attraction’s website before planning your trip to reserve tickets at the time slots you desire.
- Hours. Some of the museums and sights below are temporarily closed due to Covid-19. Check the websites or call the establishments first to see if they have reopened.
Great Family Activities in Atlanta
Great Family Parks in Atlanta
Atlanta Botanical Gardens
$$ ($21.95/Adults; $18.95/3-12; Free/3 and Under)
Atlanta Botanical Gardens is in the heart of the city of Atlanta and boasts millions of blooms each season. Special exhibits blossom every year. From the current Alice in Wonderland themed gardens, to a magical light experience during the holiday season, the gardens offer something for everyone. The garden features thirty acres of an outdoor oasis in a part of Atlanta known as Midtown. Directly adjacent to Piedmont Park, the Botanical Gardens is a must-see for the horticulture lover in your family!
Piedmont Park is considered the Central Park of Atlanta. Boasting over 180 acres of green space, trails, lakes, and scenic views of the city, Piedmont Park has evolved from forest, to farm, to park since 1822.
Consider taking a guided tour (check the website for availability due to Covid19), a self-guided tour, or a fun scavenger hunt to see what the park has to offer! (https://www.piedmontpark.org/sightseeing-and-tours/) Piedmont Park is the perfect place to picnic with your family or even do a photo shoot with the Atlanta skyline in the background. I have great memories of taking my children here for picnics and playing in the soccer fields. We live in a more rural area, so finding a park in the heart of a big city is the perfect way for us to staycation!
Stone Mountain Park
$$$ ($31.95/Adults 12+; $29.95/Child 3-11)
Just 15 miles east of Atlanta stands one of Georgia’s largest attractions: Stone Mountain Park. This giant mountain of granite is the cornerstone of 3,200 acres of natural beauty that draws thousands of visitors every year. Stone Mountain Park has two hotels and camping options on site, as well as several restaurants and picnic areas. There is also an amusement park with several hundred attractions, including a ropes course, train, and lift to the summit of the mountain.
You can also hike the many trails around the park, or even hike to the top of the mountain for expansive views across north Georgia. During the summer months, Stone Mountain also offers a nightly fireworks and laser show that is sure to impress! My family and I like to pack a few blankets to lay on and lots of glow sticks for the fireworks show. You can view it on an expansive lawn just below the mountain. It’s a wonderful memory-making event!
Centennial Olympic Park
My boys love to “get away” to the city of Atlanta since we live in the country. We usually stay the night in a hotel in the area of Centennial Olympic park. There is plenty to see and do in the park, and plenty of attractions within walking distance. Surrounded by sky scrapers and the energy of Atlanta, it’s a great place to begin your trip in Georgia!
The 1996 Summer Olympics were held in Atlanta, and the city spared no expense in commemorating such a momentous occasion. Centennial Olympic Park still stands as a beautiful place to gather, play, and explore. During the summer months, a splash fountain attracts visitors from all over the world. Several different exhibits throughout the park are perfect for photos. Set in the heart of the city, Centennial Olympic Park offers free concerts and special events throughout the year.
Family-Friendly Museums in Atlanta
World of Coca Cola Museum
$$ ($17/Adult 13+; $15/Senior 65+; $13/Youth 3-12)
In case you were not aware, Coca Cola was first made in Atlanta, Georgia by Dr. John S. Pemberton, a local pharmacist! Most Georgians are die hard Coke fans, so a trip to the Coca Cola Museum is a must if you visit the peach state.
The Coca Cola Museum is located just off Centennial Olympic Park and immerses visitors into their own bottle of Coke. The museum experience begins with a short film and ends in the infamous tasting room: a place where you can sample every type of Coca Cola soda from countries all over the world. South Africa has some of my favorite flavors!
Other attractions include a 4D theater, a peek inside the vault where the recipe is kept, and all the Coca Cola history and interactions you could possibly imagine. There is also an expansive gift shop and photo opportunities throughout, some with the Polar Bear Coca Cola mascot. The museum is also known as the World of Coke, and it is by far my kids’ favorite museum in Atlanta. There is a special treat for birthday guests (just ask a museum employee) and photo purchase opportunities throughout the exhibits. The World of Coke is filled with nostalgia and clever interactive exhibits that will turn anyone into a Coca Cola lover!
National Center for Civil and Human Rights
$$ ($19.99/Adult; $17.99/Senior 65+; $15.99/Youth 6-12; $17.99/Student 13-17)
The National Center for Civil and Human Rights is a new museum in the heart of Atlanta, a prominent epicenter during the Civil Rights Movement. The museum offers a historical journey of civil and human rights in the country. This family-friendly museum offers a great opportunity to educate kids and adults of all ages on our nation’s past and offers a look at how we are moving into the future of civil rights. It is a great place to spur conversation and help bring understanding to an important topic.
State Botanical Garden of Georgia
$ (Free; Donations Accepted)
Located in beautiful Athens, Georgia (70 miles northeast of downtown Atlanta), the State Botanical Gardens of Georgia is operated by the University of Georgia and offers acres of beautifully manicured gardens. You will find a gorgeous greenhouse of orchids, wildlife of all kinds throughout the gardens, and sculptures placed throughout to elevate the surrounding flowering bushes and stems. Nature trails and shade areas make this the perfect stop for a look at all the beautiful nature Georgia has to offer!
My kids love the new children’s garden area that is also free. With playful sculptures and interactive activities, it’s a beautiful place to spend a few hours. It’s also a wonderful place for photo opportunities!
Museum of Aviation
$ (Free; Donations Accepted)
If your travels take you to middle Georgia, or the “heart” of Georgia (1 hour 39 minutes southeast of Atlanta), the Museum of Aviation in Warner Robbins is a must-see attraction! Admission is free, although donations are always welcome.
This museum spans several acres and giant hangers filled with airplanes of all sizes, makes, and models. Built and curated to honor the veterans of the Air Force and the history of nearby Robins Air Force Base, the Museum of Aviation has branched out to also feature STEM-related, interactive exhibits and an exhaustive amount of other exhibits relating to the air craft and space industry.
My boys love the Museum of Aviation. My in-laws do not live far from Warner Robbins, so this museum is a frequent stop for us. My boys’ favorite exhibits are ones where they can climb in actual planes and helicopters. They also love walking through the air fields where retired planes are on display as well. It has inspired future aviators for sure!
$$ ($24.99/Adult 12+; $18.99/Child; 2 and Under Free)
Zoo Atlanta is a place that is sure to please everyone in your family. Animals from all over the world, including a large gorilla exhibit and adorable giant pandas have found their home at this zoo. Interactive exhibits with birds, giraffes, and other animals are included with the price of admission and offer an up-close look at some rare species.
My kids and I have frequented Zoo Atlanta, especially when they were younger. One of their favorite activities is to feed the giraffes and interact with birds in a walk-through exhibit. They also enjoy the passport program, getting stamps throughout the zoo as they found each animal.
Zoo Atlanta is located near other historical landmarks as well, including Oakland Cemetery, so it’s a great place to add to your itinerary if you plan on exploring Atlanta.
The Georgia Aquarium
$$$ ($32.95/All ages; 3 and Under Free)
The Georgia Aquarium (Atlanta Georgia) has become the largest aquarium in the western hemisphere, boasting over 10 million gallons of water in its massive tanks. After the new shark aquarium and exhibit is completed in the Fall of 2020, it will become the world’s largest aquarium.
My family has enjoyed going to the Georgia Aquarium on several occasions. We love catching the live walrus show and the live Dolphin show is unlike any I’ve seen, especially in Georgia!
The Georgia Aquarium features thousands of species of fish and wildlife, including Beluga whales, dolphins, and giant whale sharks. The aquarium is divided into regions and types of environment, creating a unique look at life under water. The aquarium is a leader in conservation efforts as well and offers a sanctuary for endangered and injured sea creatures. Located just across from World of Coca Cola and Centennial Olympic Park, the Georgia Aquarium will offer a unique experience for all visitors that they cannot get anywhere else.
$$ ($16.50/Adult; $15.25/Seniors 65+ and Youth 13-18; $14/Child 4-12)
For the budding journalists in your family, a tour inside the CNN Center in Atlanta is a must! Entry into the CNN Center building is free and offers a large food court and retail shopping. To get a behind-the-scenes tour of the studios upstairs, however, a tour ticket is required.
The CNN Tour begins with a short introduction into how news studios work and a listen into a live broadcast from the production standpoint. Tours include an interactive look at a green screen and a peek inside a newsroom as well. The best part of the tour is the guide that is typically full of knowledge and able to answer any questions your family may have about the televised news industry.
Great Family Food in Atlanta
I would be remiss if I did not include some of my favorite spots in Atlanta to get some great food! The south is known for its cooking and the restaurants in Georgia do not disappoint! Here is a list of a few of my favorite places. Expect to walk away with a southern drawl and the word “ya’ll” added to your vocabulary!
- Mary Mac’s Tea Room: Traditional southern cooking that is among the best I have ever tasted. True southern hospitality by all who work here!
- Fox Brother’s BBQ: For an intro to BBQ and the best ribs ever, Fox Brother’s is the best!
- The Sun Dial: Fine dining establishment on top of the Westin Hotel that offers 360-degree views of the city via a rotating dining room!
Outdoor Exploration throughout Georgia
Georgia has several points of interest if you are wanting to enjoy the great outdoors! Here is a short list of many outdoor spaces ready for exploring!
St. Simons Island
Located on Georgia’s southern coastline, St. Simons Island has beautiful beaches on the Atlantic coast. There is also a historic lighthouse with a museum detailing its history, dating back before the Civil War. A free beach front park is perfect for a day at the coast! You can see migrating whales as well as a variety of birds. The salt marshes are another must-see. Located less than 5 hours southeast of Atlanta, St. Simons Island is a great destination for families.
Tybee Island is located a short drive from beautiful Savannah, Georgia and is a popular beach destination for families. Tybee is one of the few beach towns left that has maintained a small-town feel with beautiful wide beaches for recreation. It is home to South Beach, which has a nice pier. On Tybee Island you will also find the light station and museum, which highlights history of the area.
Lake Lanier is the largest lake in Georgia and offers several campgrounds, resorts, water-front dining, fishing, and boat rentals. My family and I take our jet boat on Lake Lanier several times throughout the year and love it! We pack our life jackets, sunscreen, and lunch for an unbeatable adventure. Lake Lanier can get pretty crowded, especially on holidays, so be sure and plan ahead if you’re thinking of renting a boat. Located about an hour northeast of Atlanta, Lake Lanier is a great getaway.
Lake Chatuge is a man-made reservoir in the North Georgia mountains that spills over into North Carolina. Located in Hiawassee, Georgia (2 hours north of Atlanta) with majestic mountain views, it is one of the most scenic spots in the state. This is our favorite lake to take our boat to as it is usually not crowded and the scenery can’t be beat! Bring your favorite lake floats and enjoy a day relaxing at the lake!
Brasstown Bald marks the highest point in Georgia at 4,784 feet above sea level. Admission is free of charge to hike to the summit from the parking lot. For a small fee, you can also take a shuttle to the top. At the peak, there is a visitor’s center and museum and of course a platform for breathtaking views of the surrounding Appalachian Mountains. It is home to the native Enotah people, part ot the Cherokee tribe. A 2 hour drive north of Atlanta, Brasstown Bald is another fun family retreat.
Great Food in Other Georgia Areas
There are lots of places to get amazing Southern cooking throughout Georgia. Here are some of my favorites outside of the Atlanta area.
- The Pirate House (Savannah): Located in Georgia’s oldest home, once inhabited by pirates, this restaurant has the best fried chicken I have tasted and offers free tours with a pirate as your guide!
- The Bear’s Den (Macon): If you want to experience true southern cooking at a meat-and-three style restaurant, this is the place. Their collards are legendary!
Georgia has something for everyone, and I hope this list of possible places to visit has helped narrow down your itinerary! I am proud to call Georgia my home and love sharing what it has to offer. You will have Georgia on your mind in no time!