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Georgia: Atlanta – 2 Day Itinerary

A perfect 2-day Atlanta itinerary

DAY ONE
Visit the amazing Georgia Aquarium in downtown Atlanta
Spend time at the World of Coca Cola
Go to see the Atlanta Cyclorama and understand the history of Atlanta during the time of the confederacy

DAY TWO
See the house that Martin Luther King Jr grew up in and visit his burial site at the Martin Luther King Jr National Historical Park
Visit the small apartment where Margaret Mitchell, aka Peggy Mitchell, lived when she wrote her famous book “Gone with the Wind”
Explore the Center for Civil and Human Rights. Learn more about the American Civil Rights movement

Day One

1. THE GEORGIA AQUARIUM

One of the things we (well mostly our children) had wanted to see in Atlanta was the Georgia Aquarium. Of course, Atlanta is some way from the sea but they have built one of the world’s largest aquariums right in the centre of the city.

The aquarium was absolutely fantastic – right down to the excellent selection of food in the cafeteria. The design of the building and the exhibits were amazing with incredible attention to the design details.

We started with the touch tanks where we were able to reach down and touch stingrays, small reef sharks, sea stars, hermit crabs and shrimps. There was also a tank with a huge loggerhead turtle that playfully played with a diver who was cleaning the tank and was using a brush to amuse the turtle so it didn’t try and eat his oxygen pipe. The next exhibit was focused on colder climates and here they had large Japanese spider crabs which seemed large enough, but apparently grow to the size of a small car (which would be scary). The primary colder climate exhibit was the beluga whale tank. It was fascinating to watch them playfully swimming around. We sat there for several minutes marvelling at their grace as they glided effortlessly around their huge enclosure. Right next to the belugas was a giant octopus who was unusually active and had attached itself to the glass window of its tank – which apparently is rare. We then got to see some very cute sea otters, seals and penguins. It was difficult to imagine what could beat these displays but in the next area, entitled ‘Ocean Voyage’, there is a spectacular tank containing thousands of fish of different sizes including hammerhead sharks and the world’s largest fish – the whale shark. They have three whale sharks in the Georgia Aquarium, one of which is around 20 feet long, which seemed large, but these giants of the sea grow to be greater than 40 feet in length. Fortunately, the largest things they eat are plankton, otherwise, we might be in trouble! The best bit of this display was the acrylic tunnel, where you can watch the fish swim right over your head and the large 450 square foot window onto this wonderful undersea world. Jack in particular was mesmerized by this area and we had trouble dragging him away. Lastly, we went into the display “The Tropical Diver”, which takes you into the realm of the tropics, with displays of colourful exotic fish, coral sea beds and the gently waving tentacles of sea anemones. It was so peaceful to watch the brightly coloured fish gently manoeuvring their way around this brightly lit exhibit.

All too soon it was time to leave!

Address:225 Baker Street NW, Atlanta
Website:https://www.georgiaaquarium.org/
Telephone:T:(404) 581-4000
Hours:

Monday – Thursday: 9AM – 6PM
Friday – Sunday: 9AM – 9PM

Admission Fees

$39.95
CHILDREN AGE 2 & UNDER ARE FREE!

2. WORLD OF COCA COLA

Just across from the Georgia Aquarium is the World of Coca Cola, a tribute to the Coca Cola Company. Atlanta is the home city of Coca Cola – this where it was invented and is still made here today (although there are many other plants around).

As we entered the World of Coca Cola we were treated to a lesson on the history of the Coca Cola company. The first stop was a small room full of memorabilia, followed by a short film. Once your initial indoctrination is complete you are let into the rest of the building where there are several more galleries – one demonstrating the brewing and bottling process, another showing the development of the Coca Cola brand. The final exhibit area is the tasting room, where there were 63 different Coke products on tap from around the world. You can more or less drink yourself silly on fizzy drink – which is of course what our children proceeded to do. The aftermath of which was the most horrendous sugar rush and two children who could not get to sleep until the early hours of the morning.

Address:Pemberton Place
Website:https://www.worldofcoca-cola.com/
Telephone:T:(404) 676-5151
Hours:

7-days a week 10:00 am to 7:00 pm. Last ticket sold at 5:00 pm

Admission Fees

Adult (13-64): $18.00 | Senior (65+): $16.00 | Youth (3-12) | $14.00 | Toddlers (0-2) Free with Adult

3. ATLANTA CYCLORAMA

The Atlanta Cyclorama is a cylindrical painting that was at one time was the largest oil painting in the world, and if unrolled would measure 42 feet (13 m) high by 358 feet (109 m) long. You get into the cyclorama from the inside, entering through an entrance in the floor. After being seated, the central cylinder rotates slowly, affording a view of the entire painting.

The painting depicts the Battle of Atlanta, which was a major battle in the Atlanta Campaign, that took place during the American Civil War on July 22, 1864, just southeast of Atlanta. The battle was a significant turning point during the campaign and led to the confederate armies surrendering control of Atlanta on September 2, 1864.

The exhibit was closed to the public in 2015 for restoration and so it could be relocated to a new location in Atlanta. The painting moved in February 2017 from its Grant Park home to the new custom-built 23,000-square-foot Lloyd and Mary Ann Whitaker Cyclorama Building at the Atlanta History Center. The newly refurbished cyclorama re-opened in February 2019.

Address:Pemberton Place
Website:https://www.worldofcoca-cola.com/
Telephone:T:(404) 676-5151
Hours:

7-days a week 10:00 am to 7:00 pm. Last ticket sold at 5:00 pm

Admission Fees

Adult (13-64): $18.00 | Senior (65+): $16.00 | Youth (3-12) | $14.00 | Toddlers (0-2) Free with Adult

Day Two

1. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK

Today, we planned to visit the Dr Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic site close to downtown Atlanta. Rather than being a single building, this historic site is built around a street; Auburn Street, in Atlanta. This street is home to the birthplace of Dr King, his burial site and the Ebeneezer Baptist Church where he and his father were both pastors.

There is a large visitor centre close to the street that shows films covering the life and times of Dr King and has some fascinating exhibits detailing different periods of his life, with excerpts from some of his speeches. Myself and Karen were deeply moved by much of this, and we felt very solemn as we toured the visitor centre. During the film of Dr King’s life, we were fighting back the tears! Particularly moving was the speech he gave in Memphis on the eve of his assassination on 4th April 1968 – in which he talked about his death and what he wished to be remembered for.

The cart used at Martin Luther King Jr's funeral
A fire engine that was in the funeral parade

After leaving the visitor centre we crossed Auburn Street to look at the Ebeneezer Baptist Church, which is a very plain building but nonetheless, its association with the King family gives it a strangely spiritual aura. We took a couple of photos and then moved a few yards down the street to where there is a wonderful, water-based memorial (which is open to the public), that is the final resting place of Martin Luther King Jr. and his spouse Coretta Scott King. Coretta King had planned most of the memorial site prior to MLK’s death …. she felt his involvement in the Movement would inevitably lead to his untimely death – what a sad prospect for any wife to face!

We spent some time there contemplating the huge impact this family had on society, even beyond their involvement in the Civil Rights Movement. The courage of King’s and their total belief in non-violent protest is inspirational and the more we learned about the man the higher our regard for him became.

Martin Luther King Jr & Coretta Scott King Memorial

Finally, we had a guided tour of the simple four bedroom King house, just a few yards from where he is buried. This is where Dr King was born and raised. The house is still owned by the King family but they allow it be operated and maintained by the National Park Service. It is, as you might expect, a functional yet comfortable family home. The stories retold by the Ranger during the tour helped build upon the legend of Dr King, providing insight to the character of the man himself.

We left feeling sad at the untimely death of a great man, but at the same time, we felt that from our time here and in Alabama we had gotten a sense that, as is often the case, a senseless death can often create martyrdom and a legend that amplifies the cause for which they are fighting.

Address:450 Auburn Ave NE, Atlanta
Website:https://www.nps.gov/malu/index.htm
Telephone:T:(404) 331-5190
Hours:

The Visitor Center, Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, and Freedom Hall are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. The Birth Home is open for ranger-led tours from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. Fire Station No. 6 is staffed by park volunteers and is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. when volunteers are available.

Admission Fees

NO ADDMISSION FEE – $0.00

2. MARGARET MITCHELL APARTMENT

The Mitchell House is a historical house where the author Margaret Mitchell penned her now famous book “Gone With the Wind”.

Margaret Mitchell, Peggy Marsh to her friends, dubbed her apartment, “The Dump.” Surprisingly, it is in this shabby little apartment on the bottom floor that this petite, yet mighty woman wrote a big ‘ol book that sold faster than a duck on a June bug!

For this work, she won a Pulitzer Prize and gained fame, fortune, and fans, too. Quite the character, she had opinions about how the film portrayed her book and she didn’t much like the attention, but she still responded to every single fan letter.

When you visit, you can learn about Peggy before, during, and after the book, about the movie, and about the film’s premiere in Atlanta – where the African American actors weren’t allowed.

Address:979 Crescent Ave NE, Atlanta
Website:https://www.atlantahistorycenter.com/buildings-and-grounds/atlanta-history-center-midtown/
Telephone:T: (404) 249-7015
Hours:

Monday to Saturday 10:00 am to 5:30 pm. Sunday 12:00 pm to  5:30 pm

Admission Fees

Tickets give you access to all the exhibits at the Atlanta History Center and the historic buildings, including the Margaret Mitchell House

Adult (13-64): $23.41 | Senior (65+): $19.60 | Youth (4-12) | $9.80 | Toddlers (0-3) Free with Adult

3. CENTER FOR CIVIL & HUMAN RIGHTS

The Center for Civil and Human Rights is a museum dedicated to the achievements of both the civil rights movement in the United States and the broader worldwide human rights movement. The Center hosts a number of exhibitions, both permanent and temporary, that not only tell the history of the civil rights movement in the United States but how that period is related to more contemporary human rights struggles around the world.

Address:100 Ivan Allen Jr Blvd NW, Atlanta
Website:https://www.civilandhumanrights.org/
Telephone:T: (678) 999-8990
Hours:

Open: Th, Fri, Sun 12–5 pm | Sat. 10–5 pm

Admission Fees

Adult (13-64): $19.99 | Senior (65+): $17.99 | Youth (7-12) | $15.99 | Children (0-6) Free

Best time to visit Atlanta

The best time to visit Atlanta is from March to May when you can take advantage of mild weather while enjoying the city’s concerts and outdoor activities. Though you’ll also have access to various events between June and August, Atlanta summers are notoriously hot and humid.

Where to stay in Atlanta

1. SUGAR MAGNOLIA B&B

Upon entering this beautiful Queen Anne Victorian home, bed and breakfast guests are transported back to the time of the home’s construction in 1892. Sugar Magnolia, lovingly restored to its original charm and beauty, proudly displays the antiquity in many of its unique features — a three-story turret and grand staircase, six fireplaces, oval bevelled windows, hand-painted plasterwork and the front hall’s magnificent crystal chandelier. But along with the original beauty, all modern amenities are present.

Sugar Magnolia is situated in the heart of the city. The surrounding neighbourhood is on the National Register of Historic Places. Inman Park is Atlanta’s first suburb, now the premiere Victorian district in town. Guests enjoy taking walking tours of the famous homes or enjoying the sites on their own.

2. STONEHURST PLACE

Stonehurst Place is the most luxurious boutique hotel-style bed and breakfast in the South. Once a family home in the 19th century, the main house and carriage house now provide a timelessly elegant Midtown Atlanta retreat. You will experience the perfect combination of gallery-quality art, classic décor and an approachable, easy atmosphere. Imagine staying at your favourite rich aunt’s house, but you don’t have to hang out with her.

3. INMAN PARK B&B – WOODRUFF PARK

The residence built in 1912 for Robert W. Woodruff, Atlanta’s famous anonymous donor and Coca-Cola soft-drink magnate, is a carefully restored home and bed and breakfast located in Inman Park, a National Register of Historic Places neighbourhood. The owner is Eleanor Matthews.

The Woodruff House has 12-foot ceilings, heart-of-pine floors, 18th and 19th-century antiques, oriental rugs, fine china, fireplaces, private baths, a walled garden and secured parking.

Deluxe, well-appointed rooms and private bathrooms. Stay includes Continental breakfast, which can be customized for special diets.

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