Five Activities in Georgia's Capital to Ignite a Child's Imagination
Institutions that ingeniously disguise learning as play—including the largest aquarium in the Western Hemisphere—make the city of Atlanta a kid-friendly destination. The capital of Georgia is an ideal place for the entire family to learn about the natural world, history and the arts. And plenty of indoor attractions means that lasting memories can be made on even the rainiest of days.
Marvel at Whale Sharks at the Georgia Aquarium
You don't need to be a kid to be awed by the creatures at the Georgia Aquarium (225 Baker St., Atlanta, GA), where five exhibits harbor some 100,000 animals ranging from endearing otters to ethereal jellyfish. Young and old will relish the otherworldly feeling of walking through a tunnel with whale sharks and manta rays swimming overhead in the "Ocean Voyager" exhibit. Visit the resident beluga whales in the "Cold Water Quest" exhibit, and don't hesitate to get your hands wet in the touch pools of the "Georgia Explorer" section as you interact with starfish and horseshoe crabs; the kids surely won't.
Travel Back in Time at the Fernbank Museum of Natural History
Any child who isn't already a dinosaur aficionado is bound become one during a visit to the Fernbank Museum of Natural History (767 Clifton Rd. NE, Atlanta, GA), which is home to an impressive model of Argentinosaurus, said to be the largest dinosaur species that ever lived. For an interactive experience, set the kids loose in the Fernbank NatureQuest exhibit, which allows little ones to play archaeologists and geologists. Explore "A Walk through Time in Georgia," a 15-gallery exhibition that chronicles the natural history of the state. Don't leave without also perusing the "World of Shells" exhibit, which features every kind of seashell imaginable.
Make a Marionette at the Center for Puppetry Arts
Jim Henson's Muppets are the stars of the collection at the Center for Puppetry Arts (1404 Spring St. NW, Atlanta, GA), where the on-site museum also displays a variety of puppets from around the world. The center also interprets classic children's tales and some contemporary stories through puppet shows. Kids ages 4 and up can take things a step further and design a puppet of their own to take home. Programming changes every few weeks, which means you can keep coming back and enjoy a different experience each time.
Encourage Self-Discovery at the Children's Museum of Atlanta
There's something for all interests and learning styles at the Children's Museum of Atlanta (275 Centennial Olympic Park Dr. NW, Atlanta, GA). Would-be engineers can try their hand at simple machines in the "Tools for Solutions" exhibit, while artists-in-training can use a variety of media to create masterpieces in "Let Your Creativity Flow." Adventurous sorts can get their daily exercise by climbing a structure shaped like Earth—and discover the layers of our home planet in the process—in the "Gateway to the World" exhibit.
Hike, Climb and Ride at Stone Mountain
Just a few minutes away from downtown Atlanta is Georgia's top attraction, Stone Mountain (1000 Robert E. Lee Blvd., Stone Mountain, GA), which is replete with child-friendly attractions, such as an obstacle course, a dinosaur-themed game area and a scenic train ride. Here, kids can also pet goats and climb rock walls, while the entire family can enjoy 15 miles of hiking trails. Note that many of Stone Mountain's attractions close in January and February, though any time of year you can ride the Summit Skyride, a cable car with stunning views of Atlanta's skyline and the Appalachian Mountains. If you visit during the summer, stick around for the evening lasershow, considered one of Atlanta's signature experiences.
- Georgia Aquarium: Exhibits and Galleries
- Fernbank Museum of Natural History: Permanent Exhibition
- Center for Puppetry Arts: Museum
- Center for Puppetry Arts: Create a Puppet Workshop
- Children's Museum of Atlanta: Tour the Museum
- Georgia Aquarium: Aquarium Animals
- Stone Mountain Park: Attractions
- Stone Mountain Park: About Stone Mountain
- Stone Mountain Park: History and Nature
Since beginning her career as a professional journalist in 2007, Nathalie Alonso has covered a myriad of topics, including arts, culture and travel, for newspapers and magazines in New York City. She holds a B.A. in American Studies from Columbia University and lives in Queens with her two cats.