Atlanta with Teens: A Perfect Family Day
The only problem with a family vacation in Atlanta with teens is that there is simply too much to do in a single day! Atlanta has an amazing mix of history, science, food and fun, so follow this guide for getting the most out of a day in the city.
One of the best ways for your family to travel in Atlanta is by using a MARTA visitor's pass. A pass costs between $8 and $13 per person and grants unlimited number of rides on both the subway and buses. They can be ordered online or picked up at any rideshare stores or Breeze vending machines.
While an unschooled visitor to Atlanta with teens might just plan on spending the day at Six Flags and its nearby water park, the city has so much more to offer.
First thing in the morning, head over to Ria's Bluebird (404-521-3737), where every family member is sure to find something to start their day off right. Ria's serves traditional Southern cuisine with a modern twist. So while you'll find homemade biscuits and cheddar-cheese grits, you can also enjoy tofu scramble and blackened tilapia. Breakfast entrée prices are between $7 and $10 per person. Located at 421 Memorial Drive SE, it's not far from the next stop of your family adventure in Atlanta, the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site.
The National Park Service has set aside a large portion of land in downtown Atlanta for the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site (450 Auburn Avenue Northeast; 404-331-5190), encompassing not only the figure's birthplace but also Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church and the King Center, a museum dedicated to civil rights. Nestled between these buildings is the actual tomb of Martin Luther King, Jr. The Peace Plaza, an ornamental garden, leads visitors from the free public parking to the historic buildings. Admission to all buildings is free, but space is limited on the guided tour of the birthplace. You can also check out a multimedia, recorded tour called the "GPS Ranger." This handheld device can be rented for $9.95 and will take you along a similar area tour with pictures and narration in the palms of your hands. Morning is the best time to visit - not only do you get to the park early enough to secure a ticket, but the weather is also cooler in the morning, making it much more comfortable to wander through the entire park.
CNN Experience (One CNN Center; 404-827-2300). This hour-long tour of the CNN television network facility gives everyone a backstage look at the famous news company. The tour, which involves descending through eight stories of exhibits, allows visitors to see video of historic moments, watch news professionals as they report live and, with the help of a green screen, lets visitors insert themselves into the program. CNN charges $13 for adults and $11 for students. Be sure to stop off at the CNN/TNT store. It offers everything from movie memorabilia to licensed sports gear and even novelty items from Cartoon Network. The MARTA subway stops at the basement of the CNN building. Simply head to North Station, which is only a two-block walk to the Varsity, where lunch awaits.
"What'll ya have?" is the cry that will meet you when stepping up to the counter at the Varsity Grill (404-881-1706), a legend in Atlanta. With teens in tow, this hot spot is a lifesaver after working up an appetite. Located downtown at 61 North Avenue, the Varsity has been serving up fresh, fast food for 82 years and is a favorite among students from Georgia Tech, athletes from the Braves or Falcons or even Georgia government officials. They serve great burgers, but the Varsity is known for their hot dogs. Naked dogs, chili dogs, cheese dogs or slaw dogs – they just can't be beat. The chili is made fresh daily, as are the homemade, fried pies. French fries and onion rings go from fresh vegetable to the tray in a matter of minutes. Don't be daunted by long lines. The Varsity has fast food down to a science. Even with a line out the door, the wait will be no longer than 15 minutes. Combo meals with fries and a drink run about $7. If you're taking the subway, walk back to the North Station and ride to the Five Points Station.
The World of Coca Cola (404-676-5151) just may be the highlight of a vacation in Atlanta with teens. This fun museum is located downtown at 121 Baker Street, steps from Atlanta Underground and Five Points Subway station. While it houses one of the largest collections of Coke Memorabilia in the world, the World of Coca Cola caters to teens. The museum features a Pop Culture World that explores Coke's influence in movies, art and music, as well as a 3D movie with interactive seats that add realism to the experience. The tour is "topped off" with a visit to the tasting station, which gives visitors a chance to test 60 different beverages Coke offers all over the world. Or, check out the brand new Coca Cola Freestyle, a drink fountain experience that allows the user to choose from over 106 combinations of flavors to customize a personal beverage. Tickets for teens and adults are $15.00 each.
The Georgia Aquarium (225 Baker Street NW; 404-581-4000) is located within minutes of the World of Coca Cola and holds more than 60 million gallons of water, making it one of the largest aquariums in the world. But this is more than the average ordinary fish tank. The Georgia Aquarium has one of the only programs in the world that allow teens (with a parent) to swim or scuba dive with whale sharks. If the $225-$325 price tag is a little too much, try the Behind the Scenes Tour. For $50 a person, participants get to see the inner workings of the entire facility and get up close and personal with the animals. General admission tickets are $13 for visitors age thirteen and up.
If the family is getting hungry, walk the block to Underground Atlanta, which features a plethora of eateries in food-court style, for a bite. Or, save your appetite for the next stop.
What better way to end a summer family vacation in Atlanta than with a trip to a Braves Major League Baseball game? When traveling in the summer, check out the Atlanta Braves schedule. The Braves' Turner Field (755 Hank Aaron Dr SE; 404-522-7630) combines classic baseball stadium architecture with everything the modern baseball fan could want, and it has ticket prices to fit any budget. Upper-deck tickets start for as low as $6.00, with premium seats as high as $78.00 per person. There is no subway station nearby, but there is a Braves Shuttle that runs from Five Points Station to the field. There is also ample parking near the stadium. Parking fees start at $8.00 per car.
If the Braves don't happen to be playing a night game, try ending your family day in Atlanta with a trip to the Fox Theater? Located at 660 Peachtree Street NE, the Fox Theater books everything from Broadway shows to stand-up comedians to first-run movies. Fox bought the building, originally designed as a Shriner's Mosque, before it was finished in 1929. The Egyptian decor reflects the 1920's interest in the then newly discovered tomb of King Tut, and the exceedingly posh furniture and reliefs are consistently checked for wear and tear to be immediately restored. Thus, the theater looks very much as it did the day it opened. Ticket prices vary, so check their website or call 404-881-2100 to learn what's playing. This fun, historic entertainment center is a fitting way to wrap up your day of family travel with teens in Atlanta.
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