Atlanta, GA, may not be the first vacation destination you think about when planning a trip to the United States, especially if you have kids. Of course, most people would choose New York, LA, or Miami, but there is so much to do and see in Atlanta for the whole family. And it doesn't matter what your kids are interested in, arts, the outdoors, music, food, or whatever, you will find it in Atlanta.
But before you speed off (Atlanta has a famous NASCAR race track), you need to store your luggage somewhere safe and secure. You can't explore the city of Martin Luther King, Jr. with your bags. Store them in a convenient luggage storage location in Atlanta.
It doesn't matter what age your kids are; a trip to the zoo will get them excited. One of the oldest and largest zoos in the country, Zoo Atlanta has over 1,300 animals, mystery hunts, stage presentations, and great interactive activities. In addition, your family will have an opportunity to feed the giraffes and the animals in the petting zoo.
Only a few minutes from the downtown area, your kids can say hi to the famous twin giant pandas, Ya Lun and Xi Lun. Zoo Atlanta has a special program called Adventure Cubs for ages 0-5 as well. In addition, there are special tours to explore the park after dark, and if you live in Atalanta and it's your birthday, you get into the zoo for free!
Atlanta Botanical Garden
The recommended times of the year to visit this magical garden are spring and summer, when the flowers and trees are in full bloom. But if you are there in the winter (Nov. 14 - Jan. 9), don't miss the Garden Lights, Holiday Nights celebration, where you can walk through colorful light displays, enjoy a warm drink, and roast s'mores on an open fire.
For those with an adventurous side, try the 40-foot high Kendeda Canopy Walk. Kids will have a great time at the Lou Glenn Children's Garden and splash pad. The children's garden has an amphitheater where they do big shows, amazing playgrounds, and cool programs like mystery adventures, storybook time, and garden grooves.
Located beside Piedmont Park, the Atlanta Botanical Garden is an absolutely fantastic place for your younger kids. They might have so much fun it will be hard to get them to leave.
Fernbank Museum of Natural History
On the east side of Atlanta, you will find an unusual natural history museum named the Fernbank Museum of Natural History. It has both indoor and outdoor interactive exhibits and events for kids, no matter their age. There is even an after-dark program for adults.
The outdoor adventures include Dinosaur Plaza, the Wildwoods, the Rain Garden, and Fernbank Forest, where you let your little ones discover their inner paleontologist. Then, head inside for the 4-story IMAX theater, STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) Lab, Giants of the Mesozoic, or Fantastic Forces exhibits. These exhibits have interactive activities, from building your own volcano to fossil hunts. Overall, this is a great fun museum for the entire family.
This is the country's largest aquarium, and as you would expect, it has some incredible exhibits and fantastic programs for kids and their families. Of course, you will find the great shows at the Georgia Aquarium, with the dolphin shows and sea lion, penguin, and harbor seal encounters, but here you can swim or scuba dive with the whale sharks and manta rays as well. You can also spend the night in the aquarium, how cool is that?
There is a one and half hour story and song time program with costume characters for toddlers. The museum does have something for everyone. If you don't want to get wet, check out the huge IMAX theater for some 4D shows. And where can you find these million gallons of fun? On Baker St. NW Atlanta, across from Centennial Park.
Children's Museum of Atlanta
Your big kids might want to have fun here, but the Children's Museum is not really for kids older than eight years old. The museum encourages learning through interactive programs in arts, engineering, science, and performance. In the permanent hands-on exhibits, your children can play on the Continent Tables, climb the Globe of the World, collect eggs from The Farm, or do some fishing.
The programs run daily, but you do have to make bookings as they are broken up into sessions with time in between for sanitizing. Located on Baker St. NW Atlanta, Atlanta, near Centennial Olympic Park makes getting to the museum easy. The Children's Museum of Atlanta offers Family Free Days throughout the year. If you are in Atlanta when one is happening, make sure to book your ticket right away, your kids will thank you for it.
LEGOLAND Discovery Center Atlanta
LEGOLAND Discovery Center Atlanta offers cool rides like Merlin's Apprentice, where you get to fly, and Kingdom Quest, where your entire family gets to blast trolls and save the princess. In addition, you can meet the LEGO movie stars and build and race LEGO cars. There is an indoor play space, and a 4D theater too.
And when it comes to playing with the LEGOs, you can join the LEGO Master Builder Academy, where professionals assist your little ones in building anything and everything. All this fun activity is found in the Phipps Plaza in NE Atlanta. If you do plan on visiting LEGOLAND, make sure you get your tickets ahead of time because space is limited, and your kids wouldn't want to miss it.
Center for Puppetry Arts
Puppets have touched pretty much everyone's life in some way or another. At the Center for Puppetry Arts, you can introduce your kids to the great works of Jim Henson (if they haven't already experienced his work) and many others from around the world. Your little ones can enjoy a variety of puppet shows, learn how to build their own, and even see how they are "manipulated" by the puppeteer.
You can experience the fun in the Midtown location, or if you don't have time to get there, do it all online. This place offers great family fun and is easy to get to (see our guide on getting around), located downtown just off of Baker St. NW Atlanta. Re-live some old childhood memories and create new ones with your kids and puppets. Once you have enjoyed the puppet shows, you can wander over to Centennial Olympic Park for some fresh air and a picnic.
Woodruff Arts Center
At Woodruff Arts Center, you will find the Alliance Theatre, the High Museum, and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, all of which have some excellent programs for kids. At the High Museum, there is the Greene Family Learning Gallery, Toddler Thursdays, Camp, and Second Sundays, where the families get in for free. All of these art programs offer a chance for your kids to have a great time while exploring their artistic side.
The Alliance Theatre gives kids and teens to be center stage with acting classes, theater camps, and even a chance to participate in full shows. At the same time, the Orchestra presents Music for the Very Young, free concerts designed for kids five years and younger. The center is located in the Midtown area, not too far from Piedmont Park.
Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Park
The best place to start when visiting this National Historic Site is the visitors' bureau, where you can pick up all the information on what you will find in the park. It is actually three sites in one, the home where Martin Luther King Jr. was born, Ebenezer Baptist Church where he preached, and the memorial site where he lays in rest.
This is such a good place to take kids to in Atlanta, where they will learn about one of the greatest leaders of the civil and human rights movement in America. Then, at the King Center Visitor Center, they will learn about the "Children of Courage," a hands-on exhibit about how children participated in the civil and human rights movement. It is designed to inspire courage for all children. And if your kids are getting restless, there is a great playground for them to enjoy.
The National Historical Park is near the heart of the city, so getting there is easy. The entrance is free.
This park, located in the heart of the city, has two great playgrounds for kids: Mayor's Grove Playground and Noguchi Playscape. Both are designed for kids of all abilities with sensory-rich features, including swings with back supports, bright colors, educational shapes, and universally accessible pathways. You can easily find green space for picnics and plenty of walking trails where you can do a self-guided tour.
In the summertime, cool down at the Legacy Fountain splash pad, go for a swim at the Aquatic Center, or grab a scoop (or three) at the Atlanta Ice Cream Festival in July. In the winter you can go ice skating or hop on a sled and enjoy one of the many hills in the park. And being close to the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, you can do both in one day.
What are the best family activities in Atlanta?
As you can see, Atlanta is a city loaded with great places where you and your kids can have fun. But if you are looking for some family activities that would be great for the entire family to participate in, here are some suggestions.
There are loads of mini-golf courses throughout Atlanta, both indoor and outdoor, so you will always have a place to play. Trampoline and amusement centers are a blast, as some include go-karts and gymnastic apparatuses. If your kids are constantly climbing the walls, let them be active at one of the family-friendly rock climbing gyms.
Fun things to do in Atlanta with kids
Have you ever done an escape room? Probably best for your tweens and teens, as it really brings the family together when trying to solve the puzzles and figure out the clues. If you have sports fans in your family, you couldn't be in a better city than Atlanta. Baseball, basketball, football, race tracks, tennis, you name it, you can find it here, whether you want to play or just watch.
And for those that like a treasure hunt, there is one that is spread throughout the entire city – the Tiny Door Hunt. All across Atlanta, you will find 20 tiny doors (and one big one on the Atlanta Beltline) painted on fountains, in parks, on walls, etc. Just download the map on your phone and hit the streets. You will need to keep your eyes sharp as the doors are only 7 inches tall.
Free things to do in Atlanta with kids
If you want to spend some time away from these indoor play places, Atlanta is famous for having amazing public parks. With plenty of playgrounds, picnic areas, and paths for family walks, public parks in Atlanta are the best way to enjoy family time, plus they are free. Some of the parks include Piedmont, Centennial Olympic Park, and Historic Fourth Ward Park. For a park that is a little different, check out Skyline Park, sitting on top of the Ponce City Market. It's a bit smaller than the rest but has a lot of fun activities.
While most Atlanta attractions have entrance fees, some have specific or special free days such as the Woodruff Arts Center or the College Football Hall of Fame. For others, like the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library, adults will have to pay, but children can get in for free.
Fun With the Kids in Atlanta
Some other spots to consider when visiting Atlanta, whether traveling with or without kids, are the World of Coca-Cola, Chattahoochee Nature Center, and Stone Mountain Park. There is just so much to do in Atlanta, no matter what you or your kids are interested in. If you are looking for a place that is a ton of fun and kid-friendly, Atlanta GA is your spot!