Atlanta Visitor’s Guide

Wanna get some entertaining education? Splash around the new Georga Aquarium in downtown Atlanta. Or check out one of the area’s many museums, such as the locomotive museum in Kennesaw or the Atlanta History Center. Curious about an Atlanta institution? Visit the World of Coca-Cola, the CNN Center, Fox Theatre or the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site.

Of course, there’s always the zoo, the park, the gardens, the puppetry center …

The puppetry center? Sure. Read on.

STOP BY (AT LEAST)

Centennial Olympic Park
Techwood Drive
at Marietta Street
MARTA station:
Dome/Philips Arena. 404-222-7275
Engraved brick pathways and the famous Olympic Rings fountain make this park a great place to meet, catch an occasional free concert or just take in an interesting ground-level view of downtown and Midtown. During the winter holidays you can go skating; in the summer the kids will love cooling off in the fountain. Hours: 7 a.m.-11 p.m. daily. www.centennialpark.com
Governor’s Mansion
391 W. Paces Ferry Road N.W.
404-261-1776
After taking a tour of the 30-room Greek Revival mansion, drive east or west on West Paces Ferry to see some of Atlanta’s most exquisite and extravagant homes. 10 a.m.-11:30 a.m. Tuesday-Thursday. www.gov.state.ga.us
The King Center
449 Auburn Ave. MARTA station: King Memorial
404-526-8900
Across the street from the historic site operated by the National Park Service is the privately operated memorial and gravesite of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., established in 1968 by his widow, Coretta Scott King. Even if you don’t go inside to see the collection of King’s personal effects, you should spend a quiet moment at his crypt. Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. www.thekingcenter.org

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TAKE AN HOUR OR TWO

APEX Museum
135 Auburn Ave.
MARTA station:
Five Points, King Memorial.
404-523-2739
An acronym for African American Panoramic Experience, the APEX seeks to show history from the African-American perspective. Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. www.apexmuseum.org
Atlanta Botanical Garden
1345 Piedmont Ave. N.E.
404-876-5859
With 15 acres of landscaped gardens and 15 acres of woodlands in Piedmont Park, the Atlanta Botanical Garden features a variety of specialties, including rose, herb, rock and Japanese gardens. There’s also a children’s garden with lots of interactive exhibits and a stunning orchid center. Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (7 p.m. April-September) Tuesday-Sunday. www.atlantabotanicalgarden.org
Atlanta Cyclorama
800 Cherokee Ave. S.E.
404-658-7625
The 1864 Civil War Battle of Atlanta is narrated in the world’s largest painting and diorama in the round. Zoo Atlanta is next door. www.webguide.com/cyclorama.html Hours: 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. daily.
Braves Museum
& Turner Field tours
755 Hank Aaron Drive S.E.
404-614-2311
MARTA station:
Five Points
Get a behind-the-scenes look at Turner Field and check out the Ivan Allen Jr. Braves Museum & Hall of Fame. Featuring the Atlanta Braves clubhouse and dugout, broadcast booth, press box, luxury suites and the Braves memorabilia museum, with items from 1871 to the present. Hours vary by season and game schedule; it’s best to call ahead.  braves.mlb.com
Center for Puppetry Arts
1404 Spring St. N.W.
MARTA station:
Arts Center.
404-873-3391
Although the performances, workshops and museum are certainly popular with children, this unusual spot is not just for families. The Web site specifies which events are more suitable for teens or adults. Museum hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday; 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. Open until show time for evening performances.www.puppet.org
CNN studio tours
1 CNN Center
MARTA station:
Dome/Philips Arena.
404-827-2300
Tour the network that started the 24-hour news craze – in 40 minutes. You’ll see CNN special effects studios, Headline News and International News studios. Call at least a day ahead for tour reservations. Hours: 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. www.cnn.com/studiotour
Fox Theatre
660 Peachtree St. N.E.
MARTA station:
North Avenue.
404-881-2100
A fabulous 1929 relic of the golden era of movie palaces, this marvel of domes and Moorish arches almost became a casualty of ’70s “progress.” The campaign to save it from demolition marked the awakening of the city’s preservation consciousness. Tours are offered at 10 a.m. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday, and again at 11 a.m. Saturday, but can be canceled for production conflicts. Please call ahead. www.foxtheatre.org
Georgia Dome
1 Georgia Dome Drive N.W.
MARTA:
Dome/Philips Arena
404-223-8687
You can take a 45-minute tour of the largest cable-supported domed stadium in the world –- and home of the Atlanta Falcons football team. You’ll see locker rooms, the press box, suites and seating for 71,200. You’ll even get to touch the turf. Hours: 10 a.m. -3 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, except when events are scheduled. www.gadome.com
Herndon Home
587 University Place N.W. MARTA station: Vine City
404-581-9813
Built in 1910, the 15-room mansion features furnishings, artwork, fine silver, Roman and Venetian glass and photographs of the family of Alonzo F. Herndon, who rose from slavery to found Atlanta Life Insurance Co. Hours: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday- Saturday.www.herndonhome.org
Jimmy Carter Library
and Museum
441 Freedom Parkway
MARTA station:
Five Points.
404-865-7131
Visitors can see a replica of the 1976 Oval Office that is so accurate it has been used in films. There are dozens of exhibits packed with information about Carter’s policies, his day-to-day life in the White House, and complex issues such as the Iran hostage crisis, the SALT II arms control agreement and human rights. Carter’s Nobel Peace Prize is also on display. Hours: 9 a.m.-4:45 p.m. Monday – Saturday; noon – 4:45 p.m. Sunday. www.jimmycarterlibrary.org
Piedmont Park
Midtown
Entrances are on Piedmont Avenue, 10th Street and Monroe Drive
404-875-7275
Atlanta’s version of Central Park, Piedmont is visited by 1.5 million people annually. On nice days, you have to dodge the in-line skaters, joggers, walkers and cyclists just to take a stroll, but it’s worth it for both its natural beauty and its excellent people-watching opportunities. In June 2004, Piedmont marks its 100th anniversary as a city park. Hours: 6 a.m.-11 p.m. daily. www.piedmontpark.org
The World of Coca-Cola
55 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive S.W.
MARTA:
Five Points
770-578-4325 ext. 1465
Everything you ever wanted (or didn’t know you wanted) to know about Coca-Cola. You’ll sample Coke products and view exhibits, including a collection of nostalgic radio and TV ads. And, as you might expect, there’s a souvenir shop. Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (6 p.m. June-August) Monday-Saturday; 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. www.woccatlanta.com
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SPEND A HALF DAY OR MORE

Atlanta History Center
130 West Paces Ferry Road N.W.
404-814-4000
The history center tells the story of Atlanta, the South and the Civil War in its permanent exhibitions. After you view the exhibits, tour the gardens and the historic homes: the Swan House and Tullie Smith Farm. Parts of the center are appealing to children — in particular the 1845 farmhouse. Hours: 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday, noon-5:30 p.m. Sunday. www.atlhist.org
Imagine It! The Children’s Museum of Atlanta
275 Centennial Olympic Park Drive N.W.
MARTA station: Peachtree Center
404-659-5437
No one ever says “don’t touch” at this learning museum for young children. Make sand castles, paint on the walls, dress up and see yourself dance on TV – all in a well-supervised, educational environment. Hours: 10 a.m. -5: p.m. daily. www.childrensmuseumatl.org
Fernbank Museum
of Natural History
767 Clifton Road N.E.
404-929-6300
You can’t help but notice Giganotosaurus and its friends in the permanent exhibit “Giants of the Mesozoic,” but you will be charmed by “A Walk Through Time in Georgia,” which chronicles natural history from a local perspective. The museum also houses a giant-screen Imax Theatre. Museum hours: 10 a.m.– 5 p.m. Monday-Saturday; noon-5 p.m. Sunday. www.fernbank.edu
Georgia Aquarium
225 Baker St.
(404) 581-4000
World’s largest aquarium aims to blow you away with five galleries representing life in the sea. Whale sharks, beluga whales and a huge coral reef are among the star attractions. Hours: 9 a.m.– 6 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 9 a.m.– 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. www.georgiaaquarium.org
High Museum of Art
1280 Peachtree St. N.E.
MARTA station:
Arts Center.
404-733-4400
Architect Richard Meier designed the large white building on Peachtree Street, next door to the Woodruff Arts Center. Its permanent collection is noted for significant holdings of 19th- and 20th-century American art. Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday; noon-5 p.m. Sunday. www.high.org
Martin Luther King Jr.
National Historic Site
450 Auburn Ave. N.E.
MARTA station:
King Memorial.
404-331-3920
The birthplace of the revered civil rights leader, plus Ebenezer Baptist Church, where he delivered his first sermon, are tied together by a Visitors Center that tells the story of King’s life. The surrounding 68-acre preservation district includes Sweet Auburn, the economic and cultural center of Atlanta’s black community during much of the 20th century. Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily; 9 a.m.-6 p.m. daily June 15-August 15. www.nps.gov/malu
Michael C. Carlos Museum
571 S. Kilgo St.
(Emory University)
404-727-4282
Mummies and other artifacts from ancient Egypt fascinate allages. The permanent collection includes 15,000 objects from Egypt, Greece, Rome, Asia and Africa. Hours: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday; 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. Thursday; noon- 5 p.m. Sunday. carlos.emory.edu
Stone Mountain Park
U.S. 78, Stone Mountain
770-498-5690
Southern history, natural beauty and theme-park amusement come together at this publicly owned, privately operated property. The centerpiece is Stone Mountain, a huge granite outcropping sporting a carved tribute to three Confederate heroes. Attractions include the 19th-century theme town Crossroads, a sky lift to the top of the mountain, a scenic railroad and several museums. In the summer, stay after dark for the “Lasershow Spectacular.” Admission to the park is $7 per car; several attractions carry additional fees. www.stonemountainpark.com
Zoo Atlanta
800 Cherokee Ave. S.E.
404-624-5600
This is where the world-famous pandas Lun Lun and Yang Yang live. Don’t expect a lot of action — generally they’re big on eating bamboo — but when they do move, they’re undeniably cute. When the pandas doze, you can check some of the other 249 species represented here, including Starlet O’Hara the painting elephant, and Jalal the Sumatran tiger. Hours: 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. (5:30 p.m. summer weekends) daily. www.zooatlanta.org