Atlanta with the Family

After a morning in an amusement park, an evening hike through Georgia woods, Atlanta children move slow as sticky night air at bedtime---spent by the sun and tired.


Mitchell's Historic "Dump"

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by barbara on August 8, 2010

Sometimes when we live in an area, it takes us a while to get to those attractions in our backyard. This was the case for me and the Margaret Mitchell House. My negligence certainly wasn't due to lack of affection for Gone with the Wind. I loved both book and movie. I have also long admired Margaret Mitchell as a pioneer for women's rights and an advocate for equality between races. Yes. That's right. While Mitchell had a deep and abiding love for the South, she recognized the region's flaws, and she worked in her own lifetime to promote human dignity for all citizens of Atlanta, regardless of color. Though I've heard her work maligned in our current age of political correctness, I dismiss critics who see Mitchell as somehow longing for a move back to a time when human bondage was acceptable. She was writing a historical novel from the viewpoint of Southerners, so how would those critics suggest she portray those Southerners? The characters in Gone with the Wind are hardly saints, which is why it's a good book. They are also not without redemption. But onto the house....

Where is the Margaret Mitchell House & Museum?
The property is located in Midtown, and it offers free parking directly across the street in a large lot. If you take MARTA as I did, you simply get off at the Midtown Station and walk a pleasant block to the property. Take the Peachtree Place Exit from the station, and then there are signs that direct you.

What IS this place?
This is not Margaret Mitchell's childhood home. That, unfortunately, was razed at some point or another. However, Mitchell rented an apartment in this house with her husband. It was here at a desk in the corner of one room that she wrote most of her novel while recovering from a foot injury. The apartment has been restored to what it would have looked like at the time. Mitchell referred to it as "the dump." It's a very modest place, but functional for a young couple. I loved the tiny kitchen, which made my own flat in England where I couldn't open the cabinets and dishwasher at the same time look downright luxurious.

Another thing I like about Mitchell is that even though she would end up a very wealthy woman---and she did upgrade her lodgings---she never lived overtly extravagantly. Rather she used her money to do things like pay for medical school for African American doctors and fund an emergency room for black people in a segregated South. She wanted a facility that was more functional than the inadequate clinic the taxpayers had provided.

What do you DO here?
You take a tour of the apartment with a guide. When you arrive, you buy a ticket (mine was $10 with a university student ID), and you are told when your tour will begin. While waiting, you wander a small museum on the ground floor of the house that contains some amazing pictures of Mitchell. She was just the kind of girl I would have liked to have known: cheeky, smart, and in love with the written word. She was a reporter for years, and it was in this arena that she quietly moved women's rights forward by doing in a competent way. You'll need 15-30 minutes to look around here. There is also a film room where you can watch bits of a long biography about the making of the movie. I found Vivian Leigh's screen-test interesting to see.

Is a visit worthwhile?
Yes. You'll only need an hour or so, but I really enjoyed this tour. Our guide was good as he shuffled us through the apartment, taking plenty of time to tell us about how a German car company helped save the historic property as well as the impact Margaret Mitchell had on the world. I definitely enjoyed this attraction.

Open every day of the week though operation hours shortened on Sundays. May be closed major holidays.

Margaret Mitchell House & Museum
990 Peachtree St
Atlanta, Georgia, 30305
+1 404 249 7015

Pride Across from the Park

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by barbara on February 8, 2010

Having already seen other major attractions near Centennial Olympic Park such as the Georgia Aquarium and the World of Coca-Cola, we decided to visit a museum with a different sort of focus. Located beneath the Hilton Garden Inn, the National Museum of Patriotism poses the question, "How does patriotism play into American history?" Additionally, it invites visitors to question how they define patriotism as they view the various displays. In exploring this concept, love of country is lifted up as a virtue and the visitor learns a thing or two about the USA along the way.

What was the museum like?
Compact and easy to navigate, the museum offers educational entertainment for an hour or two. A visit starts with a short film that asks the visitor to ponder what patriotism means to him as an individual citizen. Showing clips of speeches from presidents through Obama, the film is completely non-partisan and lifts up leaders from both sides of the political aisle. Once inside and looking at various displays, I learned lots of interesting facts about American history that I didn't know. For instance, the reason that three dots and a dash are often displayed on V's from the WWII era is that Victory in Morse Code is designated by three dots and a dash. Certain iconic American symbols are also on display like the Statue of Liberty with their histories. I did not know that Lady Liberty's face was based on the original French sculptor's mother!

Other particulars:
Admission is $12 for adults, $10 for students, but there are often specials or coupons available for a deeper discount. (We used a coupon that gave us a 50% off deal.) There are public parking decks nearby that will set you back $5-$10 or you can use the Peachtree Center MARTA station only a couple blocks walk away. Open every day of the week, check hours on their website, www.museumofpatriotism.org
National Museum of Patriotism
275 Baker Street NW
Atlanta, Georgia, 30313
(404) 524-0755

A Tour on Wheels

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by barbara on December 28, 2009

City Segway Tours exist in multiple cities around the globe, but we were in Atlanta for Christmas. With a Nana and a teenager in tow, we were looking for an activity that would please a wide age range of people. A Segway is an interesting transportation advice that's been popping up in urban settings to provide a different kind of travel. You basically stand on one, balance and go. When we saw there was a "Holiday Lights" tour available on the Segway for December 26th, 2009, we hopped right on and signed up!

What is getting on a Segway like? These are really easy to ride. They reminded us a little bit of skiing in that how you balance your body---how you lean forward on your toes---impacts your speed. However, they are also very user friendly. The ride is very smooth and fun.

How does the Atlanta Segway tour work? You show up at your reserved time at the City Segway Tour office across the street from Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta. (You HAVE to make reservations ahead of time.) There you are fitted in a helmet and asked to watch a small safety video on Segway operation. Everyone in your party must be at least 12 years old. Then your tour guides assign you a Segway. Instead of numbers, each machine has a name to aid in remembering which is yours. I had the pleasure of riding "Bernie" for the night. There is a small bag on each Segway in case you need to store a wallet or purse. I was amazed at how much I could stuff in that bag! Then you are given a few minutes out on the sidewalk to get used to the Segway as your guides break you into smaller groups and show you how to properly operate the machine. Then you're off in single file!

Was it fun? YES! We all had a very good time. In truth, Nana fell off her Segway twice, but she was fine for the wear. (They don't go THAT fast.) No one else had a problem. I think this was a basic balance issue for her, but you should be aware of it regardless if you have any health conditions like a bad back or knees because you could hurt yourself. In general, I thought it was a great way for an older person to scoot around as long as they didn't have a problem standing for the full length of the tour and could balance well.

How was the tour itself? Well, we did a "holiday lights" thing, which was only 1 hour long at night. This was enjoyable, mind, but it was cold, and we basically were paying to ride the Segways rather than get a lot of information. Still, the tours guides had a lot of personality and told us a few tid-bits about the buildings we could see from the park. I must admit that I was a LITTLE disappointed that there wasn't a lot of meat to the narrative. I would hope that a longer tour of the actual historical sites would give more bang for the buck. As it was, we basically just rode around the park to see the Christmas trees. (We DID learn the light strings would stretch for two miles if laid out end to end!) Then we toured the outside of the Coke Complex. After the tour was done and we returned our Segways to the City Segway Tour office, we were given certificates for a free hot beverage and complimentary cinnamon buns at the pastry shop next store. The kid and the Nana got hot chocolate while I loaded up on coffee. This was a nice touch after the cold.

How much did this tour cost? The holiday lights tour was $50 per person. A two hour legends and lore highlights tour was $60 per person, and a 3 hour Atlanta highlights tour that covers quite a bit of ground is $70 per person. In the cold, one hour was just fine, but I think a longer daytime tour is a better value. I'm sure we will do one of these in the future when we have the opportunity. Maybe in the summer!!!! Then I'll update my opinions!!! :)

Bottom line? This was a unique holiday activity that entertained all who participated. We had a great time. I would recommend this to someone looking for something different to do though I would say choose a longer tour.
City Segway Tours
250 Park Ave West NW Unit 105
Atlanta, Georgia, 30313
(877) 734-8687

Atlanta with the Family

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by barbara on June 5, 2000

I love teaching my son all about the history of Atlanta. Though it is a fairly young city, even by US standards, it is also the site of the turning point of the Civil War. There are several Confederate and Union monuments that help explain one of the most devasting chapters in our nation''s history, and the presentation is often made in such a way that even a child can find it interesting. As you see with the Carlos Museum, however, Atlanta is not just focused on the fall of the Confederacy. Wonderful opportunities abound for anyone who wants his/her kids to have a broad range of cultural (as well as fun) experiences during a visit to the South.

Start a vacation at the Atlanta History Center to learn how this city was born, burned, and built again. Enjoy a variety of fine dining experiences at restaurants like the Imperial Fez, Nava and the Buckhead Diner (See my Atlanta Restaurants Journal.) Take advantage of the parks at places like Kennesaw Mountain, which will help you understand why so many athletes move to the area. Have a complete family day at Six Flags or take in a play at the Alliance or Fox theatres!${QuickSuggestions} 1) Don’t forget the sunscreen! 2) Pick up a copy of Creative Loafing to check out any public concerts or festivals that might be available. 3) Bring shorts outfits because Georgia is VERY hot in the summer. 4) If you go hiking, dress your kids in something you don’t mind them staining (I can never, EVER get the red Georgia clay out of my son’s clothes). 5) Make sure your hotel has a pool. 6) If you don''t like sugar in your tea, specify unsweetened when you order. ${BestWay} Car. The Marta system is good, but is limited to inside the city. Atlanta is a driving community, and there are many attractions outside of the perimeter (and Marta''s reach) that are fun to see. Tip: Be careful to avoid rush hours as the volume of traffic can become quite daunting from 7AM to 9:30AM; 4:30PM-7PM.


Waffle House

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by barbara on March 17, 2002

Waffle House is a chain of restaurants founded in Georgia. It is a cash-only joint held together by fifty year old women, often named things like Betty and Flo, who wear their polyester uniforms proudly. Here you will find a strange cross-section of society: the low class and the yuppie elite, all listening to the jukebox, enjoying greasy Southern food served at a good value.

Grits should be eaten slathered in butter, salt, and pepper. They can be a little watery at Waffle House, but the price for Belgian waffles, scrambled eggs, toast and bacon cannot be beaten. Scattered-smothered-covered hash browns are also a great bet.

So stick a quarter in the juke box. Grab a booth. Don't worry about the cigarette smoke (more prevalent in the late evenings) or your arteries (no authentic Southern food is good for you) and enjoy a fast, good meal with the added bonus of people watching for entertainment.

Waffle House
Throughout Atlanta
Atlanta, Georgia

Six Flags over Georgia

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by barbara on June 5, 2000

Six Flags is just like any other amusement park in the world. There are a ton of rides, games, and junk food readily available for anyone with an open wallet. We got there when the park first opened, and this was helpful for us to get on more rides because the lines are shorter early in the day (And during the week. Weekends are ALWAYS crowded). I found my favorite ride to be the Fearless Freeps, a bungee-chord-type tower that is an absolute blast to fall from for the adventurous adult. My husband and son played carnival games while I secured a time slot to get hooked in a funny vest contraption and lifted, dangling from a metal string, to the top of a tower that seemed almost as long as a football field to me (It was actually over 100 feet high). The view of the park from up there was AMAZING. Of course, then I had to pull the rip-chord which was VERY Scary! The fall was FAST though safer than a bungee-chord drop because of how the ride’s rigged. While highly recommended, this adventure does cost extra money (and a signed waiver of liability). You can go with up to two other people to make the ride cheaper as long as you all stay within a certain weight limit. I took the plunge on my own for $30. It was well worth it to me! Of course, all the rides at Six Flags are fun (except the old wooden roller coasters which jerk WAY too hard.). The Batman show was a big hit with our kid, too, and a nice reprieve from standing in lines. Tip: Parking is $8---CASH ONLY! If you are visiting the park more than once in a season, get the season pass. It is by far the best bang for your buck.
Six Flags Over Georgia
7561 Six Flags Parkway
Austell, Georgia, 30168
+1 770 948 9290

The Cyclorama

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by barbara on June 5, 2000

The Cyclorama is a wonderful and unique museum centered around a huge cyclorama painting of the Battle of Atlanta. Our almost-six-year-old son has loved playing with soldiers since he could first grip plastic army men in his chubby, little fingers; thus he really liked looking at the Confederate soldiers’ and Union soldiers’ uniforms in the Cyclorama museum. He really enjoyed the short (and dramatic) historical movie about Sherman’s campaign for Atlanta before we were allowed onto the revolving platform from which we could view the presentation of the largest painting in the world. My son’s attention was riveted through the hour and a half presentation of the Cyclorama (time includes intro-movie, and a couple minutes break to walk to the auditorium where the painting is housed).

My husband and I, who both enjoy art and history, also found the Cyclorama fascinating to see as there are only twenty such paintings of this kind still in existence today, the one in Atlanta being the largest. We were also very happy to find that our experience at the Cyclorama taught us a lot about Atlanta History.

When we went hiking at Kennesaw Mountain, our son brought up the movie at the Cyclorama that talked about the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain before the Battle of Atlanta took place.

Note: I would have to say if your child is not interested in soldiers and history, he or she might not enjoy the movie as much as my son did. While he was younger, I would suggest this attraction is the most appropriate for kids 7 and older, so use your best judgement!

Essential Information:
Admission: Adults/$5; Kids/$3
Hours: 9:20 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Extended hours in the summer.

Atlanta Cyclorama
800 Cherokee Ave SE
Atlanta, Georgia, 30304
+1 404 658 7625

Michael C. Carlos Museum

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by barbara on June 25, 2000

The Carlos Museum is a wonderful place to explore ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome. My son (6 years old) and I actually watched a special on television about DNA testing the museum has conducted on a mummy believed to be Ramsey I, which inspired us to take the trip to Emory on a summer afternoon to see the museum's current Egyptian display.

As the museum is on the campus of Emory University, there is a charge for parking on the weekdays. This charge is from $1-$5 depending on the length of your visit. Weekend parking is free, and the museum is open on Saturday from 10-5.

I would advise a Saturday visit, if possible, as traffic and parking in general are going to be the easiest to deal with on a weekend. Also the museum is the least crowded then.

There is a suggested contribution of $5 at the door, but there is no formal admission fee to the museum.

My son was most interested in seeing a mummy, and there was one on display along with several sarcophagi. We found it interesting to learn that Ancient Egyptians believed that all souls would have one day of judgement before being allowed to enter into a new life. The evil deeds in a person's heart were stuck on a scale with a feather. If the deeds were heavier than the feather, the person's soul was destroyed. Therefore, Egyptians often put sacred Scarab Beetles on their hearts. The beetles were to ask the heart not to bear bad witness against its owner.

If you visit the Carlos with a young family member, keep in mind that a child is in a museum for visual learning alone and will not allow you to read every detail about a lot of the displays. Still, my son and I had a grand world tour as we moved from room to room. He found a long stairway up to the third floor where there was a wonderful African exhibit. Hence, afterwards, we said Andrew found the secret passage to Africa in the museum. He really liked looking at the warrior's shirt with various animal teeth and claws tied onto the leather-like fabric.

TIP: The bookstore is marvelous and worth a look. There are many wonderful items for kids in every price range as well as many things that will interest any adult with an interest in history.

Michael C. Carlos Museum
571 Kilgo St
Atlanta, Georgia, 30303
+1 404 727 4282

Atlanta Botanical Gardens

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by barbara on July 7, 2000

The Children's Garden is a wonderful place for children to spend time. Whoever built it paid incredible attention to detail. Kids love splashing around in the flower showers at the entrance, but they also enjoy the rest of the place. A giant caterpillar holds open his mouth to let kids walk into the laugh garden where butterflies are frolicking in the butterfly pavillion. There is a Dinosaur Garden where kids can dig in the sand for fossils. Dinosaur footprints can be found in the cement sidewalk. There is a wonderful Grandma's House that is alive with fun flowers such as Black-eyed Susans planted in things like the kitchen sink! There is even a faucet that spits bubbles into the air there. A favorite with my son was the real beehive set in open glass for children to observe. There is a pipe that allows the bees to go out and get pollen behind the wall where the hive is seen. There is a woodland treehouse to play on. Every corner has something neat to see and there are several learning opportunities mixed in with the play. Thursday afternoons at the Children's Garden are apt to be crowded because Atlanta locals know that admission is free after 3PM (there is a donation box at the front if you would still like to make a contribution to the gardens). If Thursday afternoon isn't good for you, pay the admission fees (Kids under 3 are always free. Seniors get in for $5). You can easily spend an entire day here if you let your kids play in the Children's Garden and also tour the main grounds. It is a perfect summer excursion.
Atlanta Botanical Gardens
1345 Piedmont Ave NE
Atlanta, Georgia, 30309
+1 404 876 5859

Fernbank Museum of Natural History

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by barbara on August 9, 2000

The Fernbank Museum of Natural History is a place devoted to Earth's environmental changes since the dawn of time. There is often a rotating exhibit on display for which you can pay an extra entry fee to see. There is an IMAX theater for which you can buy tickets, or you can choose to just purchase entrance into the main museum itself.

If you stay in just the main museum, you will find a half day of fun waiting for you. There are many stuffed animals that are native to Georgia lining the walkways. The biggest attraction is a walk-through exhibit that shows the development of life in the Peach State starting before the reign of the dinosaurs. Of course, dinosaurs have an entire room devoted to them, and seeing these huge beasts of centuries gone-by is fun for children. Even more fun than LOOKING at exhibits, however, is PLAYING with them.

The Spectrum of the Senses display offers many wonderful exhibits that allow you to explore the limits of your senses. There are optical illusion wheels spinning on one wall. There are funny contraptions EVERYWHERE with instructions for use, like so many erector sets scattered around a playground inviting someone to play with them. Almost every 'hands-on' exhibit illustrates a scientific principle dealing with either light or sound, and adults are as eager to use them as anyone. Kids will find these 'games' neat but will require an adult to read instructions (unless over 9 or 10) and help explain purpose. You will always see many of the children gathered around a soapy-water-filled basin to one side of the room using large, metal rings to create giant bubbles. That is one exhibit that is not hard for any aged kid to understand!

Apart from the world of scientific discovery, children will find something built just for them in the Discovery Adventure Rooms. There is one room built entirely for pre-schoolers with circus mirrors and building blocks inside. The room built for 6 to 10 year olds is a 'for kids' replica of different sections of Georgia. My son liked 'fishing' in the 'Okefenokee Swamp.' He also liked making the shrimp net go up and down on the boat docked on the shores of 'Tybee Island.' I would suggest letting your kids explore and play in this room at their own pace as you give your feet a rest because it really is just a unique type of playground.

At the end of the day, the Fernbank is a good museum to visit. The entry fees can add up, but I would suggest going to the museum at least once to any family in the Atlanta area. There are many opportunities for education, and the experiences will be unique and fun.
Fernbank Museum of Natural History
767 Clifton Road NE
Atlanta, Georgia, 30307
+1 404.929.6300; +1

19th Century Village

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by barbara on August 11, 2000

Life University is located in Marietta, a suburb just north of Atlanta off I-75. On the campus there is a wonderfully maintained 19th century village complete with a log house and tobacco barn. This village is opened to the public every day from 8 AM to 5 PM, and weekdays will often find school children touring the facilities. This is an absolutely marvelous place to go for an afternoon picnic with the family. There are picnic tables scattered all around the grounds for your convenience, and children will greatly enjoy wandering through the village. There are several animals behind fences for them to see, too. My favorites are the roosters who strut around in their boxes and crow for anyone who will take a moment to speak with them.

Free tours of the village are also available on Saturdays and Sundays so that kids and adults alike will understand what life was truly like in the 1800s. For tour information, call 800-543-3398 or 770-426-2601.
The Historic Village at Life University
1269 Barclay Circle
Atlanta, Georgia, 30060
770-426-2600

Chattahoochee Nature Center

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by barbara on October 30, 2000

The Chattahoochee Nature Center is a wonderful place to spend a gorgeous Georgia afternoon. There is a playground near the entrance to the Nature Center that is worth stopping by for a picnic if you just want a little bit of time outside with the kids. It is right on the river and the ducks are very friendly. If you continue to the Nature Center, however, you will not be disappointed. There is a small fee (under $5) for entrance and special events are priced separately. In the early part of October, 2000, we went to the Nature Center for a walk through their Night Trail. Unlike the traditional Halloween Haunt, each stop had an actor who played a wild animal in the woods and delivered a clever monologue to the small groups of children in the dark. Quite a few people showed up to walk the trail, and free arts and crafts were available until our group number was called. The whole thing was wonderfully done, and our six year old son who happens to love theater, really enjoyed the whole evening. At the end of the trail we also got to spend some time learning about an owl that lives at the nature center because of an injury he has sustained to one of his eyes. Many injured animals are brought to the center for rehab and, if possible, eventually returned to the wild. It was very interesting for me to have the chance to touch a King snake, too. I know I touched snakes when I was a child, but I had forgotten how silky smooth their bodies feel---not scaly like expected. This is a great place for family fun near Atlanta.
Chattahoochee Nature Center
9135 Willeo Road
Roswell, Georgia, 30075
+1 770 992 2055

Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by barbara on October 30, 2000

The Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area is separate from the Chattahoochee Nature Center though they are very close to each other. You have to pay a $2 fee when parking, but there are often guided walks scheduled on many of the trails that are offered for free. Whether or not you take a guided tour on which you will learn about the area''s history and the plants and animals that are native to the region, you will enjoy walking on the well worn trails. The Chattahoochee River is also quite beautiful, and I love spending time hiking in the woods when so many of the trees are on fire with the vibrant colors of Autumn. Canadian Geese are abundant on the water in the fall.

When hiking be aware that some of the hills are steep. You should be in decent shape and you should wear good hiking shoes, but my young son was able to go a good distance hiking with us, so the trails are not overly difficult. In fact, after getting up an especially steep hill that led to a small information center, a park ranger who had watched us encouraging our son to keep moving, rewarded our son''s efforts with a "Junior Park Ranger" badge that made his day.

Check with the Chattahoochee Nature Center (770-992-2055) for special programs done in conjunction with the Recreation Area as many interesting and educational programs that deal with the great outdoors are offered monthly.
Chattahoochee River Park
Azalea Drive
Roswell, Georgia, 30076
+1 770 640 3055

Yellow River Wildlife Game Ranch

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by barbara on May 14, 2001

If you like the zoo and you want to get up close and personal with a variety of animals, you will enjoy the Yellow River Game Ranch. Many of the animals are very tame, and they eat right from your hand. In fact, it is not uncommon to see certain animals such as deer walking free along the paths, much to the delight of children. The trees keep the paths shaded, too, so this is not a bad place to visit in the summer. Bring quarters to get food from the many machines along the way, and allow yourself an hour or two to see the many animals such as General Lee, the groundhog, and the many buffalo, owls, geese and chickens.

While I did enjoy the time spent with my son at the Game Ranch, I would have to say that it was not the cleanest place in the world. Some of the animals have more freedom than they do at the zoo, and they make a lot of mess! On the flip-side, I also thought some of the cages were rather small for the larger animals such as the Mountain Lion. This graceful and beautiful creature just paced and paced and paced. The bears also looked a little mangy and lazy lying in their area, and the bobcats were mighty restless....

With that said, the peacocks strutting their stuff will make your kids squeal with excitement. The bunnies are mighty cute. The burros have great personalities. And there is a little playground beside the front entrance of the Ranch that has picnic tables. Take the kids through the Ranch, stop and eat lunch at the tables afterwards and let them run and jump like monkeys on the slides and merry-go-round.

Parking at the Ranch is free. The Ranch is located right by Stone Mountain Park, so you can combine the two attractions for a solid day of family fun!
Operating Hours: Every Day, 9:30 AM - 6 PM
Phone: 770-972-6643
Website: www.yellowrivergameranch.com

Yellow River Game Ranch
4525 Highway 78
Lilburn, Georgia, 30047
+1 770 972 6643

Center for Puppetry Arts

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by barbara on April 4, 2001

The Center for Puppetry Arts is a WONDERFUL place to spend an afternoon with your family. I took my son and his friend to see Rumplestiltskin in April, and we were all enchanted. The play was only an hour long which was perfect for the younger child's attention span. The set was simply marvelous even though the show we attended was not on the main stage. Subtle adult humor had been added to the familiar fairy tale's script to keep parents interested (A bird whistled the theme to The Andy Griffith Show!), and the "actors" introduced themselves after the show to tell the audience how just two people controlled the bodies of and gave voice to an entire cast of stringed marionettes.

I would expect all shows at the center to be of equally high quality as Rumplestiltskin, and I would highly recommend a play for children four and older as the show will be a unique and fun experience for all. However, don't think just about your younger children when visiting this center. There are shows that are designed just for older kids and adults. For instance, A Midsummer Night's Dream showing April 23-May 4 in the 2001 series is billed for kids 12 and OLDER. There was also an XPTerror show around Halloween in 2000 that only allowed 18 and older adults admittance!

The day that we saw Rumplestiltskin, we also participated in a puppet workshop. These workshops cost $5 when tickets are purchased separately, $4 when purchased with another event. Puppetry Center members get additional discounts on workshop tickets. In the classes, kids get to make a hand puppet out of cardboard and glue to take home. This activity takes about 40 minutes and is great fun to do before or after a show. I noticed a girlscout troop in the workshop we attended, and I am sure those girls were earning some sort of merit patches. There is a puppet workshop available for pre-school kids (2-4) in addition to the classes for older kids.

Also, visitors to the Center of Puppetry Arts have the opportunity to visit the puppet museums. These exhibits have extra fees attached. The giftshop is fun to look through, too.

Make sure you buy play tickets in ADVANCE. Shows often sell out, so you should buy tickets over the phone ahead of time!
Center for Puppetry Arts
1404 Spring St
Atlanta, Georgia, 30309
+1 404 873 3391

William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by barbara on April 4, 2001

This museum is located next to the Atlanta Center for Puppetry Arts on Spring Street right off 18th.

The day that we stopped in for a visit, the museum had an excellent exhibition of the works of Maurice Sendack, author of Where the Wild Things Are. This was not a permenant exhibition, but I understand the museum often celebrates successful people of the Jewish faith in all professions, so a call to see if there is an exhibit that might interest you when you plan to visit the museum might be in order (404-873-1661).

In the permanent galleries you will also find an exhibition on the Holocaust. I am not Jewish, but I was very moved by the black and white photos that cover the walls of the gallery to document one of the most abhorent chapters in the history of humanity. I believe anyone who has an interest in history or politics or religion would find this exhibition worthwhile though it is small. After having the children with me dress up as Wild Things in costumes made available for them in the Maurice Sendack exhibit---after leaving that section of the museum where children's laughter was as loud and care-free happy as youth should be---I found the eyes of the persecuted millions of Jewish men, women and children particularly haunting.

Admission to the museum for children six and under is free. Tickets for everyone else are under $10.
William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum
1440 Spring St Northwest
Atlanta, Georgia, 30309
+1 404 870 1871

The High Museum of Art

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by barbara on February 8, 2001

The High Museum is located in the Woodruff Arts Center. Its current home was designed by famed architect Richard Meier and opened to the public in 1983. Renzo Piano is the architect who will be behind the museum''s latest expansion with new buildings opening in 2005.

Owning one of the premier permanent art collections in the US---over 11,000 pieces!!---the High provides many wonderful, educational opportunities for adults and children alike. With a big budget, the High is able to host many special exhibits that will keep patrons coming back time and time again for more viewings. These special exhibits often come with an extra charge but are normally well worth their price.

What will kids like? When visiting the High in the fall of 2001, my son enjoyed using an MP3 player that explained the paintings included in a special exhibit of work by Winslow Homer and Monet. Some of these explanations were written expressly for children! Audio isn''t available for ALL exhibits, but it is getting more and more common for the larger ones.

SPECIAL NOTE: Many popular exhibits sell out, so it is good to buy advance tickets for the big names.

Also great for children are the many free workshops offered at the High on the weekends. For the cost of admission into the museum, kids may partake in art classes that revolve around famous artists. There are also many festivals for kids that celebrate artists in the museum. All kinds of projects are encountered from making African masks to the painting of self-portraits. Call the museum to check on Saturday workshops. Some of these require pre-registration. Sunday drop-in workshops are free (excluding price of admission to museum).

In addition, there are many interesting summer camps available for children at the High, and there are some activities for younger than school- aged kids that are often scheduled during the week.

What will adults like? In addition to seeing the work of masters, adult patrons of the arts will enjoy special events such as jazz nights sponsored by the High. What could be more romantic than sipping wine and viewing beautiful art with a significant other? Call the museum to see when special events are scheduled.

Bottom line? Over 500,000 annual visitors agree that a trip to the High makes for a very nice afternoon for the whole family. And if the kids behave, the High Cafe sells some good cookies, too! Vini, Vidi, Vici is around the corner from the High if you''ve worked up an appetite at the museum and want to splurge on some good Italian.

High Museum of Art
1280 Peachtree St NE
Atlanta, Georgia, 30309
+1 404 733 4400; +1

The Alliance Theater

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by barbara on December 21, 2000

The Alliance Theater is located in the Woodruff Arts Center off Peachtree. It offers some wonderful children's theater throughout the year as well as well-known and original productions for adults on its mainstage and downstairs.

I love the theater and have taken my son to see plays since it was first reasonable for him to go. The Alliance offers a wonderful family package that makes the theater VERY affordable for patrons as well. Call the theater and ask about this program. If you buy your tickets for the next season of children's theater up front, you are going to receive a LARGE savings. Of course things are then scheduled for months in advance, but if something comes up, the Alliance will try to move your attendance dates; or you can donate your tickets back to the theater for a tax deduction; or you can make your next door neighbor very happy with the wonderful gift of a play.

The Alliance does an exceptional job in accomodating young theater goers both in their program choices and relaxed rules for basic, theater etiquette. Of course parents must maintain discipline during a live performance, but drinks are allowed in the theater (as long as they don't have loud, clinking ice in them) to help with the shorter attention spans of the young. Cookies are normally sold at intermission as well. If a child is unable to stay quiet during a play, the parent can take the child into the lobby where a television screen shows everything that is going on inside the theater. Of course plays are like any other form of entertainment. You should choose productions that are going to be interesting to your children. We saw 'The Christmas Carol' at the Alliance December, 2000. This is performed every year. It was a wonderful production with a beautiful set and marvelous acting and special effects. My son loved it. We had seen 'James and the Giant Peach' earlier in the year, and we really enjoyed 'The Christmas Carol' more. 'The Hobbit' performed in February was also wonderful. As is often the case, there was an opportunity for the children to ask the actors questions after the show. There was also an excellent, free acting workshop for the kids after the show. My son was one of approximately ten children that chose to participate.

As the Alliance is in the Woodruff Arts Center, an idea for a true cultural event would be to walk over to the High Museum before or after your play and peruse any special exhibits they might have. There is a small cafe in the complex, too, for a cup of coffee or snack. The gift store by the Alliance box office is fun to shop in as is the gift store in the High.

I highly believe in exposing children to the fine arts, and the Alliance is a great place to do this.
The Alliance Theater
1280 Peachtree St. NE
Atlanta, Georgia, 30309
(404) 733-4650

Zoo Atlanta

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by barbara on June 5, 2000

Zoo Atlanta is a well-kept though small attraction that any child would like to visit. I am not a huge zoo person, but my son loves animals, and the zoo is right next door to the Cyclorama in Grant Park, so we had to stop by. The biggest attraction at Zoo Atlanta at the moment is the two Giant Panda Bears who will make their residence in the South for the next ten years. There are only a few Giant Pandas living in captivity around the world, so people who want a little taste of the exotic should definitely get by this exhibit. Seeing the pandas does not have an extra charge attached, but you need to get a timed ticket to enter the Panda area. This is simply a way to control the flow of traffic by the pandas, and there are a limited number of tickets available, so you should get your tickets as soon as you enter the zoo. If you ask the ticket counter at the entrance of the zoo, you will be told if there are Panda tickets left before you pay admission. Of course, Giant Pandas are neat, but they can’t compete with a five-year-old’s love of the petting zoo. When asked why my son liked the plain old goats better than some of the more unique animals, his reasoning was simple. "I can touch the goats, Mom," he said, rolling his eyes.

Tip: If you like Zoo Atlanta, you will probably like the Yellow River Game Ranch near Stone Mountain (See separate review).

Zoo Atlanta
800 Cherokee Ave SE
Atlanta, Georgia, 30315
(404) 624-5600

Stone Mountain

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by barbara on June 5, 2000

Stone Mountain is the largest Confederate Memorial that exists in the United States. There is a huge carving of three key leaders from the Confederacy across the mountain’s granite face: Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Stonewall Jackson. The park is worth visiting just to see this modern marvel, but there are many attractions that will keep you busy all day long (see above). In addition to ticketed attractions, you may park for $7/car and enjoy a number of outdoor activities at Stone Mountain for free.

For instance, when we last visited Stone Mountain, we enjoyed a great climb/hike up the mountainside with our son. Stone Mountain is a very popular Atlanta attraction (even for locals), so we had plenty of company on the trail (even some runners!). The path is rocky at the bottom but easy to navigate. My son had no problem at all getting ahead of us, and he only complained about his tired legs once or twice at the top. The trail does get steeper near the top of the mountain as you are walking less on dirt and more on the rock face. Still, even in the Georgia heat, the walk up the mountain was great fun. We were afforded a wonderful view of Atlanta as well as a perfect spot to rest and enjoy the light breeze. (There are picnic spots in the park but not at the top of the mountain.)

The Laser Light Show held nightly in the summer months is also a HUGE draw to Stone Mountain Park. Find a spot for your blanket in the large field at the foot of the mountain early in the evening because every inch of ground will be used by visitors during the show which will begin shortly after sundown.

Festivals abound in the park in every season. Arts and crafts lovers flock to Stone Mountain to see vendor wares. Story tellers are common entertainers here, too. Call 770-498-5690 to check what''''s on the calendar!

Depending on what you want to see while in the 3,200 acre park, you could easily spend an hour to a full day here with your family. In the peak summer months, the grounds are open until midnight. Most attractions open at 10 am.

Stone Mountain Park Antebellum Plantation
Highway 78 East (Exit #8)
Atlanta, Georgia, 30087
(770) 498-5690

Kennesaw Mountain

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by barbara on June 5, 2000

Kennesaw Mountain is a great place to go hiking with kids. It is very shady, and the trails are not difficult to walk on (though some are steep). There are several historical sites along the way such as the preserved embankments used by Confederate soldiers during the Civil War and several Union and Confederate solider graves. We took a football to throw back and forth on some of the more open trails to keep the walk a kind of game for my son. We hiked to the top of the mountain to see a wonderful view of the Atlanta Skyline to compare to the view we had from Stone Mountain. The Visitors’ Center is nice with a small museum in which you can learn more about history, use the restrooms, and cool down. After lunch, my husband and son played catch in the open field by the Visitors’ Center, and I got in a little running as the trails are perfectly suited for that activity (See Running Section of journal). When I got back to retrieve my family, I found them marked like two male Indians with red Georgia clay staining their hands and legs and clothes. Apparently, they decided to play in the trees, sliding on their bottoms down short hills (despite a recent rain), and making all kinds of boy fun hiding from one another and playing tag. When you are at Kennesaw Mountain, you completely forget you are near a city, and the time we spend there is always guaranteed to be fun.

I would highly suggest hiking to the top of the mountain (a mile to the top) on the path near the Visitor's Center first, but you may also take a bus up and down or walk on other trails. The Cheatham Hill site is a relatively short drive (or run or walk) away. You can park there and go on a 5 1/2 mile hike for a longer afternoon.

Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield
900 Kennesaw Mountain Drive
Kennesaw, Georgia, 30144
+1 770 427 4686

Lennox Mall--shops+July 4th Celebration

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by barbara on June 5, 2000

Lennox is a fabulous mall with great stores and a convenient location. If you forgot anything that you might need on your trip, this is a good place to find it! Our son loves the Disney and Warner Brother Stores in Lennox, and there is plenty of shopping available to keep me entertained. If you want to do more specialty shopping---art, antiques, etc...---Buckhead has a wide variety of interesting (though expensive) stores that can be fun to look through. Keep in mind, however, that kids will always prefer the FAO Schwartz in Lennox to a Buckhead shopping excursion. If you happen to be in Atlanta on the 4th of July, the Fireworks Show you see from the Lennox Parking Lot is billed as being the largest (and best) in Georgia. I concur. Local Bands play for free all day long as people walk around entertainment and food booths set up for the occassion. Patriotic music accompanies the explosions of colors forming pictures in the night sky. Take MARTA to Lennox if you are not staying nearby to attend an event such as this one. Driving would be insane. The crowd is a hassle after the show, but well-behaved, and the fireworks explode so close to you overhead that you'll leave with traces of powder on your skin. ANY kid would love the experience.
Lennox Mall--July 4th Celebration
Lennox Square
Atlanta, Georgia, 30303
(404) 261-3482

Running at Kennesaw Mountain

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by barbara on June 5, 2000

This is a perfect place to run if you like trail running. There is plenty of shade, and the paths are well defined. There is one long flat section if you run from the Vistors’ Center, but you will encounter lots of little hills along the way. If you want a shorter run, I also run the Cheatham Hill trail near which you can easily park. The 5 mile loop runs by some neat historical monuments, confederate entrenchments, and historical markers. There is also a water fountain about half-way through the loop. There are many, many local runners on these trails in the early morning hours. You are never crowded, however, and often feel as if you are the only one in the woods. I would highly suggest running here with a partner to keep you company. I really love how the trees canopy over me in the summer, how the sun drifts through the leaves, and how the earth and flowers fill my head with the sweet aroma of Georgia woods: gardenias and pine trees.
Running at Kennesaw Mountain
Old 41 Hwy
Atlanta, Georgia, 30060

Atlanta Streets

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by barbara on June 5, 2000

I love running in new places, and I always run when we go on vacation. Running in the city of Atlanta can be fun---there is so much activity to observe---but there is a lot of traffic that needs to be given a lot of respect. Atlanta drivers are aggressive and fast, and I wouldn’t trust them to stop for some spandex bedecked tourist out for morning exercise. You have to remember, Southerners are polite, but most of them commute to their jobs through horrendous traffic jams from the suburbs; they’re cranky by the time they reach the city. If you can get over to West Paces Ferry to run, that is enjoyable because of the old neighborhoods with the HUGE houses. There are also several parks throughout the city that can serve as good places to roam. The staff at your hotel can help direct you.
Running
Peachtree Street to Piedmont Street
Atlanta, Georgia

Atlanta History Center

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by barbara on March 19, 2001

The Atlanta History Center is located near the Govenor's mansion on beautiful West Paces Ferry. I have visited several times with my family and never been disappointed. Plan for a minimum of three hours to properly explore the Tullie Smith Farm (a must with kids--there is a petting zoo--staff is in period dress--get a glimpse of life on a Southern farm in 1845) and Swan House (a Southern mansion from the early 1900's) as well as the main building.

A large section of the museum is dedicated to the Civil War or the War Between the States. Of course this devastating chapter in our country's history made a huge impact upon the city of Atlanta. There are several movies that give brief histories of the various campaigns fought in and around Atlanta as well as touch upon the politics of the day. Although I already knew that this war claimed more American lives than any other in the history of the United States, I was shocked to read that over 650,000 soldiers were dead upon its conclusion. Anyone that is curious about American history would enjoy this permanent exhibit.

There are also rotating exhibits that are interesting and should entice Atlanta residents to visit the Center more than once. One time I explored a fascinating toy exhibit. I got to play the original Pac Man. How old I felt to see many of the toys from my own childhood on display in a museum!!! Upon the next visit, however, the toys were gone, replaced by a wonderful Mr. Roger's Neighborhood exhibit for kids. My son loved pulling the buttons on the trolley, playing with the puppets in a castle.

It should be noted that the museum sponsors many wonderful, special activities for kids including golf clinics (Georgia, of course, has very strong ties to this sport! There is a permanent Bobby Jones exhibit in the museum.), sheep shawling in the Tullie Smith Farm, American war re-enactments, folk arts, etc.... You may visit the History Center's website at www.atlantahistorycenter.com to view a schedule of such events.

Essential Information:
Operating Hours:
Monday-Saturday 10-5:30
Sunday 12-5:30
Closed Major Holidays
Admission:
$12/adult, $10/seniors, $7/kids 3-17, Free/under 3. Extra $1 fee for tours of Tullie Smith Farm and Swan House.
On-site Food:
Casual dining in the Coca Cola Cafe or more refined lunch in the Swan Coach House. Cafe open daily. Swan Coach House closed on Sundays.

Tip: Atlanta residents look for once-a-year specials in the AJC when admission to the museum is greatly reduced or free.

Atlanta History Center
130 West Paces Ferry Road
Atlanta, Georgia, 30305
+1 404 814 4000

The Atlanta Half Marathon/Marathon

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by barbara on November 23, 2001

The Atlanta Half Marathon has turned into one of my Thanksgiving Day traditions. Held every Thanksgiving morning in Atlanta, it is a wonderful way to start the day--and to not feel guilty about the pecan pie you'll eat later.

Sponsored by the Atlanta Track Club, this running event is always well coordinated. For the last three years, a wonderful expo has been held in the Sheraton/Colony Square across from the 14th Street Playhouse in Midtown the day before the race (14th & Peachtree). Packets are picked up at the expo, and it is always fun to wander around the vendors' booths, sometimes bumping into local running celebrity Jeff Galloway.

The morning of the race comes early. The half marathon and marathon both start promptly. MARTA trains that are supposed to get you where you are going are not always as accommodating. Plan to park at a MARTA station (Brookhaven is the easiest for the half marathon) and take the train to the race start. Allow a little extra time for MARTA in case it is behind schedule! We didn't do this the morning of the 2001 race, and we got to the start line 20 minutes after everyone else had started running! Fortunately, we had champion chips tied to our shoestrings to keep track of our true times, but the whole experience sprinting to catch up with the walkers was quite amusing! The course itself covers the same route as the famous Peachtree 10K but goes as far as Turner Field. There are hills--the worst being at the end of the race right before the finish line--but plenty of aid stations. There is a good crowd for the 1/2 marathon, but I have to tell you, if you're going the distance of 26.2 you're gonna be running a lot of the course alone. The full marathon starts at the 1/2 marathon's end at 7:30 a.m. and is a loop course. Most of the crowd disperses due to the holiday before this race is over, thus there is almost NO crowd support for the marathon runners. (A VERY hard thing for a first timer.) The marathon does not attract nearly as many participants because of this runner isolation. I personally have no desire to ever do the full race because of this, though I have run other marathons. However, I would highly suggest the half marathon to any distance runner in the Atlanta area for Thanksgiving!

The Atlanta Marathon & Half-Marathon
3097 E. Shadowlawn Ave.
Atlanta, Georgia, 30305

Splatter & Chatter

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by barbara on November 9, 2000

Splatter & Chatter is one of many 'paint your own pottery' places around the Atlanta area. We have also gone to Just Kiln' Time located near Marietta Square and had similar, fun painting experiences, so I believe all of these places have a common procedure. This is a great activity to do on a gray afternoon with a child though you would not want to do it a lot as it can be expensive.

When you enter the store you pick out a piece of pottery (Christmas ornaments are wonderful to paint during the holiday season and make GREAT gifts for Grandma.) to paint. The pottery prices range widely ($5-$75) depending on the size of the pieces you choose. I like painting coffee mugs, and most mugs cost $10. After choosing a piece of pottery, you pick an assortment of colors for your masterpiece. You choose a table (You can bring in food or beverages if you so desire though none are sold in the store.), and then you begin to paint. After your masterpiece is done, you leave it with the store as they have to glaze it in a kiln. This process takes many hours, so you pick up your piece a few days after your initial visit.

When you do pick up your creations you will be pleased to see that the glaze makes the pieces look much brighter and different from the naked pottery you initially painted. The dishware is all dishwasher and microwave safe after being glazed, and it is neat to have cups in the cabinet with your children's names on them!

When you go to a 'paint your own pottery' facility, you need to check on the cost of 'studio time.' Splatter and Chatter charges $6.00 per person per hour to sit and paint. This can add up quickly! They do, however, have group discounts. I have also seen at the various places like this, special 'paint days' when studio time is discounted. Most all places will pro-rate studio time. After all, my son can paint a football bank and a Christmas ornament within a half hour! He's not as meticulous as Michaelangelo, but he still has a lot of fun!

Splatter and Chatter is located in the Vinings Jubilee section of shops which has several nice restaurants and stores to look through if you want to spend some more time in the area!
Splatter & Chatter
3003 Paces Mill Road
Atlanta, Georgia, 30339
+1 770 444 0449

Sci Trek

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by barbara on November 11, 2001

THIS ATTRACTION HAS---SADLY----CLOSED.

Sci Trek is a wonderful interactive museum located next to the Atlanta Civic Center. The purpose of the museum is to show children through hands-on exhibits how science works. For example, levers are explained as kids are challenged to lift punching bags that weigh more than they do. Optical illusions are demonstrated as people walk into a slanted room to see themselves on a television screen walking across a flat floor. Tactile exhibits where zebra fur and dinosaur bones may be touched are available. Demonstrations of how electricity and other such natural phenomon are harnassed are announced throughout the day. In the Kid Zone, children make noises with different objects in the music room. They shoot water with hoses at objects in plexiglass at the crazy water exhibit. This is a wonderful half day adventure suitable for the whole family.

Sci Trek is located next door to the Atlanta Civic Center. Free parking is available up front but on busy days such as Family Day (Held once a year. Families let into the museum for free. Always a fun day to visit Sci Trek but VERY crowded.) paid parking is $5 by the Civic Center. Another option is MARTA. Sci Trek is just a few blocks walk from the Civic Center MARTA exit.

SciTrek Georgia's Science & Technology Museum
395 Piedmont Avenue North East
Atlanta, Georgia
(404) 522-5500

Bennett Street Stores

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by barbara on March 17, 2002

Buckhead is home to the rich and refined in Atlanta. It is only natural to find it offers incredible shopping opportunities for the interior designer. While I might suggest parking your car anywhere in the area--places to spend your money will be evident all around you--a good place to start for antiques and furnishings would be on Bennett Street. The Stalls Antique Mall (116 Bennett Street NW---404-352-4430; Open Monday-Saturday, 10-5) houses a large group of antique dealers hocking their wide range of wares. Here is the place to find that perfect accessory for your den or the right farmhouse table to fit your Southern Living designed kitchen. If you don't find what you want in the Stalls, there are other antique and art stores lining the street for your perusal. Take the time to explore them all to your shopper's heart's content.
Bennett Street Stores
Bennett Street/off Peachtree
Atlanta, Georgia

Actor's Express

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by barbara on March 17, 2002

The Actor's Express is a small theater located in the unique King Plow Art Center which used to be a plow factory. This old industrial complex sets the mood for an artistic experience, and going to see a play there just feels like a natural thing to do.

One evening I had the pleasure of seeing The Mystery of Irma Vep at the Actor's Express. The two-man, many-character comedy was very funny and extremely well performed. The theater in which Actor's Express is housed is a small, intimate, and reasonbly comfortable space. The theater has built a reputation for pumping out quality productions whether or not the titles are well known. Check their website at www.actorsexpress.com for the current season.

Tip: Have dinner before (or drinks after) the play at the Food Studio which is also located in the King Plow Arts Center (See separate Review).

Actor's Express Theatre Co.
887 West Marietta St
Atlanta, Georgia, 30318
+1 404 875 1606

Fox Theater

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by barbara on March 17, 2002

Known as the fabulous Fox, the Fox Theater came into being in the 1920s as the headquarters for the Shriners Organization. It was originally the Yaarab Temple Shrine Mosque, and the Moorish decor makes present-day visitors feel as if they have stepped into a palace ripped from the pages of The Arabian Nights. While the entire theater seems gilded in gold, the feeling is one of opulence rather than gaudiness. At one time a palatial movie house, the Fox hosts a Summer Film Festival every year in which movies can still be enjoyed in style. Many plays are performed on the stage including blockbusters like Phantom of the Opera and Annie. Live concerts are heard at the Fox, too. All productions are of the highest quality, so get out the suit and long dress to enjoy a night of culture at the theater.

Website for Current Season: www.foxtheatre.org

Fabulous Fox Theatre
660 Peachtree St NE
Atlanta, Georgia, 30308
+1 404 881 2100

The Vinings Jubilee

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by barbara on March 20, 2002

The Vinings Jubilee shops are located in a quaint square off beautiful West Paces Ferry. Grouped together are familiar, upscale boutiques like Talbots and Banana Republic. With its red brick sidewalks and collection of stores, the Jubilee area reminds me of a miniature Faneuil Hall Marketplace in Boston. Garrisons, SoHo and the Atlanta Bread Company offer a wide range of dining delights. La Paz is across the street and Canoe is nearby.

Tip: Splatter and Chatter is a fun stop for painting your own pottery. Grab a bottle of wine from the wine store located on the first floor of the main building (you may bring food and beverages into Splatter and Chatter during your studio time) and let your creative sparks fly.

Vinings Jubilee
2850 Paces Ferry Rd NW
Atlanta, Georgia, 30303
(770) 438-8080

The Children's Museum of Atlanta

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by barbara on March 10, 2003

Just opened in March, 2003, The Children's Museum of Atlanta is located next to beautiful Centennial Olympic Park in the heart of the city. With three boys in tow, a friend and I decided to check the place out.

The facility itself is easily accessed from I-75. Parking can always be a problem in Atlanta, but there is a parking garage across the street that will cost you $5. If you'd prefer not to drive, you can take the MARTA to the Peachtree Center Station and walk to the museum. The cross street is Baker.

After we bought our tickets, it was time to explore. With three-story high ceilings and multi-colored walls, the interior of the museum felt a bit like a huge gymnasium. Different "sections" are within one giant room. The boys immediately ran for the mechanical crane with its twistable gears and levers. Plastic balls traveled through metal chutes to be deposited in bins to one side. After he had figured out how the crane worked, my son found the PVC pipe garden interesting as he made "sculptures" out of the long, white pieces. Kids piled in and out of the play truck in the middle of the floor. Some of them were wearing bright yellow construction helmets on loan from the museum. My friend and I found a bench where we could sit and observe our children.

While our boys (6-9) certainly had fun, we both agreed this museum is the best suited for children 18 mths. to 6 years old. Tiny tots will absolutely love going down the bright yellow banana slide, "watering" the plywood flowers, splashing their hands in the rubber duckie pool. Still, wearing brightly colored frog smocks to paint on plexiglass walls, making clay sculptures in the silver sand trough, running through the canvas maze, and beating on the bongo drums, will appeal to elementary school kids of all ages. We stayed for a couple of hours, but younger kids would've moved through the exhibits slower than ours did. Bring the camcorder and get more of your money's worth for the whole afternoon!

Practical Information
Hours: 10-5, 7 days a week (closed Christmas and Thanksgiving)
Admission: 2 and under--Free, 3 and up (including parents)--$11/person
Food: Eating space available. Vending machines for sodas and snacks.
Website: www.imagineit-cma.org

TIP: Budget some time to stop in the gift shop. This was my favorite place in the museum! Lots of unique, educational toys for kids such as pint-sized gardening tools and books available as well as some silly stuff like worms in dirt candy that aren't too expensive for the ride home.

The Children's Museum of Atlanta
275 Centennial Olympic Park Drive NW
Atlanta, Georgia, 30313
(404) 223-5763

Crisson Gold Mine/Dahlonega

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by barbara on April 30, 2002

Crisson Gold Mine is located in Dahlonega, Georgia, the site of the first major gold rush in North America. Dahlonega is a 45 minute-1 hour drive north of Atlanta (up 400), and mining gold is a wonderful, unique weekend or summer activity in the Georgia mountains. Of course, for the serious treasure hunters among us, the mines are open all year round with indoor panning in the winter.

Walking around and looking at all of the mining equipment used while searching for precious metals and gems is interesting. Learning facts about the Crisson Stamp Mill is fun, too. But the main attraction for the kids is shaking a pan of mucky water, searching for the glitter of gold. If no nuggets show up, no fear! The gift shop will sell you plenty.

Essential Information:
Phone: 706-864-6363
Operating Hours: April-Oct. 10-6; Nov.-March 10-5

The Consolidated Gold Mine is also in Dahlonega. There you can walk below ground and tour a mine. That number is 706-864-8473.

After you've had your fill with panning, scrounge up a great lunch at the Smith House. It's located at 84 S. Chestatee Street, 706-867-7000. My son loved the good Southern cooking served family style there. He even ate his vegetables. I always forget they taste better when cooked with a bit of fat, just like my grandmother used to do it.

Enjoy!

Crisson Gold Mine/Dahlonega
2736 Morrison Moore Pkwy East
Atlanta, Georgia, 30533
(706) 864-6363

Gone with the Wind Museum---Scarlett on the Square

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by barbara on January 4, 2005

My friend's little girl has a thing for Rhett Butler, but then, what Southern belle hasn't at some point in her life? So, to celebrate her 10th birthday, we all got dressed up and made our way to historic Marietta Square to seek out Scarlett O'Hara memorabilia. Of course, jeans are absolutely fine to wear when popping into the quaint Gone with the Wind museum, but our goal was to look like ladies. (Lawd!)

The museum is actually pretty small. It has a warehouse feel to it, with partitions separating the different sections. The building in which it is located was built in the late 1800s, right beside the railroad tracks. Inside you'll find a lot of exhibits that deal with the actors from Gone with the Wind, as well as the book's author, Margaret Mitchell. My friend's daughter was a little disappointed that they didn't have more dresses for her to see. I personally liked picking out the autographs of people like Butterfly McQueen (Prissy) on a giant movie poster that is hanging in front of the museum. We spent about 30-45 minutes walking through and reading everything.

If you don't pay the cost of the museum's admission, you can still peruse the small gift shop up front, where you can buy the book or movie version of Gone with the Wind. I couldn't resist the "Frankly, my dear..." cocktail napkins and, of course, the birthday girl got a souvenir—a glossy picture of Clark Gable and a replica of a newspaper article in the AJC announcing the movie's premiere at the Fabulous Fox Theater in Atlanta! There's also a television here to one side that is constantly playing the 1939 classic, just in case you're one of the two people in the world who hasn't yet seen it.

Bottom line? This is a good place to pop in if you're a GWTW fan and you're already in Marietta Square. After visiting the museum, you can get an ice cream or coffee and then go window-shopping in the several antiques shops nearby. There's also a small theater near the museum, and plenty of cute restaurants. A good area to spend a nice afternoon.

Museum Hours: 10am-5pm every day except Sunday and holidays.
Phone: 770/794-5576

Gone With the Wind Museum
10th Street & Peachtree
Atlanta, Georgia, 30305
+1 404 249 7012

Andretti Indoor Karting and Games

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by barbara on June 22, 2005

People in the South love competition. While football will always be king, fast cars have become big business. But even better to me than watching a NASCAR event is taking a run as a driver on a track. You can do this with your kids at Andretti's. Yes, that's Andretti like Mario Andretti. This is his place.

Similar in many respects to Dave and Busters in nearby Marietta, this facility can be a playground for adults---there's a skybox bar that only admits those 21 years and older, as well as an adult race track and a Fuddruckers restaurant---but you can also have a good time here with the whole family.

Buy a game card for the arcade. Climb the rock wall. Ride the zip line. Or get into a race!

The race cars themselves are very expensive to drive. You're looking at $20 for an adult ride on the challenging track. Twelve dollars buys you about 15 minutes for your son or daughter to indulge a need for speed on a basic circle. Plus, they get you again by charging a one-time $7 driver's license fee. In other words, you can blow through money quicker than Andretti can get into a winner's circle. But talk about photo ops!

After a short orientation video that's full of enough wit to keep it interesting, drivers get "suited up" and choose a helmet. My son and his best friend looked like mini-Italian speedsters as they walked toward the track. We loved cheering the two on as a staff member waved the appropriate flags at the start and finish line.

Tip: Go on a Saturday morning for fewer crowds. The later at night you go, the more adults and less "family" atmosphere it has.

For more information, check out Andretti's website at www.andrettiindoorkarting.com.

Andretti Indoor Karting and Games
11000 Alpharetta Hwy.
Atlanta, Georgia, 30076
(770) 992-5688

Apple Orchards

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by barbara on October 16, 2000

If you want a nice day in the country and don't mind driving north of Atlanta, take 575 up to Ellijay. (Will take about 45 minutes from Cobb County. From the Perimeter allow a little over an hour and a half! You'll drive past quaint sounding places like Ball Ground and Jasper.) There are tons of apple orchards in this small town that abound with activities for kids. North Georgia can also be a nice change of pace from the congested Atlanta roadways. See my Ellijay travel journal for more details!

Spa Sydell---A Trip for your Senses!

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by barbara on September 17, 2003

Recently a friend of mine gave me a half day ($140) of relaxation at Spa Sydell. What a great friend, right? This morning of pampering allowed me to choose two of three Sydell services: a facial, body massage, or a manicure and pedicure combo. So what did I choose and how was the experience?

Well, my first decision had nothing to do with the services I wanted. When I initially called to make my appointments, I had to decide which Spa Sydell in the Atlanta metroplex I wanted to visit. There are six locations: Alpharetta, Buckhead Plaza, the Cumberland Mall, Midtown Brookwood Place, Perimeter Square West and Pleasant Hill Square. The Midtown location on Peachtree St. is the newest. I have also heard it's the most well appointed. It's been so successful that it has taken the "flagship" position to the other Sydell spas. So that is, of course, where I wanted to go.

When I arrived, I was met on the first floor of Spa Sydell by a smiling receptionist who led me upstairs to a dimly lit waiting area. Several people in robes and slippers were sipping water. Candles and woodwind music set the mood. A 'waterfall' cascaded down one green wall. This is what I expect from any spa. I was just beginning to sink into my chair when my cell phone began to ring. Loud and clear. The Entertainer. How embarrassing!

Fortunately, as if on cue, Karen, my attendant, appeared in a black robe to take me away. Forgetting my cell phone 'faux pas', we went to the room where I was going to get my relaxing facial. Karen seemed very knowledgable about skin care and explained all the different types of facials available at Sydell. While I opted out of the Pumpkin Enzyme Treatment she suggested, I could have added it for $30 to the cost of the basic facial already included in my "half day."

Once in a robe and hair net, my hands were put into hot gloves that looked like oven mitts on my stomach. I leaned back so that Karen could make sense of all my dead skin cells. My face was misted, wrapped in towels, massaged, studied.... Then Karen put together a small set of suggestions for skin care that I picked up upon check-out. I have to admit, my face felt softer after she was done.

Next service? The body massage! My massage therapist, David, asked me about problem areas as walked together down the spa halls. Once I was in place on the massage table, he did a good job of focusing on the aches and pains in my shoulders, kneeding the knots out with his hands. I am a big advocate of deep tissue massages. I think they do wonderful things for your body, releasing toxins and stress. As always, this hour flew by for me.

While I did not take advantage of the steam room or showers, spa guests are welcome to use them either before or after services.

Would I suggest Spa Sydell to someone else?
I can't speak for all the locations, but I certainly enjoyed my visit to the Midtown spa. If you like to relax, you'll probably also have a nice experience.

Some basic costs:
Swedish and deep tissue massages are $70 for a full hour. Reflexology (foot massages) and hot stone massages are also available. A basic, 60 min. facial is $70. Additional treatments such as oxygenation can be added. Other services available include body polishes, hair removal, nail care, etc.

To make an appointment:
Call 404-255-spas or visit www.spasydell.com.

Enjoy!


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