1/21/22

Family Fun in the South, Part 8: Atlanta

This is my eighth post about our recent adventure through Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. Click for the firstsecondthirdfourthfifthsixth, and seventh posts from this trip. Because I blog about educational travel, I received media passes, discounts, and similar benefits at some attractions. Some places we toured are free to everyone and we paid full price for everything else. The amount we paid has no bearing on my reviews, as I only share what I honestly recommend.

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Family Fun in Atlanta


On Saturday, January 1 we started our day at the Georgia Aquarium


We live fairly close to the top-notch Monterey Bay Aquarium, so our standards for aquariums are very high. Georgia did not disappoint. Home to over 100,000 animals living in 11 million gallons of water, it is the largest aquarium in the world. 



At 6.3 million gallons, this is the largest tank in the world. It was very interesting watching staff feed the various animals. 


The aquarium is arranged with a central courtyard space. Galleries (including Tropical Diver, Cold Water Quest, Ocean Voyager, and more) extend from the center in different directions. 


We arrived right at opening, speed-walked ahead of the crowds, and popped into an empty gallery. 



The rest of our time at the Georgia Aquarium can best be described as 'crowded.' Unpleasantly so. 


There were things we weren't able to see because it was just too congested, but we did luck out and get some good views occasionally. We also thoroughly enjoyed the dolphin and seal lion shows. 






The Georgia Aquarium is beautiful and a great destination for families. Just make sure you arrive right at opening and try not to pick a holiday to visit. 


Our next order of business was an Urban Adventure Quest... sort of. They used to have an Atlanta Quest, but it disappeared. When I contacted them, I learned that they'd taken it down because too many places were inaccessible due to COVID. They asked if we wanted to test it to see if enough clue spots had reopened. Of course!

We had a great time trying to solve the questions in and around Centennial Olympic Park. As always, the Quest was a lot of fun, taught us a lot, and had us taking a closer look at things we hadn't even noticed before. We did identify some questions that were impossible to answer now, so we sent along our feedback. 




The only downside to working on the Quest in the afternoon was this: 


We were not prepared for temperatures to top 80° on New Year's Day. When we get ready to travel, I start watching the weather forecasts and check historical data. For this 15-day trip, it looked like we were going to have mostly mild winter weather - highs in the 50s and 60s and lows in the 30s and 40s. So we packed mostly long-sleeved base layers, with layers we could add on top. We ended up wearing the few short-sleeved shirts we'd brought in Birmingham and Montgomery, where it reached the 70s. 

It wasn't a problem indoors at the Aquarium, but as we were rushing around outdoors during the Quest, I was cursing my long-sleeved shirt. Literally. I kept trying to push the sleeves up, but they kept falling back, which is why it looks like I'm wearing an asymmetrical shirt in the photo below. 


I ended up doing laundry that night at the hotel so that we could wear short-sleeved shirts again. As you can see on the chart, that was nice for January 2, but by January 3 the temperature in Atlanta had dropped to the mid-50s with a bitterly cold wind. Much more in line with the decor outside the World of Coca-Cola, our next destination. 


Fortunately, it's indoors and climate-controlled, so I didn't follow through on my impulses to rip the sleeves off my shirt. 

While I was comfortable temperature-wise, I was not pleased with the crowding. We were packed like sardines into the pre-theater holding area. 


Things were a bit better in the galleries, but still far too crowded to fully enjoy the experience. 


We did our best to try to go to the least-crowded areas first, but with more people streaming in all the time, any reprieve was temporary. Definitely go to the World of Coca-Cola because it is awesome, but don't go on a holiday. 

I loved seeing all of the artifacts. 




This display about Coca-Cola's relationship with the Olympics was really interesting. 

  

It was fun to learn the legend of Coca-Cola's secret formula and the history of the company. They make a lot more than just their famous cola. 


I absolutely loved the Scent Discovery room. But my very favorite part (and everyone else's favorite, I'm sure) was Taste It


Here, you could sample dozens of sodas from around the world. The Russian version of Sprite (second from right) is flavored with cucumber and is quite tasty. 


We each found some drinks that we LOVED...


 ... as well as a few that weren't our personal favorites. 


The whole experience was really fun. Definitely go to World of Coca-Cola if you visit Atlanta!

We had dinner at Tin Lizzy's. The food was fantastic. I highly recommend the tacos, which you order individually. I was only hungry enough for one (the Executive - yum!), while Steve and Trevor had two different tacos each. I love when a restaurant makes portion control easy. When we're traveling, we can't take leftovers the way we would at home. 



On Monday I'll tell you about the rest of our time in Atlanta. 

1/20/22

Family Fun in the South, Part 7: Tuskegee and Atlanta

This is my seventh post about our recent adventure through Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. Click for the firstsecondthird, fourth, fifth, and sixth posts from this trip. Because I blog about educational travel, I received complimentary admission tickets, media rates, and similar benefits at some attractions. Some places we toured are free to everyone; we paid full price for everything else. The amount we paid has no bearing on my reviews, as I only share what I honestly recommend.


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Family Fun in Tuskegee and Atlanta


We left Montgomery on New Year's Eve and drove 40 miles to Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site


It marks the location where in 1940 the US Army Air Corps began testing to see "if African Americans had the mental and physical abilities to lead, fly military aircraft, and courage to fight in war." (Spoiler: Yes. Of course.)  



Before the Tuskegee Airmen, no African American had been a pilot for the US military. The War Department enacted strict criteria to ensure only the brightest and most physically fit would join the experiment, so it's no surprise that the Tuskegee Airmen went onto to show great skill and courage in combat. 





The success of the Tuskegee Airmen proved that African Americans could be great military leaders and pilots, and helped pave the way for desegregating the military. The story of the Tuskegee Airmen also inspired people to continue to fight to end racial discrimination in the US. 

We said farewell to Alabama, crossed the border into Georgia, and instantly lost an hour. We continued on to our first stop Atlanta, The Varsity



The Varsity opened in 1928 and is enormous. It covers 2 city blocks and has indoor seating for 800 diners. In 1950, it was named The World's Largest Drive-in. 


Eating there was an experience. I wish I'd counted how many ordering windows there were. 


There are a bunch of dining rooms at the Varsity, each with a TV tuned to a particular station. 


They are most famous for their hot dogs, rings, fried pies, and FO (Frosted Orange), so that's what we got. It was tasty. 


After getting situated at our hotel, we strolled over to the 22-acre Centennial Olympic Park


(I guess I get the bronze...)


We stayed until sunset, although we would be back first thing in the morning (New Year's Day). I'll tell you all about that tomorrow.