This is my ninth post about our recent adventure through Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. Click for the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth posts from this trip. Because I blog about educational travel, I received media passes, discounts, and similar benefits at some of the places we visited. Others 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.
Family Fun in Atlanta
On Sunday, January 2 we woke up to rain. After how hot I'd been the previous day, I had no complaints. Not yet, anyway. (Yep. Foreshadowing.)
Our first destination was Peachtree Center, the meeting place for our 5-hour Atlanta City Bus Tour. When everyone was there, we gingerly walked to the bus; the tiles outside Peachtree Center were incredibly slick. This was the first of dozens of times over the course of five hours that our guide, Amanda, told us to be careful because of the very slippery surfaces. Once safely on the bus, Amanda told us all about the history of Atlanta as we drove to our first stop, Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Park.
The park buildings were all closed due to COVID, but there was plenty to see outdoors. We started at the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame.
We strolled through the World Peace Rose Garden (a surprising number of blooms, considering it was January).
That's Ebenezer Baptist Church. Martin Luther King, Jr. was baptized there, was ordained there, and served as co-pastor there. It was also the location of his funeral.
We visited his grave at The King Center.
And we saw his birth home.
We re-boarded our bus...
... and made a quick stop at Krog Street Market in case anyone needed a bathroom stop. Or a pastry stop. Then we set out for a mile-long walk along the Atlanta Beltline. The city of Atlanta is transforming former railroad tracks into 33 miles of multi-use urban trails. I love that, and apparently so do the Atlantans. The Beltline was getting a lot of use that rainy Sunday morning.
There's a lot of cool art along the Beltline.
We got back on our bus and set off for Ponce City Market, where we had lunch. There were so many tempting choices. We loved our meals.
We drove through the Buckhead section of Atlanta and admired the gorgeous mansions, then headed downtown. Amanda did a great job explaining everything we were seeing. She clearly loves Atlanta! The bus returned to Peachtree Center, where Amanda wished us farewell and reminded us (for the 50th time) to be careful because Atlanta is slippery when it rains.
Indeed. I was slipping so much as we were walking to our next destination that Steve was holding my arm to help me stabilize. And thank goodness, because my feet suddenly flew out from under me and I went down, just like when someone steps on a banana peel in a cartoon. The only reason I didn’t hit my head was because of Steve, but I hit my elbow hard. To add insult to injury, the whole back of me got wet from the puddle I fell into. Sigh.
We continued walking (carefully) to the College Football Hall of Fame.
I know literally nothing about college football, but when I was planning our trip and poking around on their website, it seemed like a place even someone as sports-ignorant as me would enjoy. And it was! In fact, it was one of my favorite things that we did in Atlanta.
When you arrive, you receive an All-Access Pass with an RFID chip. You sign in at a kiosk and add your name and your alma mater. Go Aggies!
They have a huge display with the helmets of 775+ teams.
When you sign in with your alma mater, it lights up and stays lit until you leave the Hall of Fame. So by looking at the wall, you can see all the schools represented by your fellow visitors. That gold helmet in the center is ours.
Second from the top, second from the right.
As a high school sophomore, Trevor doesn't have an alma mater yet. But he really hopes to attend UC Davis, so that's the school he chose for his All-Access Pass. With the pass around your neck, the interactive screens greet you. Trevor and Steve were standing together at this display, so it greeted them both.
It went on to show Hall of Fame players and coaches from UCD, along with titles won, and other interesting stats.
The huge screen behind the Heisman trophy displays the school logos and highlights from games of everyone standing nearby. Trevor and I were looking at the cases standing side-by-side toward the right; you can see that someone from LSU was standing to my left.
It was really cool....
... particularly when a cow pops up and greets you by name.
The rest of the Hall of Fame was equally entertaining. These lockers show the newest class of inductees to the Hall of Fame.
I particularly enjoyed the exhibit about HBCUs.
There were displays and interactive exhibits on everything from uniforms and fight songs to stadium food and tailgating traditions to fan face painting.
Trevor is quite a bit smaller than the average college football player, but we did learn from this display that he would tower over Jayson Carter. At 4'9", Carter played tailback for Rice and made history as the shortest college football player of all time.
Trevor may be small, but he has an impressive vertical jump. I don't remember what his best jump was, but it was 6" higher than either of the men who went before him. They were good sports about it.
At the indoor playing field, you can test your skills as a quarterback or try to kick a field goal.
The College Football Hall of Fame is a great place for family fun. We all learned so much. Definitely visit!
Our final order of business for the day was finding dinner. We passed this cool mural...
... and had dinner at Der Biergarten. We all enjoyed the outstanding German food and excellent service. Just a warning - the portions are enormous. Trevor started with dessert (apfestrudel mit vanilleeis) in case he wouldn't have room for dinner. That's my boy!
Our final morning in Atlanta began with snow flurries. What the heck?! That kind of weather doesn't happen where we live. If it's 60° one day, it's going to be somewhere between 50-70° the next few days, pretty much guaranteed. Atlanta had taken us from 80° to 30° in two days.
We bundled up and headed to the Flying Biscuit Cafe for breakfast. We were at the midtown location; there are 5 other locations in Atlanta. They also have locations in other parts of Georgia, as well as in Alabama, Florida, North and South Carolina, and Texas.
We'd heard that everything was good, so we did the only sensible thing we could and that was order as many different things as possible. Between us, we split a Belgian waffle with fruit, a buttermilk pancake with pecan butter, grits, sausage, bacon, scrambled eggs, potatoes, and two of their famous biscuits with apple butter.
It looks like a lot of food all sitting there in front of Trevor, but once we divided it, we each had a more reasonably sized tasting plate.
I'm so glad we ordered this way. Everything was fantastic. Really, really good. My absolute favorites were the pancake with pecan butter, the grits (so creamy and rich), and the amazing biscuits. And the apple butter! I would go back in a heartbeat. Do yourself a favor and eat at a Flying Biscuit.
Our next destination was the Capitol.
We parked a couple of blocks away and walked (uphill, naturally). I was the coldest I'd been in a long time. The temperature was barely above freezing and the wind was bitterly cold. Steve gave me his flannel shirt, which helped a bit. I have to laugh looking at this photo. That's my braided hair sticking out from my hood, looking like the world's ugliest goatee.
We found the Liberty Bell replica right away.
What we did not find: an unlocked door to the Capitol. Apparently, January 3 was a holiday. Unfortunately, this meant that not only were we unable to see the Capitol, but we couldn't see the Georgia Capitol Museum that is located inside the Capitol. Frustrating, to say the least.
But as disappointing as that was, it meant we had extra time at our next destination, Zoo Atlanta.
I love flamingoes. I could watch them all day.
This lion was watching us.
The pandas were snacking. They were peeling the outer layer off the bamboo stalks, eating that, and tossing away the inner part. Trouble does the same thing with apple branches. I would have thought the inner part would be tastier, but apparently I'm wrong.
Zoo Atlanta does an excellent job teaching about its animals. I particularly liked the pair of signs near each exhibit. One explained what life is like as that animal, while the other tells about the responsibilities of their care specialists. Here are examples from the ostrich and giraffe exhibits.
The cutest animal at Zoo Atlanta was this red panda, curled up in a tree fast asleep.
We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Zoo Atlanta.
We said goodbye to Atlanta and began our 200+ mile drive east. Just before we left Georgia, we stopped for lunch at a burger chain that we'd seen all over the south. If there are so many of them, it has to be good, right? We've discovered a lot of great places using that logic.
This was not one of those places.
With my trip roundups, I don't normally mention the hotels, restaurants, and attractions I don't recommend. But the burger from this chain might be the single worst I've ever had, which deserves documenting. It was gooey AND dry. Your experience may vary, but I will personally be avoiding this chain that begins with a K.
Soon after, we crossed the border into the Palmetto State. I'll tell you all about our next destination tomorrow.