Atlanta is a quick two and a half hour car ride down the interstate, but we certainly don’t get down there often enough. In fact, it had been years since either of us had been to the city for more than just an IKEA trip. So we wanted to make the most we could out of our weekend in the city, but it’s such a large city that it would be impossible to see every square inch. Here’s a quick recap of our weekend getaway – what we did and where we stayed. We already covered the food in the a previous post, so be sure to check that out if you are looking for places to eat in Atlanta.
There are a few areas where you could choose to stay and make that your central hub for the weekend. It seems like most people either stay in Buckhead or in Downtown. We opted for the Omni in Downtown Atlanta since most of our weekend activities would be closer to the downtown area. We got a great deal on the Omni, but keep in mind when staying downtown that you will pay for parking and the safest bet is to pay for valet parking at your hotel. The valet at the Omni was very expensive though and it alone ended up costing over $70 for two nights. The Omni was convenient to the major attractions – we were right next to the CNN building and within walking distance of Centennial Park, the Georgia Aquarium, and the Coca-Cola Museum. That said, I am not sure I can recommend the Omni. In general the hotel was clean, but we did have a housekeeping issue with our linens and the horrible valet experience really left something to be desired. Our first morning we planned to go out for breakfast, but there aren’t any breakfast spots within walking distance in downtown, so we knew we needed to drive somewhere. We waited 30 minutes for our car because it was in their overflow lot. Another night, we wanted to drive down to Krog market for dinner, but in downtown traffic it would have been a 45 minute wait for our car again because it was in the overflow lot. We ended up taking an uber instead.
The rooms are very spacious though and we had a great view of the park. The bed was exceptionally comfortable, but we did have to complain about *ahem* noise from the room next door. While the Omni does not offer complimentary breakfast, the room did have a coffee maker and mini fridge.
Here is a shot of the bathroom – neutral, modern decor and it was fairly clean.
Our first stop after breakfast was the Georgia Aquarium! Within easy walking distance of our hotel, it is one of the largest aquariums in the country. We definitely recommend checking it out, but get there as early as possible to avoid the crowds. We got there about 30 minutes after they open and it was already insane. If possible, go on a weekday, not a Saturday!
The aquarium, like most, is separated out into sections based on the eco-system or habitat. BUT each section branches off from a central point in the middle of the aquarium and that lobby area can get very crowded. Georgia Aquarium has several rare breeds including Beluga Whales, large Southern Sea Otters, and Zebra Sharks.
The penguin exhibit has a neat feature that kids will love where you can crawl through a tunnel underneath the exhibit and pop up into lookouts right next to the animals! Fun for kids, but I’m too old for that crawling around business, especially with small children pushing their way through.
You definitely do not want to miss the Dolphin Tales show! The show only lasts about 30 minutes, but you should get a seat as soon as they start letting you in the doors. Check the times when you get there for the day and plan your route accordingly so you don’t miss it and so you get a good seat. Don’t sit too close though, unless you want to get wet. The show is worth the wait and they make the wait time fun with interactive games. They don’t allow pictures during the show, but it was one of the best dolphin shows we’ve seen.
Buy tickets online so you can skip the line and to save money. There is usually a deal going on if you purchase on their website in advance.
25 Baker Street NW, Atlanta, GA 30313
Parking at 357 Luckie Street, NW Atlanta, GA 30313
Check the website for daily hours. Typically 9am-9pm on weekdays and 8am-9pm on weekends.
Across Centennial Park is the World of Coca-Cola Museum, which was our second stop. Learn some real history behind the world’s favorite beverage and enjoy a coke direct from the source.
Inside the World of Coca-Cola, you will experience tons of memorabilia, a feel good Coca-Cola movie in their theater (you’ve been warned), the Coke polar bear, artwork in every medium inspired by our favorite beverage, and more. Part of the tour includes a look inside “The Vault”, which takes you through the history of the brand and beverage.
Inside the vault, in a high security chamber, the secret formula for Coca-Cola is kept locked away for safety. Apparently over the years many attempts to duplicate and even steal the recipe have been made, but no one ever cracked it. Today, it is actually stored here in Atlanta for safekeeping in this very vault.
Finally, the last stop at the World of Coca-Cola before the gift shop is their Taste It! room where you get to sample over 100 flavors of Coca-Cola beverages from around the globe. Broken out by continent are beverage stations with several banks of dispensers letting you taste lots of coke. My tip is here is to not over do it. Get tiny samples of each flavor you want to try – you may not like it and you don’t want to make yourself sick drinking way too much soda. If you have kids with you, then I’d suggest watching them closely to prevent them from overloading on sugar or making a huge mess. 🙂 The tasting room is definitely the BEST part of the museum, in my opinion. I really enjoyed trying flavors from all over the world. Some of them were delicious, but there were just as many I’d never drink again.
General admission to the World of Coca-Cola is $16 per adult. You can purchase tickets online as well. If you purchase an Atlanta CityPass for $76.75, this will include an admission to both the Georgia Aquarium and World of Coca-Cola as well as three additional attractions. It’s a great value if you plan to do all five attractions, but we did not have time.
World of Coca-Cola
121 Baker Street NW, Atlanta, GA 30313 – 1807
(404) 676-5151 or 1-800-676-COKE (2653)
Check the website for daily hours. Typically 9am-6pm on weekdays and 9am-7pm on weekends.
Shopping! You cannot go to Atlanta without doing a bit of shopping!! There are now a few big indoor markets in the Atlanta area built out of historic buildings, which give them a unique urban feel. Ponce City Market is an adaptive reuse project, in which the old Sears, Roebuck & Co warehouse building has been revitalized into a hub housing a food hall, various shops, office space, and apartments. We’ve shared our experience at the Food Hall in our previous post, but the shops are definitely worth checking out too. At Ponce, you’ll find a large West Elm, Williams-Sonoma, Anthropologie, J. Crew, Lululemon, Madewell, Archer Paper Goods, and many more. Lily Rain sells a variety of unique goods, clothing, jewelry, and gifts. Citizen Supply is a purveyor of locally crafted goods. Both deserve a visit while at Ponce!
Ponce City Market
675 Ponce de Leon Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 303087
Hours of operation vary. Please view each business’ hours on the Directory page.
Krog Street Market is another mixed use indoor market offering both dining and retail shops near Inman Park. Curated out of the Atlanta Stove Works warehouse building from the late 1800s, Krog is a great place to experience the community of Atlanta. Grab a beer from Hop City, enjoy an order of Gu’s pork dumplings and shop for flowers, soaps, chic wares, gifts, stationary, and home furnishings.
Krog Street Market
99 Krog Street, Atlanta, GA 30307
Hours of operation vary. Please view each business’ hours on the Directory page.
For us, a weekend in Atlanta is also not complete without a shopping trip to IKEA. Looks guys, living 2.5 hours away from the nearest Swedish superstore is a hard life. So any chance we can go to pick up some quality home goods at an affordable price and we are there. This trip we spent Sunday morning perusing the warehouse before grabbing lunch and an ice cream at Jeni’s on the way out of town.
441 16th Street, NW, Atlanta, GA 30363
Store Hours Daily: 10:00am – 9:00pm
To cap off your weekend, hang out in Centennial Olympic Park – a picturesque park in central Downtown Atlanta. You can play in the fountains, lounge in the grass, take a ride on the SkyView Atlanta ferris wheel, or just go for a stroll in the evening when the city is lit up. It’s quite pretty!
Park use is permitted only during open hours (7:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.)
Check their Facebook page at facebook.com/SkyViewAtlanta or call directly at 678-949-9023 for updates or changes to regular hours. Normal hours are Sunday – Thursday: 12 PM – 10 PM, Friday: 12 PM – 11 PM, Saturday: 10 AM – 11 PM
Until next trip Atlanta!! <3 K&R