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Although baseball is considered the national pastime, football reigns supreme in the South. People in the southeast are passionate about “their” team, pro or college. Given the number of transplants that live and work in Atlanta, the city has a diverse football culture that is celebrated every week in the fall. Our Inquisitive TravelingMom is part of a sports-loving family that has found the very best things to do for football fans in Georgia’s capital!
Both my husband and I were born in Western New York to football-loving families. We know the heartbreak when your NFL team falls just short of glory. (Looking at you, Bills.) Both of us also grew up in Atlanta suburbs, so we were raised in an environment steeped in the love of college football. The SEC dominates Saturday in the South, y’all – I had to plan our November wedding around the University of Georgia football schedule. We are happy to live in a city that offers so many things to do for football fans! Here are my favorites:
Tour the Brand New Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta
We were sad to see the Georgia Dome go. When I got to see the inside of the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium, however, I tossed a “Bye, Felicia” to the Dome next door and never looked back. Home to both the Atlanta Falcons and Major League Soccer team Atlanta United, the Mercedes-Benz Stadium is an architectural wonder. Football fans looking for things to do will want to catch one of the guided tours. Tours are open to the public at a cost of $25 per adult and $20 for kids 3-12 and military. The tours take you to behind-the-scenes places like the VIP lounges and player locker rooms while also pointing out the most fun and interesting parts of the public areas.
College Football Fans Will Love the College Football Hall of Fame
Nestled in downtown Atlanta near Centennial Park is the perfect activity for college football fans in Atlanta. This is more than a staid museum of stats and plaques. The College Football Hall of Fame is full of interactive things to do for you and your future quarterbacks! When you arrive, pick up a pass and register it with your favorite college, thereby making every interactive station personalized to you and your team. I don’t know if you could tell from the above picture, but we are pretty fond of the Georgia Bulldogs. Each station at which I scan my pass immediately shows the Red & Black as well as our Dawg logos. The best part is that you get to take some of the fun home with you. On your pass are instructions for how to download some of your video experiences of the day as a souvenir!
Georgia State University Takes Over The Ted
In addition to our new NFL / MLS stadium, Atlanta is also happy to show off the new SunTrust Park, home to our Braves baseball team. What to do with their former home of Turner Field? The stadium, affectionately known as “The Ted” for Atlanta entrepreneur Ted Turner, is now the home of the Georgia State University Panthers. It’s a pretty impressive establishment for a primarily commuter school that only got a Division I football team in 2010! But I’m happy to take my kids to a game there as that is Mom’s alma mater. A fledgling team needs good crowd support! We’ve also got travel tips for a college football weekend.
Sting Like A Bee at Georgia Tech’s Bobby Dodd Stadium, Atlanta
Don’t tell my husband that I’m steering y’all to the Georgia Institute of Technology, please! Grant Field at Bobby Dodd Stadium, however, has some history and I do love places with history. Grant Field is the oldest continuously used on-campus site for college football in the South, with games being played at the current site since 1905. Originally named for an Atlanta merchant who was a benefactor of the stadium, it was renamed in honor of Coach Bobby Dodd in 1988 since he still holds the record for most wins of any coach of the team’s history.
The Varsity is a MUST for Football Fans in Atlanta
Established in 1928 near the Georgia Tech campus, The Varsity is a beloved part of Atlanta history. Mostly patronized by Georgia Tech students when it opened, The Varsity is a must do for any Atlanta tourist. Be ready to be greeted with “What’ll Ya Have?” shouted at you. If there’s a crowd, you better have the answer ready. The Varsity is such an icon that 58 year employee Erby Walker was invited to be a torch bearer prior to the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. Order a chili cheese dog, onion rings and a large F.O. (Frosted Orange). Health conscious it is not. However, if it’s good enough for four U.S. presidents and countless celebrities to stop in, it’s good enough for you.