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Atlanta, Georgia, offers a variety of museums featuring art, sports, science, history and more. Families can see Jim Henson’s Muppets, tour a Boeing 747, test your football skills and sample more than 100 flavors of Coca-Cola products. Wondering which museums in Atlanta your family will love? Read on for ten of the best Atlanta museums for family fun.
From the time my children were little, I’ve taken them to museums. In fact, my youngest son’s first public outing, when he was four weeks old, was to the High Museum of Art. In the 14 years since, my family has been to almost every major museum in our hometown of Atlanta, Georgia. As a mom and avid museum goer, I’ve discovered some great museums in the city. Here are my thoughts on ten of the best museums in Atlanta for families.
High Museum of Art
The High Museum of Art in midtown Atlanta is a leading art museum in the Southeast. A Smithsonian affiliate, its permanent collection contains more than 15,000 works, including American, European, and African art, contemporary art, and photography.
Located on the Woodruff Arts Center campus on Peachtree St. NE, the High Museum’s buildings are world-class examples of modern architecture, designed by renowned architects Richard Meier and Renzo Piano.
Along with its fine arts collection and impressive architecture, the museum features extensive children’s programming. Family events include Toddler Thursdays and special guided tours for families on weekends. Museum members can also attend Baby Book Club and Saturday Toddler Tours.
My kids loved spending time at the museum’s Greene Family Education Center, which offers hands-on arts activities. Designed for ages toddler to tween, the center encourages budding artists to create digital paintings, spin giant color wheels, and build forts with soft-sided blocks.
Renovated in 2018, the center’s new creative play spaces allow kids to stretch their legs – and their imaginations.
Chick-fil-A College Football Hall of Fame
For sports-loving families, a visit to the Chick-fil-A College Football Hall of Fame is sure to be a winner. The museum features college football memorabilia and more than 50 interactive displays in a 50,000-square-foot space next to Centennial Olympic Park in downtown Atlanta.
The College Football Hall of Fame’s unique All-Access Pass records your interactive experiences at the museum. Visitors can then download and share them with friends within 30 days of a visit.
My family’s favorite interactive exhibit is the audio booth where we tested our sportscaster skills calling famous college football plays. We also proudly showed our school spirit during fight-song karaoke in the Coca-Cola Fans’ Game Day gallery.
My family particularly enjoyed the College Football Hall of Fame’s 45-yard indoor football field and Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Skill Zone. There, my kids burned off steam running obstacle courses, throwing passes, and kicking field goals.
After working up an appetite, we had lunch at the Chick-fil-A restaurant next door. Where else?
The Children’s Museum of Atlanta
For kids ages eight and under, the Children’s Museum of Atlanta is a perfect mix of education and fun. Its hands-on exhibits promote immersive learning in science, math, engineering, reading and the arts.
When my children were young, they loved playing at the kinetic sand tables and loading bright plastic balls into the museum’s giant ball machine. And they could never get enough of the indoor fishing pond.
The museum provides colorful rain jackets to keep kids dry while they splash in the water and catch plastic fish with magnetic fishing poles.
The Children’s Museum of Atlanta also offers great opportunities for pretend play. In the Fundamentally Food exhibit, my kids collected eggs at a farm, loaded groceries on a delivery truck, and pushed carts around a grocery store, all while learning how the food they eat reaches their dinner table.
The Center for Puppetry Arts
The Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta is the largest nonprofit in the United States dedicated to the art of puppet theater. The center offers a Family Series of performances perfect for kids ages 4 and up.
Along with admission to a show, visitors receive entry to the center’s World of Puppetry Museum and Create-A-Puppet Workshop.
The World of Puppetry Museum features 175 puppets from five continents, including the Jim Henson Collection, the most comprehensive exhibit of Henson’s work in the world.
For an additional fee, sign up for a special guided tour of the Henson Collection Gallery to see iconic puppets like Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy and learn about Henson’s life and legacy.
Although museum-only tickets are available for purchase, I recommend seeing both a show and the museum in the same visit. The shows are extraordinary, with extravagantly-made puppets and intricate sets covering a full-size stage.
For me, the most fascinating part is after the show, when the puppeteers reveal the techniques they use to make the puppets come to life.
Delta Flight Museum
One of the newest museums on the list is the Delta Flight Museum, which opened to the public in 2014. The museum, which details the history of Delta and the aviation industry, is housed in two historic hangars at Delta’s world headquarters near the Atlanta airport.
At the Delta Flight Museum, we had the chance to board the Spirit of Delta, a Boeing 767 purchased by Delta employees for the company in 1982.
We also walked the wing and looked into the cockpit of a Boeing 747-400. The massive size of the 747 awed my kids. They also got a kick out of lounging in the luxurious first-class seats on its upstairs flight deck.
The Atlanta History Center
The Atlanta History Center is the ideal family museum for history lovers. The center includes historic houses, a museum with civil war memorabilia, and formal gardens.
The center’s permanent collection also now features the Cyclorama, a 49-foot-tall, 10,000-pound circular painting of the Battle of Atlanta.
On its Buckhead campus are two of the Atlanta History Center’s three house museums. The largest, known as the Swan House, is an elegant mansion constructed in 1928, open for guided tours.
The other, the Smith Family Farm, is the oldest surviving farmhouse in Atlanta.
Visitors also have nine days from the date of their ticket purchase to see the Margaret Mitchell House in midtown Atlanta, where Mitchell wrote the novel Gone With The Wind.
We like to visit the Atlanta History Center on nice days when we can enjoy its outdoor amenities. My kids’ favorite part of the Atlanta History Center is the Smith Family farmstead where they can see a 19th-century farm in action and pet the farm animals.
The Center for Civil and Human Rights
The Center for Civil and Human Rights is a tribute to the American Civil Rights Movement and the struggle for global human rights. Located on Ivan Allen Jr. Boulevard in downtown Atlanta, the Center features interactive displays covering significant events in the Civil Rights Movement, including the Freedom Rides and the March on Washington.
To me, the most powerful exhibit at the museum is the simulated lunch counter experience, which allows you to feel what it was like to sit through a nonviolent lunch counter protest.
The simulator recreates the sounds of a mob coming from behind you and people yelling on both sides of you. You can also feel someone’s hot breath on your ear and a kick on your chair.
But because of its disturbing content, the lunch counter experience is not recommended for young children.
In general, I recommend the Center for families with children from about ages 10 and up. Older elementary school-aged children will have a better understanding of its important themes and often troubling stories.
The World of Coca-Cola
The World of Coca-Cola is an Atlanta museum dedicated to all things Coke.
Learn about the history of the beverage and its global brand by visiting galleries of Coca-Cola artifacts covering more than 125 years and 30 countries. Artifacts include an original soda fountain from the 1880s and a Coca-Cola delivery truck from 1939.
For my family, the most interesting part of the tour was the on-site bottling plant and the tasting room. There we were able to sample more than 100 flavors of Coca-Cola products from around the world. My children were also thrilled with the small glass bottles of Coke that each patron receives upon leaving the museum.
Fernbank Museum of Natural History
Fernbank Museum of Natural History will appeal to future scientists and naturalists. Permanent exhibits include a STEM exhibit on physics, a walk though prehistoric times in Georgia, and a worldwide collection of seashells. The museum also boasts a four-story 3D theater that features Giant Screen and IMAX documentary movies. You can buy tickets for the museum only, the movie only, or both. Along with museum admission, visitors have access to 75 acres of hiking paths and outdoor interactive exhibits in Wildwoods and Fernbank Forest.
The most impressive part of the museum for my family was the full-size dinosaur skeletons in the museum’s Great Hall. My children also loved exploring Nature Quest, a nature-inspired indoor playground, designed for kids ages 9 and under.
Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park
Finally, no list of Atlanta museums would be complete without the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Park.
The national park includes a visitor center on Auburn Ave, Dr. King’s birth home, historic Ebenezer Baptist Church where the King family worshiped, and the King Center, final resting place of Dr. King and his wife, Coretta Scott King.
Also included is Fire Station No. 6, one of the first integrated fire stations in Atlanta since 1963, when the Atlanta Fire Department hired African Americans.
The sites at the park are self-guided except for the MLK birth home. Ranger-led tours are available on a first-come, first-served basis and are limited to 15 people. Register for the tour at the visitor center and arrive early to secure a spot.
About Shawn Shepard
Shawn Shepard is a freelance writer and mother to two teenage boys. As a mom, her specialties include cooking balanced meals for her family almost every night and planning amazing trips. Whether she’s visiting a museum down the street or flying to a destination halfway around the world, she’s always ready for the next adventure. Shawn writes about her family’s travel experiences in her blog Fellow Farer True.