There is something deeply satisfying about knowing your children are soaking in knowledge while haivng fun. Did you know many Atlanta attractions offer downloadable guides to further enhance your experience? We call it edu-tainment. Pack up the hand sanitizer, your sense of adventure and get set to learn your lesson. Word to the wise? Don’t forget to hit these spots early in the day to beat the heat and the crowds. That’ll teach them!
It’s the 800 lb gorilla in terms of indoor educational fun for kids in Atlanta. The Fernbank Museum of Natural History has some of the coolest dinosaur skeletons around, bar none. They will be awe-struck by the massive and aptly named Giganotosaurus. Note that the interior of the building is literally built with fossils—the limestone floor contains thousands of ammonites and other fantastic creatures. Easy-access parking, stroller-friendly elevators and a play area upstairs for them to run off steam make this Atlanta institution a family favorite. Download the family exploration nature guide to keep them engaged.
If your kid is an animal lover, Yellow River Game Ranch in Lilburn is your ticket. Dozens of bunnies, deer, sheep and goats scramble eagerly to be fed and petted. Black bears, cougars, and some incredibly aromatic buffalo can also be seen. Bring hand sanitizer and don’t wear white as this experience is hands-on.
Minerals, dinosaurs, and space—oh my! Tellus Science Museum in Cartersville is a jackpot of edu-taining experience. Don’t miss the solar house outside and the opportunity to explain to your kids why they need to remember to TURN OFF THE LIGHTS! Tip: If you are a Bank of America account holder, you can gain free admission to Tellus as well as the Atlanta History Center.
Dunwoody Nature Center offers a treasure trove of entertaining scientific activities for your little one including kid-centered concerts in the meadow and “Friday Night Hikes.” One of the best self-directed activities at DNC is Letterboxing, which will test your child’s (and your own!) navigational and problem-solving skills. There are eight letterboxes hidden around the park, and you can download the clue sheet or pick one up in the main building.
Located close to the Coca-Cola Museum and the Georgia Aquarium, The Children’s Museum of Atlanta is loaded with eye popping exhibits aimed at the small set. Parking is expensive and the nearest MARTA stop is five blocks away, so carpooling with other parents and pairing your visit with other nearby attractions gets the most bang for your buck.
Give the family a farm to table lesson and learn how milk gets from cow to your table at Cagle’s Dairy Farm. The how to milk a cow demonstration is not to be missed, along with the hayride tour of the farm. The baby cows are the cutest we have ever seen but watch out for the ducks—they can sometimes nibble.
The amount of knowledge little guppies can soak in at The Georgia Aquarium is deeply vast. From species identification to habitats to eco-activism—the world’s largest aquarium offers an educational opportunity perfect for rainy or sweltering summer days. Download a scavenger hunt to keep the fun interactive.
The Atlanta History Center is all about introducing history to your tots in creative ways and offers exhibitions, historic houses and gardens for them to explore. Hit the Kid’s Corner during museum hours to play the “Who’s Who in History” game and don’t miss the playhouse behind the center on your way to visit the historic houses and adorable lambs at the Smith Family Farm.
At the Consolidated Gold Mine in Dahlonega, you can take a tour through the mine itself or you can pan for gold or gemstones. The bucket seeded with big chunks of gemstones is by far the most fun for little ones. The mine tour is educational for older tots, but be aware that the steps are slippery (it’s dank and damp in the mine), and it gets very dark. Be sure to visit the potty before you enter the mine, because once you’re in, you’re in until the end of the tour.
If your little conductor loves trains (woot, woot!), a stop at the Southeastern Railway Museum is a must. The trains are located mostly outside on rails—so bring your walking shoes, strap the baby in the Bjorn and leave the stroller behind. Keep everyone cool with a morning visit because the metal trains are not air conditioned.
Where do you take your tots for edu-tainment in Atlanta? Tell us below!
— Robin Herrick