The Big Peach – Atlanta CityPASS

Champagne Jam – Atlanta Rhythm Section

After I took a look at what The Dane and I wanted to do and where we wanted to go, I started googling for ticket prices.  While I was doing this, I stumbled on the Atlanta CityPASS.  (The prices below do not include tax.)

The current CityPASS includes:

  1. The Georgia Aquarium:  Adult $35.95; Child $29.95
  2. The World of Coca-Cola:  Adult $17; Child $15
  3. CNN Studio Tours:  Adult $16; Child $13
  4. Zoo Atlanta:  Adult $15.99; Child $15.99 (2 and under free) OR Center for Civil and Human Rights:  Adult $18.25; Child $14.25
  5. Fernbank Museum of Natural History:  Adult $33; Child $27 OR College Football Hall of Fame:  Adult $21.99; Child $17.99 

The cost for a city pass for one adult is $76.75 and for a child $62.50 (plus tax).

The first three tours (Aquarium, Coca-Cola and CNN) total cost is Adult $68.95 and child $57.95.  If you decided to go to Zoo Atlanta and the College Football Hall of Fame, you’d spend a total of:  Adult $95.93 and Child $91.93.  If you chose The Center for Civil Rights and Fernbank, you’d be up to $120.20 for adults and $110.20 for children.  (This will be different from seniors and all children under the age of 2, so take a look at those costs as well.)  Overall, if these sites are on your list, the CityPASS is a good value.  Keep in mind that it takes some time to do all of these activities, so you’ll want to be sure that you’re going to have the time and inclination to do them all for the CityPASS to be worth it. 

Also (for added convenience), all of these activities are within a few blocks of each other except Zoo Atlanta and Fernbank.  Another thing about those five options is that they are very close to the hotels and also to Centennial Park.

During the planning stage, I decided that the CityPASS was going to be our best option because it covered so many things on our list.  You can order the CityPASS online or you can pick up as a booklet at any of the attractions.  We choose to get ours in person.  If you do that, don’t tear the tickets out, let them do that at each attraction.  They void it if it’s been torn out.  

We also learned not to take anything that might be considered a weapon.  The Dane has a fairly big pocketknife which we ended up having to have bagged and tagged at each site.  Just know that if you carry something like that they will search you and you will have to leave it outside the attraction.  It’s not really a problem, just an added thing to have to think about when you’re leaving.

For the first day of our trip, we decided to go to breakfast at the hotel and take a look at our maps.  We discovered that looking at a map while walking is quite a bit different from driving.  There are all sorts of iphone apps that will give walking direction, it’s just a matter of figuring out how to use them.  Once we had that set up, we were on our way.

Our first stop…Centennial Park.

Centennial Park became a part of Georgia history because of the 1996 Summer Olympics which were hosted in Atlanta (it was an absolute nightmare to get around Atlanta during that time). 

I remember how we were all rocked to the core when we heard about the bombing that killed one person and injured 111 others.  This statue still bears the scars from the fragments.

Inside the park, you’ll find the interactive fountain called the Fountain of Rings. It’s the perfect place to go and play in the water (not so much when we visited though there were a few braving the spray.  This will be a real hot spot in the late spring and summer).  Around the fountain are flags from all the countries that hosted the Summer Olympics prior to the 1996 games.  There’s also an engraved brick path. The park was paid for by donations and each donor has a brick representing them.  If you are going to Atlanta for a visit, check out the Centennial Park website for details on events that are going on in the park.

Our next visit was the Georgia Aquarium, the largest Aquarium in the Western Hemisphere.

Just as we arrived, the Sea Lion show was about to start.  I learned that the difference between Seals and Sea Lions is that Sea Lions have ears. 

Some things of interest about the aquarium:

  1. There are five galleries:  Tropical Diver, Ocean Voyager, Cold Water Quest, River Scout, and Dolphin Tales.
  2. It is the only institution outside of Asia housing whale sharks.
  3. The River Scout exhibit reflects a regional environment which features an overhead river where you can view North American fish.  It also has piranha and an electric eel.
  4. Dolphin Tales is the newest gallery where you can view bottlenose dolphins.
  5. Water Quest is where you’ll find the Beluga Whales,sea otters, Japanese spider crabs, weedy sea dragons and African penguins.
  6. Ocean Voyager contains the largest indoor aquatic habitat in the world which can be viewed from one of the world’s largest viewing windows.
  7. Tropical Diver contains tropical fish (duh) where you can see sea horses, jellyfish, clownfish, shrimp, lobsters, turkeyfish and garden eels (for some reason these things creeped me out.  They are those little creep things on the bottom.  Can’t you get imagine stepping on those…ew)

There is also a food court at the Aquarium.  I have very mixed feelings about this.  The main reason for that is that as soon as you enter the aquarium, all you can smell is raw fish.  If this is a pleasant smell for you, by all means, eat at the food court.  If it isn’t (and it wasn’t for me), bypass the food court.  There’s a little food shack just outside the exit.

We took a break outside near the food shack.  Directly in front of us was the World of Coke.  To our left was the Center for Civil Rights, which was next on our list of places to visit. 

The Center for Civil Rights was one of the places we wanted to be sure to visit, particularly because we were visiting on the MLK holiday.  If you get the CityPASS and choose the Center for Civil Rights, just know that you are making this choice instead of Zoo Atlanta.

Some things of interested about The Center for Civil Rights:

There are three permanent exhibits –

1. Voice to the Voiceless – these are personal effects that belonged to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This exhibit tells his story from youth through his assassination, along with the aftermath. The exhibit includes drafts of the “Letter from Birmingham Jail” and “Drum Major Instinct,” which was a sermon he delivered shortly before his death.

2. Rolls Down Like Water – is more of an interactive gallery that shows visitors what it was like to be segregated. There is a lunch counter where you can sit, place your hands, and a voice takes you through what it was like to be a part of a sit-in.

3. Spark of Conviction – this exhibit is upstairs and explores civil rights movements on a more global scale.

Our visit to the Center for Civil Rights was an emotional one.  There were many things that we saw in the museum that made us more aware of events that took place before I was born and many miles away from The Dane’s home state of Wisconsin. 

We watched the film about the Freedom Riders and the bombing of their bus.  We learned about the lunch counter and the sit-ins.  Then we walked into the gallery with the singing voices of four little girls:  Addie Mae Collins (age 14), Carol Denise McNair (age 11), Carole Robertson (age 14), and Cynthia Wesley (age 14). 

There were stained-glass portraits of them in their choir robes as little voices sang.  This exhibit is there to make sure that we remember the four little souls lost in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing. 

Following the Four girls there is a passage that leads up a staircase that is a reminder of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  On a very 60’s looking TV, Walter Cronkite announces his passing.  On the wall up ahead is a Lorraine Motel sign that at a certain angle shows King’s assassin. 

On the third floor, we walked through the Spark of Conviction gallery and learned about other places where civil rights have been violated and where there is still a need. 

All in all, we spent a number of hours looking through the museum.  I went back and forth to different exhibits, particularly on the second floor, trying to get my head around the history of it all.

Being the Martin Luther King holiday, there were a lot of people at the museum.  While we were on the first floor looking at documents on loan, we noticed a TV camera that we were told was documenting the events that day and would be broadcast on TNT later.  We made a point to watch it that evening and learned about things we’d missed even though we’d been there for several hours.

Together, The Dane and I left the museum silently.  Without much discussion, we crossed the street to Centennial Park where we walked around for a while.  Neither of us said much at the time.  We were just absorbing all that we had seen and learned.  My thoughts were that everyone should visit The Center for Civil Rights for a perspective on how things were and where we are along the continuum of change since then.  Something that I learned in the museum had to do with Atlanta being the “City too Busy to Hate.”  I had never heard that before, so since my visit, I have been trying to learn more about it. 

After a long (emotional) day, The Dane and I had a quiet dinner and turned in early. 

Stay tuned…more of our trip to come 🙂

Sweater – Dressbarn (similar); Tee – Cato; Jeans – Lane Bryant; Shoes – Sketchers; Handbag – Tignanello

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