Dear readers, I saved the best for last. These are your mainstay attractions, the things that all good tourists do while they are in The Big A. I, of course, being a Type A Traveller decided to do them all in one day (and made my friend suffer right along with me). Don’t do this! I repeat, learn from my mistakes and barking dogs (sore feet). Pick two or three of these and do them well! Or don’t listen to me and do them all in one day…if you dare (insert evil laugh here – MWHAHAHAHAHAHAHA)….
Stop #1 – The World of Coca Cola
Don’t choke on your Coke, but this place was amazing! Maybe it’s my years in marketing, but I found the World of Coca Cola to be a world of fun! You start your tour by selecting one of three soft drinks – Coke, Diet Coke or Coke Zero (I picked Zero). Then, you walk into a room with some very excited guides who join you on the first part of the tour. Their enthusiasm was contagious (unlike the bored guide at CNN). They hyped up the crowd, and there really was one in a cool holding area (filled with memorabilia). After finding out where everyone was from, they gave us an overview of the upcoming self-guided tour, and then we went to watch a 5 minute commercial – I mean movie – about Coca Cola. So well done that I ended up with a lump in my throat, and no, it wasn’t just Aspartame. You leave the theatre and if you have three hours, you can line up for a pic with the Polar Bears. They were just mobbed so I settled for a photo op with the stuffed animals in the gift shop and recommend that you do to. The only negative thing about this place was the need to charge you for photos at every turn. You can then go see the safe where they have the secret formula for Coke (yeah right) and as you walk in, you can pose for another $20 photo! I declined and just enjoyed the little show that they put on. Next, you can tour the history of the soft drink. Amazingly, I saw an old ad with a woman who looked just like my beloved grandmother (see above – the lady in the middle is her identical twin).
Keep trekking through, and you can see Modern Coke Art and even more memorabilia including the American Idol couch (another photo op that you can skip). You can watch the bottling process before you go into the coolest part of the museum – the Taste It Beverage Lounge. You can literally try Coke products from almost every continent, and that’s exactly how they’ve divided it! Just don’t try Beverly from Italy. My friend warned me and I didn’t listen – it was GROSS!!! A lot of the drinks are very sweet, but if you like that sort of thing, go for it. You can get a bonus glass bottle of Coke on your way into the gift shop. I skipped it, we had a lot of walking ahead. The gift shop was HUGE and the customer service was great. They gave me 25% off my purchase because I had to wait so long for a price check (and I didn’t even complain).
Stop #2 – The College Football Hall of Fame
Honestly, I’m not a sports fan, but this was pretty fun! It’s worth an hour of your time, which is how long we stayed. You choose a team and all of the details are programmed into your handy dandy pass. You can find your team’s helmet on the wall (photo above, for sure you can figure out which one it is). I picked Hawaii for no particular reason other than the fact that I like it there. Take a picture near the Step and Repeat and then your ready to kick a field goal (unless, like me, you are wearing sandals). Then, throw the ball into a net thing-y! It was fun – even for me. After we left the field and headed into the museum, I can’t remember much. The coolest thing was when you would step in front of exhibits and they would greet you by name. Other than a “digital” face painting station, and seeing some awards (including the Rose Bowl and Heisman Trophy, it was a little lost on me.
Stop #3 – The Center for Civil and Human Rights
If I can sum this museum up in two words – AMAZINGLY POWERFUL is what comes to mind. This isn’t a museum filled with artifacts. It’s interactive and interesting exhibits including one that lets you experience what it was like to be a Civil Rights Activist as they tried to desegregate lunch counters in the 1960s. See if you can last the full two minutes – and remember that the activists in the 1960s lasted for hours! I won’t tell you more than that – you need to experience this place.
Stop #4 – The Georgia Aquarium
Yes, we did the Georgia Aquarium too! We have the Ripley’s Aquarium in Toronto which is just as good except that we don’t have penguins or Whale Sharks. I found some of the aquariums a little blurry including the conveyer belt that takes you through the shark tunnel. Don’t miss the room with the huge window into their dwelling – it’s incredible. Have a seat and stay awhile, it’s a highlight. The penguins were cute too, but they looked a little squished. I skipped the dolphin show since I don’t agree with keeping sea mammals captive. Outside of the sharks and the penguins, the sea otters were pretty fun to watch. The sea lions also looked pretty squished, so if that kind of thing upsets you, skip that exhibit. Skip the educational part at the end – it’s intended more for kids and seemed like a big time waster. Don’t skip the Aquarium, but realize that it will be packed and it’s not a meditative experience. I think I even saw a shark roll their eyes at seeing another tourist.
I think that outside of the State Capitol, Buckhead, The Carter Library and a couple of small things here and there, we literally did everything possible in HOTLANTA. It’s worth a visit, but three days is plenty! I wish it had been more of a traditional Southern experience, but stay tuned for more about that in my next entry!