During the civil rights movement, Atlanta was known as "the city too busy to hate." Today, it's a city with enough attractions to keep your whole family busy. Whether you're a stay-at-home parent in Atlanta or you're spending your vacation there, you'll want to find healthy activities to keep your toddler entertained. Here's a selection of the best that Atlanta has to offer for you and your little one.
Playgrounds can entertain toddlers for hours, and Atlanta has a great selection of parks and playgrounds. You'll find several free places to play at Centennial Park, which is conveniently located downtown. Its two playgrounds have slides, swings and lots of climbing activities, all made from recycled materials. Bring a ball for your toddler to kick around in one of the large grassy fields, and in the summertime, bring a swim diaper and bathing suit so your toddler can play in the Olympic fountains. Have lunch at the cafe by the fountains, or pack a lunch and sit on a park bench in the shade.
You'll find more free playgrounds at Piedmont Park, one of the most popular parks in Atlanta and home to the annual Dogwood Festival in April. Grant Park, the largest park in the city, also has two large playgrounds and several walking trails.
Atlanta's warm weather means your toddler can play outside almost year-round, as long as you have plenty of sunscreen and can handle the heat. If you plan to spend the entire day outdoors, be sure to check the air quality index, which is often poor in the summer and worsens in the afternoon.
One can't-miss outdoor attraction is the Atlanta zoo, located in Grant Park. Be sure to explore the children's section of the zoo, which includes a petting zoo, a train ride, a carousel and a playground.
The botanical gardens, located in Piedmont Park, also has plenty for your toddler to enjoy. Your entire family will enjoy the strolling through the trails through the gardens. The children's garden includes slides, fountains and educational activities.
Rainy Day Exercise
Rain in Atlanta usually doesn't last long, but if you're stuck with a rainy day, your toddler can combine exercise with education at Imagine It! Children's Museum downtown. The museum includes permanent and seasonal interactive exhibits for children from babies to age eight, and short educational shows are scheduled throughout the day.
If you just need a place for your toddler to run around on a rainy day, try one of Atlanta's indoor play areas. Both Hippo Hopp in Buckhead and Leapin' Lizards in Decatur use only environmentally friendly cleaners and minimize electricity use by using natural light as much as possible in the play area. Leapin' Lizards also includes child-friendly organic snacks at its cafe.
Educational & Cultural Activities
Hoping to expand your toddler's cultural awareness during your time in Atlanta? Try "Toddler Thursday" at the High Museum of Art, a weekly program that includes art pieces geared for toddlers, a story time and a craft time. The program is free with museum admission.
The Atlanta History Center also has a toddler program, "Magic Mondays," from 10:30 to 11:30 am every Monday. The 33-acre Buckhead campus of the center includes two museums, two historic houses, a research center and a garden. While you're at the center, take your toddler for a walk on the Connor Brown Discovery Trail, which has seven interactive stations that teach toddlers about local plants and animals.
Fun for the Whole Family
Fernbank Museum of Natural History has activities that will interest your older children, as well as your toddler. Wander through the trails in Fernbank Forest for free, or attend one of the 30-minute children's programs in the planetarium on Saturday afternoons at 1:30 pm. Check the calendar for seasonal exhibits that are geared for children.
Your whole family will also enjoy the Georgia Aquarium, the world's largest aquarium. Your toddler can gaze at the fish, and make sure he gets a chance to "pet" the fish in the touch pools in the Georgia Explorer gallery. The 4-D IMAX theater shows brief educational movies that toddlers will enjoy.