Hello, Summer! When the bell rings to signal the end of another school year and the beginning of summer 2019, that's the perfect time to make plans for a summer vacation in Atlanta. This summer, as always, you’ll find plenty of fun new exhibits and family friendly events in Atlanta that are perfect for children of all ages. From giant bugs to paintings by European masters, Atlanta's most popular attractions are alive with exhibits just waiting to be discovered.
Take a look at all the fun things to do and amazing summer events in Atlanta you won't want to miss.
Children's Museum of Atlanta
Doc McStuffins: The Exhibit
June 8-Sept. 8
Playing doctor was never so much fun. (📷 The Children's Museum of Indianapolis)
This exhibit at the Children's Museum of Atlanta features the McStuffins Toy Hospital environment and follows the Disney Junior TV series about a young girl who performs checkups and diagnoses her toy patients. The experience is available in Spanish as well as English.
Kids will love: Stepping up to more science and ordering a hands-on experiment at the Science Bar at the permanent mezzanine-level exhibit.
High Museum of Art
European Masterworks: The Phillips Collection
Through July 14
Édouard Manet (French, 1832–1883), The Spanish Ballet, 1862, oil on canvas. The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C., acquired 1928.
Vincent Van Gogh is there, along with Pablo Picasso, Edgar Degas, Henri Matisse and Claude Monet. The High Museum is the exclusive venue in the Southeast for this exhibit, featuring 75 paintings from America’s first museum of Modern Art, the collection of Duncan Phillips. Among the stunning works is the famous Degas painting, "Dancers at the Barre," as well as a beautiful still life, "Ginger Pot with Pomegranate and Pears," by Paul Cezanne and Van Gogh's "Entrance to the Public Gardens at Arles" that wows with its yellows and greens.
Kids will love: Making their own impressions in the stunning, new family spaces where kids play, create and experience their own art.
The Pursuit of Everything: Maira Kalman’s Books for Children
June 22-Sept. 15
Maira Kalman, illustration for "What Pete Ate From A-Z (Really!)" (G.P. Putnam's Sons) Courtesy of Julie Saul Gallery, New York. © 2001 Maira Kalman
This colorful exhibition explores the extensive catalog of Maira Kalman's imaginative stories and illustrations, which have delighted readers for more than 30 years. Perhaps best known for her quirky New Yorker magazine covers and brilliant pictorial essays, Kalman has published more than a dozen books for adults and 18 acclaimed children's books, beginning with the game-changing picture book "Stay Up Late" (1985), which gave visual form to the popular Talking Heads song from their "Little Creatures" album.
Kids will love: Learning all about one of their favorite authors.
Chick-fil-A College Football Hall of Fame
The museum celebrates 150 years of college football with a special exhibit on the occasion of its own fifth anniversary
Kids who love college football will love the College Football Hall of Fame.
The Chick-fil-A College Football Hall of Fame debuts a limited-time, special exhibit celebrating college football's 150th anniversary this summer. Take a step back in time and dive deep into the history of the game and see some of the players and coaches who made the game what it is today.
Kids will love: Following their team throughout the museum, starting with the helmet wall, continuing to the "studio" where they can sing their team's fight song and try their skills at kicking a field goal.
CNN Studio Tours
A once-in-a-lifetime view of CNN’s global headquarters
You be the news anchor during a CNN Studio Tour.
Learn how news is made when you tour CNN Center in Downtown Atlanta. Peek into the newsroom where reporters are hard at work, glimpse the control room where directors bring the news to life. See inside one of the studios where on-air interviews are conducted. By the time you're done, you'll be a regular Wolf Blitzer.
Kids will love: Seeing a live newsroom in action and riding the world's longest freestanding escalator on the way.
William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum
Inescapable: The Life and Legacy of Harry Houdini
Through Aug. 11
You can't escape being fascinated by Houdini.
The exhibit, exploring the life and legacy of the world's most famous magician, features artifacts, photos and archival records. During the run of the exhibit, the Breman Museum offers supplementary programming including Magical Mondays, a series of kids' events featuring magical activities, stories and projects. Houdini's Magic Block Party, a family friendly event on July 21st, features street magicians, concessions and a chance to learn some magic to do at home.
Kids will love: Learning magic, of course.
Stone Mountain Park
MEGABUGS! Adventure Encounters
Stone Mountain Park's MEGABUGS must be funny.
MEGABUGS are taking over Stone Mountain Park. Featuring more than 70 new exhibits of larger-than-life insects, MEGABUGS! Adventure Encounters is an immersive and interactive area for "bugologists" of any age to explore. In a special habitat at the park, guests come face-to-face with a giant 15-foot emperor dragonfly, a 20-foot hissing cockroach, a 50-foot Madagascan fire millipede, friendly bees, butterflies, ladybugs and much, much more. These exhibits spotlight special features including the individual sounds and movements that make these insects unique members of the animal kingdom.
Kids will love: Enormous creepy crawlies.
Summer at the Rock
June 8 through July 28
There are so many play structures at Stone Mountain Park, the kids may actually get tired.
This family friendly event in Atlanta features all of the amazing attractions and activities (Geyser Towers, SkyHike, Lasershow Spectacular in Mountainvision) at Stone Mountain Park, in addition to special summer entertainment such as improv performances, storytelling, an interactive train show and more. And, of course, the mountain is always there, inviting you to take a hike or ride up in a gondola.
Kids will love: Climbing and achieving feats they've never tried before, including summiting to the top of Stone Mountain to enjoy the amazing views.
Atlanta Botanical Garden
Imaginary Worlds: Alice's Wonderland at Atlanta Botanical Garden
Through Oct. 27
Ever seen a 27-foot-tall rabbit? You can at Atlanta Botanical Garden.
Giant topiaries return to Atlanta Botanical Garden, this time with the "Alice in Wonderland" theme. If you’ve seen any of these Imaginary Worlds exhibits before, then you know that you will find larger-than-life topiaries made from, of course, live plants. Highlights include a giant white rabbit–more than 27-feet tall--who floats inside an upside-down umbrella in the Skyline Garden pond. On the Skyline lawn there is an expansive chess board bordered by nine heart "trees," each more than 12-feet tall. Nearby, find the giant Cheshire Cat. Alice, no surprise, also is here.
Kids will love: Also playing in the Children's Garden and splash pad (don't forget swimsuits!).
Atlanta History Center
The Cyclorama: The Big Picture: The stories of The Texas locomotive and Zero Milepost
The fully restored Battle of Atlanta cyclorama is spectacular.
You may think you've seen the cyclorama depicting the Battle of Atlanta before, but the restored painting in its brand new home at Atlanta History Center bears little resemblance to the painting we saw in its longtime home in Atlanta's Grant Park neighborhood. Dusty and musty no more, the completely restored Atlanta Cyclorama grips your imagination as you behold the afternoon of July 22, 1864, and the Battle of Atlanta, a crucial turning point in our nation's Civil War when Union forces prevailed. Atlanta would fall on Sept. 2 that same year. The 360-degree cyclorama stands 49 feet tall, stretches longer than a football field and weighs 10,000 pounds.
Kids will love: Climbing in, on, and all over the restored 1856 "Texas" locomotive known for giving chase to another locomotive, the "General," which had been seized by Union loyalists. Also on view is the Zero Milepost, which marked the historical center of the city.
Fernbank Museum of Natural History
Through July 21
Meet this "assassin" at Fernbank. It won't bite.
The outdoor installation, David Rogers' "Big Bugs" has moved into WildWoods at the Fernbank Museum. The exhibit features 10 giant wooden sculptures made of recycled and environmental art-using natural materials to showcase the critters that play important roles in our ecosystem. See critters like the ant, praying mantis, daddy long legs, a 17-foot tall dragonfly and a 7-foot wide ladybug, among other crawly things.
Kids will love: Exploring walking trails, canopy walks and cool exhibits like "Big Bugs" in the WildWoods and Fernbank Forest.
Opens summer 2019
Playing is learning at the new Fernbank STEM exhibit.
Fernbank Museum of Natural History is opening a 3,500-square-foot permanent exhibit with 13 hands-on learning activities all about STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). Among the things visitors can do are launch air rockets, create tornadoes, build wax volcanoes, harness the forces of an earthquake and lift themselves up with pulleys.
Kids will love: Showing off their skills and learning new ones.
Opens this summer
The new African Savanna marks one of the most transformative debuts in Zoo Atlanta history. The exhibit introduces new habitats for African elephants, giraffes, zebras, ostriches, warthogs and meerkats. The new elephant environment more than triples the size of the elephants' former habitat and is a dynamic living space featuring elements specifically designed for elephant well-being and enrichment.
Kids will love: Taking a trip to Africa without leaving Atlanta. And the pandas are always a hit.
Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum
Georgia on my Screen: Jimmy Carter and the Rise of the Film Industry
Through Dec. 31
Lucas' "Ghostbusters'" costume from Netflix's "Stranger Things." (Courtesy of Netflix/Jackson Lee Davis photographer)
The exhibition at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum traces the development and impact of a multibillion-dollar industry in the state that began with then-Gov. Jimmy Carter's creation of the first state film office. Highlights include the Best Picture Oscar for "Driving Miss Daisy;" more than 20 objects from the TV show "The Walking Dead;" costumes and artifacts from Netflix's "Stranger Things;" and Vinny's boots and Mona Lisa's dress from "My Cousin Vinny."
Kids will love: The inside scoop on movies and TV shows filmed in Georgia.
LEGOLAND Discovery Center Atlanta
LEGO City: Report for Duty at LEGOLAND Discovery Center
Through June 30
Meet the LEGO City policewoman, see the new LEGO City 4D movie, "Officer in Pursuit," film your own epic adventure, build a rescue helicopter and take it on a test flight and help save Miniland from a host of capers during a scavenger hunt at LEGOLAND Discovery Center Atlanta.
Kids will love: Awesome LEGO building tips from Master Model Builder Workshops.
MLK National Historical Park and the King Center
See Georgia's Global Peacemakers: The Carter and King Legacy Exhibit and more
(📷 James Duckworth, AtlantaPhotos.com)
This featured exhibition is produced by the National Park Service in partnership with Carter Presidential Library and Museum and The King Center. The exhibition highlights Georgia's two great leaders of change, President Jimmy Carter and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The images illustrated throughout the exhibition depict the close bond between the Carter and King families through the years and tell the story of the creation of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park.
Kids will love: Learning things they may not have known about Dr. King, especially when touring Dr. King’s newly restored birth home, sitting in a pew at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church and hearing Dr. King's voice as he delivers a sermon.
National Center for Civil and Human Rights
Rights Out Loud
Relive the civil rights era in America at this important attraction.
At the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, sit at a mock lunch counter, slip on headphones and hear the types of angry insults civil rights protesters had to endure. Sit and view a panorama of 1963's historic March on Washington, learn all about the Freedom Riders and see a replica of the Lorraine Hotel sign in Memphis where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.
Older kids will be interested in the "Rights Out Loud" summer programming, which explores the freedom of expression outlined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Be sure to take advantage of a special offer for 4-pack tickets that save groups of four up to 20% off admission this summer!
Kids will love: A chance to view history up close and personal through multimedia, interactive exhibits.
Ways to Save on Your Summer Family Vacation to Atlanta
Atlanta CityPASS is a budget-friendly way to see top attractions.
Atlanta CityPASS saves you 40% on admission to several of the city's most popular attractions. CityPASS, also, in many cases, allows you skip the lines and go right in. Attractions included in Atlanta CityPASS are: Georgia Aquarium, World of Coca-Cola and CNN Studio tours, Zoo Atlanta or National Center for Civil and Human Rights, Fernbank Museum of Natural History or the Chick-fil-A College Football Hall of Fame.
Enjoy breakfast plus exclusive attraction offers with Hilton Hotels
Another budget-friendly offer comes from Hilton hotels throughout Atlanta. The package includes breakfast plus discounts up to 20-30% at these popular attractions*: Atlanta United games, Mercedes-Benz Stadium tours, Atlanta Braves Sunday through Thursday games, SunTrust Park tours, Atlanta Movie Tours, Six Flags Over Georgia, Six Flags White Water, Andretti Indoor Karting & Games, and Zoo Atlanta.
*Terms and conditions apply. See site for details.
For more events and things to do in Atlanta, check @DiscoverAtlanta or visit atlanta.net.
Journalist Carol Carter writes and edits for Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau.