On the Road: Jax to Atlanta


We had the opportunity to tag along with my hubby for a conference in Atlanta. We turned his work trip into a family road trip to our neighboring state’s capital city. I soon realized that even with its traffic, Atlanta is a fantastic family car trip from Jacksonville.

We planned a 3-day trip–leaving Sunday afternoon (when I was off from work) and returning Tuesday night. We know that Atlanta rush hour is legendary, so we planned to stop and have a leisurely dinner before arriving at our hotel. We left the beaches area of Jacksonville around 3 pm, made numerous stops (to use the restroom, stretch our legs, buy silly souvenirs), and we made it to Atlanta by 9:30 pm.

Like many big cities, Atlanta has many hotels in the heart of the action. This keeps the prices very competitive. And when you stay where you are going to play, your transportation costs are cut dramatically. We stayed at the Hyatt Place Downtown. The hotel was just what we needed: great location, free shuttle service to major attractions, free wifi and a comfy room and free apples. My only complaint was that this particular Hyatt did not have a pool. But, it did have a cool elevator, so it evens out.

{TIP: make sure your hotel offers shuttle services to major attractions. The Hyatt Place offered complimentary shuttles to and from the Georgia Aquarium, Centennial Park, and Atlanta Children’s Museum which saved us lots of money on parking! }

We knew that we wanted to check out the Georgia Aquarium. In fact, we planned our trip around it. I logged on to the Aquarium’s website before we arrived so I will be familiar with the hours, snack policies, etc. I purchased tickets in advance (and by advance I mean that morning vs. at the ticket window). I used the Hyatt’s complimentary business center to print them out.

{TIP: always buy tickets in advance, even it is just hours before going. Most times, you will save money by doing so. I saved 20% each ticket by doing this! If you want to save even more money, select the Imagination Nights option. You will save over 30% by visiting the Aquarium after 4 pm!}

The Aquarium allowed us to leave around lunch time and return the same day for free. We had lunch next door at the in the park at The World of Coca-Cola and shuttled back to the hotel for a nap. We returned to the Aquarium in enough time to see the final Dolphin Celebration.

{TIP: The Dolphin Celebration audience fills up fast- here is a link to their showtimes so you can plan in advance!}

For dinner, my husband and I were craving something southern. Sure, we live in Jacksonville and experience Southern food quite often, but we love exploring the cuisine of the cities we visit! We settled on Mary Mac’s Tea Room. I knew I was going to love this restaurant when as soon as I sat down, the waiter brought a small cup of Pot Liquor. (For those of you not familiar with Pot Liquor: it is the salty, vinegary goodness left over when boiling a pot of collard greens. For this Southern gal, it’s heaven in a cup.)

The menu is very kid-friendly and has a nice atmosphere. The bread basket by itself was amazing–generous servings of cinnamon rolls, sweet breads, and biscuits. We will definitely be back to Miss Mary Macs!

Henry enjoyed his fried chicken, macaroni & cheese and applesauce!

The following day, the kids and I headed to the Children’s Museum of Atlanta, which is located about 1/8 of a mile from the Aquarium. This experience was by far everyone’s favorite. Sure, the Aquarium was fascinating, but there is something about kids being able to be kids- run, jump, touch things, create and play that really creates memories. I really wish Jacksonville had a Children’s museum as cool as this! We spent at least an hour in the Waffle House kitchen–where the kids created all kinds of imaginary dishes in a play kitchen modeled to look just like one you would find at a Waffle House restaurant. We “milked” cows, fished in a pond, conducted experiments with Museum staff on electricity, colors, robots and more.

But our favorite exhibit was the Ball Machine. Using the six simple machines–pulleys, levers, screws, inclined planes, wheel, and axle, and wedges — the kids figured out how to work together and move the balls around the machine, loading them onto the crane, and figuring out how the Museum’s popular ball machine works. We left the museum excited to tell our friends about all the things we experienced there. My children were 7 & 5 at the time we visited, and their website says the museum is geared toward kids ages 9 months–9 years. For the $15 price, it was the best experience on the trip!

Kids operating the crane

Right across the street is the Centennial Olympic Park.  This park was very family friendly with many unique playgrounds. I wish I would have planned to spend more time at this gorgeous park.

Sliding in Centennial Park

We loved Atlanta! But don’t just take my word for it. Check out Atlanta Area Moms Blog for much more information on this family-friendly city!

Jessica was born in the “Bold New City of the South" and loves her some Jacksonville. Not only is J-Ville the place where she was raised with her twin brother, but is it also where she met and married her super-handy hubby, Melvin. Together they have a lovely daughter named Lily and a very competitive son, Henry. Professionally, Jessica spends her days as the Activities Director at Jacksonville Golf & Country Club,- because her target audience is 5-11 year old children. Jessica has appeared on local television discussing topics ranging from Black Friday to couponing, - dirty hair, consignment sales and summer camps. Jessica enjoys showing up to parties in costume, Florida Gator Football, all things Disney, singing show tunes, making fudge, big ugly shelter dogs, reading Emily Post and writing in cursive. Keep up with all Jessica's antics at www.JessicaJacksonville.com


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