On a recent Friday my young boys and I explored over-sized playhouses, discovered a drawing compass, and fashioned a dream home with the original architect of the Swan House. We hiked trails and spotted wild animals with spyglasses. We whispered to sheep and compared their wool to cotton picked on the Smith Family Farm. Beyond the popular Atlanta History Museum and the Centennial Olympic Games Museum, we experienced an enthralling and educational day at the Atlanta History Center.
The Swan House brings history alive for children with historical interpreters dressed as characters from the past. The Inman family cook walked my son through the process of making butter and the family butler let him dust shelves with an authentic horsehair brush. Many people do not realize the Swan House is family-friendly, but live interaction with historical figures captivated my son for our entire tour of this 18th century home.
My boys explored the Connor Brown Discovery Trail, unearthing new finds as they ran from one discovery station to the next. We peered at the forest through strategically placed spyglasses and made rubbings at stations along the trail. Boulders, bridges, streams, and benches linked each feature of the History Center and ensured there was never a dull moment.
Our last stop was Smith Family Farm. The home with no bathroom and a detached kitchen initiated a series of questions from my kindergartener that lasted the whole tour. “Why is the laundry hanging on the fence?” “What is growing in that garden?” “Why is she cooking over the fireplace?” He soaked up every detail of 1860s farm life shared by characters from the past and docents who answered questions about historical elements.
Don’t let your kids believe history is boring! At Atlanta History Center the past is packed with energy and excitement. It jumps out of books, takes hold of your kid’s hand, and leads on to adventure.
– Lesli Peterson
Atlanta History Center
130 West Paces Ferry Rd. NW, Atlanta
Cost: $16.50; ages 4-12, $11; ages
3 and younger, free
Meet the Past: Smith Family Farm, Mon.-Sat. 11 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sun. 12:30-4:30 p.m. Swan House, Fri.-Sat. 11 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sun. 1-4 p.m. (Hours subject to change)