Ponce City Market is a fun place to explore with your family. Once a Sears, Roebuck & Co. distribution center, then City Hall East housing government offices, it is now full of delicious eateries and popular shops making it a fully re-vamped mall experience.

Here’s why we love it:

The History at Ponce City Market

The Sears building dates to 1925. It was once an eight-story hub of tools, clothes and housewares; until 1979, Sears operated a department store there, as well as the distribution center, and in the early years the building had its own train stop. The grandstands and the baseball diamond of the Atlanta Crackers and Black Crackers, predecessors to the Atlanta Braves, could be seen from its big windows. While walking over the original, creaky wooden floors, you and your family will be transported back in time.

Train cars that used to carry supplies and visitors to and from the Sears building still remain on the rooftop. Take your train-loving children to the top and let them imagine a time when these tracks were full of life, instead of just ghostly remains. An old-timey amusement park, called Skyline Park, opened on the rooftop, with carnival games, a giant slide, putt putt, and a beer garden with snow cones, hot dogs and more.

The Food Hall at Ponce City Market

The food hall runs through the center of the building, offering updated and foodie-praised selections. Although some of the food options are for adult palates, kids will like Hop’s Chicken, for classic chicken and biscuits, and Botiwalla, for Indian street foods. Collier Candy Company, Honeysuckle Gelato and King of Pops are great places to snag a treat while shopping.

If you sign up in advance, the Italian restaurant, Bellina Alimentari offers hands-on cooking classes with the chef for you and your 8-12 year old. You can bond with your child while learning to make pasta from scratch.

The Handmade Children’s Items at Ponce City Market

Shops like Sugarboo & Co., Archer Paper Goods and Citizen Supply offer a wide range of handmade children’s goods. Sugarboo & Co. has pillows, artwork and fabrics all printed with sayings from the shop’s mother, but they didn’t forget about the children. The popular baby moccasin brand, Freshly Picked, is available here as well as the brand Petits Et Maman, which makes whimsical, wooden animal-shaped plates and utensils.

Archer Paper Goods is filled with prints and stationary, and has a small collection of handmade toys, as well as children’s books such as “Flora and the Peacocks.”

Citizen Supply is an open room with tall windows and different vendors on display, almost like an updated flea market. Find trendy toys, games and stylish baby clothes in the children’s corner.

The BeltLine Trail at Ponce City Market

Ponce City Market offers a transit corridor to the Eastside Atlanta BeltLine, a trail that links many Atlanta neighborhoods, shops and restaurants. Grab a King of Pops Popsicle from the new BeltLine Shed adjacent to Ponce City Market, and walk along the path with your family, stopping to admire the colorful murals and installation art along the way. Bring your bikes for a short ride to Inman Park or Piedmont Park.

Best Kid-Friendly Places to Eat at Ponce City Market

King of Pops: Popsicles of varying flavors for a sweet, cool treat.

H & F Burger: Hot dog, fries, single-patty Mighty Jr. burger.

Bellina: One of the only places in the food hall with a full children’s menu. Pasta al Pomodoro (short Gragnano pasta with tomato sauce) is our pick.

Minero: Chicken taco or quesadilla, Mexican churros and chocolate sauce.

Hop’s Chicken: Chicken breast, mac and cheese, Hop’s chicken biscuits.

El Super Pan: Side of brown rice and red beans; kid’s ham and cheese sandwich or no ham for a grilled cheese sandwich with yuca fritas.

Honeysuckle Gelato: Cookie gelato sandwiches with pick-your-own cookie flavor and scoop flavor combinations.

Skyline Park at Ponce City Market

So many reasons to go to Ponce City Market with your kids: Try some global cuisine; stroll out to the BeltLine. And now, Skyline Park. This classic-style amusement park on the roof of this historic building offers great family fun.

Ride up an enormous elevator and learn about the history of the building on the way. At the top, and take in a spectacular view. But getting kids to linger over the skyline isn’t easy because there’s a giant slide. Enough said, right?

An enormous slide hides behind the iconic Ponce City Market marquee sign that is visible for blocks. Grab a felt slide pad and climb up stairs (and see more of that amazing view), then hurtle down the wavy slide.

Kids also will love Heege Tower, a just-the-right-amount-of-thrill ride that gives kids a chance to pull themselves up and then bounce down to the rooftop.

Old-school Midway games like Skee Ball, Horse Derby and a Ring Toss line the side of the park. And mini golf with fun obstacles fills the center of the rooftop.

A food stand has a limited menu including hot dogs, cotton candy and a “walking taco” – a bag of Fritos with taco toppings loaded inside (messy – but fun to eat). The rooftop also has adult beverages, because, you know, just in case.

Know Before You Go: There’s no shade on the Rooftop, so go on a cool day or as the sun is setting and wear sunscreen. This is not a do-it-cheap outing – rides and games are priced individually and go quickly, so talk up the idea of looking out over the city and enjoying the view. Purchase a re-loadable card to play games – but note that golf is not included on the card.

– Sherry V. Crawley and Teresa Farkas

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