Your 2020 Bucket List
Atlanta has so many quirky things to do! Here’s how to fit all the fun into one year.
Table of Contents
Keep the Dream Alive
It’s hard not to remember the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. this month. As Atlantans, we’re lucky to have his birth home, the King Center and Ebenezer Baptist Church in our backyard. Visit and think of it as manna for your soul.
Temps may be cold, but we’re burning up at Marietta’s Fire Museum. Take a firefighter-guided group tour to see fire apparatus, tools and gear dating back to 1854.
For Cowboys and Cowgirls
Yee-haw! Take a walk on the wild west side at Sagebrush Ranch, an interactive play area with more than 30 fun and educational activities for ages 2-12 at Booth Western Arts Museum. Saddle up on a life-sized horse, travel the rocky trails to the west, dress for the occasion and more.
Power to the People
Did you know there was a Universal Declaration of Human Rights? Get inspired and empowered at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, where you’ll celebrate the progress of civil rights.
Atlanta is the home of Chick-fil-A and while there’s one on every corner, you owe it to yourself to try Truett’s Luau in Fayetteville. It’s a Chick-fil-A on steroids with a Hawaiian-centric menu that includes teriyaki chicken, pork tacos and even a burger. (Shhh. Don’t tell the cows.)
See It on the News
Welcome to the 6 o’clock news. Learn how to become the star of your own broadcast with a behind-the-scenes tour at CNN Center.
Sure, you can drink wine anytime, but what about wine at a French château (that’s just undergone a $25 million renovation)? Château Élan Winery and Resort is a short drive north on I-85 and ups the romance quotient with onsite restaurants and a spa. We’re positive grandma will watch the kids.
Explore Black History
Turn back time to view more than 6,000 years. Learn about the cultural history of Africa and celebrate Black History Month with the APEX Museum’s “Africa the Untold Story.” Children ages 6 and younger will appreciate the special storytelling events just for them.
Can You Feel the Love?
Valentine’s Day is synonymous with love and chocolate but forego the traditional and have an authentic French pastry instead. Sugar Cakes Patisserie, on the Marietta Square, makes their croissants, Danish and crème brulee fresh daily. You’ll wish every day was Valentine’s Day.
Southern Comfort Food
Eat at Busy Bee Café, which opened in 1947 by Lucy Jackson and was an important place for African Americans during the Civil Rights Movement. This delicious Southern restaurant has a different cook’s special each day, sure to satisfy your cravings for a classic home-cooked meal.
A Wild Time
When we say everyone needs to get up close and personal with a panda, tortoise, elephant or lion, we mean have a Wild Encounter at Zoo Atlanta. It’s a behind-the-scenes peek you really must try once. Go on a guided tour of the animal’s habitat and help with feedings.
Spark Some Curiosity
It’s a science experiment of fun at the two-week Atlanta Science Festival! Celebrate local science and technology with hands-on activities, tours, tastings, performances and more, and make science fun for the whole family at the free Exploration Expo.
Daffodils a Plenty
Alert. 20 million daffodils … yes, 20 million… bloom every spring at the Gibbs Gardens. Surround yourself with more than 50 acres of daffodil-ness, along with blooming cherry blossoms and dogwoods through mid-April.
Release Your Inner Artist
Create a masterpiece, make beautiful music, test out your acting chops and more with art-making activities, tours, performances, exhibitions, interactive storytimes, drop-in acting classes, music making fun and more at the High Museum of Art’s Second Sunday and Woodruff Arts Center’s Family Festival. And cut!
A Medieval Good Time
Sure, the Middle Ages were a bit before our time, but that doesn’t mean you can’t see knights jousting in an arena and rub elbows with royalty. Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament in Lawrenceville is an experience the entire family will enjoy. And did we mention you eat with your hands?
Take to the Trees
Challenge yourself with the ziplines and treetop obstacles at Treetop Quest. Courses are available for all members of the family. Really feeling confident? Try Spider Quest in Gwinnett, for a harness-free obstacle course.
Take me out to a ball game at the Braves home opener against the Marlins at SunTrust Park. Try rock climbing, ziplining, carnival games and more at Hope & Will’s Sandlot. Kids ages 4 to 14 can run the bases just like professional baseball players after Sunday home games. Enjoy the restaurants and shopping at The Battery.
An Egg-cellent Time
Watch a helicopter drop thousands of eggs at North East Cobb Community’s Egg Drop, hunt for eggs underwater at Bogan Park Aquatic Center and Bethesda Park Aquatic Center, and participate in egg hunts at the Georgia Governor’s Mansion, Callanwolde Fine Arts Center and more. Check out atlantaparent.com for a full list of Easter egg hunts.
Search for Dunwoody Nature Center’s Play Me Again Piano named “Bennett” for a bit of musical fun. Have the kids run off energy at the center’s huge playground or walk along one of the trails.
Game Night Out
Play family-favorite games before, during and after dinner at HOBNOB Neighborhood Tavern. A wide variety of games for all ages. With locations in Midtown, Brookhaven and Dunwoody.
Sleep in the Trees
Ever dreamed of spending a night beneath the stars or with the trees? Make your dreams a reality with a peaceful night under the stars with ZZZ’s in the Trees at Panola Mountain State Park, where you’ll sleep in a “treeboat.” Or spend the night among the trees at the Secluded Intown Treehouse or Atlanta Alpaca Treehouse in the Bamboo Forest (ages 12 and older).
Bloom at Atlanta Botanical Garden’s Lou Glenn Children’s Garden, where kids can try “painting” at the water wall, building in the balsa wood construction area, playing outdoor instruments and assisting with watering, planting and harvesting. After all their hard work, they can cool off at The Splash Pad.
Puppet Date Night
Puppets are just for kids, right? Wrong! Take your significant other on a date to the Center for Puppetry Arts’ amusing Xperimental Puppetry Theater. This 18+ show features puppets in films, installation pieces, stories and more while you enjoy wine and beer from the bar.
Babies Born Daily
Have an answer for your kids when they ask how babies are made. Take them to BabyLand, where they’ll witness the birth of a Cabbage Patch Kid, view the Magic Crystal Tree and play with Cabbage Patch Kids.
Dine with Dashing Favorites
What do your favorite princesses and superheroes like to eat? Find out at delicious brunch events at Venkman’s in Old Fourth Ward.
Summer at Serenbe
It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood at Serenbe, where you can see a show, shop and eat! Watch “Alice in Wonderland” at the interactive, outdoor theatre, Serenbe Playhouse. Eat at Blue Eyed Daisy or The Farmhouse, shop at Hills & Hamlets Bookshop and Honeycomb Consignment and more.
From Way Up High
How many times have you walked by the giant Ferris wheel in downtown Atlanta and thought to yourself, ‘I need to do that … someday.’ This is your day to do it! Tower 20 stories above Atlanta at Skyview Atlanta to see panoramic views of the city.
Over the City
See Atlanta in a new light by taking a hot air balloon ride over the city. Book Balloons Over Georgia or Balloon Atlanta to see the scenery in a new way that’s actually older than airplanes.
See who’s the best in the family when you head to The Roof at Skyline Park at Ponce City Market. The Roof has carnival-style fun and midway games, including mini golf, horse derby race, basketball, skee ball, break-a-plate and more. Sorry, closed to kids on Friday and Saturday nights.
Fresh is Best
Craving fresh veggies and fruit in the summer? Shop produce, meats, cheeses, ethnic foods, international products, garden centers and more that’s Georgia grown or from around the world at Atlanta State Farmer’s Market, Buford Highway Farmers Market and DeKalb Farmers Market.
We All Scream for Ice Cream
Pair something you don’t love with something you do at the Atlanta Ice Cream Festival in Piedmont Park. Enjoy wellness activities, like exercise routines, yoga, hula hooping, jump roping, frisbee toss and more, before indulging in delicious ice cream, and maybe even participating in an ice cream eating contest. Let’s be honest – everyone’s a winner when ice cream’s involved.
Shoot the Hooch
Row, row, row your boat gently down the stream. Cool off in the summer by tubing or rafting down the Chattahoochee River. Take in the natural beauty of the river while you float along.
A World of Sodas
There’s nothing like a refreshing soda in the summer. Sample more than 100 different kinds of sodas from around the globe at World of Coca-Cola. Discover the myths and legends behind the iconic taste in the Chamber of the Secret Formula.
Shoot for the stars with a planetarium show at Fernbank Science Center. Use the Dr. Ralph L. Buice, Jr. Observatory to view the Delta Aquariids and Alpha Capricornids meteor showers with peak nights in July.
A Drive-in Meal
What’ll ya have at The World’s Largest Drive-in Restaurant, The Varsity. Enjoy hot dogs, burgers, sandwiches, chicken, Frosted Orange and more at this famous restaurant. There are four locations in the metro area: Atlanta, Kennesaw, Norcross and Dawsonville.
Baby, It’s Cold Inside
It’ll sound crazy to your family when you tell them to bundle up in August in Atlanta, but they’ll love the chance to practice their moves and cool off at indoor ice-skating rinks at The Cooler: Alpharetta Family Skate Center, Center Ice Arena, IceForum or The ICE.
Do you have an explorer on your hands? Does your child love collecting nature items? Get your kids involved in the Nature Exchange trading program at Chattahoochee Nature Center, where they’ll earn points for what they find and trade their discoveries in for prizes. Ages 6 and older with an adult can go on a guided canoe trip to learn more about wildlife and nature.
A Gold Medal Water Show
Have the kids throw on their swimsuits before heading downtown to view the Fountain of Rings water show synchronized to music. They’ll cool off in the interactive fountain featuring the Olympic Ring symbol at Centennial Olympic Park.
Teach your kids to appreciate Latino culture and traditions at Peachtree Latino Atlanta Festival with music and performers from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Colombia, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic. This huge multicultural event features a marketplace, arts and crafts, sports, food and more.
Drop by Athens Pizza in Decatur, family owned since 1966, for spanakopita, Greek style pizza, calzones, and daily specials.
Movies Under the Stars
Reminisce in the days of old while watching movies under the stars at Starlight Drive-in Theatre. Although the drive-in experience isn’t new, the theatre plays all the newest releases on their eight screens, and it’s a fun way for your kids to see the movies.
You never really think about how your body works until it’s not working right. Scientists are like detectives, using high-tech science to crack the cases of mystery diseases. This is evident at the David J. Sencer CDC Museum, where you’ll learn about the value of prevention-based public health and the history of the CDC.
May the Force Be with You
Maybe you and your family can’t agree on what your favorite movies are, but everyone will have a great time at Dragon Con, the pop culture convention featuring comics, film, TV and gaming. Delight in all your pop culture favorites with cosplay, a parade, special guests, vendors, an art show and more.
Put your football skills to the test with the indoor playing field at the Chick-fil-A Fan College Football Hall of Fame, where you’ll get to kick a field goal, throw like a quarterback and defeat the obstacle course. Find your favorite team at the three-story Helmet Wall.
Introduce your kids to food from Asia at Orient Express in Vinings. The restaurant is in an old train car on railroad tracks and offers three different kinds of cuisine in three distinctive rooms. Try Chinese, sushi or hibachi.
The Movie Scene
Walk in walkers’ footsteps. Tour downtown Senoia and Riverwood Studios to see where “The Walking Dead” was filmed and how the story of zombies was brought to life. Tour guides might have even played zombies or extras on the show! Stop at Nic & Norman’s for seasonal American food. Also, check out Atlanta Movie Tours for more of your favorite films and shows.
Play in the Trees
Your kids – and you – will be amazed when you walk among the towering trees at WildWoods and Fernbank Forest at Fernbank Museum of Natural History. The elevated walkway takes you into the treetops where you can view native plants, flowers, wildlife and more. See the changing fall colors in a whole new way.
Experience Oakland Cemetery after dark and learn about the cemetery’s famous residents from a costumed guide. Make sure to get your tickets in July before they sell out! It might be strange to hang out there, but cemeteries were originally designed as public spaces. Enjoy the beautiful and historic 48 acres with special events throughout the year.
Pumpkins Day and Night
Pick pumpkins at Yule Forest, and at night, dare to take on Fear the Woods. With three different haunting experiences, thrill seekers of all kinds will be scared and delighted by their adventures.
Coffee and Cats
Get your caffeine fix at Java Cats Café in Atlanta or Marietta, where you can play with adoptable cats while you enjoy coffee or tea.
Take a Hike
Go for a hike and see fall color at Sweetwater Creek State Park. The old mill, known locally as the New Manchester Textile Mill, was partly burned in 1864 and used as a filming location for “The Hunger Games.” The creek’s waterfalls can reach 120 feet and create a mile-long stretch of rapids.
In the olden days, how did people learn about news and events? Enormous hand-painted works, like the Atlanta History Center’s Cyclorama: The Big Picture, were a way for people in the past to view “movies.” The 49-foot tall, 10,000 pound painting depicts an immersive look at the Civil War.
We’re No. 1
Tour the Mercedes-Benz stadium to get a feel of the field and view the Window to the City, Skybridges, 100 Yard Club and more. Even if you’re not a sports person, the stadium tours offer something fun for everyone from the football-shaped chandelier to the Halo Board, the largest video board in professional sports.
Small Spots, Big Fun
Go on a scavenger hunt to find the 7” Tiny Doors ATL hidden throughout the city (and there’s one giant door that’s 658 times the size of the tiny doors). We suggest starting at the Atlanta BeltLine where you’ll find a few on the Eastside Trail, or take a bike tour to find them.
Food with a View
For a beautiful dining experience, visit The Sun Dial in Atlanta for contemporary American cuisine and a 360-degree panorama of the Atlanta skyline.
Save skydiving for better weather, but still get the exhilarating thrills with iFly. Soar with their indoor skydiving experience, where VR technology will make it seem as if you’re flying over some of the world’s most beautiful destinations. And maybe it’ll satisfy your adventurous teenager’s skydiving ambitions!
Enjoy and learn about different holiday traditions around the world at Children’s Museum of Atlanta’s cultural explorations. These festivities include music, dances, costumes, storytimes, art and more. Holidays include Hanukkah, Las Posadas, Christmas and Kwanzaa.
In a Nutshell … Magical
Travel to a new world where toys come to life. Atlanta Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” will be at their new venue, Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. The production was reimagined in 2018, so even if you’ve seen the performance before, it’s worth watching again! Other companies will perform the seasonal ballet all over metro Atlanta.
Holly Jolly Shows
The weather outside is frightful, but a show would be delightful. There are holiday performances all over metro Atlanta, including Horizon Theatre’s “Madeline’s Christmas” and Alliance Theatre’s “A Christmas Carol.”
Let’s Have a Tea Party
Reserve high tea at Dr. Bombay’s Underwater Tea Party in Atlanta for tea, scones, quiche, finger sandwiches, baked goods and more at this fanciful tea shop. Filled with vintage furniture and décor, this restaurant also has books for sale.