When looking up what to see in Atlanta, it doesn’t take long to acquire a laundry list of options. The hard part was narrowing it down to a day’s worth of activities that interested us both.
I could have taken the “Gone With the Wind” bus tour, or seen the Margaret Mitchell house, or driven all the way to the corner of “Rhett Butler Dr.” and “Scarlett Dr.” just to get a picture of the street signs. But understandably, those activities didn’t top Tom’s list.
When we first arrived to the area I thought Stone Mountain would be a must see. But after further investigation of the costs involved ($15 just for parking, then entrance fees, tram rides, etc) and because it was a rainy day without a good view, we opted out on that one.
We also passed on the very acclaimed Georgia Aquarium and the tour of CNN Studio headquarters. Then the Atlanta Botanical Garden, the Martin Luther King Jr. Museum and the High Museum of Art were also crossed off of our long list.
Everything we found to do was about $15 to $25 per person. Our “entertainment” costs have been getting out of control! So we picked two activities near downtown. I picked the Georgia Museum Center and Tom picked the World of Coca-Cola.
We started at the Museum, which is “Considered the world’s most comprehensive Civil War example collection” aka the largest collection of Civil War artifacts in Georgia. They also had 35 acres of beautiful grounds right in the heart of the metropolis, so with rain not coming down yet, we started there. They had several houses and cabins brought onto the property, but the centerpiece was the home built on the grounds: the Swan Mansion.
Swan Mansion was built in 1930 and they had period actors on hand of the architect and the owner, so it was fun to ask them questions. It was a private residence until 1965. The architect had been a collector of fine china and antiques and his vast collection was housed in the lower/basement rooms.
The maid’s quarters was a small starkly furnished attic room and I wondered if she was paid fair wages or treated like a member of the family. Or like slave labor.
The grounds around the house were beautiful and had some nice trails meandering to the other buildings. It was weird to know there was a busy street on the other side of the trees. We visited all of the cabins – see Uncle Tom in the rocking chair below!
There was a plantation home brought in – but not the extravagant type. This planter or farmer only had a few dozen slaves. But it was interesting to see all the buildings and how they might have actually lived.
After touring the gardens, we spent quite a bit of time indoors in the exhibits. They had a separate exhibition room for their local golf legend (Bobbie Jones), and one on the history of Bar-B-Que.
The exhibit on the Native Indians of the Lands, I found especially fascinating. It was one of the few accounts I’ve seen (in all our travels to date) that was brutally honest about the way the lands were taken from the natives.
The largest exhibit room of course was on the American Civil War. I don’t particularly care to look at old rifles and read about battlefield stories, but the history of the beginning of the conflict, the turning points, and the resolution of the war were told in a way I never got out of any history class. It was very well done and I learned a lot.
But the day was slipping away so it was time to fight traffic to the downtown area. We paid for parking (which we’ve been doing a LOT lately) and entered the Disneyland sized line to get into the World of Coca Cola. It seemed we got there right after a bus full of kids.
I really didn’t know what to expect, so we followed the leader and entered into a room and got in line. For what I wasn’t sure. Turns out the first thing they offer you when you enter is free product. Small cans of every variety of Coke. It was the first cola Tom had drank in over 10 years! Then we followed the progression into a room filled with coke memorabilia and were told we were going to watch a six minute film. That film was a six minute commercial. Albeit a very well done commercial that pulled on every emotional heartstring possible.
We flowed with the crowd after that to the “vault” room – which had minimal history on the beginnings of the product, a tour of a production line – which was a slowed down and small scaled replica of factory bottling. Then we went to a 4-D short film which basically touted the wonders of drinking coke.
One room had giant bottles of coke decorated by various artists and you could get your picture taken on the red couch from the American Idol show. One room had a continuous loop of coke commercials from around the world.
Then the room EVERYone was crowded into: The tasting room. It was a serve yourself bonanza of Coca-Cola branded drink products from around the world. My shoes were sticking to the floor. Tom and I got a sufficient sugar high and I hated to think about the bus driver for all the kids when they left. Then of course, like Disneyland, you exit through the gift shop.
I suppose you can’t tell what I thought of the place! I tried not to get all judgemental about the popularity of this corporate store verses the lack of crowds at the outstanding museum and grounds. (Didn’t say I succeeded!)
Before heading to the car, we took the short walk to the Centennial Olympic Park for some free entertainment at the water Fountain of Rings. If you haven’t seen the video I posted on facebook of Tom getting wet, you’ll want to check it out here for a good laugh.
That wrapped up our day in Atlanta. Next we’ll check out the Appalachians.
Peace & Love, Joy