Dazz-lanta

A guide to all the fun and merriment available in The Big Peach while the industry is in town.

By  Erik J. Martin, CSP Correspondent

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Welcome to the land of the free andthe home of the Braves—as well as theFalcons, Hawks, Coca-Cola, “Gone withthe Wind,” Martin Luther King Jr., CNN,and the world’s largest aquarium anddrive-in. From Centennial Olympic Parkand the historic Fox Theatre to Little FivePoints and the Atlanta Botanical Garden,the recreational and entertainmentoptions in Atlanta are virtually endless.

For NACS Show attendees on a limitedschedule, however, deciding whichof the many attractions to explore canbe a little overwhelming—especially ifthis is your fi rst foray to “The Big Peach,”as the city has affectionately come to becalled. While it’s also recommended thatyou visit Atlanta.net for a comprehensivelisting of tourist sites, hotels, restaurantsand events in the area, this handy getawayguide can help you effi ciently and convenientlyplan your itinerary.

Downtown Destinations

It’s hard to resist the energy and allure ofdowntown Atlanta, where several of thecity’s best amenities await, including:

Georgia Aquarium: The ultra-rarewhale shark, AT&T Dolphin Tales show,Animal Interactions swim-and-dive programfor visitors, and 10 million gallons ofgalleries, exhibits and aquatic wonders areamong the many reasons to check out thisHotlanta hotspot—the largest aquariumon the planet. The latest exhibit is “Frogs:A Chorus of Colors,” which showcases15 species of colorful frogs in more than3,000 square feet of unique habitats. $35general admission (404-581-4000; georgiaaquarium.org).

World of Coca-Cola: Ever wonderwhere the 125-year-old secret formulafor the world’s most popular soft drinkis stored? Visit this memorable museum,which features more than 1,200 artifactsfrom around the world that, until now,have never before been displayed to thepublic. Browse historic artifacts and thePlantBottle packaging “living” display, andwatch a movie at the Happiness FactoryTheater. The site’s newest attraction is“American Originals: Norman Rockwell& Coca-Cola,” displaying several oil paintingsby the popular artist that feature theiconic soda product. $16 general admission(404-676-5151; worldofcoca-cola.com).

Inside CNN Studio Tour: This outingprovides a once-in-a-lifetime peekinside the global headquarters of cableTV giant CNN. Go behind the scenesand get expanded access to the workingstudios—including the newsrooms andcontrol room—of CNN Worldwide witha VIP tour, or take an express tour of theacclaimed program “Morning Express withRobin Meade.” Fifty-five minute guidedwalking tours depart approximately every10 minutes. $15 general admission (404-827-2300; cnn.com/tour).

Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site: Learn about MLK’s life and hisinfluence on others by visiting this importanteducational attraction. Explore the visitorcenter/museum that chronicles the civilrights movement and King’s involvementin it, King’s boyhood home, the originalEbenezer Baptist Church where he pastored,the International Civil Rights Walk ofFame, the “I Have a Dream” InternationalWorld Peace Rose Garden, and King’s finalresting place. Free admission and parking(404-331-5190; nps.gov/malu).

Centennial Olympic Park: Originallybuilt for the 1996 summer Olympic Games,this 21-acre public park hosts millions ofvisitors and numerous concerts and specialevents annually. Check out the Fountainof Rings, one of Georgia’s most instantlyrecognizable and photographed landmarks,featuring the world’s largest interactivefountain—with the Olympic Ring symbolas its visual theme—that plays four timesdaily, 365 days a year. Free admission (404-223-4412; centennialpark.com)

SkyView Atlanta: You’ve never beenon a Ferris wheel quite like this before.Located at the south end of CentennialPark, this unmistakable attraction is nearly20 stories high, containing 42 gondolasthat can each hold up to six people. Your15-minute ride offers a spectacular viewof downtown Atlanta that you’ll want tosoak in and photograph. $14.45 generaladmission (skyviewatlanta.com).

Oakland Cemetery: Visit the finalresting place of some of Atlanta’s mostimportant historical figures, includingMargaret Mitchell, Bobby Jones andMaynard Jackson. This unique gardencemetery boasts winding paths, elaboratemausoleums, soaring sculptures, stainedglasswindows from Tiffany studios,memorable bronze urns more than 6 feethigh, and breathtaking examples of artand architecture in many styles, includingGreek revival, neo-classical, Victorian,Egyptian, gothic and exotic revival. Freeadmission (404-688-2107; oaklandcemetery.com).

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