Every summer I have the privilege of spending two full months with my amazing sons, ages 10 and 8 years old. Being a wheelchair mom isn’t easy, and I’m really lucky that I have help from friends and family when I need it. But I’m even more lucky that so many places in the US are both family friendly AND wheelchair accessible, making it easy for my to fully enjoy a “normal” summer experience with my kids. This summer, I decided to take them and my mom on a road trip from my home in Orlando to Atlanta, GA so we could enjoy some of the city’s best kid-friendly offerings. Here are several wheelchair accessible places that the whole family can enjoy during your visit to Atlanta.
1. Georgia Aquarium. Georgia Aquarium is the world’s most magical aquarium, and features some of the most amazing aquatic animals, including beluga whales, whale sharks, manta rays, penguins, sea otters, dolphins and many more. Georgia Aquarium offers seven permanent galleries, with animals living in more than 10 million gallons of fresh and marine water. Visitors to Georgia Aquarium embark on an aquatic adventure around the globe, and are sure to gain a greater understanding of these aquatic ecosystems and the animals who inhabit them. Georgia Aquarium is committed to providing engaging and interactive experiences for everyone, no matter their ability, so they will have a full aquarium experience. Wheelchairs are available free of charge with a picture ID at the Main Entrance and Information Desk. The touch pool at the exit of the Cold Water Quest gallery has a special wheelchair access entry. A Georgia Aquarium staff member will provide guests in wheelchairs with a personal experience touching animals in this pool. Look for wheelchair emblems on the floor at designated exhibits for unblocked access to exhibit windows. Even the animal interactions and immersive programs are accessible! The entire Dive Immersion Team is certified by the Handicapped Scuba Association as either Divemasters or Instructors. Anyone with or without disabilities who is a certified open water diver is invited to purchase the SCUBA dive, and anyone with or without disabilities desiring to snorkel is invited to purchase the snorkel option.
2. World of Coca Cola. Experience the history of the world’s most famous soft drink at the dynamic, multimedia home of the 125-year-old secret formula for Coca-Cola. Get closer than ever before to the vault containing the secret recipe, and see the fully functioning bottling line that produces a commemorative glass bottle of Coca-Cola for every guest. View more than 1,200 never-before-displayed artifacts, take a trip around the world in a thrilling 4-D movie experience, and tempt your taste buds with more than 60 beverages from around the globe. The entire museum is wheelchair accessible, including the tours. Courtesy wheelchairs are also available at the ticket window for check out using a photo ID.
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3. Legoland Discovery Center. LEGOLAND Discovery Center Atlanta is made up of a series of interactive features to immerse kids into a world where their imagination can run wild with creative inspiration at every turn. Featuring a whole host of exciting attractions from the Kingdom Quest ride to an amazing recreation of the local area’s most iconic buildings, the center not only provides fun for LEGO fans young and old, but fantastic educational benefits, too. Legoland has full access for disabled visitors, including elevator access to the upper floor and all exhibit spaces. The center has been designed with accessibility in mind, and they review their risk assessments and policies annually to ensure they remain as accessible as possible to all guests, including wheelchair users.
4. Zoo Atlanta. From well-known native wildlife to critically endangered species on the brink of extinction, the zoo offers close encounters with more than 1,500 animals from around the world.Visitors can feed giraffes and have behind-the-scenes adventures with African elephants, giant pandas and a Komodo dragon. See the nation’s largest collection of gorillas, the largest zoological collection of orangutans in the U.S., and many vanishing reptiles and amphibians. Don’t miss interactive wildlife shows; keeper talks and training demonstrations; the petting zoo; playgrounds; and kid-friendly rides and attractions. Located in historic Grant Park just minutes from downtown Atlanta, Zoo Atlanta has free parking and easy access to MARTA. Although some pathways feature grades that are steeper than others, Zoo Atlanta is wheelchair accessible. In some cases, please look for signs directing for special access. Manual and electric wheelchairs are available for rental at the Zoo Atlanta Trading Company Gift Shop or at Safari Outfitters, both located just inside the front entrance. The electric wheelchairs are limited in number and available for rental on a first-come, first-served basis. Reservations are not accepted. Service animals are allowed in the Zoo.
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5. Children’s Museum of Atlanta. Ideal for crawling babies and children up to nine years old, the Children’s Museum of Atlanta is the city’s only children’s museum for fun, hands-on learning through play. Four permanent learning zones, feature exhibits, and the Museum’s dedicated troupe of actors and educators – the Imaginators – bring learning to life for young children. It is also home to downtown Atlanta’s only dedicated toy store designed to proved age-appropriate toys for children. The Museum is accessible to persons who use wheelchairs or other assisted mobility devices. Elevators provide access to Step Up to Science, Lunch Tables and a ramp to access the exterior of the globe in Gateway to the World. People with restrained service animals are allowed full access to the Museum.
6. Fernbank Museum of Natural History. Science comes alive at Fernbank Museum of Natural History! Experience a world of adventure filled with cultural treasures, ancient fossils, interactive exhibits and the largest dinosaurs ever discovered. Head outside to take a walk on the wild side with 75 acres of outdoor discoveries, including old-growth forest trails, treetop experiences, active nature exhibits for children, and engaging experiences for all ages. Be sure to see a film in Fernbank’s Giant Screen Theater, which offers 2D and 3D films on Atlanta’s largest movie screen that explore nature, science and culture. All experiences inside the Museum and within WildWoods are ADA accessible. However, due to the natural terrain of Fernbank Forest, some areas include steep inclines, rugged features and unpaved trails.
7. Centennial Olympic Park (Fountain of Rings). Centennial Olympic Park is downtown Atlanta’s gathering place and lasting legacy to the 1996 Olympic Games. This 21-acre park boasts a variety of free, fun-filled, family entertainment throughout the year, including concerts, Family Fun Days, a spectacular Fourth of July Celebration, a Holiday in Lights festival complete with an ice skating rink, unforgettable fountain shows and much more. In addition to special events and a great place to hold special receptions, Centennial Olympic Park is perfect for a stroll to take in the sculptures, water gardens and lavish scenery. But the best part of the park for kids is the Fountain of Rings, the centerpiece of the Park and one of the most recognized and photographed landmarks in Georgia. Millions of international and local guests visit the Park every year to enjoy the world’s largest interactive fountain featuring the Olympic Ring symbol. Children from around the world delight in the water jets— creating a safe, zero-depth, pool area for Downtown Atlanta. It’s free to view the Fountain of Rings show, which plays four times a day. Wheelchair users can roll right up to – or through – the fountains for a fun cooling off!
8. Atlanta Botanical Garden. Explore 30 acres of display gardens and shady woodlands featuring plant collections including roses, herbs, conifers, carnivorous plants, and more. Special features include the Dorothy Chapman Fuqua Conservatory, home to rare and endangered tropical and desert plants, and the Children’s Garden, a unique, hands-on garden with a health and wellness theme. The Fuqua Orchid Center includes a High Elevation Orchid House and a Tropical Orchid House, both beautiful throughout the year. Nearly all areas are accessible to visitors with wheelchairs and scooters. Wheelchairs and Electric Mobility Scooters are available for rent at the ticket window and are available on a first come, first serve basis and cannot be reserved.
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9. College Football Hall of Fame. The College Football Hall of Fame in downtown Atlanta is located adjacent to the Georgia World Congress Center and steps from Centennial Olympic Park, the Georgia Aquarium, the World of Coca-Cola and the Georgia Dome. The 94,000-square-foot building features 30,000 square feet of exhibit space and a 45-yard indoor football field. The attraction features historic and contemporary relics, children’s activities, interactive multimedia displays, a theater featuring an ultra-high-definition film about the history of college football, and unique special event spaces. The College Football Hall of Fame and the adjacent parking garage are accessible and meet all ADA requirements. If you need to use a wheelchair for any reason, they are available by asking any Fan Ambassador. All exhibits inside the College Football Hall of Fame include closed captioning for the hearing impaired. If you need additional assistance, Fan Ambassadors can assist you. Guests requiring special assistance through a complimentary tour guide can contact the College Football Hall of Fame by email or phone for a reservation.
10. SkyView Atlanta. Towering nearly 20 stories above Centennial Park, the SkyView Ferris wheel features 42 climate-controlled gondolas providing guests with breathtaking panoramic views of downtown Atlanta and the surrounding metropolitan area. Those looking for an even more enhanced experience will enjoy our VIP gondola boasting Ferrari style seats, glass floor and a longer flight time. With its convenient location just steps from many of Atlanta’s most popular attractions, SkyView Atlanta is the perfect compliment to your downtown adventure. Two of the gondolas are wheelchair accessible and can accommodate 2 to 6 passengers. However, be aware that they are not air conditioned so you can time your visit accordingly.
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11. CNN Center. Journey into the heart of CNN Worldwide and get an up-close, in-depth look at global news in the making. The Inside CNN Atlanta Studio Tour takes you behind the scenes with the inventors of 24-hour news. Ranked among Atlanta’s most popular destinations, Inside CNN Atlanta is a 55-minute guided walking tour offering guests an exciting glimpse of newsgathering and broadcasting from the studios of CNN, the worldwide leader in news. The Inside CNN Studio Tour descends 8 flights of stairs. For accessibility assistance, please call (404) 827-2300 at least 72 hours in advance to make a reservation. Elevator-assisted tours are available daily at 10:30am, 12:30pm, 2:30pm and 4:30pm. Reservations required; maximum 10 wheelchairs per tour. All requests for visual or hearing accommodation and sign language interpreters may be referred to (404) 827-2300 for reservations and information.
12. Southeastern Railway Museum. The Southeastern Railway Museum (SRM) occupies a 34-acre site in Duluth, in northeast suburban Atlanta. In operation since 1970, SRM features about 90 items of rolling stock, including historic Pullman cars and classic steam locomotives. During the spring, summer and fall, the museum is open Wednesday – Saturday and Tuesdays during June and July. During the winter, we’re open on Saturdays. See website for official days open per month. For more details, see our events calendar.Ride in restored cabooses behind steam or diesel locomotives, stand next to the massive driving wheels of the locomotive that once pulled passenger trains to Key West on the “railroad that went to sea,” tour the business car that helped bring the Olympics to Atlanta, pose on the platform of the private car once used by President Warren G. Harding, and see just how green Southern Railway green can be as you walk the length of the diesel-electric locomotive that ran the point on the last Crescent before AMTRAK assumed control of the famous train. There are significant areas and exhibits at the museum that are wheelchair accessible. The restrooms, gift shop, the exhibit hall, the 1871 depot and building 2 are accessible. The interior of passenger cars, cabooses and locomotive cabs (including the train ride) are not wheelchair accessible.
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