It’s so bittersweet having to say goodbye to this year’s summer. I don’t necessarily dislike the fall or winter, but since childhood I’ve been conditioned to believe that the most fun happens during the summer. The weather is warm, the days are long; why wouldn’t I believe that?
This summer was pretty different for me. I graduated college in December, so this is my first summer out of school. Can you imagine how weird that feels? Additionally, I was interning this summer at Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness, which ate up the majority of my summer. Although it was my first summer out of college, I didn’t really get to enjoy it and do “summertime” things. With that said, I made the decision to do one thing that was fun so my summer didn’t feel like a dud. Labor Day weekend was my one shot, so I took it!
I had Georgia on my mind. Yup, I decided to take a trip to Atlanta, GA with boo. We had never been before, we heard the food scene was good and it was the perfect weekend to go. There was so much to do including the Luda Day Festival, Dragon Con, Black Gay Pride, and a college football game at the Georgia Dome. It seemed everyone was in ATL for Labor Day weekend, which was fine. We ended up getting an Atlanta City Pass. Totally was worth it because we got to visit five Atlanta attractions at a discounted price. (As reference I’ll say this: admission to the Georgia Aquarium for two and the cost of a City Pass are only a few dollars difference.)
Being that we drove to ATL, instead of checking in once we arrived we jumped right into sightseeing. Our first stop was to the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site (free). We toured his birth house, his gravesite, and the Ebenezer Baptist Church where MLK delivered his first sermon in 1947 and where his mother was assassinated. Mrs. Alberta Williams King would have turned 111 yesterday (Sept. 13). It was a bit surreal to be there, where the courageous Martin Luther King, Jr. was born and raised. Wow. Interestingly enough, we learned that MLK’s grandfather had tried to end segregation over decades before MLK was even born. (Now those are some strong genetics and thank goodness for them.) We also learned that his sister, Christine King, has only recently retired at the age of 88. God bless her. So many interesting facts and to be able to see it first hand was amazing. The history is so rich.
Our next attraction was the Gladys Knight & Ron’s Chicken and Waffles. By this point we were starving and what better place to stop, right? The food was delicious. I would recommend it to anyone who is visiting Atlanta. We stopped by a few other local favorites including Mary Mac’s Tea Room and Sweet Georgia’s Juke Joint but, honestly, Gladys Knight’s was our favorite.
The next day we were ready to hit the scene. Since we were only there for the weekend, we had to hit at least two attractions per day. On day two we went to Coca-Cola World and The Center for Human and Civil Rights. World of Coke was so fun! I loved every second of being there. It was such a wonderful experience, honestly. I wish my niblings were with me because I knew they’d have so much fun. I didn’t take many pictures because it’s an experience. It was so hands on and the 4D experience was awesome. As an adgrad, I enjoyed watching the different Coca-Cola commercials from all over the world. Also, we got to taste test over 100 products Coke products. I never had so much soda in my life. My absolute favorite was Inca Kola from Peru, sooooo goooood! My least favorite, Beverly, an Italian soft drink.
Next stop: The Center for Civil and Human Rights. At first glance I noticed the architecture, which is amazing. The information inside was a really good continuation to the MLK exhibit that we saw the day before. What stood out to me the most was a simulation at the center. You’d sit at a bar stool with headphones on and place your hands on the handprints before you. In your ears were some of the ugly things that were said to African-Americans during the times of segregation. The goal was to see how long you could sit there and take the verbal abuse while practicing peaceful protesting. It was tough. Although I knew it was a simulation, it was pretty hard to take.
Throughout the rest of the center were more about the efforts of Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, and other Civil Rights leaders. What I did appreciate about the museum was that it didn’t only focus on America, Blacks, or what we may stereotypically think about when someone mentions civil rights. The entire museum was filled with stories of those who are a part of the LGBT community, people from different religious backgrounds, all races, and abilities.
That day, we also snuck in some time for the College Football Hall of Fame because it was included in our City Pass and we wanted to make the best of it. I’m not really into football and my alma mater doesn’t have a football team, so went just because. We got Chick-Fil-A coupons out of it, which is always a win!
On our third day, we visited the Georgia Aquarium and toured CNN headquarters. At the aquarium, we got to see the Dolphin Tales show and that was so fun! I felt like a little kid, amazed to see the dolphins perform. I love aquariums and I couldn’t pass up the chance to go to the Georgia Aquarium, the biggest in the nation! The aquarium was so large that we ended up leaving to go to our CNN tour and coming back to finish experiencing the rest of it. Note: the aquarium is the only attraction that allows re-entry.
The CNN tour was fun. Not as exciting as the World of Coke or the aquarium, but interesting to see the logistics of how we get our news. There are tons of dedicated and hardworking members on their team. We saw rooms filled with over 300 computers and TV monitors. We also got to ride on the world’s longest, free-standing escalator, which takes you from the ground floor to the 8th floor.
Without this post getting any longer, I’ll wrap it up here. Our trip to Atlanta was pretty fun. We got to see a lot and eat a lot and [window] shop a lot. Lol. We did stop by Lenox Mall and a nearby outlet, but mostly to look around. I would definitely go back to experience life outside of the tourist areas, but if I don’t get the chance to, at least I did the bare minimum.
How many of you have been to or live in Atlanta? Have you been to all the tourist spots that locals usually ignore? I know being from NYC, I never do the tourist activities, shamefully, unless I’m with a visitor. Maybe next summer I will make that my goal. Let’s continue the conversation below in the comment section. Seriously, I’d love to hear your thoughts.