Emmett loves traveling via airplane. Smiling and waiving at all his fellow travelers, the excitement of the take-off, and the unlimited screen time and snacks he could want.
Towards the end of the year, we started talking about our next family vacation. Emmett had a few extra days off from preschool around my birthday, and our Delta companion ticket was expiring soon, so it seemed like the perfect time.
We debated a few different destinations, and also whether we should do a long weekend or full week. Our final decision was to simply do a long weekend (I later found out that Brad was a bit worried when I tried planning a full week because it would overlap the surprise birthday party he was planning).
The Georgia Aquarium was the winning attraction to make Atlanta our destination. Once we had our dates and destination, I started full on “engineer planning a vacation” mode. Spreadsheet and all.
We essentially had three days to fill, plus a travel day on each end. I planned one activity a day, and had a list of add-on activities we could do depending how the day was going.
Our original plan was: Day One – The Georgia Aquarium, Day Two – Delta Flight Museum, Day Three – Atlanta Zoo. We bought the Atlanta CityPass since it included the aquarium and zoo, plus had a handful of other spots that were right in the Centennial Park area.
Since so many of the activities we had planned were in the Centennial Park area, we booked a hotel nearby. We really like Embassy Suites because they have extra space in the hotel rooms, a free buffet breakfast, and nightly happy hours.
Day One – Georgia Aquarium & World of Coca-Cola
We kicked off the first day with hotel breakfast and then walked through Centennial Park to the aquarium. We originally assumed that it would take us until about lunch time and then we’d figure out our afternoon plans. Emmett and Anneliese absolutely loved their time and soaked up every exhibit.
Emmett did not want to leave the sea lions and would run back and forth along the window as they swam past. The nurse shark exhibit is absolutely amazing, the tank is huge and there are thousands of fish to watch. I could have sat there for an extended time, but *toddlers* so we did the exhibit a few times with snack breaks in between.
Navigating the aquarium with a stroller was a little tricky as the ramps didn’t always align next to the coordinating stairs. A couple times Brad would take Emmett ahead while I went around to the ramp/elevator with Anneliese and the strollers.
We stayed at the aquarium for about three hours and then left to take a walk around the park and figure out the rest of our day.
It was mid-afternoon at this point so we knew that any other activity needed to be relatively short. As we walked around Centennial Park, we decided to head over to World of Coca-Cola for some history and tasting. Anneliese fell asleep early in the tour, and Emmett’s favorite part was meeting the Coca-Cola bear. Overall, it took about an hour and was great to fill our afternoon before dinner.
Day Two – Delta Flight Museum & Georgia Aquarium
The second day started off with a drive down by the airport to check out the Delta Flight Museum. The museum features multiple airplanes to explore. There are three main areas to the exhibit: Propeller Age, Jet Age, and then a 747 in the parking lot ready to explore.
Emmett enjoyed checking out both the 767 “Spirit of Delta” and the 747 that was set-up with Delta One seats. Anneliese and Emmett are ready to fly in luxury of Delta One.
We spent about an hour and a half at the museum, older kids could definitely stay longer to actually read the signs and watch the video.
After lunch, we were back to making afternoon plans. We were originally planning on doing the Children’s Museum; however, Anneliese needed a nap and we knew she wouldn’t nap with all that stimulation, so we bought tickets for a second day at the aquarium. I knew that Emmett would enjoy visiting the animals again, and Anneliese could take a stroller nap in the dark exhibits.
A couple laps through the shark exhibit and she was out! We appreciated being able to make reservations for the Sea Lion show so we knew that we’d be getting a seat before we got in line.
Day Three – Atlanta Zoo
While Emmett has visited zoos multiple times, Anneliese was pretty young the last time she went. It was so much fun seeing her experience all the animals up close (well, still a safe distance, but you get the point). We ended the day in the children’s area riding the carousel and train (a few times). We bought the wristbands which allowed for unlimited carousel and train rides. After a couple rides on each it had more than paid for itself.
He kept pointing to the ropes course and requesting to join the fun. Brad and I were worried that he would be unsure once the harness was put on. That worry was quickly put to rest as he ran off to play on the toddler ropes course.
Tips and Tricks
The flight from Seattle to Atlanta is approximately five hours. Anneliese is still young enough to fly free as a lap infant; however, she is a squirmy toddler so we opted to purchase her a seat. Since there are four of us and three seats per row, we did the window and middle seats in two rows. This allowed for each kid to get a window, and we could easily pass toys and snacks back and forth.
Since the kids’ car seats are extra heavy, we have invested in additional travel car seats. Emmett uses a Wayb Pico and Anneliese in a Cosco Scenera. The Wayb Pico is forward facing only, so Anneliese has a bit of time before she’ll be ready for it.
I have used a variety of strollers for travel. For our past few trips, we have taken our double Bugaboo Donkey. I love this stroller, but I don’t love traveling with it because it has to be completely disassembled to fit into the gate-check bag. For this trip we decided to try something different: two travel single strollers.
We opted to to use two Babyzen Yoyo strollers, and I picked up these adapters to connect the strollers together when we wanted to push it as a double. Emmett is really only in a stroller for containment and possible naps, so the ability to connect the two strollers was especially helpful when he wanted to get out and run around.
I spent quite a bit of time debating where to stay for our trip. In the end, I looked at a map of our planned destinations and realized that staying right by Centennial Park would allow for walking to most destinations, and we could easily hop on the freeway to get to others. If the majority of our plans had been outside the city I would have considered staying in one of the suburbs.
Plan for extra time at the Atlanta airport, even if you have Pre-Check! On our way out of Sea-Tac, it took us about 5 minutes to get through security with our combination of Clear and TSA Pre-Check. This same combination had more than a 20 minute wait at Atlanta. Once we were through security, it was a mazes of elevators and train rides to get to our gate.
The only time that I’ve visited Atlanta in the past is in the middle of July when it was hot and humid. I didn’t think about the fact that they actually have winter. It was around 50 degrees when we were there at the end of January.
Our long weekend in Atlanta was so much fun! There is so much more that we didn’t get a chance to explore during our three days so we will be back!