Best Atlanta Museums for Families to Learn and Play

Take a bite out of discovery at Fernbank. Photo courtesy of the museum
Take a bite out of discovery at Fernbank. Photo courtesy of the museum

As the weather turns cooler, it may be tempting to spend more time in front of screens. Instead, have everyone in your family put down the electronics and spend time at Atlanta museums. Research shows museums offer an excellent way to teach topics often missed in the classroom by engaging the three C’s—creativity, critical thinking skills, and curiosity.

Fortunately, Atlanta museums offer the best for families to learn something new and discover their world together, so we’ve put together our favorite Atlanta museums for kids and families. Be sure to check each website for hours, tickets, and Covid policies, as well as special exhibits and events. Now who's ready to explore!

Atlanta Museums Sure to Impress Kids of All Interests

Atlanta History Center's Victorian Playhouse brings history to today's Atlanta children. Photo by the author

Atlanta History Center – Buckhead

Spend a day learning about Atlanta, including golf legend Bobby Jones, the Civil War, and the 1996 Summer Olympic Games at Atlanta History Center. Gain a better understanding of 1800s farm life by exploring the Tullie Smith Farm, complete with farmhouse, outbuildings, and crops. Tour the impressive Swan House, the 1928 mansion of the prominent Inman family. Don’t miss “Cyclorama: The Big Picture,” featuring an interactive 12-minute film inside the 49-foot tall, 360-degree “Battle of Atlanta” painting from 1886.

Sports fans will love the Chick-Fil-A College Football Hall of Fame.

Chick-Fil-A College Football Hall of Fame – Downtown

Got sports fans in your family? Tour this interactive space which relocated from South Bend, Indiana in 2014. Register your favorite football team with your All-Access Pass for a personalized experience throughout your visit. Try kicking a field goal on the 45-yard football field, watch a 4K movie, and call plays. Check out the Chik-Fil-A College Football Hall of Fame's new exhibit on football at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

Children’s Museum of Atlanta – Downtown

Catering to children through 8 years old, this Atlanta museum allows kids to learn through play. Discover the newly upgraded “Step up to Science” exhibit, mix colors on the large paint wall, and manipulate the ball machine from a crane. Kids also gain an understanding of the food supply chain from the pretend farm, delivery truck, grocery store, and cafe. Masks required for those over age 2.

Get up close and personal with airplanes in the Delta Flight Museum hangar.

Delta Flight Museum –  Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport 

Discover Atlanta-based airline Delta's history from a small crop-dusting operation to the country’s second-largest airline. Hangar 1, dedicated to the propeller age, displays five aircraft including the only remaining Delta passenger Douglas DC-3 from 1941. A second hangar focuses on the history of jet travel with the employee-purchased Boeing 767 "The Spirit of Delta" and other memorabilia. Delta Flight Museum's highlight is The 747 Experience, where you can sit in the cockpit, relax in first class, walk on the wing, and see the exposed ductwork of the first Boeing 747-400 built. For an additional fee, you can try out the Boeing 737 flight simulator. Masks required.

Fernbank – North Druid Hills

Fernbank's collection of dinosaurs, including the 123-foot long Argentinosaurus, will mesmerize everyone in your family. NatureQuest engages preschoolers with an indoor virtual river, rope bridge, and treehouse. Older kids love the science activities in the “Fantastic Forces” section, as well as seeing fossils from millions of years ago. WildWoods, the outdoor exploration area, includes a sensory wall, weather station, and bug hotel while Fernbank Forest offers two miles of walking trails. For an additional fee, catch an IMAX movie.

High Museum of Art – Midtown

Not only exhibiting paintings and photography, this Atlanta museum also showcases sculptures and decorative arts. As you explore the High Museum of Art's three architecturally aesthetic buildings, your kids will be amazed standing next to modern art the size of a gallery wall or the bright vivid colors in the folk-art area. The Greene Family Learning Gallery allows kids under 8 years old to create and experience art through fun, hands-on activities. The High offers free admission the second Sunday of the month, but online tickets go quickly.

Museums near Atlanta include the important National Center for Civil and Human Rights.

National Center for Civil and Human Rights – Downtown

TWhile not for little ones, older children and adults will gain an understanding of the civil rights movement by participating in a lunchroom counter sit-in and listening to stories from the Freedom Riders at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights. The second half of the museum focuses on global rights issues and highlights modern heroes who stood up for change. Before you visit, download the field guides tailored to upper elementary, middle school, and high school students. Be prepared for deep discussion afterward.

Southeastern Railway Museum – Duluth

Glimpse what passenger train travel was like when you climb aboard a Pullman sleeper and walk through a dining car complete with a kitchen. View the collection of locomotives, cabooses, and baggage cars on exhibit, as well as The Superb, used by President Warren Harding. Kids will love taking the short train ride included in the price of admission.

Kids love trains, like those at Southern Museum of Locomotive History. 

Southern Museum of Locomotive History – Kennesaw

While also a train museum, this Smithsonian Museum affiliate focuses on the Civil War era. See “The General” locomotive which was overtaken by Union spies during the Civil War. The museum offers a film about the raid, but you may want to watch Disney’s “The Great Locomotive Chase” as a family beforehand. Learn the importance of railroads during the war and see the reproduction assembly line of Glover Machine Works, a company that produced steam locomotives in the early 1900s.

Tellus Science Museum shows Atlanta kids how transportation really works. Photo by the author

Tellus Science Museum – Cartersville

Also an affiliate of the Smithsonian Museum, Tellus allows kids to perform science experiments, visit the 40-foot skeleton of a T-Rex, mine gems, and dig fossils in this 120,000 square foot space. After gazing at the vast collection of precious stones and minerals, stop by the Millar Science in Motion Gallery, featuring the history of transportation. Your family will enjoy seeing old cars, a Bell-47 Helicopter, and a replica of Apollo I. On select days, you can tour the 800 square-foot Solar House. For an additional fee, catch a show at the planetarium.

World of Coca-Cola – Downtown

Atlanta and Coca-Cola go together like baseball and peanuts. This interactive Atlanta museum will teach you about the iconic brand’s history, bottling, and international presence while engaging all five senses. In addition to the 3D movie, “In Search of the Secret Formula,” you’ll view advertisements from their 130-year history and see the vault containing the super-secret formula. The new “Scent Discovery” exhibit allows visitors to identify fragrances and learn how smell affects taste. Kids will love trying 10 different Coca-Cola products from around the globe and at the end, everyone will receive a classic Coca-Cola beverage to take home.

Center for Puppetry Arts Museum - Midtown

Top Atlanta museums must include the Center for Puppetry Arts—who doesn’t love Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch, Elmo, and other Sesame Street characters?! Learn about talented puppeteer Jim Henson and see the largest collection of puppets, props, and background stories of his beloved characters. The other half of the museum takes visitors on a 3,000-year history of puppets spanning the entire globe. Interactive areas allow visitors to operate rod, shadow, and stop-motion puppets, as well as perform a puppet show on a TV stage.

Unless noted, photos by Bill Leffler.

Lunar New Year at Atlantic Station
Atlantic Station - 5:00 PM Pick
Waking Wonderland at Illuminarium
Illuminarium - various times Pick
All Smiles at Alliance Theatre
Alliance Theatre - various times Pick
Dinosaur Adventure at Cobb Galleria Centre
Cobb Galleria Centre - 9:00 AM
Neighborhood Guides
Activity Guides