Atlanta is a city steeped in history, culture, the arts and music. While being a very sophisticated metropolis, it also offers a lot in options for families.

1. Explore the Georgia Aquarium

Traveling through underwater tunnels, touching baby sharks and stingrays, watching penguins as they feed and dive, being awed by the unique beauty and gracefulness of jellyfish, standing at a wall of 6.5 million gallons of water like Moses as he crossed the Red Sea, the Georgia Aquarium is a place of wonder and adventure for both children and adults alike.

Located in downtown Atlanta, the Georgia Aquarium touts itself as the world's largest with over 8 million gallons of water and a panoply of 120,000 animals from 500 species. They're the only aquarium outside of Asia to have whale sharks (two of them!)

Our family enjoyed recording our attempt at whale songs, 'petting' sea anemones, star fish, sting rays and baby sharks, and watching the grace and beauty of giant manta rays as they swam in 6.5 million gallons of water.

Tickets start at $19.50 for children and $26 for adults, but well worth the price. Be sure to go early so you can spend the day exploring the world of wonder under the sea.

2. Gain Appreciation at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Home & Museum

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." Martin Luther King Jr.

One of the greatest and most influential men of our age, Martin Luther King Jr. was a giant among men.

Available to visit at The King Center are the birth place of Martin Luther King, Jr (reserve your free tickets early), his tomb, the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, a statue of Ghandi and a visitors center with interactive exhibits and movies.

My seven year old daughter, who is adopted and of African-American origin, was especially touched and interested in the racial discrimination that took place in a time not long ago.

All my children had a difficult time believing that people had to drink at different water fountains, and eat at different restaurants, just because of the color of their skin.

We realized that our family is a fulfillment of the dream of Martin Luther King, Jr., of a time he foresaw when "little white boys and little white girls would hold hands with little brown boys and little brown girls."

My daughter wrote in the visitors log as she left, "I am grateful for Martin Luther King."

3. Hike Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield

Located 30 minutes outside of Atlanta is Kennesaw mountain. Now preserved as a National Park, Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield was the site of some of the heaviest fighting of the Atlanta Campaign during the Civil War.

The name Kennesaw comes from the Cherokee Indian "Gah-nee-sah" which means cemetery or burial ground. Over 5,000 soldiers were killed in a battle fought there in the summer of 1864.

Still visible along the now groomed trails are defense mounds, cannon emplacements and monuments. The 1.4 mile hike to the mountain's summit, which provides a view of the city of Atlanta, is an easy one for kids and adults, young and old.

Weekends and holidays can be especially busy, but a visit during the week will offer more seclusion. There are several trails to choose from, originating from various locations in Kennesaw/Marietta. An array of colors make fall an especially good time to visit.

4. Relax at Centennial Olympic Park

Constructed for residents and visitors to enjoy during the 1996 Olympic Games that were hosted in Atlanta, the Centennial Olympic Park turned a run down part of the city into a place for people to gather and enjoy concerts, family days, festivals and other events.

Every fourth Saturday offers a day of FREE family fun, with entertainment and educational activities for children. Tuesdays and Thursdays at noon provides a variety of free music for your listening enjoyment.

The centerpiece of the park and the most popular attraction is the Fountain of Rings which presents daily shows of synchronized water dances to familiar tunes, complete with lighting and sound effects.

5. Recreate at Georgia's Stone Mountain

Located about 15 minutes from downtown Atlanta is the 3,200 acre theme park of Stone Mountain that offers something for everyone- sky hikes, golfing, camping, dining and shopping, cable car, 4D movies, laser shows, paddlewheel boats, hiking, fishing and more.

Stone Mountain also hosts many festivals and events, such as concerts, laser shows, and holiday celebrations.

Stone Mountain was named after the world's largest piece of exposed granite that now displays a carving of Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, and "Stonewall" Jackson on horseback.

It is listed in Frommer's 500 Places to Take Your Kids Before the Grow Up and was also cited by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution as one of "35 Natural Wonders in Georgia You Must See Before You Die."

Parking starts at $10 per vehicle, and gives you access to hiking, trails, children's playground and other natural exhibits. Admission to other attractions begins at $27 for adults, and $21 for children ages 3-11.

What has your family discovered in Atlanta, GA? Please share a comment below.

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