Centennial Olympic Park, Atlanta

Centennial Olympic Park (Self Guided), Atlanta

The Centennial Olympic Park was opened in 1996, for the Summer Olympic Games. It consists of amazing green spaces, rock gardens and works of art. Nowadays, the park serves as a reminder of Georgia's Centennial Olympic Games. The area has also witnessed commercial development. Its main features are the dancing water fountain, a memorial quilt in remembrance of the victims of the 1996 Olympic bombing and the weekly free concerts.
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Centennial Olympic Park Map

Guide Name: Centennial Olympic Park
Guide Location: USA » Atlanta (See other walking tours in Atlanta)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 9
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.0 Km or 0.6 Miles
Author: doris
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • CNN Center
  • Visitor Center
  • Fountain of Rings
  • Centennial Plaza
  • Water Gardens
  • Quilt of Remembrance
  • Children's Garden and Playground
  • Georgia Aquarium
  • World of Coca-Cola
CNN Center

1) CNN Center (must see)

The CNN Center is probably one of the most visited tourist attractions in Atlanta. You can see the different CNN shows and the various departments that comprise the company. The favorite part of many visitors is the control room where you can observe a live news broadcast. The CNN Center is the world headquarters of CNN. The main newsrooms and studios for several of CNN's news channels are located in the building. The facility's commercial office space is occupied entirely by CNN and its parent company, Turner Broadcasting System, a subsidiary of Time Warner. The CNN Center is located in Downtown Atlanta, Georgia, adjacent to Centennial Olympic Park.

The CNN Center also houses a major hotel (an Omni Hotels franchise owned by Turner Broadcasting, now Time Warner) and a large atrium food court frequented by local business employees, tourists, event goers from Philips Arena and the Georgia Dome, and conference attendees from the Georgia World Congress Center. CNN's multi-channel output to the world is broadcast on large screens around the center. Studio tours are available and include demonstrations of the technologies such as Chroma key as well as visits to viewing galleries overlooking the newsrooms and anchors of CNN, CNN International, CNN Radio, HLN, In Session, CNNfn, CNN Sports Illustrated, and CNN en Español. The atrium escalator that is used to transport visitors on the CNN tour has been listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest freestanding (supported only at the ends) escalator in the world. The CNN Center is directly connected to the Philips Arena, home to the Atlanta Hawks of the NBA.

Why You Should Visit:
Gives you a better behind-the-scenes idea of how 'news' are made and what goes on at CNN, and how many people are actually involved in the process, too.
There are paid 50-minute guided tours highlighting the CNN broadcasting and with a VIP tour, you can walk right through the newsroom among people working and take all the pics you want.

Perfect place to get your food and drink on before events at Philips Arena and the Georgia Dome (prices are half as much).

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9am-5pm
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Visitor Center

2) Visitor Center

The Visitor Center has all the information needed about the park and the surrounding skyscrapers. They offer information about the history of the park, its highlights and about the events that it hosts. The Visitor Center displays several photography exhibitions depicting the history of the park.
Fountain of Rings

3) Fountain of Rings

Fountain of Rings is the main highlight of the Centennial Olympic Park. It was designed in 1996 for the Centennial Summer Olympics celebration. It features computer-controlled lights and jets of water synchronized with music played from speakers in light towers surrounding the fountain. The fountain forms a splash pad that was designed for children to frolic in, as well as for concert-goers and joggers to cool off in on hot Atlanta summer days. The waterplay area consists of 251 jets that shoot 12 to 35 feet (4 to 10 m) in the air, and also creates a beautiful water sculpture that's essentially the front yard of the nearby museum. An important formal architectural landmark that is also a fun and playful space, the computer controlled fountain concept has since been replicated in other urban designs such as Dundas Square in Toronto and in commercial uses such as the Bellagio Fountains at the Bellagio Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The fountain area is surrounded by flags representing the host countries of each Summer Olympics preceding the 1996 games and eight 65-foot-tall light towers reminiscent of classical Greek marker columns. There are several pieces of sculpture scattered through the park including a statue of Pierre de Coubertin, father of the modern Olympic movement. A small amphitheater is located at the southern end of the park.

The Centennial Olympic Park has shows at the fountain all 365 days of the year, four times daily. They play at 12:30 P.M., 3:30 P.M., 6:30 P.M., and 9:30 P.M.

Why You Should Visit:
Fun place to rest and cool off - great to take kids to play on a hot summer day.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Centennial Plaza

4) Centennial Plaza

Centennial Plaza was created to celebrate the centenary of the modern Olympics. It features 23 national flags representing previous host cities of the Olympic Games. In the center of the plaza is located the official flag of the Olympic Games. The main highlight of the plaza are the eight 25 foot high, spectacular towers named the "Hermes Towers".
Water Gardens

5) Water Gardens

The Atlanta Water Gardens was established in 1996. It is a full-service water gardening center. This spectacular man-made landscaped water features an amazing place for people looking to have a rest from the busy streets of the city. The garden consists of unique rock arrangements and beautiful geometric tessellations of tiles.
Quilt of Remembrance

6) Quilt of Remembrance

Quilt of Remembrance is dedicated to 1996 Olympic bombing that killed 2 people and injured 111. This amazing memorial consists of the five rings of the Olympic logo that moves to the rhythm of music blasting from the loud speakers. When you come by make sure to read the inscriptions on its borders.
Children's Garden and Playground

7) Children's Garden and Playground

Children's Garden and Playground is one of the most amazing places for the young visitors of the Centennial Olympic Park. It features several attractions for children where they can burn their energy, while their parents take some rest on the benches located around the playground.
Georgia Aquarium

8) Georgia Aquarium (must see)

Since it bills itself as the largest in the world, the Georgia Aquarium should definitely be on most visitors' lists of things to do while in Atlanta. It's a well designed aquarium with exhibits broken down by habitat and the only water tank big enough to accommodate several whale sharks, which is reason alone to buy tickets, especially if you've never seen them live.

Of course, while the whale sharks are the star attraction, the Aquarium has so much more! Their many smaller tanks feature an array of interesting species with everything from freshwater fish to penguins, otters, and beluga whales. Sea lion and dolphin shows are a part of the admission fee, but just watching the several species of jellyfish in their individual tanks can keep you mesmerized for hours as they move gracefully up and down with their flowing hairlike tentacles.

Everything is beautifully presented with large walls of thick glass so visitors can feel close to the sea life, separated by mere inches from the most amazing coral and fish, both large and small. In some places aquarium windows glitter with fish moving overhead, and at the entrance there is even a watery wall of schooling fish reflecting changing shades of blue light.

Why You Should Visit:
To experience all the world's major marine ecosystems in a single place – mostly via spectacular large displays and sometimes pop-up viewing stations/crawl spaces. From the Arctic waters where you'll see beluga whales and penguins to tropical seas where there is everything from seahorses to stingrays and sharks.

Buy your tickets online as it is a better deal – some discounts there cannot be purchased in person.
Consider paying a little extra to do the backstage tour – well worth the money and great for all ages.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Fri: 10am–9pm; Sat-Sun: 9am–9pm
World of Coca-Cola

9) World of Coca-Cola (must see)

A classic Atlanta tourist destination, this place is well worth the admission and experience to see how much of an impact Coca-Cola have had on people's lives around the world. General admission for adults is $17, which is quite a good value since you will probably spend around 2 hours here exploring the different exhibits on two floors. Right as you enter, you are greeted with a free can of Coke, a short introduction by a guide about the company's historical artifacts, and a video – essentially a long Coca-Cola ad – which acts as a nice segway into the next portion – the entrance into the main hall.

On the 1st floor, you can explore "The Vault" (known to hold a physical copy of the secret Coca-Cola recipe), the "Milestones of Refreshment" walk-through exhibit, the manufacturing process in "Bottle Works", and even get to take pictures with the ever-jovial Polar Bear mascot. On the 2nd floor, there is the 4D theater with a wild roller-coaster feeling as the seats move to the short film, plus various galleries, massive gift shop, and of course the most exciting portion: the Tasting Room!

In the Tasting Room, you can sample over 100 different flavors of drinks from all over the world, produced under Coca-Cola license, as well as some drink specials from the bar. A very cool way to end the tour!

Why You Should Visit:
Tons of Coca-Cola paraphernalia and memorabilia, and you are given a virtually unlimited supply of Coca-Cola beverages from around the world to taste (naturally, you won't find any Pepsi drinks or merchandise here!).

Try to book online or buy the City Pass to jump at least one or two queues for entrance.

Opening Hours:
Sun-Thu: 10am–5pm; Fri-Sat: 9am–5pm

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