This spring our family headed north on I75 on our first big road trip with baby London. Our destination was an epic family reunion in Tennessee, but the 10 hour drive was daunting. With two little girls in tow we wanted to break the trip up a little make it more fun. Our solution? 24 hours in Atlanta. If you are a regular on Amy West Travel you’ll know that our family kinda loves great food. Atlanta is currently booming in the culinary world, so it was a given that we were going to seek out the tastiest treats we could find. I’ve also been in the process of personally seeking out the best Aquariums in America. This naturally led us to the Georgia Aquarium, known for it’s world class facility and menagerie of Aquatic wild life. Discover below just how fun our 24 hour adventure in Atlanta was.
Where to Stay: Atlanta Marriott Marquis
For our stay we chose a location downtown near the Aquarium to eliminate the obstacle of entering Atlanta’s infamous traffic. The Atlanta Marriott Marquis was ideally located just a short five minute drive to the Georgia Aquarium and the nearby restaurants we visited. The hotel came as a marvelous surprise to me. The architecture was truly impressive. The concrete structure resembled a futuristic spacecraft with a huge atrium inside. As we traveled up the glass elevator, the kiddos and I were in awe of the “mothership” as we began to call it. In the morning, the husband and I took turns visiting the massive fitness center with downtown views located right next to the spa. From our room on the 14th floor we enjoyed a scenic urban skyline which impressed the whole crew especially at night when it was all lit up. Our stay was peaceful in the spacious rooms which were super quiet at night, a great relief for parents hoping their kids will sleep well in a strange bed.
What to Do: Georgia Aquarium
The Georgia Aquarium was an inspiration. This massive facility is state of the art and features four major viewing galleries, as well as several live performances. Our favorite gallery was the Ocean gallery which included an underwater tunnel, and a movie theater style viewing platform where whale sharks, manta rays, and multiple schools of exotic fish coexisted for our viewing delight. The dolphin and sea lion shows were entertaining while also being educational and interactive. The kids were riveted by every minute. I’ve seen my fair share of aquatic shows and let me tell you, the innovation of these performances was was executed. As the trainers unveiled the stories of each of these animals, their personalities came alive before you. You began to care for each of these unique creatures in a personal way, and you could feel the bond between the trainers and each animal. We were there on a week day and there were multiple schools on field trips, however the crowds were well managed and the place didn’t feel overwhelmed. We were able to enjoy the variety of viewing spaces, and scored great seats for all the performances by arriving 20 minutes early to each show.
What to Eat: Twin Smokers BBQ
Just a block away from the Aquarium sits Twin Smokers BBQ. The night we arrived in Atlanta, we moseyed over to Twin Smokers to see if they could impress us with what they had cooking up. Let me tell ya, in my travels, I’ve tasted some great BBQ. I’ve had back country BBQ from the outskirts of Austin, Tx. We recently enjoyed BBQ at the Houston Rodeo, and Jacksonville, well it has it’s own beat on great BBQ. So call me a little cynical when I step foot into a BBQ joint. However, what I discovered at Twin Smokers BBQ kind of knocked me off my high horse. Not only was the place really stinking cool, the food was amazing. Two dueling smokers take up residence in the back of the restaurant working non stop on the most tender, flavorful meat I may have ever tasted. Ribs, wings, sausage, you name it, Twin Smokers is on to something. Taking the best methods from across the states, they manage to put their own spin on Texas beef, and Southern pork. Wood is shipped in from around the state and country importing that hickory, oak, and mesquite smokey flavor found in other regions. Pair that with a well stocked Bourbon bar, sinful mac n cheese, and banana pudding that will rival grandmas and well, you have a hit.
Housing the only coal oven in Georgia, Max’s Coal Oven Pizzeria serves up delicious Brooklyn style pizza. Situated right next to Twin Smokers BBQ it was easy to find and just a short walk from the Aquarium. We headed over for lunch after our visit to the underwater world, to fuel up before journeying North to Tennessee. Max’s was just the thing to satiate our appetites after a long day exploring, and it was perfect for the whole family. The menu was brimming with great choices from the Skillet Roasted Shrimp Scampi to my favorite Fried Green Tomato Caprese. The 12 inch pizza’s were a generous serving, however we ordered two for our family of four just in case. Brimming with flavor and top notch ingredients, Max’s pizza was a treat. Speaking of treat, did I mention the Connoli of the day? In a word, superb.
It was a fun 24 hours in Atlanta. We could have easily fit in a little more during our stay with the World of Coca Cola being located next door to the Aquarium and Children’s Museum of Atlanta just down the sidewalk. Now we know what to put on our list for next time! With Atlanta being a half day drive from our home in Jacksonville, you can bet we’ll be back soon.
Enjoy the Journey!
xo – Amy West
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