On my recent weekend getaway to Atlanta, Georgia with CityPASS Atlanta, I discovered something I’ve been eager to share with you: Atlanta is an awesome destination for affordable accessible attractions! I live only a couple hours from Atlanta, but sadly I haven’t visited the city as much as I probably should. I’m so focused on visiting far-flung destinations that I often forget about places that don’t require a long flight to get there.
I had a really great time using my CityPASS Atlanta (more on that later) to explore five of the best wheelchair accessible Atlanta attractions: the Center for Civil & Human Rights, World of Coca-Cola, Georgia Aquarium, CNN Studio Tour, and the College Football Hall of Fame and Museum. It was a jam-packed weekend itinerary, but CityPASS Atlanta made the planning and execution a whole lot easier. In this article, I’ll give you a quick run-down on what CityPASS Atlanta is, then I’ll talk specifics about the accessibility of each attraction and what you should be sure to do there! For more info about the area, check out this guide.
What is CityPASS Atlanta?
At the bargain price of $76 for adults or $61 for kids, this is definitely the best way to see Atlanta’s hottest attractions. All CityPASS Atlanta admissions include the Georgia Aquarium, World of Coca-Cola and CNN Studio Tour, but visitors have a choice for the last two included attractions. It’s valid for nine consecutive days of use, and to use it you just present a mobile voucher at the first attraction you visit, and then they’ll hand you the ticket booklets to use for the rest of your itinerary!
I will note that all of the CityPASS Atlanta attractions I chose to visit are clustered fairly close together in downtown Atlanta near the Georgian Terrace, where I stayed for the weekend, which made it especially easy to go between them. Some of the CityPASS Atlanta options, like the Fernbank Museum of Natural History and Zoo Atlanta are dispersed in surrounding areas.
– Best Wheelchair Accessible Atlanta Attractions –
Center for Civil & Human Rights
What to do there:
Lovers of culture, history, and the Civil Rights Movement will truly enjoy this unique attraction. This isn’t a traditional museum, but rather a living exhibition that seeks to build a bridge between the American Civil Rights Movement and modern struggles for human rights on a global scale. Education is the Center’s main goal and while some of the exhibits you’ll see do change over time, I’m certain that the images, artifacts, and stories will leave a lasting impact.
While there, I recommend that any history buffs be sure to explore the Martin Luther King, Jr. Collection. While the items on the display rotate, the collection itself is a permanent fixture and is an inspiring glimpse into the life of the man who had a dream. Equally profound is the Civil Rights Movement gallery, where interactive displays effectively immerse you in the sights and sounds of the time period. You’ll leave there with a new appreciation for all the people who dedicated their lives to this movement!
Those more interested in modern day struggles for human rights will gain a lot from visiting the Spark of Conviction exhibit. This is where a lot of the Center’s education takes place via interactive technology, and I left feeling like I had a new appreciation for the importance of human rights around the world.
You don’t have to worry about navigation at the Center, as everything meets ADA accessibility standards, like most accessible Atlanta attractions. If you need a chair when you get there, they also have wheelchairs available to use for free!
World of Coca-Cola
What to do there:
The World of Coca-Cola has a ton of different places to explore and things to do, but I’ll tell you some of my favorites. First, I really enjoyed watching the Moments of Happiness film in the Coca-Cola Theater. It’s a film that you can only see while inside the World of Coca-Cola walls, so it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity! Equally intriguing is the Milestones of Refreshment exhibit — a must-see for anyone interested in the history of this world-changing company.
In the neat Bottle Works exhibit, Coca-Cola has put the bottling process in real-life slow motion, so that you can see firsthand how it’s done. It’s really cool to see, but we all know that the best part isn’t putting the soda into the bottle; it’s drinking it all up! You can taste over a hundred different Coca-Cola beverages, as well as samples of Coca-Cola drinks from five different continents. Before heading to the “Taste It!” exhibit, I would have never guessed that the company had such a mind-boggling variety of products.
If you’re a fan of commercial breaks and clever or vintage advertisements, you’ll love the Perfect Pauses Theater. This is a great place to rest in between exhibits as four different short films take you through the best of the company’s advertising. And another theater you can’t miss (yes, I’ve mentioned three so far) is the 4-D Theater. The movie that plays here, In Search of the Secret Formula, is visually a 3-D movie complemented by multi-sensory special effects. If you’re a wheelchair user and care about the experience of sitting in a moving seat, you’ll want to try to transfer to one! However, in my opinion this isn’t a necessary part of the experience, as a whole section of non-moving seats are available.
While visiting the World of Coca-Cola won’t actually make you privy to the company’s top-secret formula, tourists here can come closer than most other people ever will! This is what makes my last recommendation, the Vault of the Secret formula, such an exciting highlight among accessible Atlanta attractions. Your journey to the vault begins with some history of the development of Coke in the Chamber of Secret Formula, and you’ll learn everything from the origins of the formula itself to the stories and urban legends surrounding it. But the history isn’t the only cool part — this exhibit also has games and challenges to see how well you can protect the secret formula, and you can even create your own flavors with the Virtual Taste Maker.
Overall, the World of Coca-Cola is one of the most accessible Atlanta attractions and I had no problem using my power chair.
If you’re parking your car at the attraction, it’s good to know that the parking garage is completely accessible with regard to ADA requirements. And if you’d like to rent a wheelchair while visiting, they are complimentary as long as you have a photo ID! Lastly, if you ever need additional accommodations, be sure to ask one of the helpful Ambassadors located throughout the attraction!
What to do there:
The Georgia Aquarium contains more aquatic life than any other aquarium, which means that there are plenty of exhibits to visit! However, my first recommendation is to definitely check out the schedule of programs, activities, and events. These vary by the day and something special might be happening during the time of your visit.
As far as exhibits go, I definitely recommend the hands-on, STEM-oriented Aquanaut Adventure exhibit on the upper floors if you’re visiting with children. (Or even if you’re not, it’s still fun for adults!) I thought the Ocean Voyager gallery — one of the largest exhibits of its kind in the world — was the most awe-inspiring. It’s a huge tank built especially to house its four resident whale sharks, along with manta rays and thousands of other fish which can captivate you for hours.
In the Southern Company River Scout gallery you can find animals that live in local rivers as well as rivers in continents around the world, and in the Tropical Diver exhibit, you can relax among colorful coral reefs teeming with ocean life. Wherever you choose to go at the aquarium, you’ll see incredible animals and find helpful staff, making this one of the best Atlanta attractions for wheelchair users of all ages.
To make the most out of your time at the aquarium, you’ll have to look for wheelchair emblems on the floor near certain exhibits. These are placed there so that you can have an unobstructed view of the exhibit! Additionally, be on the lookout for special wheelchair-accessible entrances to certain exhibits, like the Cold Water Quest gallery. And don’t worry — at touch pool exhibits, you’ll still be able to participate with the help of staff!
What I particularly enjoy about the Georgia Aquarium is that the entire diving staff is certified by the Handicapped Scuba Association. This means that wheelchair users can enjoy the Gentle Giants Snorkel while visiting the aquarium. And if you’re a wheelchair user who has an open water diving certification, then you are welcome to participate in the SCUBA Dive with Whale Sharks excursion, one of the only Atlanta attractions to let you get up close and personal with the ocean!
Now for some other logistics: It’s important to note that if you’re parking in the aquarium’s parking garage, Levels 2 through 5 feature accessible parking spots but over-sized vehicle spots are located on the first floor. Also, if you need a wheelchair once you’re inside, you can get one at the main entrance or the Information Desk as long as you have an ID with you.
CNN Studio Tour
What to do there:
The CNN Studio in Atlanta is the news organization’s world headquarters, so the 50-minute tours through here are a truly exciting experience. You won’t have to navigate anywhere by yourself, as you’ll have a guide with you to tell you about CNN’s history and give you the insider’s experience on how broadcasts are produced and disseminated to everyone who watches CNN.
Tours run every day of the week from 9:00 AM until 5:00 PM. Reservations are recommended and, if you’re a wheelchair user, required — more on that below.
This is super important to know if you’re going on a CNN Studio Tour: if you’re a wheelchair user, you have to call 1-877-4CNNTOUR at least 72 hours in advance of when you’ll be going on a tour, so that CNN can set up the necessary logistics to make sure your tour includes elevators and is ADA compliant. This is one of the only accessible Atlanta attractions to require reservations. Once you let them know your needs and when you’re coming, everything is smooth sailing from there. Arrival by car is easy as well, since the parking garage is completely ADA accessible.
College Football Hall of Fame and Museum
What to do there:
While relics of all the college football greats are indeed enshrined here, this attraction is more than just a museum. While it does include 50,000 square feet of exhibit space, it also features a 45-yard football field where you can play games. It’s a great place to hold events, and I recommend checking their website to see if there are any cool happenings that you can attend if they happen to coincide with your visit.
If you’re a fan of memorabilia, you’ll see plenty of that from the 900 players and 200 coaches who have been lucky enough to find their way into this hallowed hall. There’s also a theater with an ultra high-def film, but my favorite part was all of the interactive multimedia displays which really brought the place and all it represents to life. Lastly, if you’re visiting with kids, make sure to participate in some of the special children’s games they have going on!
The College Football Hall of Fame and Museum is completely accessible. If you ever need assistance of any kind, friendly Fan Ambassadors are located throughout the hall to help you. If you think you may require special assistance you can call in advance, but I had no trouble navigating through the space myself.
To summarize, there’s a lot to do in Atlanta, but City PASS Atlanta gets you the best bang for your buck with economical access to some of the top Atlanta attractions. I was able to visit every place I wanted to see in just a weekend adventure, and I was delighted to see how accessible all of the places were! Plus, the Atlanta airport is one of the largest hubs in the country, so it’s easy for tourists to get flights here from pretty much anywhere.
Are you a wheelchair user who has been to these Atlanta attractions and more with CityPASS Atlanta? If so, I’d love to hear about your favorite wheelchair-friendly destinations in the Big Peach!
*Thank you to City PASS Atlanta for working with us. While the CityPASS Atlanta passes were complimentary, all opinions expressed are authentic and my own.