Centennial Park District, Atlanta
Written by Jennifer Bradley Franklin
Atlanta’s thriving downtown has something to charm visitors of all ages, and the beating heart of this Southern metropolis is just waiting to be explored.
HLN morning anchor Robin Meade spends nearly every day of the week in the CNN Building, a centrepiece of downtown Atlanta. Fortunately for her, it’s also a district she loves to explore, even in her off-time. “Most visitors coming for a concert or a sports game may not realise what’s right under their nose in the Centennial Park District.
I can basically give my visitors a map of all the attractions, museums, and eateries and tell them, ‘Go for it!’ because it’s all within walking distance.”
The first stop on Robin’s ideal itinerary isn’t surprising: she recommends taking the CNN Center tour. “I’ve even had co-workers take the tour and learn things about the history of the building, the network, and how Ted Turner built this legacy here. Fascinating!” Plus, you won’t leave empty-handed. During the visit, you can record a mock newscast and keep the video to show friends and family your star turn in front of the camera.
Next, walk across the street to Centennial Olympic Park, which celebrates Atlanta’s hosting of the 1996 Summer Olympic Games. The park regularly offers free concerts to entertain locals and visitors alike. A stop at the Georgia Aquarium is also a must. It’s one of the largest indoor aquariums in the world, with more than 40 million litres of fresh- and salt-water habitats, and it’s home to penguins, whale sharks, beluga whales, dolphins, and much more. “It’s so unique, interactive, immersive, huge, and more than just an aquarium space. You can (even) dive with the sharks.”
After so much touring, you’ll likely have worked up a hearty appetite. Duck into any of a number of Robin’s favourite local eateries. “Get some great food at places such as Stats, Twin Smokers BBQ, or Max’s Coal Oven Pizzeria.” There’s also Game-X, which boasts more than 60 interactive games such as Pac-Man Smash, Pong 180, and Temple Run. “It’s (perfect) if you’re with little people who can’t sit still and need something to do while eating.”
To get an overview of it all, hop aboard the SkyView Atlanta Ferris wheel, towering nearly 20 storeys up. “No matter what your interests are, you’ll find something that strikes a chord with you in the neighbourhood.”
With her bright smile and chipper signature greeting of “Mornin’ Sunshine!” to start her show, Morning Express on HLN (the sister network of CNN), Robin Meade is a cheerful start to the day for hundreds of thousands of Americans. The broadcaster has also hosted Ask Oprah’s All-Stars, released country music album Brand New Day, and written bestselling motivational book Morning Sunshine!: How to Radiate Confidence and Feel It Too.
Distance: 12,055 km
Flight Time: 14 hours, 55 minutes