Visit 2 Important Civil Rights Sites in Atlanta with Kids
With Martin Luther King, Jr. Day approaching, it seems fitting to talk about two important places to see with kids in Atlanta that can expand your kids’ knowledge and appreciation of the American Civil Rights movement: The National Center for Civil and Human Rights Museum and the The King Center walking tour.
The National Center for Civil and Human Rights Museum
The National Center for Civil and Human Rights Museum is located in downtown Atlanta, next to the World of Coke and the Georgia Aquarium, and a short walk from Hilton Atlanta. The museum takes you through the history of the American Civil Rights movement, beginning in the mid-1950s.
Many of the exhibits are designed to provide hands-on experiences. For example, the lunch counter simulator gives visitors a very real sense of what the black students endured during the lunch counter sit-ins of the 1960s. The exhibit challenges visitors: “How long can you last?” Its effect was surprisingly impactful; although the duration was less than two minutes, my daughters could not complete it. Even as an adult, I left this museum with a heightened sense of the societal struggles that the people of my parents’ and grandparents’ generations experienced.
At first, my 10-year-old didn’t want to go to a “boring museum” because she had “already learned about civil rights.” Afterwards, she admitted that she liked it more than she had thought she would. Visiting with her grandfather made it a more personal experience as he shared his own experiences of growing up in the segregated South.
General admission is $15, but discounts are offered to seniors, students and children under age 6 are free. Tickets can be purchased online in advance. Parking is available at the Georgia Aquarium/World of Coke garage. There are also hourly parking lots east of the museum and within easy walking distance. This museum is also included in the Atlanta CityPass.
The King Center
The King Center is located just two miles away from downtown Atlanta in the Sweet Auburn neighborhood. The walking tour is free and self-guided, and begins at the King Visitor Center. The tour covers several street blocks. It includes the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birth home, the freedom walkway to the eternal flame and Dr. King’s crypt.
Tip: If you want to tour inside Dr. King’s birth home, you must first register at the Visitor Center to attend the 30-minute, ranger-guided tour. Tickets are free, and can be reserved on the same day for tours that occur on the hour. You will not be able to enter Dr. King’s home without a ticket.
If you enjoy history and are interested in the civil rights movement, I highly recommend adding the tour of the Martin Luther King, Jr. birth home to your itinerary. Our tour guide was extremely knowledgeable about Atlanta history, the family, the house and its décor.
The Sweet Auburn neighborhood has recently experienced a renaissance of sorts. Many of the houses and buildings from Dr. King’s time have been restored and are still occupied, and the street car system has recently been re-established.
If you are seeking some refreshments after the tour, you can head two blocks south to the historic Sweet Auburn Curb Market, where you’ll find vendors selling groceries as well as prepared food. There is a wide variety of prepared food available, including barbeque, soul food, burritos, Venezuelan arépas, double crust pies, burgers and crepes. Validated parking is also available.
You may also enjoy:
- Visiting the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta
- Best Things to do With Children in Atlanta During the Winter
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Know Before You Go
- Visit in the spring for cooler weather and festivals!
- Use the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) for an easy way to get around.
- Head to West Midtown for delicious food – it’s an up and coming foodie neighborhood!