Thursday, March 10, 2016

Georgia Travel Log - March 2016 Edition

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It's been awhile since I posted a "Georgia Travel Log" post. But 2016 has been a very busy year so far. Many new exhibits have opened and several of the attractions in Georgia have expanded and remodeled.

What is the "Georgia Travel Log?" Well it is one big update on several of the newest attractions, exhibits etc. Most of them will be ones that we actually get to experience that way I can share our personal experiences and show you some personal photos too. I hope you enjoy this first edition of the Georgia Travel Log. Please leave comments with information on any other new attractions or exhibits that you know of. Also remember to follow us on Instagram to keep up with our daily adventures!

If you are hosting an upcoming event or promoting a new exhibit or attraction please email me to discuss getting it covered in the next Georgia Travel Log edition.Children's Museum of Atlanta - NEW and IMPROVED + a NEW special exhibit:
Holy cow! The Children's Museum of Atlanta has gotten a major face lift. The museum is now covers two floors and has several NEW exhibit areas plus they have kept some of the really loved exhibit areas too. Exhibit areas now include fundamentally food, gateway to the world, leaping into learning, let your creativity flow, step up to science and tools for solution. The expansion provides a highly engaging, immersive, informal learning area focused on the whole child. If you haven't visited

The Children's Museum of Atlanta is the perfect place for children ages 6 months to about 9 years old. Gwyn is 10 years old and still enjoys the museum though.  For directions, hours, and more information visit website for details. And be on the look out for Rowyn on the website.

Image courtesy of Children's Museum of Atlanta.

Fundamentally Food Exhibit: This is probably my children's favorite area. The exhibit now features a diner area that is a scaled down, replicated Waffle House. There is also the classic grocery store with carts, a farm and the delivery truck. As a mom I like that this area shows children where their food comes to grocer to table!

Gateway to the World: This area is totally NEW! It features a large climbing structure (layers of the Earth) with a rotating globe and rocket launch pad. This area seems to be a huge hit with the older children. There are also continent train tables. The train tables were in the old museum however they have gotten a huge face lift and offer more learning opportunities. As a mom I love that this area teaches kids about the world we live in.

Leap into Learning: This area is for children ages 0-5. Some upgrades have taken place in this area too. Here children enter a magical forest, cast their rods, catch colorful fish, and go under a waterfall without getting wet! Then they can climb into a tree house and see animals from the forest. Babies and toddlers will love the bubble wall, play car and little house built just for them.

Let your Creativity Flow: Several new and old items reside in this area. There are the famous sand tables which now project topographical views as children build. My techie children really enjoy this added feature. Then there is the Art Studio where children can sign up to create arts and crafts with an imaginator. The CMA Stage has also gotten an overhaul. Here there are fun shows and story times offered daily. And lastly the paint wall which is an oldie but goodie. As a mom I love that this area encourages each child's inner Picasso. The imaginators do a fabulous job of encouraging the children. The "A" in STEAM is very important, and I love that the Children's Museum did not leave it out.

Step Up Science: I was really excited to see that the Children's Museum expanded upwards. The area they have created upstairs is spectacular. To get upstairs you can either take the elevator or the stairs...if you can I recommend the stairs. The stairs are super special and as children climb them they play music! Upstairs you will find all kinds of spectacular sciency stuff. Marvel at the inner workings of the human body, the wonder of light, and the technology of robots. There is also a Science Bar where children can order a hands-on demonstration or experiment.

There is also a large area upstairs with several tables and couple vending machines. YES you can bring in your own lunch into the museum and eat it upstairs!

Tools for Solutions: (hint this is where you can find Rowyns photo) This area is a huge hit with children who love to build. The Build-It-Lab is similar art studio in that children can sign up to create something fun with an imagination. However these projects are normally more 3d in nature and involve more building skills. The famous giant ball machine has remained and here children can move balls through the machine using six simple machine. Also in this area is the Construction House where children can attach make-believe wires, connect pipes and insulate walls. And there is the city blocks area where children can create skyscrapers and design the city of the future.

But wait there is more. The museum also has an area set aside for special traveling exhibits. From now through May 31st you can help uncover the "Mystery of the Mayan Medallion." My children really loved this special exhibit and so did I. It was very educational and fun. Before you start the expedition you want to make sure you grab your worksheet which will guide you through the exhibit. As you travel through Palenque, Mexico the children will solve clues and puzzles which will lead them to the priceless jade medallion that is buried inside the temple. Children will learn archaeology, biology and astromathematicsm as they visit the field stations.

Make sure you check the calendar of events for special programming.

Fernbank Museum - Wild Music and National Parks Adventure:
A few weekends ago we attended the grand opening celebration of Wild Music the new special exhibit at Fernbank. This special exhibit will be on display until July 31st and is a MUST see. It is very interactive and super educational. This is an exhibit for the entire family! Even I had fun exploring and learning. As you walk through the exhibit you will get to hear, feel and play your way through music that is all around us. Discover that nature is filled with "musicians" that create distinct musical masterpieces to communicate with and relate to one another. Explore how human music is inspired by the music of other living creatures—from tiny insects to giant whales. Everything is very hand-on which gets 5 stars from my children. They also liked that many of the instructions and explanations were audible through headsets.  All of the activities are presented in English, Spanish and in some cases even Braille.

Some of the things you will experience throughout the exhibit:
  • Compose and play your own songs in the Jamming Room (my children could have spent all day in not so much)
  • Experience sound through touch, sight, and hearing by using spectrograms
  • Hear how bird song has inspired humans to create beautiful music
  • See a “talking drum” that mimics human speech
  • Hear the songs of the deep from whales, shells, and underwater earthquakes
  • Use an electrolarynx to speak without using your vocal cords
  • Play a wall-mounted xylophone
  • Hear birds whistle and learn more about what they’re saying

On of the IMAXs currently showing at Fernbank is National Parks Adventure. We went to see this with our homeschool group a couple weeks ago. You can read our review here. This IMAX will be showing until June 16th.

More Details: 
Fernbank Museum of Natural History and the 5-story-tall Rankin M. Smith Sr. IMAX® Theatre are located at 767 Clifton Road NE in Atlanta. Call 404.929.6400 or visit the website to purchase your tickets. The film will be shown daily through September 18th. IMAX tickets are $13 for adults, $12 for students and seniors, $11 for children 12 and under and $8 for museum membersExtended show times available Fridays during Martinis & IMAX.

Disney's Beauty and the Beast Musical:
I took my 10 year old daughter to see the smash hit Broadway musical Disney’s Beauty and the Beast at the Fox Theatre last month. This production was AMAZING and definitely one the entire family would enjoy. The performances and vocals were fantastic and the choreography was spot on. The lavish sets were transformed seamlessly and the costumes were dazzling. This musical has won the hearts of over 35 million people worldwide and well I can say it definitely won ours too. Many of the classic numbers including  “Be Our Guest” were part of the production, but there were some new to us songs as well (that are not part of the Disney animated movie).  My daughter was mesmerized the entire time. My daughters favorite part was Beauty's dress and when Beauty kept telling the Beast no when he insisted she come down for dinner. My favorite part was the end when the Beast transforms into the prince. Wow it really seemed magical.  This spectacular musical has left Atlanta and has moved onto another state, but I hope that you will be able to experience the romance and enchantment of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast either in another state or maybe the next time it comes to Atlanta. 

Visit to see where the show will be next. You can also follow Beauty and the Beast on Facebook Beauty and the Beast on Twitter

Pirates of Penzance Opera: 
My daughter Gwyn really wanted to see an opera this school year. I had actually begun searching for the perfect one, then got an invite to Pirates of Penzance presented by The Atlanta Opera. After reading over the synopsis I decided this would be a great first opera for her...and me too as I had never been to an opera either. It is a comedy, a love story and has pirates as the main characters so what more could you want? The show is two acts which are about an hour each. It is actually part musical, part opera and a great introduction to the world of opera for adults and children. Because of the length and story line I wouldn't recommend it for very young children. If I had to recommend an age I would say 8+ years old would enjoy it and be able to follow along for the most part.

The entire cast did a stellar job...Mabel was my daughters favorite. She was in awe of her voice and couldn't believe she could reach such high notes and still move around the stage. The opera revolves around Frederic one of the main characters, who enters the rank of full pirate at the end of his apprenticeship. However since his obligation is met he is ready to return to civilization to find a wife. Once on dry land he falls in love with the Major-General Stanley's daughter Mabel. But his band of pirate mates return to land and set off a hilarious course of riotous events that pit Frederic against his pirate clan. But don't worry as with most stories there is a happy ending. But you will have to see the show for yourself to find out.

The show has been selling out every night so they added more performances. And the March 12th matinee is being marketed to families. For more information visit the Atlanta Opera website.

GA Aquarium - Aquanaut Adventure:
I am way behind on this one. We actually got to visit this NEW exhibit early last year...but better late than never right? Aquanaut Adventure is Georgia Aquarium's newest gallery and provides families with a unique experience to learn about aquatic life as they complete a series of educational and fascinating challenges utilizing an iPad. Participants will have the chance to become a certified Georgia Aquarium Aquanaut, or Aquarium Scientist, after completing their journey! This activity is for all ages as there are different levels for the challenges. 

As Aquanauts-in-training, participants will explore fresh water and marine habitats, scientific research, how animals thrive in extreme environments, and even catch a glimpse into what it’s like to have a career in aquatic and marine sciences. The activities are engaging and hands-on. The gallery instills a sense of appreciation for the oceans, lakes and rivers of our planet and an understanding of the organisms that thrive there. 

The children enjoyed the gallery so much that they actually went through 2 times. This exhibit gets 5 stars from our entire family. 

This gallery is included in the general admission. For more details visit The Georgia Aquarium website.

I hope you enjoyed this edition stayed tuned for more Georgia Travel Log updates!

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