ATLANTA — It’s been nearly 30 years since the Clean Show was last here. Much has changed in the decades since that April 1987 event at the Georgia World Congress Center. And so the folks at show manager Riddle & Associates, in cooperation with the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau (ACVB), arranged for a two-day “media familiarity tour” in November.
Atlanta offers a plethora of things to see and do for convention goers. Plenty of attractions can be found within walking distance of the convention center and downtown hotels, I discovered, while more await those willing to take a short cab ride.
Let me tell you about a few locales the CVB treated us to during our visit:
Centennial Olympic Park — This 21-acre park built as part of the Centennial Olympic Games hosted here in 1996 is at the heart of Atlanta’s “tourist hub,” the CVB says. You can take a self-guided walking tour to learn more about the site’s history; for a one-of-a-kind look at the city, take a spin nearby on Skyview Atlanta, a 200-foot-tall Ferris wheel with climate-controlled gondolas that circle high above the park from 10 to 10 daily.
Center for Civil and Human Rights — This engaging cultural attraction connects the American Civil Rights Movement to today’s Global Human Rights Movement. It features immersive and thought-provoking exhibitions, including some dedicated to Martin Luther King Jr. One of the exhibits I found most powerful emulated the Memphis hotel balcony where King was gunned down in 1968.
Georgia Aquarium — Who doesn’t like to look at wildlife? The “world’s largest aquarium” offers you plenty of chances to get up close and personal with creatures under the sea. In fact, it features more animals than any other aquarium in more than 10 million gallons of water, officials say. Don’t miss the Ocean Voyager, the world’s largest indoor aquatic exhibit with views from floor to ceiling; it also features a separate area where you can walk through an acrylic tunnel offering a panoramic view of the 6.3-million gallon tank and all it contains.
College Football Hall of Fame — Redefining what a Hall of Fame can be, this attraction is interactive from the moment you set foot in the building. The Quad is the entry point, anchored by the Helmet Wall displaying the helmets of more than 760 college football teams. By linking your “Fan” pass to your favorite team, every exhibit you approach will present information about your institution before any others. Nearby, a 45-yard replica football field beckons you to try your hand at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Skill Zone.
World of Coca-Cola — This attraction celebrates the world’s best-known beverage brand. It’s home to the secret formula (have your camera ready when you finally reach the vault, as you only have a limited time to snap pics of the vault door) and more than 1,200 artifacts. Don’t miss the opportunity to sample more than 100 flavors from around the world.
Of course, getting to and from these sites can build up your appetite, and our hosts certainly made sure we were able to sample some of Atlanta’s finest, from trendy to down-home.
TWO Urban Licks is housed in a restored warehouse and situated on the Eastside BeltLine Trail. It serves wood-fired meats and fish from a high-energy, open kitchen. I enjoyed starting with salmon chips and the pimento cheese hush puppies before devouring my smoked brisket.
Glenn’s Kitchen offers American comfort food with southern flair from its locale just minutes away from the Congress Center. Try the short rib ravioli or pimento cheese as an appetizer before digging into shrimp-n-grits, North Georgia trout or the Angus burger.
Mary Mac’s Tea Room is a bit further but well worth the trip. Locals have enjoyed its made-from-scratch Southern fare, like meatloaf, fried chicken, pan-fried cube steak and catfish, for more than 70 years. And no visit here is complete without having some Georgia peach cobbler.
This is but a glance at the many sights and sounds that await you if you’ll be traveling to Atlanta for the Clean Show. Get ready to make some memories!
Miss Part One? Read it HERE.
Want to learn more about Atlanta? Visit the CVB website for visitors guides, maps and more!