In June of 2012 we spent a few days with my best friend’s brother and family near Atlanta and wanted to do some sightseeing. One afternoon we ended up at Centennial Olympic Park in Downtown Atlanta. It is so amazing and I was delighted to see that it is still being utilized today.
As part of the infrastructure improvements for the Centennial 1996 Summer Olympics, this 21-acre park was built by the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games (ACOG). They decided to have a design competition to layout and build the park. The ACOG picked architect EDAW, with the construction and design firm H.J. Russell & Company entry as the winning bidders. For those not living in the area, it might not be known that the park was built in two phases.
The first phase was computed right before the start of the 1996 Olympic Games at a cost of $28 million. The second phase was completed the next year at a cost of $15 million. Today Centennial Olympic Park plays host to millions of visitors a year and several events, including a summer popular music concert series and an annual Independence Day concert and fireworks display. Here are some of the Spring/Summer activities at the park:
- Wednesday Winddown
- Music at Noon
- Fit Fridays
- Party in the Park
- 4th of July Celebration
- Foo Fighters to Rock Atlanta
The park is surrounded by many major Atlanta Landmarks. On the west side of the park, you will find the Georgia World Congress Center, Georgia Dome, College Football Hall of Fame, Philips Arena, and the CNN Center. To the north of the park, you will see the Georgia Aquarium, the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, and the World of Coca-Cola. It was so great being in the park and looking up to see the CNN center, very exciting.
One of the most notable things, actually the centerpiece of Centennial Olympic Park, is the Fountain of Rings. It is an interactive fountain that features computer-controlled lights and jets of water synchronized with music played from speakers in light towers surrounding the fountain. There are also 251 jets that shoot 12 to 35 feet (3.7 to 10.7 m) in the air and a beautiful water sculpture that is essentially the front yard of the nearby museum.
As you can imagine, it is a wonderful place for children to frolic in, as well as for concert-goers and joggers to cool off on those hot and stifling Atlanta summer days. I found it truly amazing that the fountain area is surrounded by flags representing the host countries of each Summer Olympics preceding the 1996 games. I thought that was really cool. Definitely needs to be on your to-Atlanta do list even if you aren’t a huge Olympics fan. Here’s a link to a post about our visit to the World of Coke. Atlanta was a lot of fun.
Centennial Olympic Park Visitor Information
265 Park Ave W NW, Atlanta, GA 30313
Current Open Hours:
Sunday – 10 am – 6 pm
Monday – Closed
Tuesday – Closed
Wednesday- 10 am-6 pm
Thursday- 10 am-6 pm
Friday- 10 am-6 pm
Saturday- 10 am-6 pm
Free for all
If driving via I-75/I-85, the Centennial Park District is located off of Exit 249C (Williams Street) from the North and Exit 249D (Spring St.) from the South. Via I-20 East/West, take Exit on I-75/I-85N toward Atlanta. Exit 249D (Spring St.). Spring Street veers left and becomes Centennial Olympic Park Drive NW. Turn right on Baker St. then left or right on Marietta St. to access parking.
If taking MARTA, the Centennial Park District is a 5-10 minute walk from either the Dome/GWCC/Philips/CNN station on the Blue/Green line or from the Peachtree Center station on the Red/ Gold line, in addition to bus service.
The District can also be reached by disembarking at the Centennial Olympic Park stop along the Atlanta Streetcar route.
For all drivers, a 670-space covered parking deck is located at the Hilton Garden Inn, and additional public pay lots are located throughout the District. As in most large cities, public transportation is the best and usually the cheapest way to travel around the city.
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