Planning a trip to Atlanta? Add these two icons to your must-do list:
The World of Coca-Cola & The Varsity are just blocks away from each other. These two together make a fantastic trip. Many folks we saw combined these two destinations with an Atlanta Braves baseball game. You just cannot get any more Americana than that!
Our first stop was The Varsity, a longtime local icon. It gained national status after being featured on the Food Network. We’d traveled past it on the highway numerous times but never seemed to have just the right opportunity to stop. I may have been a bit hesitant because I’ve been told they yell at you. There certainly was some yelling, but none of it was at me… or even the people around me. I think the yelling is just a result of this place being slam, packed with people. It’s an effort to communicate, not aggression, though it is also a bit of their schtick.
We arrived around 11:30, right at lunch time before a baseball game. This ordinarily would not have been my m.o. but it ended up being fun. My family was a bit overstimulated though. A quiet dinner date, this place does not offer. But the food! I selected a slaw dog, onion rings & orange drink. Official member of JFH. (Junk Food Heaven). Real battered onions. Freshly dipped. Still hot. Juicy on the inside, crispy on the outside. My family went cheese dog & french fries. The praise for these fries did not stop. Mr. Hero just could not get over the fact that this schtick-y place had fantastic food – granted not 4 star, chef-prepared masterpieces. But great dogs, fresh junk food & the orange drink… what is that stuff? Fantastic. It’s worth the extra calories. Skip the Diet Coke, get the Orange drink. You’re at the Varsity eating dogs & onion rings… will it really make a difference? I think not.
One final big thumbs up to the atmosphere. First, I loved the commotion, hustle & bustle. Mr. Hero, not so much. But he was completely won over when we entered the ESPN room. That’s right. I said it. ESPN room. The room is row upon row of school desks lined up facing a large screen tv that stays tuned to ESPN. Being lined up in rows like a classroom minimizes the intimate discussion but definitely sparks fun school day memories. Days of spinning around and getting some juicy gossip from the kid behind me before returning to what I’m supposed to be doing, in this case, eating!
Bellies full and pep in our step, we headed out to the World of Coca-Cola! One perk before we even entered was that Mr. Hero was free. Love the military appreciation. Even if we would have paid full price for everyone in our family, this attraction would have been worth every single red cent. The World of Coca-Cola is an interactive playground covering the history and iconic status of Coke. I will be honest, I am a dedicated Coca-Cola drinker from long before we moved the Georgia. My step-mother only drank Coke and I remember the red case always in the fridge. She also always had a jar of chocolate chip cookies available on the counter, but that’s just gushing now. With my already sealed dedication to Coke, I didn’t mind the feel that it was a big Coke commercial. In fact, we enjoyed seeing the Coke advertisements from around the world and also through the ages. The plain ol’ good fun of trying to enter the vault to see the original recipe was a hit.
Probably the most fun for the whole family was the 4D movie which offered plenty of laughter and excitement. But this is made a true food destination by the Tasting Room. In this space there are fountains of soda offerings from throughout the world. Some were fantastic, pretty much Fanta anything. Some were absolutely HORRIBLE, let me hear a Beverly! We had to laugh from the sour faces passing us. We’d come to call the facial expression, “the Beverly.” It’s quite a bitter flavor. It is no surprise to me at all that it is rumored to had been discontinued.
As a family visiting, it was obvious that planners put a lot of thought into making the visit enjoyable for guests. Restrooms are centrally located and plentiful. Each attraction is about the length of an elementary child’s attention span, though there are plenty of details that could have occupied our older child and us adults for quite some time. There were a few locations that we encountered a wait, but those were quickly filled with fun. Sometimes a tour guide threw a beach ball in the air to bat around, or another form of entertainment was created either by screen or person.
It was definitely an afternoon of fun for our whole family in Atlanta. Each of these activities was money well spent. Not only will we recommend them to others, but we’ve now expanded our list of destinations for visitors from back home. If you’ve been to either of these destinations, I’d love to hear your experiences. And if any of you enjoyed ‘The Beverly’ – I’d love to hear from you!