Our Weekend in Atlanta with a Three-Year-Old

A few weeks ago, we went on a trip to Atlanta with my in-laws. Atlanta is a great destination for Knoxvillians for a lot of reasons. I’m not going to lie, a big reason we chose Atlanta is IKEA. I’m always a little apprehensive about traveling with our son but it’s even worse when you travel with people who aren’t used to traveling with your kid. This trip turned out to be amazing and it’s given me renewed hope that traveling with a small child can be done (and enjoyed!).

We left on a Thursday and returned home on Saturday and had a blast! To inspire your next trip or stir up travel envy, I’ve included our itinerary below. Enjoy!


THURSDAY – Knoxville > Atlanta via Starbucks and Chick-fil-A

Traveling with a three-year old can be tough. My little one has taken potty training like a champ so I wasn’t hesitant to put him in the car seat for our ~3 hr drive with his big boy underpants. I can imagine how difficult it might have been late last year but we had no issues! We planned careful stops at Chick-fil-A for an easy dinner I know my kid will eat and Starbucks for legal addictive stimulants for mom and dad.

Traffic was light which is always a whispered prayer but the rain was ridiculous! Thankfully, the soundtracks for Frozen and Moana made the drive bearable for everyone.

We arrived in Cabbagetown without any issue*. Cabbagetown, if you don’t know, is a neighborhood on the East side of Atlanta with a lot of history. With narrow two-story cottages lining the even narrower streets, this district has a charm that would woo any Scruffy City resident. It’s artsy, hip, and diverse. A main attraction for the area is a wall covered in graffiti art. We stayed in Cabbagetown to be close but not too close to all of the attractions we planned to visit. We found the cutest cottage on Airbnb and despite the driveway from you-know-where, it was PERFECT. I fell in love with the kitchen, the master bathroom, and the towels that wrapped around you for miles. There was also a coffee shop serving Counter Culture just a walk down the street. #winning

(By the way, as a rule, we always try to book a house over hotel because traveling with a kid is hard enough without extra rooms and a kitchen).

FRIDAY – Georgia Aquarium > Children’s Museum of Atlanta > Cabbagetown

Even though we like to have a kitchen when we travel, I’m no fool. Trips are about not cooking so we had breakfast on Friday at the Highland Bakery. I had a scrumptious tower of peanut butter French toast with caramelized bananas in brown sugar butter. Yep, I’m gonna let that one sink in before I move on. The hubs and sister-in-law got the eggs Benedict which I abhor but they thoroughly enjoyed devoured. My son ate a cinnamon roll and side of bacon and no, I don’t feel bad about that. If we ever go back, I’m getting the ricotta pancakes.

Next, it was off to the Georgia Aquarium. This was not my first time but it was the first time I’ve been with E. I knew he would love it but I was a little anxious about the size and the walking. He actually did great! We saw Dory, Marlin, Nemo, Crush, Bailey, and Destiny. If you don’t know who any of those characters are, we saw blue tangs, clownfish, a sea turtle, a beluga whale, and a whale shark. Pretty sweet!

We walked across Centennial Park in the blazing hot sun to the CNN building for lunch (cough, Chick-fil-A, cough). Elliott was tired, hungry, and sweaty so carried him the whole way. I put that down in my FitBit app as cardio.

We finished the afternoon at the Children’s Museum of Atlanta. Where to begin? The ONLY thing that would have made this place better would have been to have the place to ourselves. There was something for every interest my kid has – continent-shaped train tracks, tunnels, pretend play with food, trucks, and a cafe, and water play.


I ALWAYS think places that are meant for children should be a little more secure so I was on high alert the whole time. I kept my eyes on him at all times because he was oblivious to our safety rules in a room full of distractions. Only parent/child matching arm bands and uniformed security can make me feel better in most situations so don’t read too much into this!

We were back in Cabbagetown by 3pm and chillaxed at the house for movies and snacks. Dinner  as BBQ brought by my in-laws and the hubs walked down for lattes to get us through to bedtime. I enjoyed my Cabbageccino (cappuccino with brown sugar).

One our kiddo was down for the count, the rest of the family played Uno while I worked on some freelance projects.


SATURDAY – Atlanta > Knoxville via IKEA, Starbucks, and Chick-fil-A

I’m about to cause some breakfast envy for my friends because we started our last morning in Atlanta at The Flying Biscuit. This cute little restaurant straddles the line between hipster and hippie with it’s winged-biscuit art and organic cold brew. A staple breakfast choice for us when we lived in Charlotte, it brought back all the feels when I wrapped my taste buds around those creamy grits. If you’re going, order whatever you want – it’s all good – but be sure you try the grits, “moon dusted” potatoes, oatmeal, and of course, the biscuits. Plus, it’s breakfast all day. ALL DAY, PEOPLE.

After breakfast, it was off to IKEA to purchase a big boy bed for my kiddo. Now, don’t get me wrong. I would go to IKEA just because but this time, we were on a mission for one thing…so naturally, we bought a million other things. IKEA is the Swedish version of Target. The Swedes have a way of making you feel like you can have that modern Scandinavian look in your West Knoxville home without breaking the bank.

I know, IKEA is not for everyone. Some people are intimidated by the size of the store and the scope of their products. Some are put off by the low price and mistake it for low quality. Some are petrified of the 8″x 8″ box your sofa will come in and the hex key that’s supposed to make it work. Some are still recovering from the passive aggressive comments made by a spouse in the pillow section that nearly ended it all. I, on the other hand, am hooked. I love my Karlstad and Selje.

My three (going on 30) year old did great on his first trip to IKEA. Of course, he kept asking where the toys were and scored some pots and pans for his play kitchen and yet another set of toy cars. He started fading fast in the furniture warehouse but we made it through the checkout without incident! Also, we got a duvet, duvet cover, sheet set, 2 pillows, and a mattress for a song!

Of course, we hit the nearest Chick-fil-A and stopped for Starbucks on the way home. My little E snoozed in the back and we enjoyed a few hours of adult conversation in the front seat. All in all, a great trip!

A lot of us have read the recent article from Huffington Post about the difference between a vacation and a trip. It’s a comical piece that describes the difference kids make in travel. Although our weekend in Atlanta definitely qualifies as a trip it was a lot of fun even for the parents.

If you’re planning a trip to Atlanta in the near future or have visited before, share some of your favorite spots or must-see attractions in the comments below!

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