We wrote a Percy Jackson Tour of New York City post based on a trip my boys and I did one summer. It garnered so much interest, I thought I’d try a Percy Jackson Tour of Atlanta. To get ideas, I turned to our community on Facebook, and thanks to Ken Christianson I’m super excited to share the Percy Jackson Tour of Atlanta, which is based on the third book in the Heroes of Olympus series, The Mark of Athena.
To give you some background, Percy Jackson is a Greek demigod, and the son of Poseidon. In the Heroes of Olympus series, we are introduced to several Roman demigods. In The Mark of Athena book, the Greeks and Romans must work together on their quest to close the Doors of Death, which is easier said than done.
All that brings us to Atlanta where our heroes land their ship, the Argos II, at the Carter Center and our adventure begins.
Land your ship at the Carter Center: In The Mark of Athena, Percy and his friends land their ship, the Argos II, on a hill overlooking Atlanta. It also happens to be the site of the Carter Presidential Library and Museum.
The Carter Center museum includes memorabilia from President Jimmy Carter’s political career. There is a replica of the Oval Office as it was when Carter was president, as well as heads of state gifts given to the Carters during that time.
The second half of the museum focuses on the issues that Carter has championed since he left office. For younger children, the Carter Center has special programming including, a Book Nook and Garden Safari for preschoolers. Leave a little extra time to explore the beautiful gardens, and bring a fishing pole to fish in the catch and release pond on site.
There is a gorgeous view of Atlanta from the pond. It’s the same spot, if not the same view, the Union General William Tecumseh Sherman had as he planned his Atlanta campaign during the Civil War.
Consult with Kings: The Greek and Romans consulted with gods, but in Atlanta, it’s easier to consult with a King. After a picnic at the Carter Center, head to the corner of Highland and North and enjoy a locally made Popsicle from the King of Pops. If you don’t see the King of Pops cart in the Chevron parking lot, go inside. King of Pops is stocked in the convenience store.
Find Saltwater in Atlanta: The demigods arrived in Atlanta in search of salt water. Not an easy task in a landlocked city. However, their quest finally brings them to the Georgia Aquarium where they get a backstage tour from a strange creature.
A behind the scenes tour of the Georgia Aquarium doesn’t showcase mythical creatures, but it does give you a better idea of how the Aquarium works and what it takes to keep such a large operation going.
On our visit, we talked with the commissary staff and watched them put together meals for the fish. We saw the Tropical Diver exhibit from the back and watched how the giant waves you see in the exhibit were created. We also got a top down view of the beluga whales.
The Backstage Tour is available for ages 10 and up, but if you have younger children, enjoy the aquarium itself. There are lots of exhibits and fun for every age.
Captain Your Ship: Across the street from the Georgia Aquarium is a restaurant arcade called Game X. In The Mark of Athena, Leo captains the Argo II using a Wii remote. You won’t find Wii’s, but you will find a pirate ship to captain. You’ll also find pop-a-shots, a giant Connect Four game and multi-puck air hockey to name just a few games. Games X has a kid-friendly menu and a full bar for the adults.
Come face-to-face with Gaea: In the Heroes of Olympus series, the goddess of the Earth Gaea is causing havoc in the world and confusing the gods. Come face-to-face with Gaea at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens where she is immortalized in a giant topiary statue that looks as if at any moment she will raise her eyes and ask in a dreamy voice “what is it you wish from the goddess of the earth?”
While there, check out the Children’s Garden. Bring a bathing suit and towel during the summer months for young kids to splash in the ‘flower shower’ as my children always called it.
Re-energize at the Park Tavern: Take a break from your quest and enjoy the patio at the Park Tavern located at the corner of Piedmont Park. During the summer months sit outside. During winter, enjoy indoor ice-skating and hot chocolate by the stone fireplace.
Commune with the Dead: One of the problems in the Heroes of Olympus series is the doors of death have opened and all those that have passed on are now back in the world of the living. Having the dead live may be an issue for the demigods, but at Oakland Cemetery it is just part of any normal day.
Oakland Cemetery is one of the city’s oldest landmarks and a very unique way to learn about Atlanta’s history. Gone with the Wind author Margaret Mitchell and golf legend Bobby Jones are buried here, along with statesman, activists, civil war soldiers and paupers.
The Historic Oakland Foundation offers a variety of tours from gardening to history. They also offer some unique special events like the Run Like Hell 5K and Sunday in the Park family festival. Kids will like the Clue Town Scavenger Hunt available in the gift shop.
Dine with the Spirits: Quests are tiring and they make you hungry. Head across the street from Oakland Cemetery to Six Feet Under Pub and Fish House. The rooftop bar was recently voted one of the Top 30 American Outdoor Bars by Travel + Leisure magazine. Everything at Six Feet Under is good, but we especially like the tacos and Crab Cake Sliders.
In the Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Roirdon, there is a lot of talk about Rome by Percy Jackson and his friends. In fact, in The Mark of Athena, the demi-god heroes must visit Rome to close the doors of death. So, a day trip to Rome seems like a necessity on our Percy Jackson Tour.
Since Rome, Italy is a bit far to drive, we opted to visit Rome, Georgia, which is located about an hour outside of Atlanta and an easy day trip.
Visit the Underworld of Tartarus at Cave Spring Park: Although you won’t find Hades here, you will find lots of stalactites and stalagmites. Cave Spring is a natural limestone cave that is open to the public from May – September. Make sure to dress appropriately. Caves are a constant 57 degrees, even on hot summer days.
Sail a Pirate Ship: While crossing the Atlantic to Rome, Percy and his friends run into some pirates. You won’t find pirates in Rome, but you can captain your own vessel while enjoying the alluring beauty of North Georgia.
Rome is located at the confluence of the Etowah River and the Oostanaula River. When they come together, these two rivers form the Coosa River. Explore the rivers on a kayak tour or just float on a tube at Cedar Creek Park. Cedar Creek Park even offers shuttle service to get you back to base, so you can save your strength for the battle with the sea monsters.
Visit a bit of Old Rome: As legend has it, Romulus and Remus were abandon by their parents, nursed by a wolf and adopted by a Shepard. Once adults, they quarreled over a site for a new city and in the end Romulus killed his brother Remus and founded Rome.
The Capitoline Wolf is a very famous Roman statue depicting Romulus and Remus as babies and an exact replica is located outside the City Hall in Rome, Georgia. It was given to the city by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini in 1929.
Harvest the Moon: Nectar and ambrosia may heal the wounds of a demigod, but to keep mere humans going you need fresh, made from scratch sandwiches. Harvest Moon Café is a locally owned restaurant that has some of the best food in Rome. I can highly recommend Hot Wicked Pimina Dip, the ABC, and the Jammin’ Tomato and that’s just lunch.
The Claremont House: If you do opt to stay the night in Rome, forgo the chain hotels and stay at the Claremont House Bed & Breakfast. I could spend hours exploring this gorgeous Gothic home’s nooks and crannies. The details of the house are exquisite.
Kids are welcome and will have just as much fun exploring. They’ll come across an old timely safe full of games, lots of hide and seek crannies, and what has to be one of the first urinals. Something for everyone.