An exposition showcasing the world's most popular soft drink, World of Coca-Cola sounds like a huge Coke commercial—and it is. But it's also one of the biggest attractions in the city and a must-see for anybody who's ever had a taste of the Real Thing (and who hasn't?). The museum, in a 75,000-square-foot facility downtown near Centennial Park, the CNN Center, and the Georgia Aquarium, houses a massive collection of Coca-Cola memorabilia, along with numerous interactive displays, high-tech exhibits, an art gallery, and video presentations.
The self-guided tour begins with a preshow in the memorabilia-laden Coca-Cola Loft, which includes the oldest artifact, a 1905 "Drink Coca-Cola" Christmas bell decoration, advertising the fizzy beverage for 5¢. From here, visitors gain entrance to the Happiness Factory Theater, where a short film gives them a glimpse into the magic behind every bottle of Coke. Milestones of Refreshment, a series of 10 galleries, traces the history of Coca-Cola from its 1886 debut at Jacob's Pharmacy in downtown Atlanta to its current worldwide fame. Gathering in the Hub, visitors have an opportunity to meet the Coca-Cola polar bear and have their photo taken with him. Adults and kids alike are mesmerized by the Bottle Works exhibit, a working bottling line that allows visitors to stand in the midst of the process. Watch for the small glass bottles to be filled and then be sure to pick up one as your free souvenir before leaving.
The second level holds much, much more—this is a total immersion in Coca-Cola. The upper level includes everyone's favorite exhibit—Taste It!—where visitors can have free samples of more than 60 soft drink products from around the world. (Warning: You'll soon figure out that America's idea of refreshing isn't the same as that of other countries.) You'll want to let the kids run wild on the lawn outside once they've loaded up on sugar and caffeine here, but what the heck, drinks are on the house, right? The Pop Culture Gallery showcases Coca-Cola as an icon of popular culture and includes artistic expressions of those inspired by the soft drink, including paintings, furniture, home decor, and advertisements.
The Secret Formula 4-D Theater airs a film featuring an eccentric scientist on a quest to uncover the mysterious secret formula for Coke. And a Perfect Pauses Theater showcases some of the best Coca-Cola television advertising throughout the years, as well as three short films on the product. The tour ends in the massive gift shop (you can't leave without going through here first—smart marketing, huh?), which sells a mind-boggling array of Coca-Cola logo items, everything from T-shirts to Coke polar bears.
Allow about 90 minutes to drink it all in. Weekdays are the prime time to visit if you want to avoid long lines. If you plan to see the World of Coca-Cola and the Georgia Aquarium, a Pemberton Pass will save you a few bucks. In addition, the two attractions share a huge covered parking garage with a $10 fee. Pemberton Place includes an expansive lawn, perfect for a picnic, as well as a cafe and public restrooms.