Final Day In Atlanta

Athena ScalziAnd really, it was only half a day because I spent almost ten hours driving home. But in that first half of the day, I went to the World of Coca-Cola! So this post is more or less only a review over that.

Before I get started, I just want to preface by saying I don’t even like Coke. I dislike the taste of cola in general. I’m a black sheep in my Coke-addicted family. I’m really more a Sprite gal. I do like root-beer (not Barq’s) and Dr. Pepper, though.

Though I walked to the aquarium the other day, I did not walk to World of Coca-Cola because I had checked out of my hotel and was leaving for home straight from World of Coca-Cola, so I drove and parked in their parking garage for twenty dollars.

The World of Coca-Cola building in the center of the shot, the rest of the skyscrapers of downtown Atlanta surrounding it. The ferris wheel is also visible all the way to the right of the photo. The sky is filled with fluffy white clouds.

Entering was a super easy process. They take photos upon walking in but you can just say you don’t want a photo and walk right through, where you’ll find a large room filled with dozens of screens displaying Coca-Cola being poured into glasses with ice.

You’ll be asked to wait in this room until the timer next to the door for the next room is up, then you shuffle with everyone else into a room full of Coca-Cola memorabilia, merch, and vintage ads called The Loft. There was a presenter dressed in a costume of all red at the front, and he told us a bunch of facts about the founding of Coca-Cola and the creation of it and all that, as we waited for another timer to end so we could enter the next room, which was called the Coca-Cola theater.

The theater played a six minute video over how “Coca-Cola is a part of so many moments in peoples’ lives, big and small.” The video showed people at birthday parties, people proposing, people having a good time and drinking Coca-Cola from glass bottles. Classic stuff, really. Nothing we haven’t all seen a million times before.

After you exit the theater you’ll find yourself in the hub of the museum. It’s big and bright and full of giant Coca-Cola bottles with funky designs. From here there’s a few different exhibits you can enter. There’s a room called The Vault which is all about the secret formula of Coke, a place to take pictures with the mascot, the Polar Bear (though apparently there’s only certain times of the day he’s out and available for photos), a section where you can see how the bottling process works, and of course the big attractions such as the tasting room.

I decided to go into the “Pop Culture” section first, as I totally loved The Loft and all the vintage stuff and wanted to see more of that kind of thing.

They had a whole wall of the classic Santa Claus style ads, which I thought was really neat:

A white wall full of gold framed posters of the Coke ads that feature Santa Claus.

There was lots of home decor that was Coca-Cola themed, like a lamp that looked like it could’ve been Tiffany’s. There was also a signed poster of someone from American Idol drinking a Coke, next to a red and white couch that apparently was sat on by American Idol stars? I’m not entirely sure. Behind glass there was items such as Coca-Cola Checker sets, old fashioned bottles, and animal statues made out of shredded up Coke cans.

There was also a display of these super awesome bottles with styles from Chinese artists:

Eight metal Coke bottles, each one with a different artist's design.

(You can actually see the American Idol stuff I mentioned in the reflection of the glass.)

It was a relatively small section, so I moved on to the exhibit next to called Scent Discovery. This was a dark, very open room, with several different sniffing stations for you to smell scents at.

A neon glass sign with the letters

Other than fruity, there was also spicy and sweet. The sweet smelled just like cotton candy, or basically just sugar. There wasn’t a whole lot to do in this room other than sniff the three smells and move on, so I did! To the tasting room!

A large room filled with people. There are several giant drink stations throughout the room where you can sample sodas.

This room was basically the final stop before the gift shop, and once you entered the gift shop there was no re-entry to the rest of the museum.

I grabbed a cup and starting making my rounds of the drink stations, which are basically like soda machines at a fast food place:

A soda machine with eight sodas. Hi-C Poppin' Lemonade, XXX Acai-Blueberry-Pomegranate Vitamin Water, Peach Fuze Tea, Thumbs Up, Country Club, Pineapple Fanta, Manzana Lift Roja, and Kolita Fanta.

I got through the station pictured above, and then about halfway through the second station when suddenly the fire alarm went off. Everyone shuffled into one big crowd and meandered towards the emergency exit, but a lot of us kept being held up by people that were stopping to fill their cups with soda and then proceed to stand there and drink them. It was a real “bruh” moment.

So once everyone exited the building we were all instructed to wait on the grass.

A huge crowd of people standing and sitting in the grass outside the front of the Coca-Cola building. The aquarium can be seen in the background.

I figured it would be a while before we could go back in, so I headed over to the Bottle Cap Cafe (in the background on the right) before anyone else got the bright idea to wait it out there. Sure enough, after I got in the relatively small line, about a dozen people got in line behind me and the line ended up going out the door. Though, it was a pretty small place on the inside, so it’s not like a line out the door is saying much considering the lack of room inside.

Anyways, I ordered a pesto flatbread for eleven dollars, and a mini flight of floats for fourteen dollars.

Here’s the flatbread:

A rectangular piece of flatbread with green pesto and parmesan shreds on top. There is also a few breaded chicken pieces on top.

It actually wasn’t half bad. It was kind of on the luke-warm side but meh, no big deal. Also, I expected the chicken to be dry as fuck but it wasn’t at all!

As for the mini floats, this was the photo of it:

A photo of the menu screens behind the counter of the cafe. It displays the mini float flight in six little glasses, lined up on a wooden serving board.

And this was what I got:

A cardboard drink carrier containing six paper cups full of soda.

Lil’ bit of false advertising to be certain. Not that I care, really. Obviously having it all be throw-away items makes it easier on the workers, which is important. But it was definitely not what I expected. It came with root-beer, Coke, Cherry Coke, Sprite, Grape Fanta, and Orange Fanta. For me the only thing worth drinking was the root-beer float, since I don’t like cola, hate grape soda, and don’t want ice cream in my Sprite.

So why did I order it, you may be wondering? Well I thought it was an interesting menu option with a cool presentation, and thought it would be neat to try out and document. But the presentation was obviously not the cool version, so it made for much less of an interesting photo-op for the blog. Ah, well.

Moving on, as I was finishing eating, they started letting people back into the museum, so I waltzed over there only to find a ginormous crowd waiting to get back in through the front. Not only were the letting the original people back in, but also selling tickets and having those new people enter at the same time. I didn’t want to waste my time going through the presentations again, especially with such a huge line, so I snuck off to the backside of the building where the gift shop exit was.

There was a security guard standing inside the exit doors, and when I walked up he opened the door for me and let me in. I was astonished that that actually worked out for me. So, I had made it back into the gift shop, the place where there was no re-entry to the rest of the museum. Time for me to buy my shit and leave.

I am sad that I missed out on the rest of the sodas I didn’t get to taste. I was especially excited to try Inca Kola. But at least I got back in without having to go through a giant crowd and everything.

Anyways, the gift shop was huge, and I bought way too much shit I don’t need. I have no idea why, but I have always loved Coca-Cola merch, and now I finally get to own some!

Of course, I got some super cool glasses:

Three Coca-Cola glasses sitting beside each other. One is a taller bottle style with a screw-on lid and straw, one is the size and shape of a Coke cane, and one is a regular sized glass.

Each one was between five and ten bucks.

I got this nifty vintage-style metal poster for fifteen:

A rectangular metal poster of a drawn Coca-Cola ad, saying it costs 5 cents and is delicious and refreshing.

This vintage vending machine style piggy bank for ten dollars:

A small piggy bank in the shape and style of a Coca-Cola vending machine. It is red and white.

I also got way more tops than I need, each one between thirty and sixty dollars:

A red hoodie with dark grey sleeves. The front of the hoodie is a drawing of all the old styles of Coca-Cola bottles in a timeline fashion.

A pastel purple hoodie with a Coke bottlecap over the left side of the chest, with the words

A black long-sleeve shirt with a red Coca-Cola logo on the front. Beneath it is the Coca-Cola logo in Japanese.

(They are all super wrinkly from being stuffed into a gift bag and traveling.)

Of course I had to get a pin for my collection (it was the last one!):

A square, black pin with the Coca-Cola in silver at the top, and Atlanta at the bottom. In between the two is a Georgia peach.

And a postcard!

A white postcard displaying all the different styles of Coke bottles throughout the decades.

Finally, at checkout, the girl asked me if I wanted to add one of their mystery bag items, one for 3.99 and one for 5.99, and I got both:

Two small white bags with Coke logos on them.

One was a reusable straw kit:

A capsule containing a silicone reusable straw and a brush cleaner.

The other was a pair of shoe laces:

A pair of black shoe laces with the Coca-Cola logo in different languages in white all over them.

So, yeah! That was basically all I did before I headed home.

Oh, and I grabbed a churro on the way back to my car from a food truck:

A super long churro.

Or rather, I was going to get one, but they only came in a two-pack for nine dollars, and the guy in front of me bought the two-pack, turned to me and said “I only want one, do you want the other?” I said yes and he gave me the other churro for free! I told him to have a great day, and I hope he did.

And then I headed home! And it was super uneventful. A traffic jam here, a gas station stop there, and soon enough I was back in Ohio.

Do you like Coke? What’s your favorite variation? Do you agree Sprite is superior? Let me know in the comments, and have a great day!


25 Comments on “Final Day In Atlanta”

  1. I am way more of a Pepsi than a Coke guy (I do love Dr Pepper though) and I found it a little surprising that you like all the Coke merch when you don’t even like the drink. (Also I feel like this review gave such a good picture of the museum that now I don’t have to go to it if I’m in Atlanta again.)

  2. Welcome home!

    One of my favorite parts of traveling is coming home and relaxing into the feeling of being in your own place, with your stuff all around you. And enjoying integrating your travel purchases so they compliment your entire ecosystem. Also, that first night back in your own bed is delicious.

  3. I’m definitely a Sprite person. Which is good since I can no longer drink brown sodas because of CKD.

    I’ve enjoyed your travelogue! I hope you get a chance to enjoy the Sonora Desert Museum if you get out to AZ (assuming you haven’t already)

  4. I avoid sugar sodas (outside of the root beer family – like birch beer and others), just diet for me (love the soda, can’t do the level of sugar involved).

    I prefer Diet Dr. Pepper but yes, Sprite Zero is the king & queen of all clear sodas. And only because Fresca isn’t clear.

    I did love the trip stories.

  5. More coke than pepsi, but more Maine Root Root Beer than any of the super-brands.

  6. And…..
    Dr. Pepper is a love story. This is the way it was told to me by a franchise owner.
    Way back when, a fountain jerk in a pharmacy would experiment with different syrups. He was in love with a girl. He created what would become Dr. Pepper to impress the girl’s father and earn his blessing. Unfortunately, it didn’t work & he didn’t get the girl.
    But his mixture cheered him up and eventually became Dr. Pepper, the ‘Pepper Upper.

  7. Fun travelogue. I am a diet Coke drinker with the occasional sprite. Only drink root beer if I am at an A&W fast food restaurant. Have not been to the Coca-Cola museum. If a future visit occurs I would focus on their collection of vintage memorabilia especially Santa Claus and glass bottles. Probably would come home with significant quantities of merchandise.

  8. Oh, Athena. Take it from me, you didn’t miss much with Inka Cola, other than the fluorescent yellow coloring. The flavor is artificial cream soda-esque. If you really want to try it, I will ship you a bottle from Northern Virginia, but the most remarkable thing about it is the alarming color in the bottle, trust me.

  9. I used to enjoy coke and other sodas. But being older and diabetic I avoid them now. But, what I like about your review of this place is, it can be fun for folks that don’t want to really drink a lot of it. Though I admit I’d have fun with the tasting station. At least I could take just a mouthful.

    Coke is definitely part of the culture. So the gift shops and, well stuff, would be fun to browse over and buy a few.

    Glad you got to visit it, get back into the gift store (silly design to keep you from going back there) and what a lovely surprise at the end to have that gentleman offer you the extra churro. (Another treat that I don’t have anymore. )

  10. I’ve always preferred Coke to Pepsi, but preferred Sprite to either. But nowadays I’ll drink some Coke Zero when I need a mild caffeine hit. (Not a coffee or tea drinker.)

    You might be interested to know that the Japanese writing on the gray shirt with red text says “Ice Cold”. (In transliterated English.)

  11. Welcome home! I am glad you are safely back, and hope you had fun. I’ve enjoyed your travel journals the past few days.

    In answer to your question, I don’t drink any carbonated beverages at all. I just don’t enjoy them. I either drink plain, non-fizzy, non-flavored water, unsweetened iced tea, or strong coffee with a splash of half-and-half. But that just leaves more sodapop for the rest of you, right?

  12. I enjoyed the review–the Coca-Cola Museum is one of those places I’ve always wanted to visit, “just because.” I’ve never been much of a Coke drinker (actually, I didn’t distinguish between any of the various colas, back in the day when I regularly drank carbonated beverages), but oddly, the only thing that settles my stomach when I’m ill is Original Coke. Not Pepsi, not ginger-ale, not diet anything: original Coca-cola, or as close to it as I can get these days. Weird, huh?

    But I agree about your foray into the gift shop: Coke memorabilia is seriously cool. I’d make the trip for a t-shirt alone.

  13. I’m so glad you finally had a (largely) good day in Atlanta! I’m personally indifferent to Coca-Cola, and so rarely drink soda pop that I can’t really remember the last time I did (a few years back when Wegman’s was selling “Mexican Coke” made with sugar instead of high-fructose corn syrup, I think?). But I completely get the “Collecting the Stylish Memorabilia of a Product You Don’t Like” – I’d love to have those glasses and that sign!

  14. Diet Dr. Pepper for me.

    I like root beer in principle, but I can’t seem to find a decent diet version, and I have to stay off the sugar. I’m certainly open to experimentation.

  15. I collect Coca Cola Polar Bear stuff. I have about a dozen Christmas ornaments featuring them. I have a lamp. I had a cookie jar but I think it got left behind when I moved. I’m obsessed lol.

  16. That’s a fun end to your Atlanta trip. I like museums, especially in unpleasant weather. When possible, I like to visit a serious museum, like a major art or history museum, and a quirky fun museum.

    Except for the chicken the flatbread appears to be matzoh pizza.

    I hope the drive home was not too boring. I like listening to audiobooks with a lot of plot twists during long drives. A Memory Called Empire and Leviathan Wakes were exceptionally good road trip books.

  17. Back when I drank sodas I was Fresca all the way. Also, a Fresca iced tea mix that I called leeprill and insisted was a Vulcan beverage.

  18. I really enjoy your travel blogs, I hope you can continue to take trips and share them with us! You are a much nicer person than I am, some of the situations you described were very disappointing. The woman in the movie theatre? I wanted to bop her on the bean with a rotten tangerine! And the chicken? They could have replaced it. I haven’t been to a zoo in years, our twins are adults now. I definitely saw zoos and circuses through a different lens once I became a mom but I did expose the girls to those traditional things to be fair. Your experience was depressing. We really enjoy and crave live music, theatre and museums! We’ve been attending them all regularly since the girls were 5. My dad was in the music industry and hubby worked on Broadway, tv and movies before semi-retiring. There are many museums in Atlanta that I’d love to visit. I love the confidence you exhibit going places on your own, eating alone etc. It will serve you well in the future. And honestly don’t stop being so nice.. it’s refreshing. As the woman in the movie theatre proved most people don’t care anymore!

  19. I liked Coke when I was much younger, but with all the formula changes I won’t touch it. When it comes to Pepsi, I buy the pure sugar mini-cans. I’m a Pepper myself.

    Looks like a fairly decent way to end the trip, overall.

    To save me from making a second post, I wanted to commend unto you the Omaha Zoo. I’m not sure how far of a drive it would be for you, but it is very fine as it had extensive backing from Mutual of Omaha. It has a heck of a tropical rain forest exhibit that I love photographing in, along with jellyfish tanks. I’m not sure what else I can recommend as the main other thing that I photograph in the area is the Strategic Air Command Museum as I was heavily in to military hardware, less so these days.

  20. I buy regular Coke in the wee cans and dilute it with a bit of plain Seltzer. I’ve never liked diet soda, but will drink about any pop – love me some vanilla Coke, which is hard to find nowadays.

    Those hoodies are seriously cool. Worth the trip!

  21. I am definitely a Coca-Cola person. I especially like slamming an ice-cold one on a hot day and feeling that CO2/phosphoric acid burn. The best variety is the kind they make in Mexico (possibly other places, too, but IDK) where they use pure cane sugar instead of HFCS. It adds a candy-like taste to it. I know you’re not an alcohol-drinker but Mexican Coke also makes the best rum-and-colas. Kosher for Passover Coke also uses sucrose or cane sugar instead of HFCS…

  22. Thanks for giving me vicarious travel experiences and reminding me of some of my own travels. I had a much better time than you did at the Aquarium, but I don’t think I would have considered going to the Coke museum before you described it…could be fun (minus the emergency scenario!) I would encourage you to try some of the other aquarium experiences mentioned above, but I’ll also recommend that if you’re in an area that is by the water and/or has a smaller local exhibit, go there. The Birch Aquarium at Scripps (UCSD campus) is cool, and there’s a Sea Center at Stearn’s Wharf in Santa Barbara that we stumbled upon by accident that was cool.

    I’m a Mountain Dew person and have the dental history to prove it. I used to fill a huge travel mug with it and just sip it all day (bathing my teeth in sugar and acid). These days I just have a single serving on occasion and otherwise stick to water, tea, or seltzers. Never a big fan of colas but like creme sodas and root beers.

  23. Oh man, I love the coke museum! I visited there twice when I was in grad school up in Athens. The tasting room is the best part and I’m so sorry you didn’t get to taste everything!

  24. I used to love vanilla coke. My mother used to say it was nasty, but I loved it. I also used to drink a soft drink only made here (NC) called Cheerwine. I now no longer drink soda. I have been diagnosed with Hepatitis C. I am almost “cured” from it. I now drink tea, fruit juice, and sparkling flavored water.

  25. Thanks for another travelogue. I love the detail!

    Decades of devoted drinking of Diet Dr Pepper, here.

    In 1979 (really? OMG) I was working for a big corporation in a small midwestern city. I got a part in a community theatre production, putting on a nasal voice to play Agnes Gooch in Auntie Mame (not the musical version).

    My co-workers would always reveal their location in the seats of the darkened theatre when I said the line, “I think I’ll just fix myself a Dr Pepper.” There’d be one or two startled yelp-laughs.

    I’d been showing up at the job, daily without fail, with a 16oz glass bottle of DDP.

    FYI: Dr Pepper Zero is dramatically better (I wrote them a fan letter!) There was great angst during the worst of the pandemic when it wasn’t available for stretches of weeks.

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