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Insider's guide to the Atlanta History Center

Whether you consider yourself an amateur Atlanta historian or the thought of a history center sounds a little boring and dry to you, you're likely to be surprised at everything the Atlanta History Center has to offer.

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Far from stuffy, it has a modern, welcoming exterior and atrium as well as interesting exhibitions and plenty of hands-on activities and places to visit.

Here's what you need to know before you go:

How it began

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The idea behind the Atlanta History Center took root in 1926 when a group of local citizens started the Atlanta Historical Society with the goal of preserving the city's history. After years of sharing, collecting and otherwise celebrating Atlanta's history, the Historical Society and its holdings became the Atlanta History Center in 1990.

Best things to do and see

Atlanta History Museum – The museum's exhibits highlight important moments, people and artifacts related to a variety of topics, including Barbecue Nation, Latinos and the New South and Turning Point: The American Civil War.

Admission to the Swan House mansion is included when you buy an all-inclusive general admission ticket to the Atlanta History Center. (Courtesy of the atlantahistorycenter.com/For the AJC)

Swan House – Tour the mansion, which was constructed at the end of the Jazz Age, and you'll be entering a world of luxury. Behind-the-scenes tours are available daily at 4 p.m. for an additional $10 charge.

Smith Family Farm – Explore the farm and Atlanta's oldest surviving farmhouse, which was built in the 1840s. You'll get to see demonstrations of blacksmithing, carpentry and weaving and take part in the activities of the farm by helping to weave, tend the garden or take care of the animals.

Wood Family Cabin – Hear stories about what life was like in the 1840s, including tales about Creek Indians, hunting, beekeeping, Civil War soldiers who passed by and the coming of the railroads.

Goizueta Gardens – Explore 22 acres of gardens, woodlands and trails.

Special programs – The center hosts many popular programs, including Sheep to Shawl, which lets you help in the process of turning farm sheep's wool into a garment, and the Day of the Dead Festival.

Cyclorama – The iconic Battle of Atlanta Cyclorama painting is being restored and relocated to a new custom-built edifice at the Atlanta History Center. It's scheduled to open on Feb. 22, 2019.

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Ticketing hacks and discounts

All-inclusive general admission tickets are $21.50 for adults, $18 for seniors and students age 13 and up and $9 for youth ages 4-12. This includes access to the Atlanta History Museum, the Smith Family Farm property, the Swan House mansion and 22 acres of gardens.

The following discounts are available:

Museums on Us – Bank of America and Merrill Lynch cardholders get free admission to the Atlanta History Center on the first full weekend of each month. You'll need to present your credit or debit card and a valid photo ID to get one free general admission pass – guests aren't eligible.

Membership – If you're planning to visit the Center more than a couple of times a year and participate in some special events, buying a membership may help you save money. In addition to free passes, you'll also get free admission to annual family programs and be able to attend members-only events and workshops.

Military discounts – Active duty and retired military personnel with a military ID can get free admission for up to two adults year-round. And from Memorial Day to Labor Day, active duty members of the military can get admission for up to six adults with a military ID.

Free tours for Title 1 schools – Title 1 schools can receive free tours from December 2018-February 2019. A $50 booking deposit is required, but it will be processed only if you cancel your tour.

How to get there:

The Atlanta History Center is located at 130 West Paces Ferry Road NW in the Buckhead section of the city.

It can be reached in the following ways:

MARTA– Take the Red Line train to the Buckhead Station and transfer to the Southbound No. 110 Peachtree Street/"The Peach" bus. Exit where Peachtree Street and Roswell Road fork together at Sardis Way. Go right at this intersection, go west for two blocks, and you'll see the Center on the left.

Driving – The center can be reached from north of Atlanta going south on I-75 or I-85, from south of Atlanta going north on I-75 or I-85, from 400 going south and from downtown. Specific directions can be found here.

Atlanta History Center Hours are:

10 a.m.–5:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday and noon-5:30 p.m. Sunday.

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