- Helena Oliviero The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
College football’s national championship game is almost here — and the University of Georgia is in it after a thrilling overtime win over Oklahoma.
Nick Saban and No. 4 Alabama will take on former Crimson Tide defensive coordinator Kirby Smart and No. 3 Georgia on Monday, Jan. 8, at 8 p.m. in Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
And on the day of the Big Game, and days leading up to it, hundreds of thousands of people will head to downtown Atlanta to enjoy live music, pep rallies and other festivities celebrating all things college football.
Here’s a look at some fabulous activities for kids:
Playoff Fan Central at Georgia World Congress Center — Saturday, Jan. 6-Monday, Jan. 8, 2018
Playoff Fan Central is a 300,000-square-foot interactive experience that gives fans the opportunity to be a part of the College Football Playoff National Championship. This three-day, family-friendly event includes games, clinics, pep rallies, band performances, special guest appearances, autograph signings and exhibits celebrating college football and its history.
10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 6-Monday, Jan. 8. Tickets: $8 in advance; $10 at door. Kids 12 and under free with a ticketed adult. Georgia World Congress Center, Hall A, 285 Andrew Young International Blvd. NW, Atlanta. http://atlchampgame.com/events/playoff-fan-central/.
Championship Tailgate International Plaza — Saturday, Jan. 6-Monday, Jan. 8, 2018
Get ready for the big game at Championship Tailgate Plaza. This free multiday outdoor experience includes fan activities, games and entertainment. Attendees will enjoy the ultimate pregame atmosphere and tailgating favorites, along with zip lining, sponsor activities and more.
10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 6-Monday, Jan. 8. Free. Note: International Plaza is above the Red Parking Deck between Philips Arena and the former site of the Georgia Dome. www.atlchampgame.com/events/championship-tailgate-plaza/.
Media Day at Philips Arena — Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018
Featuring coaches and student-athletes from the two competing teams, attendees will experience more than 1,000 media members previewing the National Championship game. A free event, Media Day also features live ESPN broadcasts. All attendees will receive a complimentary ticket to Playoff Fan Central. On media day, fans can sit in the stands and listen in while the media conduct interviews.
Times will be: higher-ranked team, 9-10 a.m.; lower-ranked team, 10:30-11:30 a.m. Free. Philips Arena. 1 Philips Drive, Atlanta. www.atlchampgame.com/events/media-day/.
RELATED: What you need to know: College football championship survival guide: Parking, tailgating, MARTA, what not to bring
The Extra Yard 5K, a family-friendly 5K race in downtown Atlanta
The race, scheduled for 8 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018, starts and finishes within the Championship Campus footprint in downtown Atlanta and will be hosted in partnership with the Atlanta Track Club.
The top overall male and female finishers will each win two tickets to the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship. Registration includes one ticket to Playoff Fan Central, a participant shirt and finisher’s medal. All proceeds benefit Extra Yard for Teachers, College Football Playoff Foundation’s platform to honor teachers across the country. Activities will include live entertainment, booths and games.
$30-$45; teacher discounts up to $15. International Plaza (above the Red Parking Deck between Philips Arena and the former site of the Georgia Dome). To register and for more information, go to http://atlchampgame.com/events/extra-yard-5k/.
College Football Hall of Fame
While in town, you and your kids may feel yourself wanting to check out the College Football Hall of Fame, which offers immersive college football experiences. Test your skills on the indoor football field, sing your team’s fight song and personalize your experience by registering your All-Access Pass, identifying your team from the over 760 schools represented and watching as your helmet lights up on the three-story Helmet Wall.
9 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturdays; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sundays-Fridays. $17.99-$21.99 (free for military with ID, and free for children under 3). 250 Marietta St. NW, Atlanta. 404-880-4800, www.cfbhall.com.
Also for those enjoying football and festivities in Atlanta, also consider reserving some time for the Georgia Aquarium. With more than 10 million gallons of water at the Georgia Aquarium, you can see everything from four whale sharks to tropical coral reefs to sea otters, dolphins and beluga whales. Come face-to-nose with one of the world’s most feared predators in a new temporary exhibit, “Sharks: On Assignment With Brian Skerry.” National Geographic Explorer and award-winning photojournalist Brian Skerry has spent more than 10,000 hours underwater exploring the world’s ocean with a camera to show why sharks need to be protected and appreciated as an integral species within our ecosystem.
10 a.m.-9 p.m. Mondays-Fridays; 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturdays; 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sundays. $39.95; $33.95 for children. (Go online for special offers, which include during the first two hours of the day, you can get 20 percent off your tickets with an early bird special, or by visiting after 4 p.m., you can take advantage of the Imagination Nights discount of about 30 percent.)
Georgia Aquarium, 225 Baker St. NW, Atlanta. 404-581-4000, www.georgiaaquarium.org.
Center for Civil and Human Rights
For educational and cultural enrichment, set aside some time for the Center for Civil and Human Rights, an attraction which connects the civil rights movement of 50 years ago with human rights struggles today. This center combines powerful imagery and poignant storytelling.
10 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays (last entry at 4 p.m.); noon-5 p.m. Sundays (last entry at 4 p.m.). $14.25-$18.25 (free for children under 3). Center for Civil and Human Rights, 100 Ivan Allen Jr. Blvd. NW, Atlanta. www.civilandhumanrights.org.