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Plan the Perfect Field Trip: Martin Luther King, Jr. Historic District

By June 20, 2024June 28th, 2024No Comments
Plan the Perfect Field Trip - Martin Luther King, Jr. Historic District

Planning an educational field trip that blends history, culture, and inspiration? Look no further than the Martin Luther King, Jr. Historic District in Atlanta.

This vibrant neighborhood offers students a unique opportunity to walk in the footsteps of this Civil Rights icon. From visiting the childhood home of MLK, Jr. to his office at the Prince Hall Grand Lodge and Ebenezer Baptist Church (where he and his father both preached), this district is rich with sites that bring history to life.

In this blog post, you’ll find engaging and educational ideas to make the most out of a student trip to this historic neighborhood. Let’s go!

A few of our  favorite ways to explore Atlanta’s King District:

  • Book the Martin Luther King, Jr. Student Tour (ages 8-13) for an educational, customizable, and interactive experience
  • See the outside of MLK, Jr.’s birth home (interior closed for restoration until 2025)
  • Visit Dr. and Mrs. King’s memorials and pay your respects
  • Plan pre- and post-field trip activities to reinforce students’ learning

In this post, you’ll find:

  • Information about the King Historic District
  • Unique ideas to explore Atlanta’s role in the Civil Rights movement
  • Field trip logistics and tips for visiting the King District
  • How to prepare students for a visit to Atlanta’s King District
  • Post-field trip activities for students to deepen their learning

About The King Historic District

Martin Luther King, Jr. Historic District Atlanta - Field Trip

Atlanta’s King Historic District is one of the most historically significant neighborhoods in a city steeped in history. It’s home to noteworthy sites including the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Park, The King Center, Dr. King’s birth home, Ebenezer Baptist Church (where he and his father both preached), and the Prince Hall Grand Lodge, among others.

Running through the neighborhood, Auburn Avenue is a historic landmark in and of itself! New Georgia Encyclopedia notes that Auburn Ave was “the commercial, cultural, and spiritual center of African American life in Atlanta prior to the civil rights movement.” The National Park Service shares that because the neighborhood was flourishing and prosperous, local African American community leader John Wesley Dobbs gave the neighborhood its “Sweet Auburn” nickname.

The Sweet Auburn neighborhood and King Historic District are located just east of Downtown Atlanta, making this area all the more popular with visitors who want to explore the heart of the city. Surrounding the King District are the popular intown neighborhoods of Old Fourth Ward, Inman Park, and Cabbagetown.

During a field trip to the King Historic District, students will have a wide variety of opportunities to learn about history, social justice, leadership, and equity. Take an immersive guided student tour through the King District (ages 8-13) and hear stories of Dr. King and other Civil Rights leaders from engaging guides.

Nearby, the National Center for Civil and Human Rights explores how Atlanta’s Civil Rights legacy is intertwined with the ongoing struggle for social justice around the world. Also close by, the Apex Museum offers visitors “a complete view of African and African American history and culture.” Additionally, explore the Sweet Auburn Curb Market to taste some of the best flavors of Atlanta. Pro tip: book our guided Sweet Auburn Curb Market Food Tour + Biscuit Class for an insider’s experience (biscuit class also available as a field trip add-on)!

An Unforgettable Guided Field Trip Experience for Ages 8-13

The King Historic District is a large, busy area – and many visitors don’t know where to start. Skip the hassle of planning your field trip itinerary and make the most of your experience by booking a customizable tour your students and administrators will love! Watch the 1 minute, 21-second video below to see the highlights of this tour and learn more.

The Unexpected Atlanta Martin Luther King, Jr. Student Tour is a unique experience that students will remember for a lifetime. During this tour designed for ages 8-13, you’ll hear untold stories of Atlanta’s history that aren’t in textbooks and walk in the footsteps of Civil Rights leaders like Dr. King, Congressman John Lewis, Coretta Scott King, and many others.

Students will feel inspired as they learn about Dr. King’s life and legacy by seeing the places that were most significant to him during his life. Gain an understanding of how Atlanta changed the world, led by an entertaining and knowledgeable guide.

MLK, Jr. Student Tour Details

Field Trip to The King Center Atlanta

  • Age Range: Recommended for ages 8-13.
  • Tour length: This experience is generally 2-3 hours, with 1.7 miles of outdoor walking. The tour is conducted at a leisurely pace. That said, shorter tour times are available with advance planning.
  • When to book: We recommend booking your student tour at least two weeks before your event date.
  • Group sizes: The Martin Luther King, Jr. Student Tour can accommodate groups of up to 300 guests with enough notice. Student discounts start at 20 guests.

Private Student Tour Highlights:

  • Enjoy concierge-level service with start-to-finish planning
  • See MLK, Jr.’s birth home (interior of home closed for restoration through 2025)
  • Hear immersive stories of Dr. King and other Civil Rights leaders
  • See Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church (interior when open)
  • Take in skyline views of Atlanta at the Jackson Street Bridge
  • End the tour at the reflecting pool and memorial where Dr. and Mrs. King are entombed
  • Remember the experience with an exclusive hand-drawn souvenir postcard
  • Receive post-event photos via email

Optional add-ons include guide pickup and streetcar transportation, a 1-hour biscuit-making class, scavenger hunt, and bus transportation to drive the tour route instead of walking.

About Unexpected Atlanta

About Unexpected Atlanta

Founded by historian, travel writer, former lawyer, and Atlanta mom Akila McConnell, Unexpected Atlanta has grown to become the city’s #1-rated tour company. For nearly a decade, our team has offered immersive experiences that share the best of Atlanta’s food, culture, and history. In fact, we literally wrote the award-winning book on Atlanta’s culinary history!

Our team is made up of Atlanta experts and passionate storytellers who can answer students’ questions while also challenging them to think deeply about the topics presented. Reaching 35,000+ guests each year, we are proud to have earned more 5-star reviews than any other Atlanta walking or food tour. We love our city and can’t wait to share more of it with you!

Reach out below to learn more and book your Unexpected Atlanta experience:

Field Trip Logistics: Martin Luther King, Jr. Historic District

MLK Atlanta King Historic District Tour

Scheduling Tips

Thanks to Atlanta’s temperate climate, you can visit the King Historic District year-round – making this an ideal spot to visit during the school year or during breaks. Be sure to bring weather-appropriate clothing; you can refer to the packing list in this post for more tips on what to bring.

Additionally, you can plan a trip to coincide with Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in January or Black History Month in February. If visiting during these holidays, be sure to allow extra buffer time, as MLK, Jr. monuments and other Civil Rights sites may be busy!

Plan to spend at least 2-3 hours exploring the exhibits and memorials. Unexpected Atlanta recommends booking your experience at least two weeks in advance. That said, advance notice is always helpful – and necessary for large groups. Aim to reach out early to confirm your plans and minimize any last-minute challenges.

Group Sizes

Downtown Atlanta is a bustling hub of commerce, cuisine, history, and more! If you’re worried about the logistics of coordinating events for a large group of students, consider enlisting the help of a professional tour company.

For instance, the Unexpected Atlanta MLK, Jr. Student Tour can accommodate groups of up to 300 participants with enough notice. Our minimum group size for private tours is 10 guests, and the student discount start at 20 guests.

Where to Eat after the Student King Tour

Atlanta Biscuit Making Experience

Students hungry after your tour? Add on a 1-hour biscuit-making experience after your tour at the Sweet Auburn Curb Market nearby.

Or, if you’re brown-bagging it and weather permits, head to Centennial Olympic Park in Downtown Atlanta for a picnic! Remember to bring picnic blankets or beach towels to sit on, as well as sunblock.

Looking to purchase lunch? The Varsity’s original location (near where Downtown Atlanta meets Midtown) declares there’s “no place better to feed a large group.” This huge restaurant occupies two whole city blocks, with seating for 800 guests! Pro tip: buy meal vouchers ahead of time to speed up your visit. Note that The Varsity is cashless and only accepts credit/debit and Apple/Google Pay.

Prepare Students for a Visit to the King Historic District

Madame CJ Walker Beauty Shoppe Atlanta

Plan Pre-Trip Educational Activities

Before your field trip to the King Historic District, plan classroom activities, readings, or discussions to help prepare students for what they will learn. A few ideas to integrate into your curriculum:

Set Expectations

Before your field trip, explain to students what they should expect during the tour. Note that some areas, like the Eternal Flame and the Reflecting Pool where Dr. and Mrs. King are entombed, are areas where quiet reflection is encouraged.

If you’re joining a guided tour, your tour guide can help students to understand expectations along the way, while sharing engaging stories and answering students’ questions.

Share a Packing List

Provide a checklist of what students should bring. This might include items such as:

  • Water bottle (note that on the Unexpected Atlanta student tour, water bottles are provided)
  • Brown bag lunch, picnic blanket/towel, or other lunch arrangements
  • Comfortable walking shoes and weather-appropriate clothing
  • Notebook and pencil/pen
  • Sunblock
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Spending money, if applicable
  • Permission form, signed waiver, and/or emergency contact info

Post-Field Trip Activities

"I Have a Dream" World Peace Rose Garden - King Center

Host a Reflective Discussion

After your field trip, allow students some time for reflection. After a few days – when students have had time to reflect, but memories are still fresh – host a classroom discussion. You can prompt students with questions like:

  • What did you find most impactful about Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life and legacy?
  • What was your favorite part of the field trip?
  • How did this trip help you understand the Civil Rights movement differently?
  • Share something that surprised you, that you learned during our trip.
  • What could we do to make our next field trip even better?

Assign a Follow-Up Project

Assign students a follow-up project that will help deepen their understanding and encourage further learning. For instance, you could assign students to read a book based on MLK, Jr.’s life or the Civil Rights movement. Then, students can write a report or reflective essay on the book.

Alternatively, students could complete a research project on a topic related to the Civil Rights movement. For instance, this could include topics such as the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the March on Washington, the role of women in the Civil Rights movement, The Voting Rights Act of 1965, and so on.

Another idea: encourage students to create an art project, such as a painting or collage, that shares their expression of the experience.

Share the Experience & Dr. King’s Legacy

Encourage students to share what they learned with others, whether through presentations, essays, or on social media. In this way, students will help share Dr. King’s impact and messages and continue his legacy. Students can also help spread King’s message of nonviolent social change by organizing a community service day or project.

Looking for more ways to explore Atlanta with your students? Delve into our blog post on Atlanta Student Group Activities. Fuel up along the way with Atlanta Restaurants & Food Experiences for Large Groups!