One of the things a person thinks of when they hear South Bend, is the University of Notre Dame. As a sports fan, I think of Notre Dame football: the history, the legends that played and coached there. I think of the Four Horsemen, Knute Rockne, Paul Hornung, Joe Theisman, Joe Montana, and so on.
As Rachel was planning our trip to South Bend, the College Football Hall of Fame was still there and immediately I knew we had to go. As a football fan, this was something that I needed to cross off the list. Please note: the museum has since moved and as of August 23, 2014 is based in Atlanta, GA, with a wonderful new building and even more space for attractions.
As you enter the Atlanta complex, you are greeted with what is termed “The Quad” which is a wall of helmets from all 765 college football teams. This is also where you register and can customize the experience to highlight your particular college football team.
As you walk through the halls of the museum, there are displays along the wall that highlights every year of football that has been played. It tells the visitor a brief summary of what went on that year, the different storylines, the records, champions, and so on. In addition to the etched-glass summary year displays, the visitor also has the ability to watch several videos from classic games and relive those tense moments. This was something I really enjoyed as I was able to watch some of these old classic game highlights that I had not seen before.
The museum continues the interactive theme throughout by offering visitors several exhibits. In addition to the greatest moments that were previously mentioned, visitors have the ability to play trivia games of “famous” rivalries, and learn how a play is broken down into its individual components. A fun activity for kids of all ages, is the exhibit that allows the visitor to be an announcer and call a memorable play. Another cool feature is the stadium virtual reality exhibit. This allows you to “travel” to some of the most legendary stadiums, “visit” them, and experience what it is like to be on the field.
There is a giant room with several permanent electronic displays that highlight and celebrate different athletes who have won awards and have made a difference outside of football. This is a great way to see the other side of the players that fans may not always be aware of.
There are several exhibits that were ok for me but were still interesting like “building a champion” gallery which gives the visitor an idea of the amount of sacrifice the players and coaches make. The evolution of equipment was also interesting as it showed how football has changed over the years.
There are so many exhibits that the museum offers that there really is something for everyone. It gives the football fan a look at history and a chance to relive some of the most memorable moments. It gives kids and families the opportunity to have fun with the enormous amount of interactive exhibits including a passing game, trying to kick a field goal, and trying to move a blocking dummy. It really offers a lot for a museum and I was truly impressed by the amount of exhibits there is to do and see.
Museum Details; As always check the museum website for all the particulars.
Tickets: $20 for adults, $17 for kids ages 3-12 (children under 3 are free), and $18 for seniors, military, and students. Tickets can be purchased online, but we found it to be simple and easy enough to just buy them from the ticket counter. If you are visiting Atlanta, check out the Atlanta CityPass as the College Football Hall of Fame is included in that. The museum does offer group tickets but you will need to contact the museum for more info.
Hours: The museum is open Monday through Friday 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Saturday from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM, and Sunday 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Tickets stop selling an hour prior to closing.
Visit: The museum is wonderful with accessibility and many ramps for those with any disabilities or handicaps. The museum does become busier the later the day gets and can become crowded quickly. It is better to go earlier to avoid most of the crowds. Also, depending on when you go, if there are any field trips, and based on your group’s makeup (singles, families, seniors, etc.) an average trip including participating in some of the interactive exhibits can take around 1.5 hours.
The College Football Hall of Fame is a fun way to spend a morning or afternoon and is family friendly, educational, and entertaining. It is also great for the football lover and the historian.