Top 25 Things To Do in Atlanta

From civil rights landmarks to cutting-edge art, Atlanta offers a vibrant blend of history and innovation in the heart of the New South.

West Parker
West Parker
July 18, 2024

As the sun dips below the horizon, casting a warm glow across the city skyline, visitors gather at the Jackson Street Bridge. Their cameras poised, they wait for that perfect moment when Atlanta's modern skyscrapers blend with the fading light, creating a scene that captures the essence of this dynamic Southern metropolis. This iconic view serves as a fitting metaphor for Atlanta itself - a city where old and new, tradition and innovation, constantly collide and create something unique.

Atlanta, the capital of Georgia, has long been known as the gateway to the American South. But don't let that fool you into thinking this is a city stuck in the past. While Atlanta proudly embraces its rich history, particularly its pivotal role in the civil rights movement, it's also a city that's constantly reinventing itself. From the cutting-edge art scene to its ever-evolving culinary landscape, Atlanta offers visitors a perfect blend of Southern hospitality and cosmopolitan sophistication.

Whether you're walking in the footsteps of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., cheering on the Braves at Truist Park, or sampling innovative cuisine at Ponce City Market, you'll quickly discover that Atlanta is a city of surprises. So grab a sweet tea (or a craft cocktail), and let's explore the top 25 things to do in the ATL. Trust us, y'all are in for a treat!

Reflect on History at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park

Visitors gathered outside Martin Luther King Jr.'s birth home in Atlanta, a key site in the Civil Rights leader's legacy
Standing where Dr. King's journey began. The tour of his childhood home was a powerful reminder of his incredible legacy.

Step into the birthplace of the American Civil Rights Movement. The Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park isn't just a monument; it's a living testament to the power of peaceful resistance and the enduring legacy of Dr. King. As you walk through the preserved Auburn Avenue neighborhood, you'll feel the weight of history in every step.

Start your visit at Dr. King's childhood home, a beautifully restored Queen Anne-style house where the young Martin formed his early ideals. Continue to the Ebenezer Baptist Church, where both King and his father preached, and listen to recordings of King's powerful sermons echoing through the sanctuary. Don't miss the King Center, where you can pay your respects at the tombs of Dr. King and Coretta Scott King, surrounded by the tranquil waters of the reflecting pool.

  • Location: 450 Auburn Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30312
  • Hours: Daily, 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
  • Admission: Free

Why Visit: This park offers an unparalleled opportunity to immerse yourself in civil rights history and Dr. King's inspiring legacy.

Insider Tip: Join one of the free ranger-led tours for fascinating insights and stories not found on the informational plaques.

Marvel at Marine Life in the Georgia Aquarium

Massive whale shark swimming overhead in the Georgia Aquarium's Ocean Voyager exhibit, captivating visitors
Felt like I was underwater with these gentle giants at the Georgia Aquarium. Did you know they have four whale sharks here?

Dive into an underwater wonderland at the Georgia Aquarium, one of the largest aquariums in the world. With more than 10 million gallons of water and thousands of species, it's a mesmerizing journey through the planet's oceans, rivers, and reefs. The star attractions? The gentle giants of the sea - whale sharks - gracefully gliding through the massive Ocean Voyager exhibit.

Don't miss the playful sea otters, the enchanting jellyfish gallery, or the boisterous sea lion show. For the adventurous, the aquarium offers unique experiences like swimming or diving with whale sharks and manta rays. As you explore, you'll not only be amazed by the diversity of marine life but also learn about crucial conservation efforts to protect our oceans.

  • Location: 225 Baker St NW, Atlanta, GA 30313
  • Hours: Sunday-Friday 9:00 AM - 9:00 PM, Saturday 8:00 AM - 9:00 PM
  • Admission: Adults $39.95, Children (3-12) $33.95

Why Visit: It's a chance to see rare marine life up close and personal, including the only whale sharks in a U.S. aquarium.

Insider Tip: Visit on weekdays or later in the evening for smaller crowds and a more serene experience.

Stroll Through Atlanta's History at Oakland Cemetery

Historic gravestones and blooming trees in Oakland Cemetery, Atlanta's oldest public park and final resting place for many notable figures
Oakland Cemetery is surprisingly beautiful and peaceful. I spent hours exploring the historic graves and enjoying the spring blossoms.

Who says a cemetery can't be a lively place? Oakland Cemetery is Atlanta's oldest public park and a treasure trove of history, art, and architecture. As you wander through the 48 acres of beautifully landscaped grounds, you'll encounter ornate mausoleums, soaring obelisks, and touching memorials that tell the story of Atlanta's past.

Notable residents include Gone with the Wind author Margaret Mitchell, golfing legend Bobby Jones, and many of Atlanta's founding families. The cemetery also features sections dedicated to Confederate and Union soldiers, as well as African American grounds that reflect the city's complex history. Don't miss the stunning views of the Atlanta skyline from the highest point in the cemetery.

  • Location: 248 Oakland Ave SE, Atlanta, GA 30312
  • Hours: Dawn to dusk daily
  • Admission: Free (Guided tours available for a fee)

Why Visit: It's a peaceful oasis in the heart of the city, offering a unique blend of history, art, and natural beauty.

Insider Tip: Download the free audio tour app for a self-guided experience filled with fascinating stories and historical insights.

Get Inspired at the High Museum of Art

Striking modern art sculpture in the atrium of Atlanta's High Museum of Art, showcasing the museum's contemporary collection
The High Museum never disappoints! This new installation in the atrium stopped me in my tracks. Atlanta's art scene is seriously underrated.

Prepare to have your artistic sensibilities awakened at the High Museum of Art, the leading art museum in the Southeast. Housed in a striking white building designed by Richard Meier and Renzo Piano, the High is a visual feast both inside and out. The museum's permanent collection spans more than 17,000 works, including an impressive array of classic and contemporary art, photography, and decorative arts.

Wander through galleries featuring everything from ancient African artifacts to cutting-edge installations by today's most provocative artists. The High is particularly known for its collections of American, European, and African art, as well as its commitment to showcasing work by Southern artists. Keep an eye out for special exhibitions that bring world-class art to Atlanta throughout the year.

  • Location: 1280 Peachtree St NE, Atlanta, GA 30309
  • Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM, Sunday 12:00 PM - 5:00 PM, Closed Monday
  • Admission: Adults $14.50, Children (6-17) $9.50

Why Visit: The High offers a world-class art experience with a distinctly Southern flavor.

Insider Tip: Visit on the second Sunday of the month for "Second Sundays," when admission is free and the museum offers special family-friendly programming.

Explore the World of Coca-Cola

Visitors sampling various Coca-Cola products at the Taste It! exhibit in the World of Coca-Cola, Atlanta
Trying sodas from around the world at the World of Coca-Cola. Pro tip: Save Beverly for last – it's an... interesting experience!

Quench your thirst for knowledge (and soda) at the World of Coca-Cola. This fizzy attraction tells the story of the world's most famous beverage, from its humble beginnings in Atlanta to its global domination. As you enter, you're greeted by the larger-than-life Coca-Cola Polar Bear, ready for a hug and a photo op.

Journey through the history of the brand, marvel at Coke-inspired art, and try to guess the secret formula locked away in the high-security vault. The highlight for many visitors is the Taste It! exhibit, where you can sample over 100 different Coca-Cola products from around the world. Be brave and try Beverly, an Italian bitter aperitif that's notorious among visitors for its unique (some might say acquired) taste.

  • Location: 121 Baker St NW, Atlanta, GA 30313
  • Hours: Sunday-Thursday 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM, Friday-Saturday 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM
  • Admission: Adults $18, Children (3-12) $14

Why Visit: It's a fun, interactive experience that gives you a behind-the-scenes look at one of the world's most recognizable brands.

Insider Tip: Save your tasting for the end of your visit to avoid a sugar rush while exploring the exhibits.

Take a Walk on the Atlanta BeltLine

People enjoying the Atlanta BeltLine, a former railway corridor turned multi-use trail with street art and green spaces
Sunday funday on the Atlanta BeltLine! Love how this project is connecting neighborhoods and showcasing local art.

Lace up your walking shoes and hit the Atlanta BeltLine, a former railway corridor turned urban oasis. This ambitious project is transforming the city, connecting 45 neighborhoods with a 22-mile loop of multi-use trails, parks, and transit. The Eastside Trail, the most developed section, is a perfect place to start your BeltLine adventure.

As you stroll or cycle along the path, you'll encounter a vibrant cross-section of Atlanta life. Street art murals add splashes of color to old industrial buildings, while pop-up markets and food stalls offer local flavors. Keep an eye out for the quirky "Tiny Doors" art installations hidden along the trail. The BeltLine isn't just a path; it's Atlanta's front porch, where locals and visitors alike come to exercise, socialize, and soak in the city's creative energy.

  • Location: Various access points, Eastside Trail starts at Irwin St and Krog St
  • Hours: 6:00 AM - 11:00 PM daily
  • Admission: Free

Why Visit: The BeltLine offers a unique way to experience Atlanta's neighborhoods, art, and outdoor spaces all in one linear park.

Insider Tip: Rent a bike from Atlanta Bicycle Barn near the Eastside Trail for a quicker tour of the BeltLine's highlights.

Indulge Your Taste Buds at Ponce City Market

Bustling food hall inside Ponce City Market, Atlanta, showcasing various food stalls and diners enjoying meals
Lunch dilemma solved at Ponce City Market! So many choices, but the fried chicken sandwich from Hop's Chicken won today.

Housed in the historic Sears, Roebuck & Co. building, Ponce City Market has become the beating heart of Atlanta's food and shopping scene. This massive mixed-use development combines history with modernity, offering a curated mix of retail shops, offices, and a world-class food hall that will make your taste buds dance with joy.

Start your visit with a stroll through the Central Food Hall, where you can sample everything from artisanal chocolates to Korean street food. Don't miss local favorites like Hop's Chicken for the best fried chicken sandwich in town, or 8Arm for innovative vegetable-focused dishes. After your culinary adventure, browse the unique shops featuring local designers and national brands alike.

  • Location: 675 Ponce De Leon Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30308
  • Hours: Monday-Saturday 10:00 AM - 9:00 PM, Sunday 11:00 AM - 7:00 PM (Food Hall hours may vary)
  • Admission: Free (pay for what you eat and shop)

Why Visit: It's a one-stop destination for fantastic food, unique shopping, and a glimpse into Atlanta's industrial past.

Insider Tip: Head up to the Roof at Ponce City Market for stunning skyline views, carnival games, and miniature golf.

Cheer on the Braves at Truist Park

Enthusiastic fans cheering at an Atlanta Braves baseball game in Truist Park, the team's modern stadium
First Braves game at Truist Park – what an atmosphere! The tomahawk chop chant gave me chills. Go Braves!

Even if you're not a die-hard baseball fan, catching an Atlanta Braves game at Truist Park is an essential Atlanta experience. This state-of-the-art stadium, opened in 2017, offers much more than just nine innings of America's favorite pastime. The surrounding Battery Atlanta complex is a entertainment destination in its own right, with restaurants, shops, and live music venues.

Inside the park, you'll find all the classic baseball staples (hot dogs, peanuts, and Cracker Jack) alongside local favorites like Waffle House and Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q. The stadium's design ensures there's not a bad seat in the house, and the massive HD scoreboard keeps you up to date on all the action. Between innings, keep an eye out for the "Beat the Freeze" race, where a fan tries to outrun the Braves' speedy mascot.

  • Location: 755 Battery Ave SE, Atlanta, GA 30339
  • Hours: Varies by game schedule, The Battery Atlanta open daily
  • Admission: Ticket prices vary, check schedule for details

Why Visit: Experience the excitement of Major League Baseball in a modern ballpark that captures the spirit of Atlanta.

Insider Tip: Arrive early to explore The Battery Atlanta and enjoy pre-game festivities. Even if there's no game, The Battery is worth a visit for its restaurants and entertainment options.

Step Back in Time at the Atlanta History Center

The elegant Swan House mansion at the Atlanta History Center, showcasing 1920s architecture and design
Stepped back in time at the Swan House in the Atlanta History Center. Fun fact: It was featured in "The Hunger Games" movies!

Immerse yourself in the mix of Atlanta's past at the Atlanta History Center. Spread across 33 acres in the heart of Buckhead, this cultural hub brings history to life through engaging exhibits, historic houses, and beautiful gardens. Start your journey through time at the Atlanta History Museum, where you'll explore everything from Native American culture to the city's rise as a transportation hub.

Don't miss the stunning Swan House, a 1928 mansion that offers a glimpse into the lives of Atlanta's elite during the Jazz Age. History buffs will marvel at the cyclorama, a massive 360-degree painting depicting the Battle of Atlanta. After touring the exhibits, take a stroll through the Goizueta Gardens, a collection of native plants that showcase the region's natural history.

  • Location: 130 West Paces Ferry Rd NW, Atlanta, GA 30305
  • Hours: Monday-Saturday 10:00 AM - 5:30 PM, Sunday 12:00 PM - 5:30 PM
  • Admission: Adults $23.41, Children (4-12) $19.60

Why Visit: It's a comprehensive look at Atlanta's history, from pre-Civil War era to the present day, in a beautiful setting.

Insider Tip: Allow at least 3-4 hours to fully explore the center. The free audio tour app enhances the experience with additional stories and context.

Catch a Show at the Fox Theatre

Stunning, ornate ceiling of the historic Fox Theatre in Atlanta, showcasing its Moorish-inspired design
The Fox Theatre is a feast for the eyes! Can't believe this grand movie palace was almost demolished in the 1970s.

Step into the opulent Fox Theatre and prepare to be dazzled. This Atlanta landmark, with its distinctive Moorish-Egyptian architecture, has been the city's premier venue for live entertainment since 1929. Originally built as a movie palace, the Fox now hosts everything from Broadway shows and concerts to ballet performances and comedy acts.

Before the show, take a moment to admire the theater's stunning interior. The ceiling of the main auditorium is designed to look like a starry night sky, complete with twinkling lights and projected clouds. The ornate décor, plush seating, and state-of-the-art acoustics combine to create an unforgettable experience, no matter what's on stage.

  • Location: 660 Peachtree St NE, Atlanta, GA 30308
  • Hours: Box office open Monday-Friday 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM, Saturday 10:00 AM - 3:00 PM
  • Admission: Varies by show

Why Visit: Experience world-class entertainment in one of the most beautiful theaters in the country.

Insider Tip: Arrive early to take a guided tour of the theater (offered on Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays) and learn about its fascinating history and architecture.

Get Your Game On at the College Football Hall of Fame

Impressive wall display of college football team helmets at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta
Found my alma mater's helmet at the College Football Hall of Fame! This place is a must-visit for any football fan.

Football fans, this one's for you. The College Football Hall of Fame is a pigskin paradise that celebrates the history, traditions, and stars of college football. This high-tech, interactive attraction is designed to appeal to casual fans and die-hard enthusiasts alike. Start your visit by registering your favorite team, which personalizes many of the exhibits to feature your school.

Test your skills in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Skill Zone, where you can kick field goals, throw passes, and run obstacle courses. Don't miss the three-story helmet wall featuring helmets from every college football team in the country. The Hall of Fame itself, located on the third floor, honors the greatest players and coaches in college football history.

  • Location: 250 Marietta St NW, Atlanta, GA 30313
  • Hours: Sunday-Friday 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM, Saturday 9:00 AM - 6:00 PM
  • Admission: Adults $24.99, Children (3-12) $17.99

Why Visit: It's an immersive, interactive experience that brings the excitement of college football to life.

Insider Tip: Visit during the college football season (September-January) for special events and a particularly electric atmosphere.

Unwind in Piedmont Park

Groups of people enjoying picnics on the lush green lawns of Piedmont Park in Atlanta on a sunny day
Perfect day for a picnic in Piedmont Park. Hard to believe this urban oasis is right in the heart of Midtown!

Often called Atlanta's version of Central Park, Piedmont Park is a 185-acre green oasis in the heart of Midtown. This beloved park has been a gathering place for Atlantans since the late 19th century, offering a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. Stroll along the scenic walking paths, have a picnic on the Great Lawn, or rent a bike to explore the park's many corners.

The park is also home to Lake Clara Meer, where you can fish or watch for local wildlife. Sports enthusiasts will appreciate the tennis courts, swimming pool, and athletic fields. Throughout the year, Piedmont Park hosts numerous festivals and events, including the Atlanta Dogwood Festival in spring and Music Midtown in fall.

  • Location: 400 Park Dr NE, Atlanta, GA 30306
  • Hours: 6:00 AM - 11:00 PM daily
  • Admission: Free

Why Visit: It's Atlanta's premier green space, offering outdoor recreation, beautiful views, and a slice of local life.

Insider Tip: Visit the Green Market on Saturday mornings (March-December) for local produce, artisanal foods, and live music.

Discover Southern Literature at the Margaret Mitchell House

Vintage typewriter on display at the Margaret Mitchell House museum in Atlanta, where "Gone with the Wind" was written
Visited the apartment where Margaret Mitchell wrote "Gone with the Wind". That tiny typewriter produced a 1,037-page novel!

Step into the world of one of the South's most famous novels at the Margaret Mitchell House. This modest apartment, affectionately nicknamed "The Dump" by Mitchell herself, is where the author penned her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel "Gone with the Wind." The guided tour offers fascinating insights into Mitchell's life, her writing process, and the impact of her iconic novel.

Explore the period-furnished rooms, including the small apartment where Mitchell wrote at a desk between the bookshelves. The museum also features exhibits on the film adaptation of "Gone with the Wind" and its place in popular culture. Whether you're a fan of the book or just curious about Atlanta's literary history, this is a must-visit site.

  • Location: 979 Crescent Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30309
  • Hours: Monday-Saturday 10:00 AM - 5:30 PM, Sunday 12:00 PM - 5:30 PM
  • Admission: Adults $13, Children (4-12) $10

Why Visit: Get a glimpse into the life of Margaret Mitchell and the creation of one of the best-selling novels of all time.

Insider Tip: Combine your visit with a stop at the nearby Center for Puppetry Arts for a unique Atlanta cultural experience.

Experience Nature at the Fernbank Museum of Natural History

Impressive dinosaur skeleton on display in the Great Hall of Fernbank Museum of Natural History in Atlanta
Face to face with a Giganotosaurus at Fernbank Museum! Did you know this predator was even larger than T. Rex?

Embark on a journey through time and nature at the Fernbank Museum of Natural History. This family-friendly museum offers a fascinating look at the natural world, from the age of dinosaurs to the present day. The Great Hall greets visitors with a dramatic display of dinosaur skeletons, setting the stage for the wonders to come.

Explore the "Walk Through Time in Georgia" exhibit, which takes you on a journey through the state's natural history. The outdoor Fernbank Forest offers a rare glimpse of old-growth Piedmont forest, with elevated walkways that let you explore the treetop canopy. Don't miss the Giants of the Mesozoic exhibit, featuring some of the largest dinosaurs ever discovered.

  • Location: 767 Clifton Rd, Atlanta, GA 30307
  • Hours: Monday-Saturday 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM, Sunday 12:00 PM - 5:00 PM
  • Admission: Adults $20, Children (3-12) $18

Why Visit: It's a perfect blend of education and entertainment, offering hands-on exhibits and stunning natural displays.

Insider Tip: Stay for a show at the Giant Screen Theater, which features nature documentaries on a massive 4K screen.

Shop and Dine in Buckhead

Shoppers browsing high-end store windows at Lenox Square Mall in Atlanta's upscale Buckhead district
Window shopping in Buckhead – aka the "Beverly Hills of the South". My wallet is thankful I'm just looking!

For a taste of Atlanta's upscale side, head to Buckhead, often called the "Beverly Hills of the South." This affluent district is home to high-end shopping, gourmet restaurants, and luxurious hotels. Start your Buckhead adventure at Lenox Square or Phipps Plaza, two upscale malls featuring designer boutiques and department stores.

When you've worked up an appetite, Buckhead offers some of Atlanta's finest dining experiences. Try the Southern-inspired cuisine at Restaurant Eugene, or indulge in a steak at Bones, an Atlanta institution since 1979. For a more casual experience, head to the Buckhead Village District, where you'll find trendy eateries and cocktail bars.

  • Location: North of Midtown Atlanta
  • Hours: Vary by store and restaurant
  • Admission: Free (pay for what you shop and dine)

Why Visit: Experience Atlanta's luxurious side with world-class shopping and dining.

Insider Tip: Visit during the Buckhead Art Stroll, held on the first Thursday of each month, to explore local galleries and enjoy live music.

Explore the Center for Civil and Human Rights

Visitors engaging with an interactive exhibit at the Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta
The lunch counter simulation at the Center for Civil and Human Rights was a powerful, eye-opening experience. A must-visit in Atlanta.

Delve into the American Civil Rights Movement and its global impact at the Center for Civil and Human Rights. This powerful museum connects the civil rights struggles of the 1950s and 1960s to the human rights challenges of today. The exhibits are both informative and deeply moving, designed to inspire visitors to reflect on their own roles in creating a more just world.

Don't miss the lunch counter simulation, a powerful interactive exhibit that gives visitors a small taste of what peaceful protesters endured during the sit-in movements. The Martin Luther King Jr. Collection features personal papers and items belonging to the civil rights leader, offering intimate insights into his life and work.

  • Location: 100 Ivan Allen Jr Blvd NW, Atlanta, GA 30313
  • Hours: Monday-Saturday 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM, Sunday 12:00 PM - 5:00 PM
  • Admission: Adults $19.99, Children (3-12) $15.99

Why Visit: It's a thought-provoking and emotionally impactful experience that connects past struggles to present-day issues.

Insider Tip: Allow plenty of time for reflection and discussion after your visit. The content can be intense, especially for younger visitors.

Take Flight at the Delta Flight Museum

Restored vintage Delta Air Lines airplane on display inside the Delta Flight Museum in Atlanta
Exploring aviation history at the Delta Flight Museum. Got to sit in the cockpit of a retired 767 – childhood dream come true!

Aviation enthusiasts and curious travelers alike will find plenty to explore at the Delta Flight Museum. Located at Delta's world headquarters near Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, this museum chronicles the history of Delta Air Lines and the broader story of commercial aviation.

Step inside historic aircraft, including a beautifully restored DC-3 and the first Boeing 747-400 ever built. The museum's crown jewel is the full-motion flight simulator, the only one in the U.S. open to the public (advance reservations required). Interactive exhibits allow you to design your own aircraft, explore the science of flight, and learn about the daily operations of a global airline.

  • Location: 1060 Delta Blvd, Atlanta, GA 30354
  • Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 10:00 AM - 4:30 PM, Sunday 12:00 PM - 4:30 PM
  • Admission: Adults $15, Children (5-17) $10

Why Visit: Get a behind-the-scenes look at the airline industry and experience the thrill of flying without leaving the ground.

Insider Tip: For a unique experience, book a session in the flight simulator where you can "pilot" a Boeing 737-200.

Laugh Out Loud at Dad's Garage Theatre

Energetic improv performers entertaining the audience on stage at Dad's Garage Theatre in Atlanta
Laughed till my sides hurt at Dad's Garage Theatre. These improv comedians are quick-witted geniuses!

For a night of hilarious, off-the-wall entertainment, head to Dad's Garage Theatre. This improv and scripted comedy theater has been making Atlantans laugh since 1995. Known for its irreverent humor and talented ensemble cast, Dad's Garage offers a variety of shows, from long-form improv to original plays.

The theater's signature show is "TheatreSports," a fast-paced improv competition where teams battle for laughs and points based on audience suggestions. With beer and wine available at the concession stand, it's the perfect spot for a fun night out with friends.

  • Location: 569 Ezzard St SE, Atlanta, GA 30312
  • Hours: Show times vary, check website for schedule
  • Admission: Varies by show, typically $10-$20

Why Visit: Experience Atlanta's vibrant comedy scene and enjoy a night of unpredictable, laugh-out-loud entertainment.

Insider Tip: Arrive early for the best seats, and don't be shy about participating when the performers ask for audience suggestions.

Get Spooked on the Atlanta Ghost Tour

Ghost tour guide sharing spooky stories with a group in a dimly lit historic park in Atlanta at night
Spooky night on the Atlanta Ghost Tour! Our guide's stories about Oakland Cemetery gave me goosebumps.

As night falls, uncover Atlanta's darker side with a ghost tour. These walking tours take you through some of the city's most historic (and allegedly haunted) neighborhoods, including downtown and Oakland Cemetery. Knowledgeable guides blend local history with spine-tingling tales of ghostly encounters and unexplained phenomena.

Learn about the city's role in the Civil War, visit sites of notorious crimes, and hear stories of restless spirits that are said to still roam Atlanta's streets. Whether you're a believer in the paranormal or just enjoy a good story, these tours offer a unique perspective on Atlanta's rich history.

  • Location: Tours typically start in downtown Atlanta
  • Hours: Evening tours, times vary by season
  • Admission: Adults $20-$35, depending on tour length

Why Visit: It's a fun and slightly spooky way to learn about Atlanta's history and folklore.

Insider Tip: Wear comfortable shoes and bring a camera – you never know what you might capture!

Admire the View from the Jackson Street Bridge

Person capturing a photo of Atlanta's skyline from the popular Jackson Street Bridge viewpoint
Found the spot where they filmed that iconic "Walking Dead" scene! The Jackson Street Bridge offers the best view of Atlanta's skyline.

For the perfect Atlanta photo op, head to the Jackson Street Bridge. This unassuming bridge offers one of the best views of the Atlanta skyline, with the city's skyscrapers perfectly framed by the Freedom Parkway in the foreground. It's become an iconic spot for photographers and Instagrammers alike, especially beautiful at sunset or after dark when the city lights are twinkling.

The bridge has gained fame in recent years as the site of a memorable scene from "The Walking Dead" TV series. Even if you're not a fan of the show, the view alone is worth the visit. Bring a picnic and watch the sun go down over the city for a memorable Atlanta evening.

  • Location: Jackson St NE, Atlanta, GA 30312
  • Hours: Always open
  • Admission: Free

Why Visit: Capture a postcard-perfect view of Atlanta's skyline and enjoy a moment of tranquility above the bustling city.

Insider Tip: Visit during the "golden hour" just before sunset for the most dramatic lighting for your photos.

Explore Little Five Points

Vibrant street art mural adorning a building in Atlanta's eclectic Little Five Points neighborhood
Little Five Points is a feast for the eyes! Every corner has a new mural or quirky shop to discover.

Embrace Atlanta's quirky side in Little Five Points, the city's bohemian enclave. This eclectic neighborhood is a haven for alternative culture, filled with vintage clothing stores, independent bookshops, funky cafes, and live music venues. It's the perfect place to spend an afternoon browsing unique shops and people-watching.

Start your visit at the Junkman's Daughter, a sprawling emporium of the weird and wonderful. Catch a show at the historic Variety Playhouse or grab a beer at the Vortex, known for its outrageous burgers and skull-shaped entrance. Don't miss Criminal Records for vinyl and comics, or the Little Five Points Halloween Parade if you're visiting in October.

  • Location: Intersection of Moreland and Euclid Avenues
  • Hours: Vary by business, typically busiest in afternoons and evenings
  • Admission: Free to explore (pay for shopping and dining)

Why Visit: Experience Atlanta's counterculture and find unique souvenirs in this one-of-a-kind neighborhood.

Insider Tip: Check out the street art and murals scattered throughout the area for great photo opportunities.

Enjoy Nature at the Atlanta Botanical Garden

Visitors enjoying the elevated Canopy Walk amidst treetops at the Atlanta Botanical Garden
Walking among the treetops at Atlanta Botanical Garden. The Canopy Walk offers a unique perspective of the Storza Woods.

Escape the urban jungle and immerse yourself in the lush greenery of the Atlanta Botanical Garden. This 30-acre oasis in Midtown is a year-round destination, featuring stunning displays of plants from around the world. The Fuqua Orchid Center houses one of the largest orchid collections in the United States, while the Tropical Rotunda showcases exotic plants from rainforests.

Don't miss the Canopy Walk, a 600-foot elevated pathway that takes you through the treetops of the Storza Woods. The Edible Garden showcases sustainable growing practices and often hosts cooking demonstrations. Throughout the year, the garden hosts special events, including the popular "Garden Lights, Holiday Nights" during the winter season.

  • Location: 1345 Piedmont Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30309
  • Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 9:00 AM - 7:00 PM (hours may vary seasonally)
  • Admission: Adults $21.95, Children (3-12) $18.95

Why Visit: Experience a beautiful blend of nature and art in the heart of the city.

Insider Tip: Visit on Thursday evenings (May-September) for "Cocktails in the Garden," featuring specialty drinks and live music.

Catch a Game or Concert at Mercedes-Benz Stadium

The impressive retractable roof of Mercedes-Benz Stadium opening during an Atlanta United soccer match
Watching the roof open at Mercedes-Benz Stadium is a spectacle in itself. The engineering behind this place is mind-blowing!

Experience the electric atmosphere of Mercedes-Benz Stadium, home to the NFL's Atlanta Falcons and MLS's Atlanta United FC. This state-of-the-art facility, with its unique retractable roof and massive halo video board, is a marvel of modern stadium design. Even if you're not a sports fan, the stadium's architecture and technology are worth seeing.

On game days, join the sea of red and black (for the Falcons) or red and gold (for Atlanta United) and cheer along with some of the most passionate fans in sports. The stadium also hosts major concerts and events throughout the year. Don't forget to try some of the stadium's acclaimed food options, which go far beyond typical stadium fare.

  • Location: 1 AMB Dr NW, Atlanta, GA 30313
  • Hours: Vary by event, stadium tours available on non-event days
  • Admission: Varies by event, stadium tours $20 for adults

Why Visit: Experience world-class sports and entertainment in one of the most advanced stadiums in the world.

Insider Tip: If you're attending a Falcons game, participate in the "Rise Up" chant – it's an Atlanta tradition!

Visit the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum

Visitors exploring the replica Oval Office at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum in Atlanta
Sat behind the desk in Jimmy Carter's Oval Office (well, a replica). It's amazing how much history happened in this room.

Explore the life and legacy of the 39th President of the United States at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum. This fascinating museum offers a comprehensive look at Carter's presidency, his humanitarian work, and his early life in Georgia. Interactive exhibits cover major events of Carter's presidency, including the Camp David Accords and the Iran hostage crisis.

The museum also features a full-scale replica of the Oval Office as it looked during Carter's administration. Don't miss the beautiful gardens surrounding the library, which offer a peaceful spot for reflection and include a koi pond and a rose garden.

  • Location: 441 John Lewis Freedom Pkwy NE, Atlanta, GA 30307
  • Hours: Monday-Saturday 9:00 AM - 4:45 PM, Sunday 12:00 PM - 4:45 PM
  • Admission: Adults $12, Children (16 and under) Free

Why Visit: Gain insights into recent American history and the life of a president who has dedicated his life to public service.

Insider Tip: Check the library's event calendar for author talks and special exhibitions.

Take a Studio Tour at Tyler Perry Studios

Impressive entrance sign to Tyler Perry Studios, a major film production facility in Atlanta
Drove by Tyler Perry Studios – it's massive! Did you know it's larger than Paramount, Warner Bros, and Walt Disney Studios combined?

Step into the world of film and television production at Tyler Perry Studios. Located on the grounds of the former Fort McPherson army base, this 330-acre production facility is one of the largest in the country. While not always open to the public, the studio occasionally offers tours that provide a behind-the-scenes look at how movies and TV shows are made.

During a tour, you might see sets from popular Tyler Perry productions, learn about the filmmaking process, and possibly even catch a glimpse of a production in action. The studio's history as a former Confederate and Union army base adds an extra layer of interest to the visit.

  • Location: 315 Deshler St SW, Atlanta, GA 30310
  • Hours: Tours by appointment only, check website for availability
  • Admission: Varies, check website for current prices

Why Visit: Get an insider's look at the entertainment industry and celebrate the achievements of one of Atlanta's most successful filmmakers.

Insider Tip: If tours aren't available during your visit, you can still drive by the studio's impressive entrance for a photo op.

Savor Southern Cuisine at Mary Mac's Tea Room

No visit to Atlanta is complete without indulging in some authentic Southern cuisine, and there's no better place to do that than Mary Mac's Tea Room. This Atlanta institution has been serving up Southern comfort food since 1945, making it the city's last remaining tea room of its era. Despite the name, don't expect dainty finger sandwiches – Mary Mac's is all about hearty, soul-satisfying Southern fare.

Start your meal with a basket of freshly baked yeast rolls and cornbread, then move on to classics like fried chicken, country fried steak, or salmon croquettes. Don't forget the sides – the macaroni and cheese, collard greens, and fried green tomatoes are local favorites. If you're feeling brave, try the Pot Likker, a traditional Southern broth made from cooking collard greens.

  • Location: 224 Ponce De Leon Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30308
  • Hours: Monday-Saturday 11:00 AM - 9:00 PM, Sunday 11:00 AM - 8:00 PM
  • Price Range: $10-$30 per person

Why Visit: Experience authentic Southern hospitality and cuisine in a historic Atlanta setting.

Insider Tip: First-time visitors get a complimentary cup of pot likker and a piece of cornbread – just ask your server!

Structuring Your Atlanta Adventure: A 7-Day Itinerary

Atlanta offers a wealth of experiences that can easily fill a week-long visit. Here's a suggested itinerary to help you make the most of your time in the ATL. Remember, this is just a guide – feel free to adjust based on your interests and energy levels.

Days 1-2: Downtown and Civil Rights History

  • Start your Atlanta adventure in the heart of downtown.
  • Visit the Georgia Aquarium and World of Coca-Cola on your first morning.
  • Spend the afternoon exploring Centennial Olympic Park and take a ride on the SkyView Atlanta Ferris wheel.
  • Dedicate your second day to civil rights history:
    • Begin at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park.
    • Visit the Center for Civil and Human Rights in the afternoon.
  • End your day with dinner at Mary Mac's Tea Room for authentic Southern cuisine.

Days 3-4: Arts, Culture, and Nature

  • Start day three at the High Museum of Art.
  • In the afternoon, explore the Atlanta Botanical Garden.
  • Catch an evening show at the Fox Theatre.
  • On day four, head to the Fernbank Museum of Natural History.
  • Spend the afternoon strolling through Piedmont Park and along the Atlanta BeltLine.
  • End the day with dinner and shopping at Ponce City Market.

Days 5-6: Sports and Entertainment

  • Begin day five with a tour of Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
  • Visit the College Football Hall of Fame.
  • If it's baseball season, catch an evening Atlanta Braves game at Truist Park.
  • Start day six with a tour of Tyler Perry Studios (if available).
  • Spend the afternoon exploring the quirky Little Five Points neighborhood.
  • End the evening with a show at Dad's Garage Theatre.

Day 7: History and Views

  • Start your final day at the Atlanta History Center.
  • Visit the Margaret Mitchell House in the afternoon.
  • Take an evening Atlanta Ghost Tour.
  • End your trip with sunset views from the Jackson Street Bridge.

Additional Tips:

  • Use MARTA (Atlanta's public transit system) to get around – it's often faster than driving during peak hours.
  • Atlanta can be hot and humid in summer, so plan outdoor activities for mornings or evenings when possible.
  • Many attractions offer combination tickets or city passes, which can save money if you're planning to visit multiple sites.

Remember, Atlanta has much more to offer than what can be covered in a week. This itinerary gives you a taste of the city's highlights, but don't be afraid to explore beyond these suggestions. Each neighborhood has its own unique character and hidden gems waiting to be discovered.

Why Visit Atlanta?

From its rich civil rights history to its modern-day innovations, from Southern traditions to cutting-edge art and culture, Atlanta is a city of contrasts and surprises. Whether you're here for the history, the food, the outdoors, or the entertainment, you'll find that Atlanta's charm lies in its diversity and its warm Southern hospitality.

As you stand on the Jackson Street Bridge on your final evening, watching the sun set behind the Atlanta skyline, you'll understand why this city has captured the hearts of so many. The view serves as a perfect metaphor for Atlanta itself – a harmonious blend of natural beauty and human achievement, of old and new, all coming together to create something truly special.

So, whether this is your first visit or your fiftieth, Atlanta is sure to leave you with lasting memories and a desire to return. After all, in the words of Atlanta's own Margaret Mitchell, "Land is the only thing in the world that amounts to anything." And in Atlanta, you'll find a land rich in history, culture, and Southern charm, always ready to welcome you back.

West Parker
West Parker
Article updated:
July 18, 2024 8:32 AM

West Parker, a Cornell University School of Hotel Administration graduate, has spent two decades as the secret weapon of the jet-set elite, crafting bespoke adventures that redefine luxury travel. Now a resident writer for Town & Tourist, this 45-year-old "Architect of Extraordinary Journeys" combines razor-sharp insights with unparalleled industry connections to deliver experiences that even the most discerning globetrotters can't help but rave about. West's expertise spans from exclusive real estate to fine dining, making him the go-to strategist for those who demand nothing but the extraordinary in their travels.

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