If You Only Have Three Days in Atlanta

A weekend hardly scratches the surface of any given place, but given three days in Atlanta, visitors can start to understand what makes the city tick. Spend time learning about the history of Atlanta’s most notable residents. Visit Martin Luther King Jr.’s childhood home, Ted Turner’s empire at the CNN Center and the home of former President Jimmy Carter. The whole family will appreciate the nature encounters at the Georgia Aquarium and Zoo Atlanta while spending 3 days in Atlanta.

190 Marietta St NW, Atlanta, GA 30303, USA
A tour of CNN Center offers a fascinating look at what it takes to run the 24-hour news cycle. At the world headquarters, founded by media icon Ted Turner in 1980, guests can tour the actual news desks and see a replica of the famed green screen. If you’re lucky, you might also witness the filming of segments for shows like HLN Morning Express and Headline News, which are based here.
121 Baker St NW, Atlanta, GA 30313, USA
At Atlanta’s World of Coca-Cola, you can taste dozens of Coke flavors from around the world (beware the bitter “Beverly” from Italy) and pose for pictures with the adorable polar bear from the holiday commercials. The perfect place for a rainy day, the museum details the history of the Coca-Cola Company. Tour the interactive exhibits and be sure to check out the vault where the secret recipe is kept. No, they will not open it, no matter how nicely you ask.
3500 Peachtree Rd NE G-1, Atlanta, GA 30326, USA
Legoland has quickly become Atlanta‘s top attraction for kids. Located in Phipps Plaza, the city’s shopping mecca, families can purchase all the Lego products next door at the store before exploring the discovery center. It includes Lego replicas of famous Atlanta landmarks, interactive rides, and the chance to build your own masterpiece.
130 West Paces Ferry Rd NW, Atlanta, GA 30305, USA
A hub of preservation in the city, the Atlanta History Center is not your typical museum. The 33-acre experience features historic houses, enchanting gardens, and award-winning exhibitions, showcasing everything from Civil War artifacts to Olympic mementos. Be sure to tour the Swan House and have lunch in the Coach House. Also worth checking out is the Battle of Atlanta cyclorama painting, a large-scale work that the museum acquired in early 2017.
3130 Slaton Dr NW, Atlanta, GA 30305, USA
As the stomping grounds for ladies who lunch, bridal luncheons, and baby showers, the Swan Coach House has been a Buckhead staple since 1965. A group of ladies opened the restaurant, gift shop, and art gallery to raise money for the arts while serving their family recipes on their own plates and silverware. Since then, the restaurant has become well known for Southern staples like their chicken salad, frozen fruit salad, cheese straws, and champagne punch. Be sure to visit the lavish Swan House at the Atlanta History Center while you’re there.
225 Baker St NW, Atlanta, GA 30313, USA
The world’s largest aquarium by volume, this downtown spot is easily one of the city’s top attractions. Opened in 2005 through partnerships with Atlanta-based Home Depot, the $300 million facility boasts more than 100,000 animals and 500 different species from both fresh and marine water. Exhibits are divided into ecosystems, including Cold Water Quest (which has sea dragons and spider crabs) and SunTrust Pier 225 (starring the California sea lion), and feature favorites like beluga whales, manta rays, and otters. If you’re feeling brave, dive in the tank with the whale sharks, or simply take a behind-the-scenes tour to see how the aquarium operates.
800 Cherokee Avenue Southeast
The city’s oldest tourist attraction, Zoo Atlanta actually started by accident. In 1889, a traveling circus went bankrupt and sold its animals to a local businessman, who decided to open a zoo in Grant Park to house his new pets. Over the years, he acquired more animals, including some from Cola-Cola heir Asa Candler Jr.’s private collection. Today, the zoo is home to such stars as Willie B. Jr. the silverback gorilla and Lun Lun the giant panda, who gave birth to twins in 2016.
Stone Mountain, GA, USA
More than 1,800 feet high and five miles around, Stone Mountain is a quartz monzonite dome monadnock that rises from an otherwise low-level area. Well-known for its geology, the mountain is also famous—although controversially—for its enormous bas-relief carving of three Confederate leaders. Visitors can hike the many trails or take the tram to the top for impressive views of the surrounding landscape. Alternatively, they can visit the family-friendly Stone Mountain Theme Park, which boasts a water park, scenic railroad, golf course, restaurants, and a famous laser show projected onto the mountain.
1811 Piedmont Road Northeast
In the film “Up in the Air,” George Clooney’s character recommended this Atlanta restaurant and suggested you “bring a bib.” He wasn’t off the mark in describing this classic eatery, located near the Atlanta Botanical Garden. On any given day, you may find the parking lot full of cars of locals ready to pick bones clean of the tender pork. Open since 1990, seating and food are both first come first served. The rib sandwich comes on classic white bread. You can substitute chicken if you don’t eat pork. And don’t miss out on the sides, including Brunswick stew, macaroni and cheese and collard greens. Check the band schedule before you go, as you might be in for a treat.
1060 Delta Blvd B-914, Atlanta, GA 30354, USA
What began as a large collection of Delta Air Lines artifacts in 1995, the Delta Flight Museum reopened in 2014 as a state-of-the-art facility for visitors on the company’s campus near Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The historic Hangar 1, once the largest in the southeast, was formerly used as a maintenance facility. Here you’ll find the company’s original Douglas DC-3, a replica of the Huff Daland Duster and The Spirit of Delta, the airline’s first Boeing 767, which was purchased by employees in 1982. Learn more about each machine with touch screen displays and admire the artifacts from over the years. Inside the Spirit of Delta, you’ll find original seats and flight attendant uniforms from Delta’s tenure as well as the airlines it acquired in its history like Western, Northwest and Pacific Northern. There’s even a flight simulator, which costs extra. The museum is open every day except Wednesday, from 10 am to 4:30 pm during the week and 12 to 4:30 pm on Sunday. Guided tours run at 1 pm on Tuesdays. You’ll be required to show photo ID upon entering the facility. Admission is $12.50 for visitors but military and Delta employees receive a discount. It’s a great stop on your way to or from the airport.
More from AFAR
Sign up for our newsletter
Join more than a million of the world’s best travelers. Subscribe to the Daily Wander newsletter.
AFAR Journeys
Journeys: United States
Journeys: Sports + Adventure
Journeys: Family
Journeys: United States