The Best Things to Do in Atlanta

From sacred civil rights landmarks to obscure museums, sports venues, historic sites, and bustling food halls, there’s no shortage of things to keep you entertained in Atlanta.

100 Ivan Allen Jr Blvd NW, Atlanta, GA 30313, USA
Housed in the Centennial Olympic Park tourism corridor, the Center for Civil and Human Rights is much more than a museum. While the emphasis is certainly on the civil rights movement, there are also several exhibits about the modern age. Set aside at least two hours to wander the 42,000-square-foot facility, making sure to see the artifacts belonging to Martin Luther King Jr. as well as the multimedia clips on rights abuses of other groups, like the LGBTQ, immigrant, female, and handicapped populations.
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.
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.
101 Jackson St NE, Atlanta, GA 30312, USA
To better understand the civil rights movement and its impact on Atlanta, stop by Ebenezer Baptist Church, where both Martin Luther King Jr. and his father served as pastors. The living, breathing landmark, located in Sweet Auburn, is now a part of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park, which also includes King’s childhood home, a visitor center, and the King Center. Here, you can see where MLK preached his sermons, and even attend a Sunday service.
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.
1320 Monroe Dr NE
If you want to get in touch with nature, spend an afternoon in Piedmont Park, Atlanta’s answer to New York’s Central Park. Spread over 189 acres, the sprawling park boasts a running track, bocce and tennis courts, a swimming pool, a lake, and a dog park. It’s also the site of countless concerts, local events like the Dogwood Festival, and the finish line for the annual Peachtree Road Race. It’s not uncommon to see a movie or television show being filmed here, so grab a picnic from a nearby restaurant and plan to spend a few hours lounging in the shade.
441 John Lewis Freedom Pkwy NE, Atlanta, GA 30307, USA
Located in the Poncey-Highland neighborhood, Jimmy Carter’s presidential library includes more than 60,000 square feet of archives and exhibits on his life. Among the collection highlights are his Nobel Peace Prize, mementos from his childhood in rural Georgia, and the suit he wore at his wedding. The library also hosts frequent book signings and readings, a seasonal farmers’ market, and an office of Carter’s nonprofit, The Carter Center.
1280 Peachtree St NE, Atlanta, GA 30309, USA
One of the South’s top art institutions, the High Museum was established in 1905 with a collection of European works. Over time, it has expanded to include modern art, regional artists, and rotating exhibits on everything from designer sneakers to the Terracotta Warriors to the Louvre’s most notable works. Outside, guests can view Rodin’s famous sculpture The Shade, which serves as a memorial to the 106 art patrons from Atlanta who died in a plane crash in 1962. Also outdoors are several interactive exhibits that encourage visitors to get up-close-and-personal with the art.
767 Clifton Road
A popular destination for field trips, the Fernbank Museum of Natural History encompasses a 65-acre forest as well as a more traditional facility full of dinosaur fossils, Native American artifacts, and more. Visitors can also look forward to an IMAX theater, which showcases documentaries on wildlife and other science-related topics. For adults, the museum hosts a monthly Fernbank After Dark event, featuring cocktails, tapas, live music, and access to all exhibits. If you go, be sure to pose for a picture in front of the dinosaur replicas at the front of the museum.
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.
100 Peachtree Street #2300, Atlanta, GA 30303, USA
A perfect example of urban renewal, the Atlanta BeltLine is a running and biking trail built on an old railway track. Its ever-popular Eastside Trail runs from Reynoldstown to Piedmont Park but is currently being expanded to the south and north and will offer greater access to public parks. Along the existing trail, you’ll find public artworks and a number of shops and restaurants. In the fall, the path hosts the popular Lantern Parade.
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.
755 Battery Avenue Southeast
The Atlanta Braves’ new stadium as of the 2017 season, SunTrust Park has all the latest bells and whistles, from a rooftop lounge and multiple club levels to countless dining options and a children’s area with a zipline. In place of the museum at the team’s former ballpark, Turner Field, there are exhibits on the Braves’ history scattered throughout the stadium. Surrounding SunTrust is The Battery, a complex featuring a music venue, nightlife spots, an Omni Hotel, and even more restaurants, including Antico Pizza, Wahlburgers, and Terrapin Taproom (from the Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q team).
265 Park Ave W NW, Atlanta, GA 30313, USA
The Atlanta of today owes much to the 1996 Summer Olympics. In preparation for the games, the city transformed a seedy neighborhood into a tourist-friendly destination, creating Centennial Olympic Park as the center of all activity—including, unfortunately, the tragic bombing that marred the entire event. Today, the park is still a hub, now for tourist attractions rather than medal presentations. Surrounded by everything from the Georgia Aquarium and World of Coca-Cola to CNN Center, the College Football Hall of Fame, and the Center for Civil and Human Rights, it often hosts concerts, movies, and popular events like the Music Midtown Festival. It’s also home to a playground and the Fountain of Rings, which puts on daily water shows.
675 Ponce De Leon Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30308, USA
Located atop the former Sears building, Ponce City Market’s Skyline Park is a nod to the amusement park that once stood nearby. Take the elevator to the roof for the best views of the city, which you can enjoy while racing down the Skyline Slide, playing a round of mini golf, or hanging in the beer garden. During the winter months, the park even transforms its private event space into a winter wonderland, complete with an ice skating rink, seasonal treats, and festive decor.
Barry Cantrell / Krog Steet Market
Krog Street Market
99 Krog St NE, Atlanta, GA 30307, USA
Housed in a 1920s warehouse in the Old Fourth Ward, Krog Street Market is the spot that started Atlanta’s current food hall craze. Here, dining options include Israeli, Italian, Tex-Mex, Chinese, and Southern fare, while shops sell everything from pet products and local gifts to flowers, craft beer, and even small-batch chocolate. Visitors can also look forward to water stations, free Wi-Fi, and the speakeasy-esque Ticonderoga Club, which serves unique cocktails.
466 Edgewood Ave SE, Atlanta, GA 30312, USA
Sacrilegious to some and hilarious to others, “Church,” as it’s fondly known, is something unique to the Old Fourth Ward. Located on Edgewood Avenue, Church attracts hipsters for the $4 PBR tall boys and endless games of ping pong. There are two stories and an outside patio. You can even put on the choir robes for a photo op. It’s one of those places that you have to see to believe. So come on in, precious!
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