Things to Do in Atlanta
The Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park commemorates the life, work, and legacy of the Civil Rights Movement leader. The center—which takes up several blocks in Sweet Auburn, the center of black Atlanta—includes King’s birth home and the Ebenezer Baptist Church, where both King’s father and grandfather served as ministers.
Boasting a collection of more than 200 historical artifacts, a 4-D theater experience, and interactive museum exhibits, the World of Coca-Cola® in Atlanta does far more than whet your whistle for a (though it does that, too). Pay homage to the birthplace of the world’s most popular soft drink and learn how a simple beverage became a global sensation and a must-see Atlanta attraction.
The College Football Hall of Fame, also known as the Chick-fil-A College Football Hall of Fame,in Atlanta honors the greatest players throughout the history of college football. Their stories and achievements are commemorated here in a one-of-a-kind experience. Visitors can learn about exceptional players and the records they broke by exploring the exhibitions in the Hall of Fame. Permanent, etched-glass representations of each Hall of Fame player are on display. There are also 10 augmented reality displays where visitors can view images and video of players and coaches from their favorite school.
More than 750 helmets representing each college football team are on display, as well as larger than life images from 11 conference champions that are updated each season. Visitors can also see historical game-worn uniforms. Other exhibitions explore the dedication, passion, and sacrifice that goes into being a college football player. There are also sections that focus on the social traditions of college football, the bands, cheerleaders, mascots, and tailgating traditions.
The 1996 Summer Olympic Games live on at Atlanta's Centennial Olympic Park, a 22-acre (9-hectare) site that remains one of the city’s top public spaces. Come to splash in—or photograph—the park's main icon, the Fountain of Rings, a computer-controlled fountain with lights and jets of water that display the Olympic logo.
The National Center for Civil and Human Rights is a cultural center in downtown Atlanta that seeks to connect the American Civil Rights Movement to today’s Global Human Rights Movements. Their purpose is to create a safe space for visitors to explore the fundamental rights of all human beings. The Center's goal is to inspire and empower visitors to join the ongoing dialogue about human rights in their own communities.
The Center has both permanent and temporary exhibitions on different topics relating to civil and human rights. Exhibitions explore the history of the civil rights movement in the US during the 1950s and 1960s. Others focus on Martin Luther King, Jr.'s life and work in the fight for equal rights. Some exhibitions focus more on present-day issues of human rights and how certain groups are depicted in the media. These exhibits aim to help visitors gain a deeper understanding of human rights and how they affect the lives of every person.
It is hard not to love historic Inman Park. Often called Atlanta’s oldest neighborhood, it was established in 1890 and named after Samuel Inman, a prominent Atlanta businessman in the late 1800s. The picturesque area features several parks with abundant green spaces, wide lawns, stately Victorian-era homes and a plethora of independent boutiques and restaurants. Winding, narrow streets make strolling through the neighborhood an appealing option, and on any given day, residents enjoy tea and lemonade on sweeping front porches flanked by azalea bushes, giving the area a charming, homey feel.
Inman Park is a celebration of historic Atlanta residential architecture from the 19th and early 20th centuries, and in addition to Victorian-style mansions, influences range from Romanesque to Queen Anne. The neighborhood is comprised of two parts–the Inman Park historic district and the Inman Park-Moreland Historic District. The area has undergone extensive restoration and renovation in the last decade, and the priceless real estate, combined with the area’s accessibility to the rest of Atlanta, makes Inman Park one of Atlanta’s most coveted neighborhoods.
An ambitious “rails-to-trails” project, the Atlanta Beltline transforms the city’s trash-collecting tracks into more than 22 miles of footpaths for bikers, runners and pedestrians. The Beltline, a work in progress, merges the city's parks and green spaces, connects neighborhoods to each other and makes public transit more accessible. The Beltline shows off the very best parts of Atlanta.
The popular Eastside Trail and the Historic Fourth Ward Park are two projects, among many others, that have been completed. A planned streetcar is in the works, an addition that will connect the furthest reaches of the Beltline to more popular, central attractions in Atlanta. Some of the other highlights include 33 miles of multi-use trails, 1,300 acres of parks, more public art and historic preservation efforts.
Founded based on a need for space for former circus animals, Zoo Atlanta has been a mainstay attraction in Atlanta since 1889. Today, it houses more than 1,500 animals and has the largest number of gorillas and orangutans of any zoo in the United States. Additionally, Zoo Atlanta is one of only four in the U.S. that houses giant pandas.
The 40-acre zoo features seven exhibits, including the popular Ford African Rain Forest and the giant pandas exhibit with its two inhabitants, a male and a female, both on loan from China. Children love the petting zoo, where they can interact with sheep, goats and pigs.
A quintessential field trip experience for Atlanta students, the Fernbank Museum of Natural History allows children the opportunity to explore the planet and its people with both hands-on and hands-off exhibits. These explore everything from modern, foreign world cultures to prehistoric earth, and the Fernbank NatureQuest exhibit is by far the most popular. This interactive experience allows children to explore various ecosystems around the world, while the A Walk Through Time in Georgia exhibit walks through the state's natural history in the context of the development of the planet.
In addition to exhibits, Fernbank also has an impressive IMAX theater with a five-story-high, 72-foot-wide screen, making it the largest movie screen in Atlanta. While most of the films shown are educational, Fernbank does sometimes host special events and programming in the theater.
Senoia is a small suburb of Atlanta, GA with a population of about 3,300 people and was originally settled in the mid 1800s. This quiet town has gained more attention recently due to its role in the television and film industry. Senoia's significant number of historical buildings in the downtown area give it an interesting atmosphere in which to film. It has been home to several movies over the years includingFried Green Tomatoes, Sweet Home Alabama, andDrop Dead Diva.
More recently the town has become the setting for the AMC television series The Walking Dead. The town doubles for the town of Woodbury, the fictitious setting of the show. Visitors can walk through town and see some of the buildings that have been featured in the series. Tens of thousands of people visit Senoia each year to catch a glimpse of their favorite show, and stores, cafes, and tours have been created cater to them.
More Things to Do in Atlanta
The focal point of the Atlanta skyline is the stately gold dome of the Georgia State Capitol. Lady Freedom, a statue holding a sword and a lantern, stands atop the Capitol building; she has captured the attention of everyone who passes by since 1889. The design of the building draws from the neoclassical style, similar to that of the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C. Inside the building, Victorian and Florentine Renaissance influence is evident in the artistic motifs, while the site has been designated a National Historic Landmark.
The Capitol is the main operating building for Georgia’s state government. It houses the offices of the state governor, lieutenant governor and secretary of state, and is also the site where the General Assembly gathers. The fourth floor holds an educational museum and a visitors' center. The museum’s collections focus on the history of Georgia and include Native American artifacts and indigenous animals, while portraits of Georgia’s governors line the walls of the building. War banners and flags are displayed on every floor, and one of the most important sights in the Georgia State Capitol is the Hall of Fame, full of memorials to the Georgia signers of the Declaration of Independence and other famous Georgia citizens.
Light streams through the stained glass windows of Ebenezer Baptist Church, illuminating the altar where Martin Luther King, Jr. was baptized as a child and served as pastor in adulthood. America’s most famous Civil Rights leader grew up in this church, and his legacy lives on inside its walls today, where the church serves as one of the foremost landmarks of the Civil Rights Movement in Atlanta and in the United States.
The church was founded in 1886 during the Reconstruction Era in the South after the Civil War, and by the mid-20th century, Martin Luther King, Sr. was leading the congregation from the pulpit on Sundays, setting the stage for his son to take over. MLK, Jr. joined his father as a co-pastor from 1960 until the fateful day of his death in 1968. His funeral, too, was held here. The church has since been restored to look as it did in the 1960s during the height of the Civil Rights Movement, and MLK Jr.’s voice greets visitors as they walk through the storied doors, his sermons and speeches playing on a loop on loudspeakers in the Church. Ebenezer Baptist Church still holds sermons today, a testament to the conviction and passion of the congregations that have kept this unique historical landmark alive for well over a century.
Though much of the epic Pulitzer Prize–winning novelGone with the Wind takes place in famously grand houses, author Margaret Mitchell penned the tome from a tiny Atlanta apartment. Today her home is the Margaret Mitchell House, which serves as a tribute to where the author lived and worked while writing the novel from 1925 to 1932.
More than just Atlanta’s oldest cemetery, dating back to 1850, Oakland Cemetery’s large grounds serve as a tranquil sanctuary from the urban bustle. Take a quiet moment to meander past stunning mausoleums, grand oaks, and notable graves including those of Bobby Jones, Margaret Mitchell, and Maynard Jackson.
The eclectic Atlanta neighborhood, Little Five Points, has been described as the Haight-Ashbury of the south and is known for its fringe culture, music, food and residents. Visitors who venture to this popular spot can jam out to the indie radio station, WRFG, that’s a hit among locals, while combing through the stacks at two of the area’s independent bookstores. Lined with skate shops, coffee shops, health food stores, local food joints and off-beat retailers, Little Five Points makes for a fun and versatile way to spend an afternoon.
For a more structured tour of the neighborhood, consider visiting Five Points on a shopping tour or as part of an Atlanta city tour including stops in Midtown, Poncey Highlands and Castleberry Hills.
Melding culture, history, and architecture, the Fox Theatre is Atlanta’s performing arts hub, hosting everything from Broadway-style plays to rock concerts. The opulent theater was built in the 1920s and boasts mosque-like minarets, an Egyptian ballroom, and a ceiling made to resemble the night sky with twinkling stars.
Atlantic Station is a district in Atlanta, GA west of midtown. It is one of the newest areas of the city with plenty of apartments, lofts, and condos for those who want to live there. The neighborhood also has a focus on shopping, and you can find a wide variety of stores set up as an open-air mall. You'll find smaller boutiques, chain stores, and department stores. When you get hungry, there are plenty of restaurants to choose from, including sit-down establishments and cafes where you can get a quick bite.
If you're looking for entertainment, Atlantic Station has you covered. A movie theater shows the latest hit movies, and several bars provide a fun place for a drink. Atlantic Station is the permanent home for BODIES The Exhibition and often hosts Cirque de Soleil. Concerts and festivals are held here throughout the year, and in the winter there is an ice skating rink. A grocery store, fitness center, and several medical facilities round out the neighborhood.
The Atlanta History Center is an interactive educational complex devoted to sharing the history of Atlanta and the Southeast. The center includes four historic buildings, a research center, and a museum with one of the world’s largest collections of American Civil War artifacts. Its large grounds offer walking trails and lovely gardens.
Once a cast iron range factory, the mixed-use, food-focused Krog Street Market is now a colorful and eclectic center showcasing southern and international flavors. Home to dozens of unique food stalls and restaurants, visitors can sample sweets from Xocolatl or the Little Tart Bakeshop and visit local hot spots like Richards' Southern Fried for some authentic down home chicken.
Show up at Krog Street Market with an open mind and empty belly to get the most out of a visit. Though easy to explore solo, travelers who prefer to experience the scene with a guide will find a number of walking tours that feature local food and drink—one of the best ways to learn about neighborhood culture, sights and flavor.
What would it be like to live in the world of LEGO®? At LEGOLAND® Discovery Center, a LEGO-themed entertainment park, children ages 3-10 years old have the chance to find out. The highly interactive and educational experience takes place entirely indoors, where there are play areas for kids to build anything they can dream up with more LEGOs than they can even imagine. The center also features a 4D cinema, special party rooms for birthdays and celebrations, two rides, a LEGO-building class taught by a master model builder and an exhibit that showcases the skyline of Atlanta–made out of LEGOs, of course!
The LEGOLAND Discovery Center also has the Ninjago Laser Maze, where kids can duck, dive and jump under, through and over laser beams. Of the two rides here, Kingdom Quest is by far the most popular and geared toward 5 to 10-year-olds. The play areas are separated–one for the older kids and one for children under 5. Another favorite area is the earthquake table, where kids can build Duplo towers. All of the play areas are made of safe with soft rubber matting so that if kids take a tumble, they will jump right back up and keep on playing.
The Atlanta CNN Center serves as headquarters for the cable TV news giant, CNN. Inside, visitors can see the 24-hour news cycle in action with an insider’s look at newsrooms, control rooms, production studios, and sets, all in addition to the interactive exhibits that chronicle the network’s history.
Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream is realized every day at Atlanta's Historic Fourth Ward Park in the neighborhood in which he was born. Today the area houses the first completed urban park of the Atlanta Beltline Project, which brings modern, renovated park spaces to the city.
This 17-acre space celebrates Atlanta’s natural beauty with wide open green areas and its central two-acre lake, also used as a stormwater retention basin. Multiple lawns dot the park, all suitable for reading, a game of Frisbee and picnics. A modern playground with a splash pad is the crowning jewel of the park for young kids, and a skate park, athletic field and amphitheater round out the park’s entertainment options.
There are 12 Federal Reserve Banks in the United States, and one of them is located in Atlanta. The Federal Reserve plays an important role in the US economy and banking system. They make sure banks are operating safely and fairly as well as establish monetary policies. Of the 12 locations throughout the country, only two have give tours. At the Atlanta location, visitors can tour the Atlanta Monetary Museum and learn about the history of money from barter to modern times. Different exhibits show the turbulent history of banking in America. There are also displays with rare coins and currency.
Interactive, multimedia exhibits explain the Federal Reserve's role in the economy. Visitors will also learn how monetary policy affects daily life, how the Fed supervises and regulates banks, and how the Fed provides payments system services to help the economy run smoothly. Tours also show visitors the cash processing operations where millions of dollars are counted, sorted, or shredded daily.
Adjacent to Piedmont Park, Atlanta Botanical Garden comprises a stunning 30 acres (12 hectares) of indoor and outdoor themed gardens, woodland areas, brooks, fern glades, and walking paths. A highlight is the Dorothy Chapman Fuqua Conservatory, a massive collection of plants from tropical rain forests and deserts from around the globe.
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