Top 12 Things to Do in Atlanta, Georgia

Last Updated on February 6, 2024 by Emily Johnson

Brimming with attractions from world class museums and vibrant urban parks to booming entertainment districts, Atlanta entices visitors with an endless array of things to see and experience. Iconic sites like the World of Coca-Cola and CNN studios reveal the city’s integral ties shaping modern popular culture. Beyond quintessential destinations, Atlanta’s diverse neighborhoods serve up heaping plates of Southern fare then invite walking off indulgent meals strolling through mural adorned streets.

AttractionDescription
Atlanta BeltLineA transformed railway corridor now a green space with art, shops, and restaurants, connecting neighborhoods.
Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical ParkTours of MLK Jr.’s birth home, church, and memorial.
Fox TheatreA historic venue offering a range of performances in an ornate setting.
Truist ParkHome of the Atlanta Braves, offering a mix of baseball and entertainment.
Centennial Olympic ParkA legacy of the 1996 Olympics, featuring green spaces and water features.
Mary Mac’s Tea RoomIconic spot for Southern cuisine since 1945.
World of Coca-ColaMuseum showcasing the brand’s history and global influence.
Georgia AquariumOne of the largest aquariums in the U.S. with diverse marine life.
Six Flags Over GeorgiaA major theme park with rides and attractions for all ages.
Atlanta Botanical GardenLush gardens featuring a variety of plants and themed areas.
CNN Studio TourBehind-the-scenes look at the 24-hour news network.
Stone Mountain ParkA natural and historic park with activities and scenic views.

The following 12 Atlanta attractions and activities give a well-rounded overview capturing quintessential experiences plus unique local finds defining Hotlanta’s welcoming character and charm.

Explore the Atlanta BeltLine

Name and Location: The Atlanta BeltLine is a 22-mile loop of trails, parks, and historic sites circling Atlanta’s core neighborhoods and downtown, connecting 45 neighborhoods.

History and Significance: Following old rail corridors, the BeltLine project began in 2005 to sustainably reuse the space for walking, biking, and recreation while promoting community revitalization and public transportation access around the central city.

What to Expect: Visitors can walk, jog, or bike on BeltLine trails and visit restaurants in converted buildings and outdoor hubs. Art installations and landscaping dot the route circumnavigating thriving in-town Atlanta neighborhoods.

Visitor Information: BeltLine loops have varying opening hours, generally 6am-11pm daily. BeltLine.org provides maps. Free to use, with parking at some trailheads. Also accessible by future streetcar system.

Once an unused ring of railroad tracks circumventing the city, the Atlanta BeltLine transformed into one of Atlanta’s most popular green spaces filled with art, shops, bars and restaurants. Walk, run or bike miles of scenic trails connecting 45 re-energized in town neighborhoods throughout this innovative sustainable project. Hop on at any access point then traverse without vehicles through tree canopied paths full of public art uninstallations, hip hangouts and fitness loops ideal for exercising body and mind.

Along the way take in spectacular graffiti murals emblazoned across repurposed warehouses now home to buzzy bars perfect for kicking back craft beers. As trails pass boutiques, gardens and outdoor dining patios, pause for refreshing smoothies, coffee breaks and global cuisine without ever leaving the BeltLine’s carfree network.

Tour the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park

Name and Location: The Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park spans several sites related to MLK’s life work around downtown Atlanta, including his birth home, church, and memorial tomb.

History and Significance: Established in 1980 to honor Dr. King’s profound national legacy, the park protects integral landmarks that shaped his remarkable journey fighting for civil rights and equality that changed the course of history.

What to Expect: Visitors take ranger-guided tours through his 1939 childhood home, Ebeneezer Baptist Church where he preached, and historic King Center complex with exhibits honoring Dr. King and the American civil rights movement.

Visitor Information: Free access to outdoor sites. Guided tours available by timed ticket with small fee. Closed major federal holidays. Visitor center and gift shop on Auburn Ave.

Walk in the legendary civil right leader’s footsteps through sites pivotal within Martin Luther King Jr’s remarkable activism legacy and site of his tragic assassination on April 4th, 1968. The park contains numerous attractions to visit including Dr. King’s birth home, the original Ebenezer Baptist Church where he preached on Sundays and the reflective memorial tomb honoring him and Coretta Scott King.

Start at the impressively curated Visitor Center to gain fuller context around Dr. King’s profound impact and also see the moving exhibit preserved from the motel room embodying his final hours. Regular programs facilitate further learning opportunities through guided park tours, choirs singing freedom songs and theatrical performances dramatizing critical moments from the Civil Rights Movement Dr. King fervently led until that fateful day a gunman cruelly cut short his inspiring journey still resonating loudly today.

See a Show at the Fox Theatre

Name and Location: The Fox Theatre is a lavish, historic performance venue hosting concerts, comedy, dance, musicals, and films located at 660 Peachtree Street NE in Midtown Atlanta.

History and Significance: Originally the Yaarab Shrine Temple in the 1920s, the elaborate Fox Theatre became an “Arabian fantasy” cinema palace before facing threats of demolition until non-profit stepped in during the 70s to preserve and run it.

What to Expect: Patrons attending events at this iconic Atlanta entertainment fixture are dazzled by its flamboyant Egyptian-inspired architecture inside, grand pipe organ, and lively crowds buzzing pre-show alongside the fabulous Fox Theatre Grand Salon lobby bar.

Visitor Information: Event offerings vary widely with year-round box office hours for tickets in person or online. Self-guided tours available select Mondays through Fridays.

This lavishly ornate performing arts theater dazzles the eyes before world class entertainers even step on stage thanks to its dazzling Islamic and Egyptian architectural interior motif. When the exotic times of the roaring 20’s conjured fantasies of faraway places, the Fox Theatre delivered just that through ambitiously decorative design capturing distant vibes then channeling them into Atlanta’s bustling downtown hub starting in 1929.

Today’s visitors continue marveling upon entering the regal lobby then find their jaws dropping even more sliding into plush red velvet seats underneath a starry night sky ceiling as talented musicians, comedians and Broadway caliber performers claim the spotlight up on an immense stage framed by epic trompe l’oeil mural work. This historic theater truly stands unrivaled hosting events in a setting so spellbindingly transportive.

Cheer on the Braves at Truist Park

Name and Location: Truist Park is the state-of-the-art $1.1 billion home stadium of MLB’s Atlanta Braves located just northwest of the city in Cumberland at 755 Battery Avenue.

History and Significance: Opening on April 14, 2017, Truist Park replaced Turner Field stadium with a world-class mixed-use ballpark envisioned to anchor a new suburban entertainment district called “The Battery Atlanta” packed with shops, bars, restaurants, attractions and convenient access to transit.

What to Expect: Fans flock here from April to October to take in fast-paced Braves games amid lively atmospheres, enjoying open concession spaces blending indoor and outdoor zones plus immersive technology enhancements modernizing America’s favorite pastime traditions.

Visitor Information: Games and events happen year-round. Ticket costs vary. Parking passes must be purchased. MARTA buses and game day shuttles from metro stations available. Prohibited bags policy enforced.

Even non-baseball fans manage big fun catching Atlanta Braves home games at Truist Park where high tech amenities meet old school spirit through enthusiast crowds 41,000 strong rooting for the hometown team. Kids go crazy traversing the playground’s slippery slides and oversized chopping fists in centerfield. Adults relish short rib tacos and craft beers from a staggering selection of restaurants and bars filling space beyond the bright blue stadium seats.

Arrive early to watch Atlanta sluggers crushing balls out of the high tech batting cage then stick around post final pitch to walk kids over towards a mini music venue beyond left field walls often hosting lively postgame country concerts under the stars. Thanks to its range of family friendly entertainment, Truist Park hits a total homerun destination even on nights the Braves don’t.

Explore Centennial Olympic Park

Name and Location: Centennial Olympic Park is a 21-acre public green space located in downtown Atlanta near major attractions like the Georgia Aquarium, World of Coca-Cola Museum, National Center for Civil and Human Rights, and others.

History and Significance: Constructed for 1996 Atlanta Olympics celebrations, this central park revived an abandoned area between the financial district and major venues. Its lasting legacy facilitates community events and visitor experiences.

What to Expect: Visitors stroll pedestrian walkways through lush lawns dotted with light towers and interactive fountain splashing children. Programmed music and light shows activate the space from spring through fall especially.

Visitor Information: Centennial Olympic Park stays open daily from 7am to 11pm year-round as a public space with no admission fees at 265 Park Avenue West NW.

Built to serve crowds attending 1996 Olympics events in Atlanta, Centennial Olympic Park transformed into downtown’s communal hub for relaxing or gathering around major attractions. Babbling fountains shoot playfully skywards tempting kids eager to frolic inside while shaded benches give adults prime views of college students lounging across sprawling green lawns almost always filled with picnic blankets or frisbee tossing friends.

Throughout the 21 acre park over 65 interactive water features splash visitors strolling from the Civil Rights Museum over towards the buzzy CNN Center and immense Georgia Aquarium. Don’t miss seeing the iconic rings and torch sculpture at the top of every hour when it ejects red hot flames dramatically announcing this vibrant public park’s enduring Olympic energy still powerfully pulsing strong decades later.

Taste Southern Food at Mary Mac’s Tea Room

Name and Location: Mary Mac’s Tea Room has served comforting Southern cuisine in Atlanta for over 70 years, currently located at 224 Ponce de Leon Ave NE near Ponce City Market.

History and Significance: Opened in 1945, Mary Mac’s embodies traditional Atlanta dining continuing third generation family ownership. Outliving many icons, its hearty plates like fried chicken, sweet potatoes and mac and cheese retain old-fashioned appeal.

What to Expect: Expect no-fuss counters and tables packing hungry patrons savoring steaming hot Southern plates family-style. Iced sweet tea flows freely to wash down the stick-to-your-ribs flavors. Cash only, with carry-out available!

Visitor Information: Open Tuesday-Sunday for lunch and dinner, plus brunch Sunday. Arrive early for dinner rush. Reservations not accepted. Street parking found nearby.

Since first opening in 1945 Mary Mac’s Tea Room in Midtown became the iconic destination for experiencing authentic Southern homestyle meals dished up with heaping sides of hospitality. Step back in times once entering this old fashioned eatery conjuring grandma’s kitchen filled with the heavenly aromas of fried chicken sizzling, fresh baked breads and bubbling mac’ n’ cheese prepared from treasured generations old recipes.

Ladies in black and white uniforms swiftly deliver platters piled sky high with comfort classics like collards dripping in pot likker, melt in the mouth baked spiced apples and giant pineapple coconut cream cakes sure making souls equally satisfied as the full bellies waddling towards exits already plotting returns. Don’t miss their famous tomato pie pink with mayonnaise baking under a crust of cheddar and cream cheese that so deliciously defines downhome Dixie decadence.

World of Coca-Cola

Name and Location: The World of Coca-Cola museum experience is located in downtown Atlanta right near Centennial Olympic Park at 121 Baker Street NW.

History and Significance: Open since 2007, this permanent exhibition shares over 130 years of history surrounding the celebrated, nostalgia-inducing global brand born in Atlanta in 1886 that billions have come love through the decades.

What to Expect: Interactive exhibits like the Happiness Factory 4D Theater, Coca-Cola Polar Bear meet-and-greet photo op, Pop Culture galleries, soda tasting flights from around the world and retail store attract all ages to enjoy.

Visitor Information: Open 7 days a week with extended summer hours. General admission provides access to all attractions. Timed entry tickets recommended to avoid lines.

As the headquarters of the world’s most popular soda pop, no trip to Atlanta skips touring the effervescent World of Coca-Cola interactive museum. Inside this bright bubbly tribute, visitors view nearly 200 years of clever advertising ensuring Coke’s logo and smiling Santa remain recognizable worldwide then learn the top secret recipe story locked securely away in an imposing towering vault.

After checking out one of Earth’s largest Coke memorabilia collections, step into the global tasting room and sample soft drinks from every continent bottling the sweet brown syrupy elixir. Don’t forget posing with the iconic curve scripted sign outside before heading towards the gift shop where hundreds of branded merch options make choosing your favorite nearly as tough as picking a top soda pop.

Georgia Aquarium

Name and Location: The Georgia Aquarium is a world-class indoor aquarium located immediately north of Centennial Olympic Park at 225 Baker St NW in downtown Atlanta.

History and Significance: Opening in 2005 thanks to a generous $250 million donation, this instantly iconic facility ranks among North America’s most compelling family destinations with ten million gallons of awe-inspiring marine exhibits representing diverse global aquatic habitats.

What to Expect: Georgia Aquarium wows visitors with exhibits featuring whale sharks, manta rays, beluga whales, bottlenose dolphins, sea lions, penguins, clownfish, and much more marine life through immersive galleries recreating ocean environments from frigid Antarctic waters to tropical seas.

Visitor Information: General admission tickets grant access to most exhibits. Open daily except for major holidays, with varying hours by season. Parking available in adjacent decks. Ticket discounts and combo deals available on site and online.

With over ten million gallons filled by around 100,000 awe-inspiring marine animals, the Georgia Aquarium dominates as the country’s second largest and undebatable most impressive tanks anywhere. Observant visitors find favorite exhibits then discover even more aquatic wonders spanning across stellar galleries like tropical reefs dramatically encircled by clear wraparound tunnels, an ethereal beluga whale habitat casting otherworldly blue glows and touch pools allowing interaction caressing slippery manta rays gliding gracefully past outstretched palms.

Dive deeper into oceans without getting wet walking moving walkways through acrylic viewing galleries revealing sharks, vibrant schools of rainbow runners and giant green sea turtles swimming peacefully through their meticulously created habitats. With such phenomenal access face to face with captivating creatures, this world class aquarium casts quite the spell landing it among Atlanta’s most popular indoor attractions.

Revel at Six Flags Over Georgia

Name and Location: Six Flags Over Georgia amusement park provides world-class coasters and family fun spanning over 290 acres just west of Atlanta outside the city limits in unincorporated Cobb County.

History and Significance: Opening in 1967 as the second Six Flags branded amusement park behind the original in Texas, Six Flags Over Georgia holds historical significance ushering in the regional theme park concept by licensing popular Warner Bros. and DC comic characters and intellectual properties.

What to Expect: Among over a dozen extreme roller coasters like Goliath and Mind Bender, patrons find tamer rides, games, character meet-and-greets, entertainment, the Hurricane Harbor water park, and great places to eat all in one excitement-filled local destination.

Visitor Information: Open seasonally; peak visiting times are June through August. Single day tickets start around $70. Parking costs extra. Arrive early or buy speed passes to maximize fun.

The South’s largest theme park provides big thrills through over 100 rides and attractions spread across 100 acres filled with rollercoasters, games, entertainment and makes Six Flags Over Georgia a premiere destination for high octane family fun. Adrenaline seekers flock towards record breaking Goliath dropping daredevil riders 180 feet before blazing smoothly along 4,625 feet of shiny steel track reaching speeds over 70 miles per hour.

Between flume soaking log rides and zero gravity Scream Machine spins find tamer activities like laser tag, arcade games or oldtimey photo shoots dressed as cowboys and saloon girls. When ready to refuel decide between funnel cakes dripping powdered sugar, righteous BBQ spreads or food trucks serving up carnival snacks like corn dogs or blooming onions with various dips. After satisfying appetites hop aboard the steam powered train circling the park’s perimeter revealing different angles taking in this massively fun park from scenic new perspectives.

Atlanta Botanical Garden

Name and Location: The Atlanta Botanical Garden features stunning permanent and seasonal displays across 30 acres near Piedmont Park at 1345 Piedmont Avenue NE in Midtown.

History and Significance: Established in 1976, the gardens offer ever-evolving horticulture exhibitions, education programs, and event spaces that elevate Atlanta’s culture through the spellbinding intersection of art and nature.

What to Expect: Visitors explore impressive themed landscapes like the Dorothy Chapman Fuqua Conservatory’s tropical indoor environments and the Alice H. Richards Children’s Garden, as well as evolving outdoor gardens, seasonal orchid presentations, and Chihuly glass sculpture installations.

Visitor Information: Timed tickets purchased online in advance are recommended. Open Tuesday-Sunday; closed Mondays. Hours shift seasonally. Admission fees apply with some discounted days. Onsite parking available.

The gorgeous Atlanta Botanical Gardens on Piedmont Park unfolds gloriously across 30 acres blooming in meticulously curated themed Gardens showcasing tropical plants from cloud forests along with native floral found right inside Georgia. Meander down fragrant pathways through the Children’s Garden filled with educational hands on exhibits then rest inside the tranquil Japanese Garden unsigned before the soothing sound of its cascading waterfall.

Don’t miss booking timed tickets for summertime’s star attraction – the Night Garden transforming after dark thanks to a spectacle of creative light displays reflecting brilliant colors into sky reaching bamboo groves and the central pond shimmering romantically under hanging moon and stars. Year round visitors soak up beauty and serenity strolling through these exquisite Gardens whose alluring landscapes easily refresh body, mind and soul all in single tour.

CNN Studio Tour

Name and Location: The CNN Studio Tour takes place inside the CNN Center complex at 190 Marietta St NW in downtown Atlanta, offering a behind-the-scenes look at global news network headquarters.

History and Significance: CNN first began broadcasting from Atlanta in 1980 and started offering these 55-minute walking tours in 1996 to give visitors exclusive glimpses of production, newsrooms, control centers and sets they’ve seen televised worldwide.

What to Expect: Knowledgeable guides lead intimate groups through working CNN studios showing how programs leverage cutting-edge technology to deliver 24-hour coverage while detailing CNN’s emergence as a cable news leader.

Visitor Information: The CNN Studio Tour runs daily 10am-5pm, reservations required. Tickets sold online in advance. Check website for tour discounts but normal rates $15 ages 13+ and $13 kids under 12.

Go behind the scenes into the world’s first 24-hour news network at the CNN Center to glimpse how television gets produced across multiple studios and control rooms allowing their signal to reach over one billion viewers worldwide. Guides detail innovations advancing broadcast journalism and share insider scoops how chaotic breaking news coverage comes together thanks to dedicated correspondents, producers and technical staffers working tirelessly around high tech equipment buzzing nonstopbehind the scenes.

Stroll through interactive sets like a bluescreen weather center then watch Emmy winning Anthony Bourdain’s field segments before having Keepsake photos snapped holding clunky vintage video cameras documenting monumental events covered live as audiences watched stunned decades ago at home. It’s eye opening experiencing such an esteemed global news leader’s processes up close realizing real people make it all possible working diligently every hour to spread truth.

Stone Mountain Park

Name and Location: Stone Mountain Park is a 3,200-acre recreational area dominated by the iconic quartz monolith geological formation, located just east of Atlanta city limits spanning DeKalb and Gwinnett Counties.

History and Significance: Originally privately owned in the 1800s, Stone Mountain and surrounding areas became state property in 1958 ahead of major infrastructure investments turning it into one of Georgia’s most prominent attractions mixing natural beauty with family experiences.

What to Expect: In addition to the impressive mountain itself, visitors enjoy scenic trails, a historic riverboat cruise, skyride to summit, museum exhibits, shows, attractions like mini golf and rope courses, plus seasonal events, lodging and dining establishments.

Visitor Information: Open year-round apart from some holiday closures with seasonal hours. Single day parking is $15 weekdays, $25 weekends. Many add-on ticket and discount options available on site and online.

This 3,000 acre Park centered around the humongous mountain monolith made entirely from exposed granite bedrock bases makes a supremely scenic escape into natural splendor only 15 miles outside Atlanta. The 15 mile trail circling Stone Mountain guides hikers and cyclists through lush forest passing lakes, meadows, and preserved plantation buildings dotting the landscape beneath its towering backdrop jutting 825 feet into blue skies.

At the summit the Confederate Memorial Carving controversially covers three acres making it the largest bas relief sculpture worldwide though most come to simply admire panoramic views stretching for miles in every direction. Family attractions ranging from ropes courses to a steam engine train ride through the park, laser shows spectacularly projected on mountainside plus seasonal events like sky lift decorated vibrantly for winter holidays keep visitors jubilantly entertained dawn to dusk year-round.

Conclusion

Dynamic diversity threads together Atlanta’s premier attractions defining this Southern capital as an exhilarating emerging cosmopolitan hub with an eye keenly fixed forward towards progress while feet remain proudly rooted in storied history. Icons like Coca-Cola and MLK ensured Atlanta’s profound place in late 20th century transformation now multi-faceted destinations like BeltLine and Truist Stadium carry that welcoming creative spirit energizing 21st century change.

Visitors hungry for inspiration need only explore Atlanta’s art and culture to realize limitless inventive potential still coming to fruition. What sweetens the city most though comes from friendly folk filling streets with the same hospitable charm and grace championed by local legends whose courageous examples paved the way transforming mindsets and opening doors towards promising brighter days worth celebrating today while steadily continuing that compassionate march onwards.

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