WELCOME TO Atlanta
Atlanta is the vanguard of the New South, with the charm and elegance of the Old. It is a city that balances southern traditions with sleek modernism. According to the 2010 Census, Atlanta had 420,000 residents within the city limits and 5.3 million in the metro area. In Atlanta, there is southern hospitality and the tea is sweet, yet this city boasts three skylines and the world’s busiest airport. Atlanta has been burnt to the ground and built back up; it has seen the horrors of war and felt the pain of droughts and floods. Atlanta was host to the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games, gave birth to the greatest figure of the civil rights movement (Martin Luther King Jr.), is the capital of the state of Georgia, and according to many, of the American South.Districts
The separated skyscrapers of Downtown, Midtown, and Buckhead make Atlanta’s three skylines, and the size of any one of these districts could rival the center of any other city in the South. Atlanta is not all high rises though; each of the city’s urban neighborhoods offer unique atmospheres that are well adapted to living in the shadow of the city.
The most central and commercial area in Georgia (economically and politically), downtown Atlanta includes the state capitol, city hall, the CNN Center, Georgia Aquarium and the World of Coca-Cola.
Just north of Downtown, this is a major business and residential district with tall skyscrapers and a popular nightlife area. This district also includes Piedmont Park, the Woodruff Arts Center, Atlantic Station, and the Georgia Tech campus.
Several miles north of Midtown, Buckhead is a popular business and nightlife district and is home to the Atlanta History Center.
East Atlanta includes many popular neighborhoods with beautiful homes, highly-rated restaurants and thriving shopping districts. Neighborhoods include alternative-style Little Five Points, trendy Virginia-Highland (along with adjoining Poncey-Highland), and the growing community of East Atlanta Village.
Home of the busiest airport in the world, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. South Atlanta also contains the neighborhoods of Mechanicsville, Peoplestown, and Lakewood.
This district includes Vine City, Bankhead, Historic West End, Collier Heights, and the Upper Westside neighborhoods.
The City of Decatur is only a few miles from downtown Atlanta, but has held on to its residential small-town charm. One of the most pedestrian-friendly areas in Atlanta, Decatur is home to many excellent restaurants, bars, and boutique shops.
Atlanta's top attractions form an eclectic mix that is sure to have something that appeals to everyone, and enough variety to keep the adventurous traveler busy. The highest concentration of exhibits can be found in the Centennial Park Area, where Atlanta's three biggest attractions are within two blocks of one another: World of Coca-Cola tells the history of the world’s most iconic brand, with plenty of samples to ensure understanding; across the street is the Georgia Aquarium, the world’s largest by volume of water, where you can swim with the biggest fish of them all, the whale shark; and the CNN Center and Studio Tour, which offers a behind the scenes look at what it takes to run one of the nation’s leading news sources.
Those more inclined to history can visit the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site in Sweet Auburn, which includes this inspiring leader’s birthplace home, his final resting place, the church where he once gave sermons, and a museum and memorial dedicated to his colossal achievements. The largest collection of Civil War memorabilia in the nation, including the Cyclorama (which tells the story of the Battle of Atlanta through a massive, continuous, circular painting), can be found at the Atlanta History Center in Buckhead, alongside a large exhibit memorializing the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games.
Exhibits of both ancient and modern history can be found near Little Five Points at the Fernbank Museum of Natural History, featuring a humbling display of the largest dinosaur ever unearthed, and the Jimmy Carter Library & Museum, which is the permanent home of the former president’s Nobel Peace Prize. The Michael C. Carlos Museum, on the campus of Emory University is an excellent attraction for those interested in the Greek and Egyptian cultures. The museum houses the largest collection of Greek, Egyptian and Near East artifacts in the southeast. Those with more refined tastes can enjoy the High Museum of Art in Midtown, which displays fine art from the last two centuries, as well as modern and contemporary pieces. In Midtown, the Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA) features rotating design exhibits and the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center offers rotating contemporary art exhibitions. The Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia (MOCA GA) between Midtown and Buckhead features a permanent collection as well as temporary exhibitions of contemporary art, focusing on Georgia artists. Georgia State University's Rialto Center for the Arts in Downtown has a free exhibition of visual art as well. And finally, Gone with the Wind aficionados can’t miss the Margaret Mitchell House & Museum, which preserves the Tudor Revival mansion in Midtown where the Pulitzer Prize–winning novel was written.
Travelers planning to visit multiple attractions may benefit from Atlanta CityPASS, which grants admission to 5 Atlanta attractions within 9 days of first use for a much reduced rate and includes expedited entry in some cases. The included attractions are: Georgia Aquarium; World of Coca-Cola; Inside CNN Studio Tour; either High Museum of Art or Fernbank Museum of Natural History; and either Zoo Atlanta or Atlanta History Center.
Founded in 1929, the Atlanta Ballet is the oldest professional dance company in America, the largest self-supported arts organization in Georgia and the official Ballet of Georgia. The company's performances combine contemporary and traditional styles with classic ballets and new choreography. Its annual season is presented at the historic Fox Theatre (Midtown), including the holiday season favorite The Nutcracker. The "Fabulous Fox" is worth a visit just to see its grandiose interior, and hosts many plays and concerts throughout the year.
Opera fans can enjoy the Atlanta Opera (northwest Atlanta). Atlanta's love affair with opera has spanned over 125 years of the city's history. Founded in 1979, the Atlanta Opera has won numerous awards nationally and locally.
The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra is recognized for its creativity and innovation internationally. It is also known as a wonderful training ground for musicians who go on to stellar careers with other orchestras. Regular orchestral performances can also be caught at the new Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre (Alpharetta in metro Atlanta).
Atlanta has one of the most impressive theater communities in the United States with more than 65 active performance groups. Metro theaters present a variety of new and old works. The New American Shakespeare Tavern (Midtown) is one highlight; this leading playhouse is the first troupe in America to complete the production of all 38 of Shakespeare's plays. Other highlights include Broadway musicals through Broadway in Atlanta and Theater of the Stars, improvisation, southern themes, political and human issues, contemporary, classic and, of course, Shakespeare. Check out Alliance Theatre (Midtown), Center for the Puppetry Arts (Midtown), Dad's Garage improv (Little Five Points), Georgia Shakespeare Theatre (Brookhaven in north metro Atlanta), or Seven Stages more alternative line-up of shows and musicals (Little Five Points).
Explore the cityscape and enjoy the many pieces of architecture built all around Atlanta, from the skyscrapers of Midtown, to the Downtown skyline, to the houses on Highland Avenue, to the mansions of Buckhead. Inman Park, Atlanta's showcases the city's old Victorian architecture. Other notable architectural attractions include the High Museum of Art and The Jimmy Carter Presidential Library.
Atlanta has a rich assortment of skyscrapers, notable for their modern aesthetic and the abundance of spires. The Bank of America building in midtown rises to a height of 1,023 ft (312 m) making it the tallest office building in the country outside of New York or Chicago. A building boom has left Atlanta glittering with dazzling glass skyscrapers, many of which contain some of the most expensive condominiums in the country. That said, the city owes a sizeable portion of its modern cityscape to home-grown architect John Portman. The construction of the icon Westin Peachtree Plaza Hotel helped steer Atlanta in a more urban direction. Portman, famous for the development of the hotel atrium also designed numerous other buildings in Atlanta, including the Hyatt Regency, the Marriott Marquis, and AmericasMart.
Atlanta also has a few view points where you can enjoy a 360 degree view of the city in Downtown. One of them is the Sundial atop the Westin Peachtree. Another is the Polaris atop the Hyatt Regency Atlanta (its view is becoming obscured by the growing walls of glass around it), and there is also Nikolai's Roof on top of the Hilton.
1 Atlanta Braves baseball. The Atlanta Braves' regular season takes place April through September at SunTrust Park, a new stadium to the north of Atlanta just across the Cobb County line off the intersection of I-75 and I-285. In South Atlanta is the site of the former Fulton County Stadium, with a preserved section of wall where Hank Aaron hit his historic 715th home run. The Fulton County Stadium site and the adjacent Turner Field (where the Braves played from 1997 to 2016) have since been purchased by Georgia State University (see below for more details on the school's plans for the site). Also of note is that the Braves have their top minor-league team in the metropolitan area—the Gwinnett Stripers play at Coolray Field in Lawrenceville. edit
2 Atlanta Falcons football (Mercedes-Benz Stadium). The 1998 and 2016 NFC Champions gear up each September to kick off the official season in Downtown. The Falcons moved into Mercedes-Benz Stadium, (temporarily) the league's newest venue, in 2017. Mercedes-Benz Stadium hosts most of the events that its predecessor, the Georgia Dome, had hosted, most notably the Southeastern Conference football championship game and the Peach Bowl (one of the six bowl games associated with the College Football Playoff). It is also expected to host other events such as Super Bowl LIII in 2019 and the NCAA Men's Final Four in basketball in 2020. edit
Atlanta Hawks men's basketball and Atlanta Dream women's basketball (at Philips Arena). Covering 4.4 acres (1.8 hectares), Philips Arena is Atlanta's state-of-the-art multi purpose sports and entertainment complex in Downtown. The arena is home to the NBA's Hawks and the WNBA's Dream. Due to renovations, the Dream are playing the 2018 season at Georgia Tech's McCamish Pavilion, where they also played in 2017.
Atlanta United FC. Started play in Major League Soccer in 2017. Sharing ownership with the Falcons, United moved into Mercedes-Benz Stadium at its opening in late August 2017. United launched a reserve side, Atlanta United 2, in the second-tier United Soccer League in 2018; that team plays in the Gwinnett Stripers' ballpark in Lawrenceville. edit
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. The city's most famous university features a popular and highly competitive sports program that competes in the Atlantic Coast Conference. All of the major venues, the best-known of which are Bobby Dodd Stadium for football, McCamish Pavilion for basketball, and Russ Chandler Stadium for baseball, are on the Tech campus in Midtown. edit
Befitting a city closely associated with one of golf's most legendary figures, Bobby Jones, Atlanta hosts one of the most important events on the PGA Tour. Although not a major championship, The Tour Championship, held in September at Jones' home course of East Lake Golf Club at the city's eastern edge, is the final event of the PGA Tour season. The Tour Championship field is limited to 30 players, the survivors of a season-long qualifying process that culminates in the FedEx Cup Playoffs. The winner of The Tour Championship earns nearly $1.5 million, one of the largest prizes in the sport, and often (but not always) wins the FedEx Cup points race that brings a $10 million bonus.
In addition to Georgia Tech, the city has a second NCAA Division I athletic program, and a third is in the metropolitan area. Both have considerably lower profiles than Georgia Tech.
The Georgia State Panthers compete in the Sun Belt Conference. The basketball teams play at the school's downtown campus, but most other athletic facilities are in DeKalb County. The football team moved into the Braves' former home of Turner Field, now renamed Georgia State Stadium, for the 2017 season and beyond, converting that venue into a football-specific stadium. The school plans to build a new baseball park within the footprint of the former Fulton County Stadium while retaining the preserved wall section from the original stadium.
The Kennesaw State Owls, members of the ASUN (Atlantic Sun) Conference, are in the Cobb County city of Kennesaw. KSU football plays in the Big South Conference at Fifth Third Bank Stadium near its campus.
Legoland Discovery Center Atlanta (in Buckhead's Phipps Plaza on the 3rd Floor near Belk). The city's newest family-friendly attraction is the Legoland discovery center. edit
Old South and New South — This tour takes you through the old historical sides of Atlanta and the new rapidly growing areas with postmodern architecture and technology, as well as unique culture.
Unique bars, restaurants and shops abound in the Little Five Points neighborhood
With fun and unique attractions, renowned restaurants and top-of-the-line hotel experiences, Atlanta keeps the party going from day to night. With chic style in Buckhead, alternative scene in Little Five Points, a casual atmosphere in Virginia-Highland and a trendy vibe in Midtown, Atlanta nightlife suits every style of letting loose. Since each district has so many options, you will want to visit each district article for a more detailed listing.
Buckhead is still the most popular nightlife district for locals and out-of-towners alike. Aiko Lounge is among the most popular dance clubs in Buckhead among 20s and 30s singles, while an older crowd can be seen at the Beluga Martini Bar. The Buckhead clientele is mostly of an upscale crowd, so be sure to dress to impress.
Midtown is the spot if you're looking for the urban vibe with diverse a crowd of 20s and 30s, many of them are college students, locals, transplants from out of state and foreign countries. This is also a gay and lesbian friendly area.
Downtown has a few options for nightlife as well. Many of the Downtown watering holes can be found in Kenny's Alley in Underground. The Fairlie-Poplar district has a few neighborhood bars as well. Stats is an ideal sports bar to watch a game near Centennial Olympic Park.
Other popular clubs throughout the city include The Masquerade and MJQ Concourse. All areas of the city also have plenty of pubs and taverns, such as Fado Irish Pub in Buckhead, Shakespeare Tavern in Midtown, and Highland Tap in Virginia-Highland.
If you like country line-dancing, you can head out of the city and into the suburbs and check out Wild Bills in Duluth.
Parks and recreation
Visit Centennial Olympic Park in Downtown and relax by the man-made river, splash in the Fountain of Rings on a hot summer day or go ice skating at the ice rink in the wintertime, attend a concert, and pay respects to the victims of the 1996 Olympics bombing.
Walk through Piedmont Park in Midtown, the largest park in Atlanta. Attend the Dogwood Festival in the spring time or one of the many musical events.
Grant Park is the oldest city park in Atlanta and is home to Zoo Atlanta. Historic Oakland Cemetery, also here, serves as the final resting place for more than 3,900 Confederate soldiers, famous Atlanta author Margaret Mitchell, golfing legend Bobby Jones, six Georgia governors and 25 Atlanta mayors.
BeltLine. Is a new multi-use trail. Its plan calls for a 22 mi (35 km) loop around Atlanta, of which only some portions are complete. Many sections of the former railway corridor have already been renovated with paved walking paths, while some others are still au naturel but hikeable. The BeltLine has been a big hit with locals; on weekends with good weather you will see dozens of people every minute crossing the street at popular intersections such as near Piedmont Park. edit
In January and February, look for the city-wide celebration of visual arts with ATLart and enjoy an early spring at the Southeastern Flower Show held at the Cobb Galleria Centre.
In March, Atlanta celebrates Irish Heritage with Downtown Atlanta's St. Patrick's Day Parade and Festival, followed, in April, by the Atlanta Dogwood Festival staged at Piedmont Park with children's activities, an artist market, and more.
Georgia Renaissance Festival. Allows people to experience merry olde England during the days of King Arthur. edit
Each May celebrates jazz in Atlanta, the Atlanta Jazz Festival is presented at the Woodruff Arts Center and other venues.
In June, visitors can experience the Atlanta Film Festival.
Georgia Shakespeare Festival. Presents plays from June through October at the Conant Performing Arts Center at Oglethorpe University. edit
The days around Independence Day (July 4) are filled with quite a few celebrations, but the most notable is the Peachtree Road Race, with 55,000 runners and many more spectators.
National Black Arts Festival. Is held during the third week in July and is the world's largest cultural celebration of African-American art. edit
1 Dragon Con. F-M of Labor Day weekend (first M in Sept). A massive science-fiction and fantasy convention, although it's grown to be so multi-media and multi-genre that almost anyone can find a topic of interest here. Celebrity actors and writers come from around the world for Q&A panels. The convention is spread across 5 hotels and a trade center downtown. (Hotel rooms sell out almost a year in advance, as soon as they're made available, but you don't need to stay at a convention hotel to attend.) 1-day membership $35-50 (popular days are more expensive), 2-day Su-M $70, 3-day Sa-M $110, all-weekend $130 (advance purchase $120 through July 15). Dragon Con on Wikipedia Dragon Con (Q5305076) on Wikidata (updated Sep 2016 | edit)
Even if you don't go to Dragon Con, you should watch the free Dragon Con Parade (Peachtree St
; see website for exact route. Accessible from North Ave or Civic Center Stations, or the very crowded Peachtree Center Station). Sa before Labor Day (first M in Sept), 10AM-noon. A sight to see for any geek, whether you're on the lookout for pirates, hobbits, or Storm Troopers. Over 3,000 fans parade in costumes, as well as show off elaborately recreated vehicles like the Ghostbusters' ECTO-1, the DeLorean time machine from Back to the Future, and the Batmobile, plus unique creations like huge animated dragons and starships. Great for children, although younglings might be scared by realistic-looking Klingons or zombies. Expect large crowds, which begin gathering before 8am. Free. (updated Sep 2016 | edit)
Atlanta Pride Festival. Is an October three-day celebration held in Piedmont Park. edit
Atlanta Celebrates Photography. Promotes photography exhibitions and events citywide every October. edit
Austell is half an hour to the west and is home to Six Flags Over Georgia. Goliath, the tallest roller coaster in the Southeast, can be found here.
Helen — A mountain town created to resemble an Alpine village. Popular in the fall for viewing autumn leaves, and the largest and longest Oktoberfest in the Southeast. Also nearby is Unicoi State Park and Anna Ruby Falls, as well as Sautee-Nacoochee Valley.
Dahlonega — Once the location of Georgia's own gold rush. Visit the Dahlonega Gold Museum and try your luck finding some of your own gold. Also in Dahlonega is Wolf Mountain Vineyards, which offers a perfect get-away to taste award winning wines and enjoy a beautiful scenery. The vineyards and winery provide the perfect setting for Sunday brunch, café lunch, and gourmet dinners.
Flowery Branch — Though the city boasts roughly 10,000 residents, it is an affluent suburb of Atlanta. Nestled on the shores of Lake Sidney Lanier, it has a small-town charm with big-city amenities. The Atlanta Falcons Training Facility is off Falcon Pkwy (US-13) and Hog Mountain Rd, and has ushered in significant growth in both population and commercial-demand since its opening in 2005. Stonebridge Shopping Center has a plethora of stores: Target, TJMaxx, Ross Dress For Less, Kohl's, PetSmart, Home Depot, as well as Chick-fil-A and Chili's. Chateau Elan is only a 10-minute drive from Flowery Branch, as well as the Mall of Georgia, the largest shopping center in Georgia at 1.7 million square-ft of retail space.
Savannah — A 4 hour drive, but well worth it. The downtown is a historical district with many parks, squares, and historic architecture.
Hampton — Home to the Atlanta Motor Speedway, an 870-acre racing complex hosting NASCAR Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Craftsman Truck Series events in March and October. In addition to the race weekend, the facility hosts events ranging from driving schools, Thursday Thunder Legends racing, Friday Night Drags, Car Shows and many others.
Chatahoochee River Fun — Sixteen recreation areas along a 48-mile stretch of the Chattahoochee River have been designed to conserve the river and provide outdoor entertainment for the whole family. In addition, the Chattahoochee Nature Center in Roswell offers education environmental programs, canoe trips and other recreational activities.
Lake Lanier Islands — The closet beach to Atlanta can be found at Lake Lanier Islands Resort, with its lakefront beaches, water park, golf courses, boating, spas, and more.
Chateau Elan Winery and Resort — Chateau Elan, a 16th-century-styled French retreat, is just 30 minutes north of Atlanta in the town of Braselton, and has a festive atmosphere that encourages guests to tour the vineyards, visit the winery, have lunch at a sidewalk café and play a round of golf.
Barnsley Garden Resort — Barnsley Garden Resort is a beautiful hotel and resort in Adairsville, Georgia with lush gardens, cabins and a Zagat-rated golf course.
Callaway Gardens — in Pine Mountain, Georgia Callaway Gardens is a premier vacation spot with tons of activities for the entire family