We really don’t know where to start on all the cool things to do in Atlanta, GA. There are so many diverse attractions, hip festivals, and amazing places to eat and drink that it will be a struggle to fit them all in a single visit. But, we’ll try to cover the must-see highlights. Before we get into all that, let’s do a bit of background. Atlanta, or ‘Hotlanta,’ as it’s often called, is the capital city of the southern state of Georgia. The city is Georgia’s cultural hub and is a diverse and exciting place to spend some time. The current population of Atlanta is around 498,000 people.
So, let’s take you on a quick journey and explore all the great things to do in Atlanta, GA on your visit.
Krog Street Tunnel
The amazing Krog Street Tunnel is renowned for its incredible street art. The tunnel links together three neighborhoods and is heavily used by pedestrians and cyclists. The urban murals in the tunnels are continually changing and evolving, with nothing staying the same for any amount of time. This makes a walk through the system a great thing to do in Atlanta every time you visit. It’s also a great place to be if you want information about local events. The tunnels always covered in flyers for concerts, plays, and festivals, and it’s a brilliant source of information about what’s happening all over the city.
High Museum of Art
The High Museum of Art is located in the city’s art district in Midtown. It’s the leading art museum in the southeastern region of the US and has a huge range of photography, ceramics, folk, and decorative arts. It also has collections of European, US, and Modern pieces. Some of its Euro collection contains works from Impressionist masters Monet, Pissarro, Degas, and Renoir. The impressive American range displays pieces by John Singer Sargent, while the Modern collection shows off its sizeable haul of outstanding African American art. As well as the permanent collections, there’s a host of temporary exhibits throughout the year, and the gallery has a reputation for going big.
Tickets required, available online or from the entrance, $14.50
Atlanta Botanical Garden
Atlanta Botanic Garden has two main sites. One is based in the city and the other in nearby Gainesville. The main site covers more than 30 acres of land and is consistently voted one of the top things to do in Atlanta. The garden has only been in existence since 1976, but it has built up rapidly, thanks to the vision of its CEO and staff. Not content with *just* having constructed a beautiful garden, the site decided to go all out and start a series of huge public events throughout the year. These have been incredibly successful and see sculptures flown in from Germany and France, as well as from across the United States.
Atlanta Botanical Garden has well and truly established itself as one of the leading gardens in the country, and it’s a wonderful thing to do in Atlanta with kids. As well as the thousands of species of plants and flowers on display, the garden has the awesome Canopy Walk. This is a pedestrian bridge, set 40 feet above ground, which allows visitors brush the treetops of the Storza Woods. The Fuchsia Collection is another must-see as it contains the largest collection of the flower anywhere in the US.
Tickets required, available online or at the entrance, $18.95-$21.95
Centennial Olympic Park
Checking out this park is a must-see thing to do in Atlanta. The park and surrounds were built for the 1996 Summer Olympics, which were hosted in the city. The 21-acre park is a popular events and concert space and, even when there’s nothing of note on, it’s just a great place to hang out. Prior to the Olympics being confirmed for Atlanta, the space was pretty much a wasteland of abandoned buildings and empty lots. Once the Games were confirmed, it was decided that the area would be transformed into a meeting place for the event. A competition for the design was launched and subsequently won by EDAW. The first phase of the park was completed just before the games. Since 1996, it has been transformed further, and it has had a massive economic impact on the city in the years since. The park offers a great view of some of the most important buildings in the city.
World of Coca-Cola
The World of Coca-Cola takes you back to 1886 when a Pharmacist, John S Pemberton, was mucking around in the lab. His tinkering created a unique tasting drink that he immediately set about testing out on customer at his local pharmacy. It was so popular that he had to make more. And the rest is history. The company was founded in Atlanta, and it’s within the museum that the secret recipe for Coke is kept hidden. The company is now majority owned by legendary American investor, Warren Buffet, and Coke World has been open since 2004. It’s a great thing to do in Atlanta with kids because what child do you know who doesn’t love drinking Coke? In the facility, you can try out soft drinks from around the world, get your photo taken with the Coco-Cola Bear (sign us up!), and explore 200 years of your favorite drink.
Tickets required, available online or at the entrance, $13-$17
Georgia Aquarium is the second largest indoor aquarium on the planet. It’s also the top visitor attraction in the city. It holds 10 million gallons of water and has more than 100,000 different creatures, representing thousands of species. It is jaw-droppingly enormous, so be prepared to go early and leave late. Also, take comfortable shoes. The aquarium is home to some unusual animals, which makes it an exciting thing to do in Atlanta with kids. Have you ever seen a Beluga whale IRL? Or even heard of a Big Bellied Seahorse? Us neither. Some of the favorites are the Californian Sea Lions and, naturally, the African Penguins. Because everyone loves penguins, right? In addition to looking at the residents of the aquarium, you can also book special encounters, such as swimming or taking a behind the scenes tour.
Tickets required, available online or from the ticket booth, $28.95-$32.95
The Martin Luther King Jnr National Historic Park
No trip to Atlanta is complete without taking time to tip your hat and pay respect to one of the city’s most famous – and world-changing – sons. Martin Luther King Jnr was born in Auburn Avenue in Atlanta in 1929. His childhood home is now owned by the Parks Service and is part of the Historic Park that bears his name. The park is designed to tell Dr King’s story, including his childhood, his years as a Pastor, his move into Civil Rights, and his ability to bring people together in the face of extreme institutional racism. The park contains the Baptist Church where he gave his sermons, the Fire Station he helped to ensure would employ African American firefighters, and his gravesite. Walking the park and visiting the properties is the top thing to do in Atlanta for any visitor. To make it even more fantastic, there is no charge to enter the site.
Off-beat things to do in Atlanta
You’re in for a treat if you’re looking for cool and unusual things to do in Atlanta as there’s a LOT. Many a visitor has scoured the city streets on the Tiny Doors tour. Spread across Atlanta is a series of little doors – fifteen in total – as part of an odd cultural trail. They’re very easy to miss, given their size, so you have to keep your eyes open at all times. If you like hunting for weird stuff, Atlanta also has a Doll’s Head Trail, which is a thousand times creepier than the Tiny Door, but just as much fun. That is, if you don’t mind being kept awake at night with visions of headless dolls. A local carpenter started the Doll’s Head Trail and encouraged other residents to add their own decapitated kids’ toys and other trash to it. Although the doll’s heads are the main attraction, there’s also a collection of glass bottles and old bricks. Doesn’t sound like that much fun but it really is.
FAQs About Atlanta
We’ve compiled answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the city and things to do in Atlanta, GA. These will help your research, planning, and general education about all this beautiful southern powerhouse has to offer.
What do the locals do in Atlanta?
Every Atlanta local of age will, at some point, have spent a night out at Clermont Lounge. It’s consistently voted amongst the best nightlife in Atlanta and has built up quite a reputation over the decades. If you want to live like a local, you really need to check it out. Also, locals tend to gravitate to Decatur for its’ hip and forward thinking pubs, bars, and restaurants. It’s a great thing to do in Atlanta, GA at night with your SO.
Is there a beach in Atlanta?
In a word, no. Atlanta is not on Georgia’s east coast and is entirely inland. The closest beaches to the city are in Jonesboro and Lake Lanier, but neither has coastal ocean beaches, and both make use of imported sand. The closest coastal beach is 267 miles away in Tybee Island, near Savannah. Driving time is around 3-4 hours.
How far is Ocean from Atlanta?
The ocean is around 3-4 hours’ drive from Atlanta. The Savannah River empties into the Atlantic Ocean at Tybee Island, and this is the closest ocean to the city. Sorry.
Atlanta, often known as The Big Peach for the quality of fruit produced there (and throughout Georgia), is a lively and vibrant location to spend your vacation. It changes and renews itself continually, while always staying true to its roots and being proud of its historical figures. The city has a great foodie scene and loads of brewpubs and cocktail bars for visitors to enjoy, as well as great shopping and wide open spaces. The metro area has the fourth highest population growth in the United States, so it’s safe to say it’s a good place to be. The city has a huge range of budget and upscale accommodation and is served by Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport; the world’s busiest. We hope we’ve convinced you of all the wonderful things to do in Atlanta and hope to see you there soon!