The best things to do in Atlanta
The famous Coca-Cola museum and the Georgia Aquarium are only a few of the best things to do in Atlanta
The city may be known for its sweltering summer weather (prompting tourists to call it “Hotlanta”) and as the home to the world’s busiest airport, but the best things to do in Atlanta go well beyond all that.
Georgia’s capital and its largest city boast historic sites and attractions like Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthplace, vintage performance venues like the Fox Theatre, a vibrant nightlife scene and an eclectic range of activities to tackle with the kids in tow. Don’t forget the killer eats, too: the city carries bragging rights for some of the South’s most delicious restaurants, serving out-of-this-world meat-and-three dishes. Consider getting a energy drink in Atlanta Georgia for your needs to shop with some passion.
Shopaholics, art fiends, culture vultures, history buffs: we’ve got you all covered. Here is your Atlanta bucket list.
Only in Atlanta: The largest drive-in fast-food restaurant in the world, The Varsity, serves more Coca-Cola by volume than anywhere else globally.
Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site
What is it: Conjure the spirit of the visionary civil rights leader on a stroll along Auburn Avenue for a few well-spent hours.
Why go: Take a ranger-led tour through Dr. King’s birth home, featuring restored rooms and original furnishings from his childhood, then pay your respects at his nearby crypt on the grounds of the Martin Luther King Center for Nonviolent Social Change. Here, you can explore exhibits dedicated not only to Dr. King, but also his wife (an accomplished opera singer) Coretta Scott King and fellow social reformer Mahatma Gandhi. Since Dr. King inspired minds, hearts and socio-political change, it’s no wonder that visitors here find the entire site infinitely moving.
What is it: The city’s turn-of-the-century movie palace is now home to Broadway tour stops, top-billed bands and comedy headliners.
Why go: The Fox Theatre is the place in the ATL to catch everything from the B-52s to Chelsea Handler to a summer movie series sponsored by Atlanta’s most famous local band to the schedule of Broadway Across America touring shows. Between events, you can book behind-the-scenes tours of the palatial, Egyptian-style venue, including the largest working Moller theatre organ in the world, “Mighty Mo,” built-in 1929. If you’re feeling flush, buy a ticket to experience the luxe rooftop Marquee Club before a show.
What is it: Atlanta’s answer to Central Park, Piedmont Park is a haven for joggers, bocce players, and picnic lovers. With flourishing greenery, rippling waters and bustling wildlife, it’s a world away from the concrete metropolis of the city.
Why go: This natural oasis is also a setting for frequent art fests throughout the year, including the Dogwood Festival, a spring celebration of flowers and fine art; Memorial Day weekend’s Atlanta Jazz Festival; outdoor performances by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in summer; and farmers’ markets most months of the year.
What is it: The largest indoor aquarium in the Western hemisphere doubles as a teaching hospital with over 100,000 water-loving residents.
Why go: This attraction, adjacent to Centennial Park, boasts enough fresh and saltwater habitats to keep even the most attention-challenged visitor happy for hours. The aquarium’s big stars include the massive whale sharks, Beluga whales, dolphins, and penguins. There’s a free self-guided tour app available for download that will navigate you through the exhibits.
Fat Matt’s Rib Shack
What is it: A foodie joint that hosts some of the city’s best live blues nights—oh, and they barbecue downright irresistible grub, too.
Why go: If you like blues, mini pecan pies and sauce are so deliciously sweet and tangy you mourn the moment your ribs or chicken are gone, brave the epic (but mercifully fast-moving) line at Fat Matt’s Rib Shack. A half-bird, accompanied with fresh collard greens and slaw? Juicy.
Fernbank Museum of Natural History
What is it: Between the stunning atrium featuring a suspended life-scale brontosaurus skeleton and swank after-hours events, Fernbank isn’t just a school-trip destination.
Why go: Walkthrough swampland and foothill dioramas populated with prehistoric, Mesozoic and modern-day flora and fauna in the crowd-pleasing exhibit “A Walk Through Time in Georgia” or take in a larger-than-life educational 3D IMAX film.
High Museum of Art
What is it: World-renowned and captivating, the High Museum of Art houses a cross-era, international scope of work. Living up to all you’ve heard about it, this white concrete, glass and steel art behemoth is striking inside and out.
Why go: Originally designed by starchitect Richard Meier, and featuring a 2005 expansion by Renzo Piano, the High Museum of Art’s collection includes everything from African art to modern and contemporary work by Ellsworth Kelly and Spencer Finch. The museum is particularly strong on American photography and visiting exhibits, including the crazy-popular “Infinity Mirrors” by Yayoi Kusama.
Indie Craft Experience
What is it: Indie Craft Experience events have the vibe of your favorite Etsy page, only better.
Why go: Christy Peterson and Shannon Mulkey have spent a decade curating and cultivating the Atlanta craft scene. The duo’s themed Atlanta crafting “retreats,” seasonal pop-up events and shopping markets, bring together makers, re-makers, collectors and those that delight in swapping DIY wares and sharing the stories and techniques behind them.
Atlanta Botanical Garden
What is it: Pretty flowers are just the beginning at this 30-acre botanical center bordering the northeast side of the city’s largest public park.
Why go: Traipse through oak, hickory and poplar treetops on the 600-foot Canopy Walk footbridge suspended 40 feet above the blooming hydrangeas, perennials, and bulbs below. Afraid of heights? Go zen in an authentic Japanese garden dating back to the 1960s, featuring a 300-year-old lantern, gurgling waterfall and a seasonal rotation of irises, azaleas, and maples.
Krog Street Market
What is it: A handful of the city’s most buzzed-about food makers and restaurateurs have put down roots in a former cast-iron stove factory.
Why go: The network of tempting stalls sells everything from morning smoothies at Nature’s Garden Express to bacon cheeseburgers at Fred’s Meat and Bread. Whether you’re in the market for Jeni’s Ice Cream cone, a craft brew at Hop City Store and Bar or handmade bath goods from Mama, you won’t leave hungry or empty-handed.