Though it doesn’t often top lists of “must-visit” destinations in the USA, Atlanta, GA, is definitely worth a visit.
Before I moved to the city, I saw it as little more than a broiling furnace with bad traffic. But now that I’ve lived in Atlanta for nearly 5 years, I’ve come to see it as a city with more to love than a major international airport. It actually has some pretty cool attractions (And ridiculous traffic. I won’t sugarcoat it. We’ve gotten stuck in traffic jams at midnight.)
Here is our ultimate guide to the best things to do in Atlanta, Georgia according to locals:
Virginia-Highland is an upscale neighborhood in southeast Atlanta with cool restaurants and shops. Yeah Burger, our favorite burger joint in the city, is located in this neighborhood, so be sure to check it out!
Little 5 Points
Another neighborhood worth exploring, Little 5 Points has an offbeat, quirky feel. The vintage clothing shops and indie record stores are the primary draw.
Atlantic Station is an open-air shopping and restaurant area. It is always buzzing with activity, especially on weekends.
Ponce City Market
Housed in the former Sears, Roebuck & Co. building, Ponce City Market is a trendy shopping, dining, and entertainment complex. Several of the shops feature work from local artists and makers (including pottery by our super talented sister-in-law).
It reminds us a lot of Chelsea Market in NYC.
The High Museum of Art
Founded in 1905, the High Museum of Art is a premier gallery with more than 15,000 works of art on permanent display. The High also houses temporary exhibits that change frequently, so no two visits are the same.
The Fox Theater
For a classy night at the theater, there is no better venue than the Fox. Originally an ornate movie house, the Fox now hosts Broadway productions, symphonies, ballets, and more.
Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse
The Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse produces faithful—and often hilarious—performances of the world’s greatest playwright’s masterpieces. Even if you’re not a literary buff, the productions at the Shakespeare Tavern are always entertaining.
Arrive early and purchase some Elizabethan-era food to eat at your table during the show.
Atlanta Botanical Garden
For visitors with a green thumb, Atlanta Botanical Garden is a great place to spend an afternoon. The garden contains a wide variety of “mini-gardens,” including a rose garden, orchid garden, edible garden, and Japanese garden.
During the holidays, the Atlanta Botanical Garden is decked out in a dazzling display of Christmas lights.
Piedmont Park is the largest urban park in Atlanta, and it is an ideal place to ride a bike, go for a jog, or have a picnic.
A former railway corridor, the Atlanta BeltLine will soon become a 22-mile paved trail for pedestrians and cyclists. Though the project is not yet complete, much of the path is already open for use.
Basically The South’s version of Mount Rushmore, Stone Mountain features a carving depicting three prominent confederate figures: Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Stonewall Jackson.
During the day visitors can reach the summit of the mountain by hiking or taking a cable car. At night, the mountain becomes the backdrop for a laser and firework show.
Braves Game at SunTrust Park
The Atlanta Braves recently moved to SunTrust Park, a new $622 million stadium in Cobb County. Grab an overpriced hot dog and cheer on the home team.
The newly opened Mercedes-Benz Stadium is home to both the Atlanta Falcons (NFL) and the Atlanta United (NSL). Though American football has long been popular, soccer is rapidly gaining traction as well. We haven’t made it to an Atlanta United game yet, but we plan to go next season!
Six Flags over Georgia
With 11 rollercoasters, Six Flags over Georgia is an adrenaline junkie’s dream. Prefer gentler rides? Six Flags has those too.
The Georgia Aquarium, one of the biggest aquariums in the world, houses more than 100,000 animals. A highlight of any visit is a walk through the Ocean Voyager’s exhibit tunnel.
World of Coke
For Coca-Cola addicts, a pilgrimage to the World of Coke offers an interesting look at the origin and proliferation a beverage that has become a worldwide cultural phenomenon.
Peachtree Road Race
Every Independence Day (July 4th for non-Americans), Atlanta hosts the world’s biggest 10k. The race caps 60,000 runners, so registration is by lottery only.
If you’re willing to brave the July heat (which is no joke in Atlanta), running in the Peachtree Road Race is a great way to get to know the city.
If you’re not into running, but enjoy dressing as obscure anime characters, you’ll feel right at home at the DragonCon events Atlanta hosts every Labor Day weekend. We have some awesome nerd friends who insist DragonCon is even better than Comic-Con.
Even if you don’t pay to attend the events, the free parade is worth checking out.
Atlanta Dogwood Festival
Every April, when the native dogwood trees bloom, the Atlanta Dogwood Festival takes place in Piedmont Park. The free festival includes musical performances, arts and crafts booths, and fun family activities.
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