Centennial Olympic Park fountain

Centennial Olympic Park fountain

Guide to Atlanta

Visit Georgia's capital city for an endless array of entertainment and activity. Here are a few quick tips for things to do, places to stay, great restaurants and events you'll love. 

The capital of Georgia and one of the most influential cities in the Southern United States, Atlanta is a destination like no other. Its collection of world-famous attractions, historic sites, diverse neighborhoods, award-winning restaurants and unique events make it an exciting place to visit any time of year. It has been a hub for the arts over the years, home to notable authors like Margaret Mitchell and Joel Chandler Harris, and musicians from OutKast to The Black Crowes. Today, it’s a melting pot for dozens of cultures.

Things to Do

Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta
Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta

Start your visit with a trip to the most important landmark, the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park, which includes the civil rights leader’s childhood home, his church and final resting place.

From there, go to the Center for Civil and Human Rights in Centennial Olympic Park, which interprets both the Civil Rights Movement and modern human rights struggles for immigrants, women and the LGBT community. Within the same area is the Georgia Aquarium, one of the world’s largest and home to regional species as well as whale sharks, beluga whales, and river otters. The World of Coca-Cola details the company’s rise from pharmacy concoction to international beverage brand.

The Atlanta History Center in Buckhead has one of the largest collections of Civil War items in the region as well as historic homes, pieces from the 1996 Summer Olympics, and rotating exhibitions.

High Museum of Art in Atlanta
High Museum of Art in Atlanta

View works of art from all eras at the High Museum of Art, one of the region’s best art museums. With over 11,000 pieces in its permanent collection, visitors can see 19th and 20th century American works, African art, European paintings, decorative arts, photography and contemporary works.

Learn about Georgia’s president at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum. The exhibits detail Carter’s rise from a peanut farmer in Plains, Georgia, to leader of the free world. See the Oval Office replica, Carter’s Nobel Peace Prize and other items related to his life.

Spend a few hours exploring the beauty of Piedmont Park, Atlanta’s largest green space with more than 200 acres. It has walking trails, a dog park, sports fields, a swimming pool and Lake Clara Meer.

The city has rapidly become the Hollywood of the South for the many television and film productions, and Atlanta Movie Tours brings visitors to the notable and lesser-known locations from "The Walking Dead," "The Hunger Games" and the Marvel franchise.

Bring history and food together with a tour from Atlanta Food Walks, which takes guests through important Atlanta neighborhoods with samples along the way.

Places to Stay

Solis Two Porsche Drive
Solis Two Porsche Drive

The Atlanta Marriott Marquis has long been a part of the Atlanta skyline, the John Portman-designed property has a unique shape. The hotel has more than 1,600 rooms just steps away from the city’s top attractions.

Originally built in 1924, Hotel Clermont was a defunct property for many years before reopening as a stylish boutique property. It has a rooftop bar, French restaurant, and a casual cafe.

Another historic spot is The American Hotel, which was built in the 1960s downtown as a desegregated hotel where guests like Elvis Presley, Martin Luther King Jr., and James Brown stayed over the years. Stylish rooms have a mid-century style and the hotel has a bar and restaurant.

A longtime neighborhood favorite, The Highland Inn in the Poncey Highland neighborhood is a historic 80-room European-style inn. Built in 1927, it’s surrounded by shops, restaurants, art galleries and bars.

At the Solis Two Porsche Drive in Hapeville, rooms have a view of runways at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and driveways at the Porsche Experience Center. The hotel’s decor is inspired by the luxury vehicle company that has its North American headquarters next door.

Set in the building with the worldwide news leader’s headquarters, the Omni Atlanta Hotel at CNN Center is in the heart of it all for downtown museums and sporting events. It’s also the city’s only four-diamond convention hotel with more than 1,000 renovated rooms.

The Whitley pool
The Whitley pool

Formerly the Ritz-Carlton Buckhead, The Whitley is one of the city’s most luxurious accommodations. The 500 rooms and suites have views of the skyline as well as flat-screen televisions and feather beds. Indulge in a treatment at the in-house spa.

The 1924 Spanish Mediterranean-inspired Artmore Hotel is perfect spot for a stay in Midtown with a cocktail bar and garden, affordable rates, and rooms that feel like home.

The Glenn Hotel transformed a historic post office building into a boutique hotel with vintage decor, artwork and comfortable rooms. The hotel also has a restaurant, fitness center and rooftop lounge.

Located south of the airport in Peachtree Hills, The Inn at Serenbe is a rustic respite away from the city noise. The 900-acre property has hiking trails, two pools and endless opportunities to connect with the great outdoors.

Places to Eat

Paschal's Restaurant in Castleberry Hill
Paschal's Restaurant in Castleberry Hill

Equal parts neighborhood favorite and historic landmark, Paschal’s Restaurant in Castleberry Hill has hosted civil rights leaders, musicians, actors and politicians, their pictures still covering the walls. Don’t miss their fried chicken, some of the best in town.

Another soul food favorite is Mary Mac’s Tea Room, which has served hungry diners for over 70 years and officially named “Atlanta’s Dining Room.” Enjoy Southern dishes like fried green tomatoes, Brunswick stew, and fried chicken.

Known as the World’s Largest Drive In, The Varsity first served local college students before sporting events. They still appeal to sports fans, along with politicians and celebrities for its carhop service and items like chili slaw dogs and the Varsity Orange.

For a taste of authentic Italian-style pizza, there’s nowhere better than Antico Pizza Napoletana on the Westside. The restaurant uses San Marzano tomatoes and bufala mozzarella. The San Gennaro and Diavola are favorite pies.

Known for its brisket and ribs, Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q is inspired by the meat-heavy dishes of Texas, including sides and appetizers like Frito pie, chili mac, and “Fox-a-roni.” Save room for dessert of homemade banana pudding.

Sweet Auburn Curb Market in Atlanta
Sweet Auburn Curb Market in Atlanta

The historic Sweet Auburn Curb Market opened in 1924 as a fresh food market, which it still is. But the building also has food hall-style outposts including Venezuelan arepas, New Orleans style pralines, British pies, and everything in between.

Located atop the Hyatt Regency Atlanta hotel, Polaris was a hotspot in the 1970s, but closed for decades before reopening in the blue dome that resembles a spaceship. Menu items are locally focused, and their drinks include throwbacks to their early days, like the peach daiquiri.

Named Bon Appetit’s Best New Restaurant in 2016, Staplehouse is unique in that it benefits The Giving Kitchen, an organization that helps struggling food and beverage industry workers, inspired after the loss of Ryan Hidinger.

After the cult following that the burgers gained at Holeman and Finch Public House, H + F Burger opened at Ponce City Market’s food hall to provide the previously late night and brunch item all the time.

Made up of dozens of restaurants that represent the cuisines of every corner of the globe, the Buford Highway area of Chamblee is where to go for authentic global fare.

Events

Atlanta Dogwood Festival in Piedmont Park
Atlanta Dogwood Festival in Piedmont Park

Every spring since 1936, the Atlanta Dogwood Festival has brought together artists and vendors to set up in Piedmont Park, the city’s most beloved green space. The free event also includes live music and family-friendly programming.

Chefs from the South and beyond come to the city for Atlanta Food and Wine Festival, a weekend of demonstrations, tastings, and special events.

Juneteenth is a long-running tradition in the African American community, honoring the date slavery was abolished with live music and a parade.

The largest 10K race in the country, Peachtree Road Race, winds from Buckhead to Midtown every July 4 with locals coming out to help runners celebrate.

Spectators line Peachtree Street for the Dragon Con parade
Spectators line Peachtree Street for the Dragon Con parade

Fans of television, film, video games, comics, and everything in between flock to Dragon Con for a cosplay parade, celebrity panels and fan-led discussions.

Music fans can’t miss Music Midtown, which brings big-name bands and acts to Piedmont Park for three days of festivities.

The LGBTQ community comes together every fall for Atlanta Pride, which includes educational seminars and a parade through the city.

The state’s largest film festival, the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, has film screenings and talks about movies connected to the community.

Published: August 2018