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. In fact, National Geographic selected Atlanta as one of the top destinations to visit in the National Geographic Best of the World 2022 list, and Lonely Planet included it in the Best in Travel list for 2022, the only U.S. city on the list.

There are so many reasons why Atlanta is the place to visit. 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

Olympic rings at Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by @condematt
Olympic rings at Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by @condematt

Centennial Olympic Park attractions

From there, go to the National 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 LGBTQ+ 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 Chick-fil-A College Football Hall of Fame captures the passion, pageantry and traditions of college football with interactive exhibits personalized to each fan.

Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park

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.

The Swan House at the Atlanta History Center in Atlanta, Georgia
The Swan House at the Atlanta History Center in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by @goanniewhere

Atlanta History Center

The Atlanta History Center in Buckhead offers a fascinating look at the city's history through exhibits that include pieces from the 1996 Summer Olympics, memorabilia from golf legend Bobby Jones, relics from the Civil War and a multi-media experience interpreting The Battle of Atlanta cyclorama painting. Tour the historic home known as the Swan House, familiar to fans of "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" as President Snow's mansion, and the Smith Farm, Atlanta's oldest surviving farmhouse built in the 1840s.

Earth Goddess at Atlanta Botanical Garden in Atlanta, Georgia
Earth Goddess at Atlanta Botanical Garden in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by @atlbotanical

Atlanta Botanical Garden

One of the most beautiful places in the city, the Atlanta Botanical Garden is constantly changing - from what's blooming to special exhibits. Kids will adore the award-winning Children's Garden, and the summertime Cocktails in the Garden events are the place to be for adults. The Fuqua Conservatory features the foremost collection of species orchids in the U.S., and the canopy walk gives visitors a unique perspective of the native plant life within the city.

High Museum of Art

View works of art from all eras at the High Museum of Art, one of the region’s best art museums. With more than 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.

Atlanta BeltLine in Atlanta, Georgia
Atlanta BeltLine in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by @benjamingalland

Atlanta BeltLine

An ongoing project, the Atlanta BeltLine is scheduled to be completed in 2030 and will loop around the city with streetcars and connected parks. Head the currently developed Eastside and Westside portions that feature numerous restaurants, breweries like New Realm Brewing and Monday Night Brewing, and attractions like Illuminarium Atlanta and Ponce City Market/Skyline Park.

Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum

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.

The rooftop Marquee Club at The Fox Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia
The rooftop Marquee Club at The Fox Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by @kylezingler

Fox Theatre

Get tickets for a show at the historic, 1920s-era Fox Theatre, which offers regular programming including Broadway musicals, concerts, film screenings, and guided tours. Be sure to save time to relax on the rooftop Marquee Club overlooking busy Peachtree Street before or after the show.

Find places to visit that are only in Atlanta.

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Places to Stay

Hotel Clermont sign at night in Atlanta, Georgia
Hotel Clermont sign at night in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by @benjamingalland

Hotel Clermont

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.

Atlanta Marriott Marquis

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.

The American Hotel

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.

Kimpton Overland Hotel

At the Kimpton Overland Hotel, 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.

Hyatt Regency Atlanta

Call it a night at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta. Once called the "hotel of hope," it was one of the only hotels to welcome civil rights activists like Xernona Clayton and Martin Luther King, Jr., who hosted the annual convention of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference there in 1967. Today, it has all the expected modern amenities and a blue-domed restaurant with a view, Polaris, featuring menu items made with local ingredients and drinks that include throwbacks to its early days, like the peach daiquiri.

Omni Atlanta Hotel at CNN Center

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

The Whitley

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.

Glenn Hotel

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.

The Inn at Serenbe

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.

Find more places to stay in Atlanta

Places to Eat

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

Paschal's Restaurant

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.

Mary Mac's Tea Room

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.

Fried chicken with sides at The Busy Bee Cafe in Atlanta, Georgia
Fried chicken with sides at The Busy Bee Cafe in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by @discoveratlanta

The Busy Bee Cafe

Another favorite historical Southern-style restaurant, The Busy Bee Cafe, was founded by self-taught cook with a heart of gold Lucy “Momma Lucy” Jackson in 1947; it's a must-stop for anyone who loves soul food. Expect a warm greeting and flavorful grub as you indulge your taste buds with hearty dishes like candied yams, cornbread dressing, collard greens and black-eyed peas.

The Varsity

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.

Interior of Politan Row in Atlanta, Georgia
Interior of Politan Row in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by Melissa McAlpine, @discoveratlanta

Politan Row

Taste an eclectic mix of cuisines at Colony Square’s elegant Politan Row food hall, complete with a hidden cocktail lounge and curated tasting experience that raises the bar of communal dining — think ponzu tuna bowls, chutney-topped pizzas and oxtail street tacos.

Antico Pizza Napoletana

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.

Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q

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.

Inside Municipal Market in Atlanta, Georgia
Inside Municipal Market in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by @gcalebjones

The Municipal Market

The historic Municipal 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.

Staplehouse Market

Named Bon Appetit’s Best New Restaurant in 2016, Staplehouse Market 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.

Line outside the Slutty Vegan in Atlanta, Georgia
Line outside the Slutty Vegan in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by Melissa McAlpine, @discoveratlanta

Slutty Vegan

Heavy on flavor, Slutty Vegan uses herbs and spices and the founder’s secret sauce on its Impossible Patty – a meatless burger that fools even the most devout meat eater. Founded in 2018 by entrepreneur Pinky Cole, the eatery was first a food truck that quickly garnered a following easily selling 500 burgers a day and having line wait times as long as five hours. A store location opened in January 2019. Try the musically named Dance Hall Queen or stick with their take on a classic, the PLT – plantain, lettuce and tomato, and of course, special sauce.

Buford Highway

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.

Check out these famous, tried-and-true dining experiences in Atlanta

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Events

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

Atlanta Dogwood Festival

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.

Atlanta Food and Wine Festival

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

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

Peachtree Road Race

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

Dragon Con

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.

Atlanta Pride

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

Atlanta Jewish Film Festival

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

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Published: May 2023
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