Whale shark at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo courtesy Georgia Aquarium
Safecation Guide to Atlanta
Explore Atlanta safely with these tips for things to do, places to eat, and places to stay in Georgia's capital city.
Atlanta's gleaming skyline alongside its plentiful parks and greenspaces make it a great place to explore, whether you're interested in music, history, arts, or cuisine. From the world-famous attractions downtown to the nearly 45 in-town neighborhoods, expect a warm welcome from locals eager to share what makes it such a special destination.
Atlanta is known as the "City in a Forest" for a reason. Spread out in the city's greenspaces and along the trails, including in the sprawling Piedmont Park, the city's largest park, and historic Grant Park. Don't miss the public art along the Atlanta BeltLine, a rails-to-trails path around the city that includes sculpture and murals. Many restaurants and breweries along the BeltLine, like Wild Heaven's West End location, provide fun outside spaces to enjoy a drink and relax after a walk. The Atlanta Botanical Garden has plenty of space to explore its regularly changing exhibits and Chihuly glass artwork. Oakland Cemetery is a local favorite, which is both a Victorian cemetery and a public park.
Safely (or Virtually) Visit Atlanta's Attractions
Take your time checking attractions off your bucket list with the Atlanta CityPASS, which is good for an entire month. For one price, you can explore the World of Coca-Cola and its new Scent Discovery Exhibit as well as the Georgia Aquarium and its new sharks gallery. The pass also gives you options to visit Zoo Atlanta, Fernbank Museum of Natural History, the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, and the Chick-fil-A College Football Hall of Fame. Each attraction requires you to book in advance before arriving. Add to your fun with a ride in one of Skyview Atlanta's air-conditioned pods, giving you a bird's-eye view of Centennial Olympic Park.
Explore the Atlanta History Center, the city's most comprehensive museum, covering the region from prehistory to the present. Check out the exhibit on the Centennial Olympic Games, or visit the gardens and Smith Family Farm, an 1800s farmhouse also on the museum's campus. Another must-see, the High Museum of Art has thought-provoking exhibits from photography to folk and decorative art.
Many of Atlanta's tours have changed directions. For example, the Chick-fil-A Backstage Tour is now free and is offered virtually so it can be enjoyed at home. Atlanta Food Walks is offering both small group tours with masks and virtual experiences that mimic in-person tours. The Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park is temporarily closed, but you can take a self-guided tour of the campus and explore more sites in the Sweet Auburn Historic District.
Dine In or Take Out
Atlanta is well-known for its great restaurants, including culinary icons and award-winners. There are countless options for places to safely dine inside, on patios, or order to-go.
The Varsity, one of the city's oldest and biggest restaurants, is open for indoor dining. Although the carhops are not currently operating at the drive-in, you can still enjoy a chili dog with a Varsity Orange while admiring the city skyline and the photos dating back to the 1920s.
If you’re looking to splurge on a night at one of the city’s top restaurants, the Concentrics Restaurants group is welcoming guests to safely dine. Two Urban Licks, on the Atlanta BeltLine, is limiting its seating capacity but still has dishes like blackened salmon and brisket. Parish, its sister restaurant, has Louisiana-inspired flavors.
American Cut Restaurant in Buckhead is one of the city’s top steakhouses, offering classic dishes like the wedge salad, oysters, and steaks. It's also home to The Regent Cocktail Club, a rooftop bar overlooking the area with cocktails like Negronis and Old Fashioneds.
For outdoor dining with epic sunset views, head to 9 Mile Station on the roof of Ponce City Market, or relax with a cocktail and a bite on the patio at Empire State South. Soul food favorite Busy Bee Cafe offers efficient takeout for a picnic in the park while acclaimed Staplehouse has shifted its offerings to a food market and meals to take home.
Spend the Night
It’s also important where you spend your nights. The Stay Safe initiative has been adopted by many Atlanta hotels, including Hilton, Hyatt, IHG, Omni, and Marriott properties. Grand Hyatt Atlanta in Buckhead is a favorite, offering digital check in and relaxation in the Japanese Zen garden. The Candler Hotel, in the heart of downtown in a 1920s building, is convenient to the attractions at Centennial Olympic Park and the Atlanta Streetcar. Hotel Clermont guests can enjoy dining at Tiny Lou's, a French brasserie, or grab a cocktail at the rooftop bar overlooking Ponce City Market and the city skyline.
Although your stay in Atlanta may look different these days, you're sure to enjoy your trip safely.
Know Before You Go
Atlanta's world-famous attractions and restaurants are open, taking important steps to keep you safe. The city is under an executive order requiring masks and face coverings in public buildings and outdoor areas where social distancing is not possible. Masks also are required at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Before your trip, review the city's health and safety procedures regarding COVID-19.
Georgia Safety Promise
You can show your support and pride by patronizing businesses that have committed to the Georgia Safety Promise, and personally commit to following these guidelines from the Georgia Department of Health when in public spaces:
- Keep social distance
- Wear a face covering
- Wash and sanitize hands