Your Guide to Atlanta's Neighborhoods
Atlanta is a sprawling metropolis that is home to more than 400,000 people. What makes the city so unique is its neighborhoods, which can feel like cities within themselves. The high rises of Midtown vary greatly from the quaint Victorian homes in Inman Park. Some were developed as the city's first suburbs, connected by streetcars, while others were only recently developed. While most visitors rarely get outside of downtown, there's something to discover in every corner of Atlanta.
Centennial Olympic Park and Downtown
Most of the downtown attractions are located around Centennial Olympic Park, a green space created for the 1996 Summer Olympics. Here you’ll find the Rings fountains and statues to commemorate the event. Across the park is the World of Coca-Cola, part museum and part attraction devoted to the world’s most well-known brand that started as a pharmacy headache remedy. A visit to the Center for Civil and Human Rights is an important one as it educates about the Civil Rights Movement as well as modern struggles for equal rights. Kids love the interactive exhibits at the The Children's Museum of Atlanta and the Georgia Aquarium, one of the largest in the world. See the area from above aboard Skyview Atlanta, a Ferris wheel with glass pods that provide unobstructed skyline views.
Castleberry Hill and Vine City
The industrial warehouses of Castleberry Hill have now been converted into loft apartments and art gallery spaces. It’s one of the most sought-after neighborhoods for the Georgia film industry, playing host to projects like "Driving Miss Daisy," "The Hunger Games," and "The Walking Dead." See where your favorite television shows and movies were filmed with Atlanta Movie Tours, whose offices are located in the neighborhood. You might even see something being filmed! There’s no missing the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which replaced the Georgia Dome as the home of the Atlanta Falcons while also welcoming the Atlanta United soccer team. It features local restaurants as concessions and has a retractable roof. Explore the city’s food history with Atlanta Food Walks. It starts at Paschal's Restaurant, where civil rights leaders dined while planning protests, and ends at the Sweet Auburn Curb Market, once a segregated market.
Sweet Auburn and Georgia State
Speaking of Sweet Auburn, the historic neighborhood is where Martin Luther King Jr. grew up and later worked at Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church. Visit the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site to learn more about his life before paying your respects at The King Center, where both King and wife Coretta are entombed. The nearby campus of Georgia State University is constantly expanding and includes the Rialto Center for the Arts.
Five Points and Underground Atlanta
Before the suburbanization of the city, Five Points was the central business district, home to thriving restaurants and shops. These days, the neighborhood has been transformed with colorful murals from the Living Walls conference. Underground Atlanta was once the city’s biggest nightlife district, set in the viaducts below the street level. It’s being redeveloped and is home to a popular music venue, The Masquerade.
Apart from downtown, Midtown is where you’ll find many of the museums. Start at the Margaret Mitchell House, where the author penned "Gone With The Wind." Across the street, the Federal Reserve Monetary Museum documents the Federal Reserve Bank’s work. The High Museum of Art is one of the nation’s finest, with a diverse collection of work spanning from early American to contemporary. The neighboring Museum of Design Atlanta has interactive exhibits and offers 3D printing classes. Learn about the Holocaust and Jewish history in Atlanta at The William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum. Catch a show at the Center for Puppetry Arts, which also has a museum on the history of puppetry. Piedmont Park is the city’s largest green space and includes the Atlanta Botanical Garden.
Druid Hills, Avondale Estates and Decatur
One of the city’s first planned suburbs, Druid Hills has some of the city’s most stunning homes. The Tudor buildings in Avondale Estates feel completely different from anywhere else in Atlanta. Decatur is a college town within the city, home to Agnes Scott College and Emory University, where you’ll also find the Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory University and its Egyptian mummies. The Fernbank Museum of Natural History is one of the best natural history museums and has acres of surrounding forest. Your only chance to visit the Centers for Disease Control is at the David J. Sencer CDC Museum, which has exhibits on infectious diseases, the organization’s work and worldwide pandemics. And make sure to catch a show at Eddie's Attic, an intimate music venue that has launched the careers of countless artists.
Old Fourth Ward, Cabbagetown, Inman Park and Reynoldstown
The oddly named Cabbagetown was actually built as a neighborhood for the people that worked at the nearby cotton mill. Today, it’s home to beloved local festivals and neighborhoods. Historic Oakland Cemetery establishes one of the borders and is the final resting place of notable Atlantans like Margaret Mitchell and Bobby Jones. Neighboring Reynoldstown is gaining in popularity with even more restaurants. Old Fourth Ward is city’s most up-and-coming area, home to Ponce City Market, the former Sears building that has become a mixed use development with shops, a food hall, offices and apartments. There’s also Krog Street Market and its surrounding restaurants, another development. Don’t miss a walk on the Atlanta BeltLine’s Eastside Trail, a paved pathway on a former rail line.
Little Five Points, Candler Park and the Rest
East Lake and Kirkwood were early Atlanta suburbs that have stunning homes and local restaurants. Candler Park and its namesake green space have quirky shops along its main street. Little Five Points is Atlanta’s bohemian answer to places like Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco. Learn about Georgia's most well-known politician at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library & Museum, which covers the life and work of President Jimmy Carter.
Buckhead and Brookhaven
Formerly home to nightlife and art galleries, Buckhead has turned over a new leaf as a retail and restaurant area. But don’t miss the cultural offerings like the Atlanta History Center, which includes the iconic Swan House. The The Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia features the work of regional and international artists. Tour the The Governor's Mansion, where the state’s leaders have lived since 1967. Brookhaven’s Oglethorpe University has a stunning campus and the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art.
Chamblee and Buford Highway
The city’s international dining corridor can’t be missed. Here, you’ll find restaurants and businesses from every corner of the globe, including Japan, Mexico, Korea, Malaysia, Guatemala and Bangladesh. Buford Highway Farmers Market is ground zero for the area’s activity, with both groceries and eateries inside.
Westside and Georgia Tech
Some might say that the "westside is the best side." This area was mostly warehouses until recently and is now home to some of the city’s best restaurants, including Miller Union, Bacchanalia, and JCT Kitchen & Bar. A number of breweries have set up in these former industrial spaces, including Monday Night Brewing, Second Self and Red Brick Brewing Company. The Goat Farm is an arts hub with its own coffee shop that was even featured in "The Hunger Games." On the Georgia Tech campus, check out the Robert C. Williams Museum of Papermaking at Georgia Tech, which contains rare manuscripts. Over at Atlantic Station, you can shop 'til you drop, but also see the changing exhibits at the Millennium Gate Museum.
Atlanta University Center
West of downtown, you’ll find the Atlanta University Center, where the historically black colleges are located. Spelman College has its own art museum, and the campuses of Morehouse College and Morris Brown College have been used in films like "Drumline" and "Hidden Figures." Nearby, The Herndon Home is now a museum and was the home of Alonzo Herndon, who was a slave that became the city's first black millionaire.
East Atlanta, Grant Park and Beyond
The neighborhoods of Southeast Atlanta are mostly residential, including Glenwood Park, Ormewood Park and Peoplestown. Summerhill has the Georgia State Stadium, formerly Turner Field, and is covered in colorful murals. Catch a performance at Lakewood Amphitheatre. Starlight Six Drive In near East Atlanta is the city’s last remaining drive-in movie theatre, playing new releases and hosting annual flea markets. Over in historic Grant Park, check out the namesake park and Zoo Atlanta, which is the city’s oldest attraction.
College Park and the Airport District
There’s more to the area than Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the world’s busiest. College Park has a quaint downtown, complete with a colorful Yoyo Ferro mural. Hapeville, East Point and Union City have similar small town vibes only 10 minutes from downtown. Learn about the company’s rise from regional airline to international corporation at the Delta Flight Museum. The Porsche Experience Center in Hapeville is the luxury car company’s North American headquarters and has a museum, driving track and fine dining restaurant. You can also go on the Backstage Tour at the headquarters of Chick-fil-A.
West End and Westview
One of Atlanta's oldest neighborhoods, the West End and Westview are full of Queen Anne, Victorian and Craftsman bungalow homes. The Wren's Nest is a museum that was the home of writer Joel Chandler Harris. Pay your respects at his grave at nearby Westview Cemetery, where other notable Atlantans like Asa Candler and Henry Grady are buried. It’s the largest civilian cemetery in the region, stretching over 500 acres. Don’t miss the Westview Cemetery Abbey.
Caroline Eubanks is a freelance writer, travel blogger and film geek from Atlanta. She writes about travel in the South and beyond for BBC Travel, Afar, AAA, and her websites, This Is My South and Caroline in the City.