SkyView at Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta. Photo by @connerjohn

SkyView at Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta. Photo by @connerjohn

Iconic Atlanta

When you're visiting Georgia's capital city, here are the attractions you just can't miss.

Smart. Beautiful. Fun. Words that might describe a great date can also apply to this Southern capital city. Home to leading industries, natural charm, elegant structures and an array of amusements, Atlanta is where you can make lasting memories.

From world-famous attractions to historic neighborhoods, there is so much to experience in Atlanta. Find amazement at every turn in the galleries of sea creatures at Georgia Aquarium. Treat yourself to tastes from around the globe at the World of Coca-Cola. See where the leader of the civil rights movement was born at the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park, and explore the surrounding Sweet Auburn neighborhood, which became the commercial center of Black Atlanta in the 1920s.

Get the most out of your visit to Atlanta with the tips below for visiting the city's top attractions.

Due to COVID-19, some destinations might have changed their visitation information. Before you go, check social media, the venue's website or call to confirm your plans.

Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta. Photo by mseeley
Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta. Photo by mseeley

Georgia Aquarium

Countless creatures call the Georgia Aquarium home, including beluga whales, whale sharks, manta rays, penguins and sea otters. Each ecosystem gets its own gallery, and visitors can even go scuba diving in one of the tanks. Visitors to Georgia Aquarium embark on an aquatic adventure around the globe, and are sure to gain a greater understanding of these aquatic ecosystems and the animals that inhabit them.

Grab some Southern hospitality with the Atlanta CityPASS, your ticket to saving 45 percent on admission to five attractions, including the Georgia Aquarium and nearby attractions like the World of Coca-Cola, which showcases the brand's history, bottling and global products; and the National Center for Civil and Human Rights.

Piedmont Park in Atlanta. Photo by @benjamingalland
Piedmont Park in Atlanta. Photo by @benjamingalland

Midtown Atlanta

Both the 30-acre Atlanta Botanical Garden and 211-acre Piedmont Park offer the respite of green space in all seasons.

"What'll ya have?" is the battle cry to squash thirst and hunger at The Varsity, the world's largest drive-in restaurant, which is nestled between Downtown and Midtown and has been serving customers since 1928.

"Gone With the Wind" was composed in Midtown, and the Margaret Mitchell House preserves where the author lived while writing the book.

For contemporary arts, take in a performance at the historic Fox Theatre and peruse exhibits at the High Museum of Art.

Child at Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. Photo by @kodysworld2
Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta's Sweet Auburn Historic District. Photo by @kodysworld2

Sweet Auburn Historic District

Honor the life and teachings of a great leader and explore Atlanta's role in the civil rights movement at the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park located in the Sweet Auburn neighborhood, just one of 18 significant historic sites and parks in Georgia. See the home where he was born, pay your respects at his and Mrs. King's tomb, and see the church where he preached along with his father.

Explore more sites of historic and modern significance in the Historic Sweet Auburn District. Tour the APEX Museum, the city's only museum solely dedicated to telling the rich and often untold story of people of the African Diaspora. Have lunch at The Municipal Market, home to vendors offering everything from fresh meats, fish and produce, to prepared foods. And be sure to look for the John Lewis mural across from Big Bethel A.M.E. Church at the corner of Auburn Avenue and Jesse Hill Jr. Drive.

From there, you can follow the Freedom Park Trail through the Inman Park neighborhood to Little Five Points and all the way to Ponce de Leon Avenue and the Fernbank Museum of Natural History.

Ponce City Market in Atlanta, Georgia

Ponce de Leon Avenue

This 16-mile road is home to everything from tattoo parlors to underground nightclubs, upscale furniture shops, the latest dining spots, churches and historic homes. Connecting a number of Atlanta communities, Ponce de Leon Avenue is a life source for the city.

You can spend hours exploring Ponce City Market, a historic mixed-use community hub focused on artisanal food, fashion and technology. The rooftop features an amusement park and unbeatable skyline views.

Jump on the Atlanta BeltLine to walk or bike to shops and restaurants, admiring artwork along the way. 

Nearby, venture to the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library & Museum to learn about the 39th U.S. president from Plains, Georgia.

Six Feet Under Pub & Fish House in Atlanta, Georgia

Grant Park

Explore the oldest city park in Atlanta, a 131-acre green space with walking paths, towering trees and grassy fields just perfect for an afternoon picnic. Near the center of the park, "ooh" and "aah" at adorable giraffes, pandas, elephants, gorillas and much more at Zoo Atlanta.

Nearby, stroll through garden-like Historic Oakland Cemetery, keeping an eye out for the names of famous residents, including author Margaret Mitchell, golfer Bobby Jones and Maynard Jackson, Atlanta's first African American mayor. Grab a drink and a bite to eat at nearby restaurants like The Little Tart Bakeshop or Six Feet Under, which has rooftop seating with a view of the cemetery. 

Swan Coach House at the Atlanta History Center. Photo by @atoosathewanderer
Swan Coach House at the Atlanta History Center. Photo by @atoosathewanderer

Buckhead

Time-travel in Buckhead at the Atlanta History Center's 33 acres of exhibitions, historic houses and gardens, including the Swan House, also known as President Snow's mansion in "The Hunger Games." Then, go shopping for modern fashions and goods at the Buckhead Village District, Lenox Square Mall and Phipps Plaza.

Experience some of the city's best fine dining restaurants in Buckhead, including Aria, a James Beard Award semifinalist for "Outstanding Service," and La Grotta, a basement-level Italian restaurant that has been an Atlanta tradition since 1978.

Even More to Explore

Beyond Atlanta's top tourist attractions, there is so much more to see and do in Georgia's capital city. Find great restaurants, places to stay and more things to do in the Guide to Atlanta.

Published: June 2021