Atlanta

The greater Atlanta area embraces several different counties. The city of Atlanta is primarily in Fulton and DeKalb Counties, although its southern end and the airport are in Clayton County. Outside Interstate 285, which encircles the city, DeKalb, Gwinnett, and northern Fulton Counties are experiencing much of Atlanta's population increase.

Atlanta's lack of a grid system confuses many drivers, even locals. Some streets change names along the same stretch of road, including the city's most famous thoroughfare, Peachtree Street, which follows a mountain ridge from Downtown to suburban Norcross, outside Interstate 285: it becomes Peachtree Road after crossing Interstate 85 and then splits into Peachtree Industrial Boulevard beyond the Buckhead neighborhood and the original Peachtree Road, which heads into Chamblee. Adding to the confusion, dozens of other streets in the metropolitan area use "Peachtree" in their names. Before setting out anywhere, get the complete street address of your destination, including landmarks, cross streets, or other guideposts. Street numbers and even street signs are often difficult to find.

Atlanta proper has three major areas—Downtown, Midtown, and Buckhead—as well as many smaller commercial districts and in-town neighborhoods. Atlanta's Downtown is filled with government staffers and office workers by day, but at night the visiting conventioneers—and, as city improvements take hold, residents—come out to play. Midtown, Virginia-Highland, Buckhead, Old Fourth Ward, the Westside, and Decatur are the best places to go for dinner, nightclubs, and shows. Other neighborhoods like East Atlanta, Grant Park, Little Five Points, and Kirkwood have unique characteristics that merit exploration.

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  • 1. Atlanta Botanical Garden

    Midtown

    Occupying 30 acres inside Piedmont Park, the grounds contain acres of display gardens, including a 2-acre interactive children's garden; the Fuqua Conservatory, which has unusual...

    Occupying 30 acres inside Piedmont Park, the grounds contain acres of display gardens, including a 2-acre interactive children's garden; the Fuqua Conservatory, which has unusual flora from tropical and desert climates; and the award-winning Fuqua Orchid Center. Check out the view from the Canopy Walk, a 600-foot suspension bridge 40 feet above Storza Woods. A variety of special exhibits take place throughout the year.

    1345 Piedmont Ave. NE, Atlanta, Georgia, 30309, USA
    404-876–5859

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $22.95--$24.95, Apr.–Oct., Tues.–Sun. 9–7; May–Oct., Tues.–Wed., Fri.–Sun. 9–7, Thurs. 9 am–10 pm; Nov.–Mar., Tues.–Sun. 9–5, Closed Mon.
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  • 2. Atlanta History Center

    Buckhead

    Life in Atlanta and the rest of the South during and after the Civil War is a major focus of this fascinating museum. Displays are...

    Life in Atlanta and the rest of the South during and after the Civil War is a major focus of this fascinating museum. Displays are provocative, juxtaposing Gone With the Wind romanticism with the grim reality of Ku Klux Klan racism. Located on 33 acres in the heart of Buckhead, this is one of the Southeast's largest history museums, with a research library and archives that annually serve thousands of patrons. Visit the elegant 1928 Swan House mansion and the plantation house that is part of Smith Family Farm. The Kenan Research Center houses an extensive archival collection. Lunch is served at the Swan Coach House, which also has a gallery and a gift shop. The historic Battle of Atlanta is depicted in Cyclorama: The Big Picture and is included in the admission price—just make a reservation to secure your spot.

    130 W. Paces Ferry Rd. NW, Atlanta, Georgia, 30305, USA
    404-814–4000

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $23, Closed Mon., Museum: Mon.–Sat. 10–5:30, Sun. noon–5:30; Swan House and Smith Family Farm tours: Mon.-Sat. 11-4, Sun. 1-4
  • 3. Centennial Olympic Park

    Downtown

    This 21-acre swath of green was the central venue for the 1996 Summer Olympics. The benches at the Fountain of Rings allow you to enjoy...

    This 21-acre swath of green was the central venue for the 1996 Summer Olympics. The benches at the Fountain of Rings allow you to enjoy the water and music spectacle—four times a day, tunes are timed to coincide with water displays that shoot sprays 15 feet to 30 feet high. The All Children's Playground is designed to be accessible to kids with disabilities. Nearby is the world's largest aquarium and Imagine It! Children's Museum. The park also has a café, restrooms, and a playground, and typically offers ice-skating in winter. Don't miss seeing Centennial Olympic Park at night, when eight 65-foot-tall lighting towers set off the beauty of the park. They represent the markers that led ancient Greeks to public events.

    265 Park Ave. W, Atlanta, Georgia, 30313, USA
    404-223–4412

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Daily 7 am–11 pm
  • 4. Center for Puppetry Arts

    Midtown

    The largest puppetry organization in the country houses a museum where you can see more than 350 puppets from around the world. The elaborate performances...

    The largest puppetry organization in the country houses a museum where you can see more than 350 puppets from around the world. The elaborate performances include original works and classics adapted for stage. Kids also love the create-a-puppet workshops. The Jim Henson Museum at the Center for Puppetry Arts houses most of the famed puppeteer's collection and includes rooms that re-create his early days, like his office and workshop.

    1404 Spring St. NW, Atlanta, Georgia, 30309, USA
    404-873–3391

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $15, Tues.–Fri. 9–3, Sat. 10–5, Sun. noon–5, Closed Mon.--Wed.
  • 5. Ebenezer Baptist Church

    Sweet Auburn

    A Gothic Revival–style building completed in 1922, the church came to be known as the spiritual center of the civil rights movement. Members of the...

    A Gothic Revival–style building completed in 1922, the church came to be known as the spiritual center of the civil rights movement. Members of the King family, including the slain civil rights leader, preached at the church for three generations. Sitting in the main sanctuary on a quiet day when light is shining through the stained-glass windows can be a powerful experience. The congregation itself now occupies the building across the street.

    407 Auburn Ave. NE, Atlanta, Georgia, 30312, USA
    404-331–5190

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free
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  • 6. Fox Theatre

    Midtown

    One of a dwindling number of vintage movie palaces in the nation, the Fox was built in 1929 in a fabulous Moorish-Egyptian style. The interior's...

    One of a dwindling number of vintage movie palaces in the nation, the Fox was built in 1929 in a fabulous Moorish-Egyptian style. The interior's crowning glory is its ceiling, complete with moving clouds and twinkling stars above Alhambra-like minarets. Threatened by demolition in the 1970s, the Fox was saved from the wrecking ball by community activists. Today it hosts musicals, rock concerts, dance performances, and film festivals—with an optional rooftop VIP experience at the reservations-only Marquee Club. Tours should be scheduled in advance.

    660 Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta, Georgia, 30308, USA
    404-881–2100-for box office

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Tours $18, Tour: Mon. and Thurs. 10, 11, noon, 1, Sat. 10 and 11
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  • 7. Georgia Aquarium

    Downtown

    With more than 10 million gallons of water, this wildly popular attraction is the nation's largest aquarium. The 604,000-square-foot building, an architectural marvel resembling the...

    With more than 10 million gallons of water, this wildly popular attraction is the nation's largest aquarium. The 604,000-square-foot building, an architectural marvel resembling the bow of a ship, has tanks of various sizes filled with more than 100,000 animals, representing 500 species. The aquarium's 6.3-million-gallon Ocean Voyager Gallery is the world's largest indoor marine exhibit, with 4,574 square feet of viewing windows. But not everything has gills: there are also penguins, sea lions, sea otters, river otters, sea turtles, and giant octopuses. The 84,000-square-foot Dolphins in Depth exhibit includes a 25-minute show (reservations required). Hordes of kids—and many adults—can always be found around the touch tanks. Admission includes entry to all public exhibits, shows, and galleries. Forty-five-minute behind-the-scenes tours start at $15. There are often huge crowds, so arrive early or late for the best chance of getting a close-up view of the exhibits. Try to buy your tickets at least a week ahead. Online ticketing is best, with discounted rates and digital tickets you can print out at home.

    225 Baker St., Atlanta, Georgia, 30313, USA
    404-581–4000

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $35.95, Sun.–Fri. 10–5, Sat. 9–6; may vary on holidays
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  • 8. Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site and Birth Home

    Sweet Auburn

    The modest Queen Anne–style residence is where Martin Luther King Jr. was born and raised. Besides items that belonged to the family, the house contains...

    The modest Queen Anne–style residence is where Martin Luther King Jr. was born and raised. Besides items that belonged to the family, the house contains an outstanding multimedia exhibit focused on the civil rights movement. A limited number of visitors are allowed to tour the house each day. Advance reservations are not possible, so sign up early in the day.

    501 Auburn Ave., Atlanta, Georgia, 30312, USA
    404-331–5190

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free, Tours: Daily 10–5
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  • 9. National Center for Civil and Human Rights

    Downtown

    This three-level, 43,000-square-foot, hands-on museum offers visitors a multisensory immersion into both the U.S. civil rights movement and global human rights efforts. Each exhibit is...

    This three-level, 43,000-square-foot, hands-on museum offers visitors a multisensory immersion into both the U.S. civil rights movement and global human rights efforts. Each exhibit is a force of its own: the quiet and vicarious look at handwritten journals and personal items from Martin Luther King Jr.; the jolting sensation of sitting in at a lunch counter, hearing the threats and slurs that young protesters would have; or the mirrorlike effect of one-on-one stories told by those who’ve suffered human rights violations—and the workers whose mission it is to triumph over them. The Rolls Down Like Water exhibit is superb, bearing the mark of its curator, award-winning playwright and film director George C. Wolfe. The center hosts one of the biggest celebrations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the world each December. And the building, itself a work of art reminiscent of folding hands, is steps away from parking and a brief walk to World of Coca-Cola and the Georgia Aquarium.

    100 Ivan Allen Jr. Blvd., Atlanta, Georgia, 30313, USA
    678-999–8990

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $16, Daily 10–5
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  • 10. Piedmont Park

    Midtown

    A popular destination since the late 19th century, Piedmont Park is the perfect place to escape the chaos of the city. Tennis courts, a swimming...

    A popular destination since the late 19th century, Piedmont Park is the perfect place to escape the chaos of the city. Tennis courts, a swimming pool, a popular dog park, and paths for walking, jogging, and rollerblading are part of the attraction, but many retreat to the park's great lawn for picnics with a smashing view of the Midtown skyline.

    10th St. between Piedmont Ave. and Monroe Dr., Atlanta, Georgia, 30306, USA
    404-875–7275

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Daily 6 am–11 pm
  • 11. Ponce City Market

    Old Fourth Ward

    The old Sears, Roebuck & Co. building built in 1925 has transformed into Atlanta's hippest place to live, work, shop, and play, especially with the...

    The old Sears, Roebuck & Co. building built in 1925 has transformed into Atlanta's hippest place to live, work, shop, and play, especially with the addition of a mini--amusement park on the roof. The historic property is adjacent to the BeltLine, with easy access to several neighborhoods. The 2-million-square-foot development—led by the same group who brought NYC’s Chelsea Market to life—is LEED Gold certified. Eco-friendliness aside, the real draw is the food hall. Walk through the crowds and among industrial-style spiral staircases and original concrete columns to devour coveted burgers from Holeman and Finch; Southern-style fried chicken at Hop's; and raw oysters from W. H. Stiles Fish Camp. The Dancing Goats Coffee Bar stays busy, especially when City Winery, a music venue and restaurant in its own right, is hosting events. The rooftop amusement park has all-ages favorites such as skeeball and minigolf.

    675 Ponce de Leon Ave., Atlanta, Georgia, 30308, USA
    404-900--7900

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Skyline Park $15
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  • 12. The Battery Atlanta

    Buckhead

    You may be surprised that the Atlanta Braves aren’t the only draw for this multiuse complex that houses homegrown restaurants such as Superica and Antico...

    You may be surprised that the Atlanta Braves aren’t the only draw for this multiuse complex that houses homegrown restaurants such as Superica and Antico Pizza, specialty stores like DressUp and an Atlanta outpost of Savannah's River Street Sweets, and the 3,600-capacity Coca-Cola Roxy that plays host to pop, rock, and hip-hop acts. With plenty of walkable spaces, outdoor patios, and an on-site Omni Hotel, warm weather brings many patrons to the 1.5-million-square-foot destination whether there’s a game or not.

    800 Battery Ave., Atlanta, Georgia, 30339, USA
    No phone
  • 13. African American Panoramic Experience (APEX)

    Sweet Auburn

    The museum's quarterly exhibits chronicle the history of black people in America. Videos illustrate the story of Sweet Auburn, the name bestowed on Auburn Avenue...

    The museum's quarterly exhibits chronicle the history of black people in America. Videos illustrate the story of Sweet Auburn, the name bestowed on Auburn Avenue by businessman John Wesley Dobbs, who fostered business development for African Americans on this street. Make a day of visiting APEX and the Auburn Avenue Research Library, with lunch at the Sweet Auburn Market. All three are within a short walking distance.

    135 Auburn Ave., Atlanta, Georgia, 30303, USA
    404-523–2739

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $8, Closed Sun. and Mon., Tues.–Sat. 10–5
  • 14. Atlanta Contemporary

    Downtown

    Established by a group of photographers in the '70s as the arts co-op Nexus, Atlanta Contemporary is an arts center that exhibits edgy contemporary art....

    Established by a group of photographers in the '70s as the arts co-op Nexus, Atlanta Contemporary is an arts center that exhibits edgy contemporary art. It has the feel of a sophisticated gallery, but the programming is approachable, and its annual Art Party is not to be missed.

    535 Means St. NW, Atlanta, Georgia, 30318, USA
    404-688–1970

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free, Closed Mon., Tues.,Wed., Fri., and Sat. 11–5, Thurs. 11–8
  • 15. Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History

    Sweet Auburn

    An extension of the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library, this unit houses a noncirculating collection of about 60,000 books of African American interest. The archives contain art...

    An extension of the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library, this unit houses a noncirculating collection of about 60,000 books of African American interest. The archives contain art and artifacts, transcribed oral histories, and rare books, pamphlets, and periodicals. There are three galleries with rotating exhibits, and frequent special events, all of them free.

    101 Auburn Ave. NE, Atlanta, Georgia, 30303, USA
    404-613--4001

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Mon. 10–6, Tues.–Thurs. noon–8, Fri. and Sat. noon–6, Sun. 2–6
  • 16. Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area

    City Park

    Crisscrossed by 70 miles of trails, this rec area contains different parcels of land that lie in 15 separate units spread along the banks of...

    Crisscrossed by 70 miles of trails, this rec area contains different parcels of land that lie in 15 separate units spread along the banks of the Chattahoochee River. Much of it has been protected from development.

    Visitor Center, 8800 Roberts Dr., Sandy Springs, Georgia, 30350, USA
    678-538–1200
  • 17. Children's Museum of Atlanta

    Downtown

    In this colorful and joyfully noisy museum for children ages eight and younger, kids can build sandcastles, watch themselves perform on closed-circuit TV, operate a...

    In this colorful and joyfully noisy museum for children ages eight and younger, kids can build sandcastles, watch themselves perform on closed-circuit TV, operate a giant ball-moving machine, and get inside an imaginary waterfall (after donning raincoats, of course). Other exhibits rotate every few months.

    275 Centennial Olympic Park Dr. NW, Atlanta, Georgia, 30313, USA
    404-659–5437

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Starts at $16.95, Weekdays 10–4, weekends 10–5
  • 18. Cyclorama: The Big Picture

    Buckhead

    Moved to the Atlanta History Center from a building in Grant Park (named for a New England–born Confederate colonel, not the U.S. president) the 49-foot-tall...

    Moved to the Atlanta History Center from a building in Grant Park (named for a New England–born Confederate colonel, not the U.S. president) the 49-foot-tall circular painting depicts the 1864 Battle of Atlanta, during which 90% of the city was destroyed. A team of expert European panorama artists completed the painting in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1887; it was donated to the city of Atlanta in 1898. A brief overview is followed by a 12-minute film, then visitors can get a closer look at the foreground figures on the ground level of the exhibit and learn more about landmarks and how the 10,000-pound scene was created through displays and interactive touchscreens.

    130 W. Paces Ferry Rd., Atlanta, Georgia, 30315, USA
    404-814--4000

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free with admission to Atlanta History Center, $22, Tues.–Sat. 9:15–4:30
  • 19. East Atlanta Village

    East Atlanta

    This earthy outpost of edgy-cool shops, restaurants, bars, and concert venues started growing, beginning in 1996, thanks to a group of proprietors with dreams much...

    This earthy outpost of edgy-cool shops, restaurants, bars, and concert venues started growing, beginning in 1996, thanks to a group of proprietors with dreams much bigger than their bank accounts. Spurning the high rents of fancier parts of town, they set up businesses in this then-blighted but beautiful ruin of a neighborhood 4 miles southeast of Downtown. Soon artists and others came to soak up the creative atmosphere. East Atlanta, which is centered at Flat Shoals and Glenwood Avenues, just southeast of Moreland Avenue at Interstate 20, has had its ups and downs but has experienced a resurgence. Many of the majestic homes have been renovated, and what remains untouched romanticizes the area's gritty appeal.

    Flat Shoals and Glenwood Aves., Atlanta, Georgia, 30316, USA
  • 20. Fernbank Museum of Natural History

    Emory

    One of the largest natural-history museums south of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., this museum offers more than 12,000 square feet of gallery space...

    One of the largest natural-history museums south of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., this museum offers more than 12,000 square feet of gallery space and an on-site 3-D theater. The Giants of the Mesozoic exhibit includes an exact replica of the world's largest dinosaur. The café, with an exquisite view of the forest, serves great food. On the second Friday of each month, the museum hosts Fernbank After Dark, which includes live music and food and cocktails for purchase.

    767 Clifton Rd., Atlanta, Georgia, 30307, USA
    404-929–6300

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $20, Fernbank After Dark $22, Museum: Mon.–Sat. 10–5, Sun. noon–5; Martinis & IMAX: Fri. 7–11
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