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 | Garden/Arboretum

    Occupying 30 acres inside Piedmont Park, the grounds contain acres of display gardens, including a 2-acre interactive children's garden; the...Read More

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  • 2. Atlanta History Center

    Buckhead | Museum/Gallery

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

  • 3. Centennial Olympic Park

    Downtown | Park/Playground

    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...Read More

  • 4. Center for Civil and Human Rights

    Downtown | Museum/Gallery

    This three-level, 43,000-square-foot, hands-on museum offers visitors a multisensory immersion into both the U.S. civil rights movement and...Read More

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  • 5. Center for Puppetry Arts

    Midtown | Arts/Performance Venue

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

  • 6. Ebenezer Baptist Church

    Sweet Auburn | Religious Building/Site/Shrine

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

  • 7. Fox Theatre

    Midtown | Arts/Performance Venue

    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...Read More

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  • 8. Georgia Aquarium

    Downtown | Zoo/Aquarium

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

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  • 9. Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site and Birth Home

    Sweet Auburn | Historic District/Site

    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...Read More

  • 10. Piedmont Park

    Midtown | Park/Playground

    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...Read More

  • 11. Ponce City Market

    Old Fourth Ward | Market/Bazaar

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

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  • 12. The Battery Atlanta

    Buckhead | Sports Venue

    You may be surprised that the Atlanta Braves aren’t the only draw for this multiuse complex that houses homegrown restaurants such as El Felix...Read More

  • 13. African American Panoramic Experience (APEX)

    Sweet Auburn | Museum/Gallery

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

  • 14. Atlanta Contemporary Art Center (ACAC)

    Downtown | Museum/Gallery

    Established by a group of photographers in the '70s as the arts co-op Nexus, the ACAC exhibits edgy contemporary art. It has the feel of a...Read More

  • 15. Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History

    Sweet Auburn | Library/Archive

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

  • 16. Chattahoochee Nature Center

    Nature Preserve/Wildlife Refuge

    Birds and animals in their natural habitats can be seen from nature trails and a boardwalk winding through 127 acres of woodlands and wetlands...Read More

  • 17. Children's Museum of Atlanta

    Downtown | Museum/Gallery

    In this colorful and joyfully noisy museum for children ages eight and younger, kids can build sand castles, watch themselves perform on closed...Read More

  • 18. CNN Center

    Downtown | Film Studio

    The home of Cable News Network occupies all 14 floors of this dramatic structure on the edge of Downtown. The 50-minute CNN studio tour is a...Read More

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  • 19. Cyclorama: The Big Picture

    Buckhead | Museum/Gallery

    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...Read More

  • 20. East Atlanta Village

    East Atlanta | Neighborhood/Street

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

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