Insider tips: Planning a trip to Atlanta
One of the cultural epicenters of the American south, if not the entire United States, Atlanta is one of the country's most exciting cities to visit. We've asked our friends at 365 Atlanta Traveler to give a rundown of the things you can't miss in the A. Read below to make the most of your next trip to Atlanta.
What should I do on my first trip to Atlanta?
Georgia Aquarium is the largest aquarium in the nation and with 10 million gallons of fresh and saltwater, it is home to the largest aquarium habitat in the world. You can see dolphins, go behind the scenes with the whale sharks, or do a cage dive with a few Great Whites. For a more leisurely experience try Atlanta Botanical Gardens. From the Fuqua Conservatory featuring the foremost collection of species orchids in the U.S. to its canopy walk and award-winning children’s garden, ABG is sure to delight visitors of all ages.
What are some hidden gems to see in Atlanta?
Unexpected Atlanta offers great tours that many people don’t know about, but that we highly recommend. Their food and history tours give you a taste of the regional cuisine while also sharing little-known stories about Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement. Oakland Cemetery is another great attraction. While a visit to a cemetery might not top most people’s “must do” list, this circa-1850 cemetery far from ordinary. It is beautiful, peaceful, and educational; a showplace of sculpture and the final resting place to many of Atlanta’s founders and noted citizens such as Margaret Mead, Maynard Jackson, and Bobby Jones.
How much time should I spend in Atlanta?
If you're hitting the primary attractions with a CityPASS, then 3 full days should allow you to see the sights. Add two additional days to see the lesser-known (but not lesser quality) attractions and tours, do a little shopping at Ponce City Market, and get your fill of the award-winning restaurants. Feel like traveling into the metro area or the mountains? You'll want to take on another week - or come back for a second visit.
What food is Atlanta known for?
Atlanta is known for its Southern dishes like "meat and three" from Mary Mac's Tea Room, opened in 1945, which is the last of sixteen tea rooms that once dotted Intown Atlanta in the 1940s. Paschal's also serves great Soul Food like fried chicken, braised short ribs, smothered pork chops, and their famous peach cobbler. The food is delicious but the history is even more interesting: Paschal's became the 'meeting place' for some of the most notable people of Atlanta, including Aretha Franklin, Dizzy Gillespie, Andrew Young, Maynard Jackson, Vice President Al Gore, and Dr. Martin Luther King just to name a few.
What neighborhood should I stay in when I visit Atlanta?
The best neighborhood to stay in Atlanta is Midtown. It's the city’s cultural epicenter, offers easy access to Atlanta's transportation options, is brimming with restaurants, parks, and boutique shopping locations. It's also where you'll find the Arts District's entertainment like High Museum, Fox Theatre, and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.
What is the best way to get around Atlanta?
Buses, a subway, and even a trolly are available to get you around the city, but Atlanta's public transportation systems are designed more for the locals to get to work than for tourists to get to the best attractions. Renting a car is almost a requirement when you're visiting Atlanta.
What are the best months to visit Atlanta?
Spring in Atlanta is the best time of year. The city offers multiple festivals and outdoor concerts. It's warm enough to dine on outdoor patios, bike, or walk the Beltline, and see the trees of this "city in a forest" blooming with colors of white, yellow, and pink. The mosquitoes that the South is known for are not yet hatched, and the heat and humidity are still slumbering.
What are the best neighborhoods for food?
West Midtown is where foodies will flock. Here you'll find James Beard chefs, delightful rooftop patios, and fine dining with a casual flair (think JB nominated restaurants with putt-putt back lawns). The breakfast restaurant scene is strong here, and independent coffee shops and ice cream eateries are plentiful.
What are the best neighborhoods for shopping?
Old Fourth Ward's trendy retail district beckons the shopper. The layout is pedestrian-friendly, so you can hop from shop to shop with ease. You'll find an eclectic mix of art galleries, gift shops, jewelry, clothing, and more. It's also home to Ponce City Market, situated in a revived historic Sears, Roebuck & Company building, and directly adjacent to the Atlanta Beltline.
What is the best family-friendly thing to do in Atlanta?
Fernbank Museum is Atlanta's best attraction for families. Besides the free parking, we love the indoor playground called NatureQuest, the larger-than-life dinosaur exhibits, IMAX movies, and more. Outside, kids will love WildWoods and Fernbank Forest. Fernbank Forest is 65-acres of old-growth forest you can hike in. Between this forest and the museum is an educational pathway with climbing structures, nature play areas, and a water feature.
What is the best thing to do in Atlanta for solo travelers?
Solo travelers will love exploring the High Museum of Art if they're looking for a little introspection. This leading art museum in the Southeastern US offers contemporary exhibits, a taste of Southern artisans, workshops, events, and more. Have dinner at the museum and take in the building's architecture under a full moon. If you're looking to see the city and meet new friends, try a segway tour with Atlanta Cruizers. All of their tours are great, but the segway tour gives you an intimate dive into the neighborhoods with fewer kids on the tour.
What is the best thing to do in Atlanta for couples?
Couples will want to check for the regular adult-only events at the major attractions like Sips Under the Seas at the Georgia Aquarium, Friday Jazz Night at High Museum, or Fernbank After Dark at Fernbank Museum. There is no shortage of live museum options, speakeasies, and romantic restaurants in the city, as well.
What are the best annual events in Atlanta?
Atlanta's most popular festivals include the Dogwood Festival in Spring and DragonCon in Fall. Shaky Knees, Shaky Boots and Imagine Music Festival are the most popular annual music events. Finally, the Peachtree Road Race is the annual event for runners across the nation - it's the world's largest 10K and beloved in Atlanta since 1970.