Things to do in Atlanta, GA

Get Your Bearings in Atlanta

By Kelly Skinner
Atlanta Expert

See & Do
Stay
Eat
Party
Shop

Things to See

Think about your interests: theme parks, gardens, art, theater, music, museums, historic battlefields... Atlanta's got all of those and then some in its diverse attractions. Downtown Atlanta is home to CNN, The World of Coca-Cola, Centennial Olympic Park, the Georgia Aquarium and the National Center for Civil & Human Rights. Historic Auburn Avenue marks Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy, while neighborhoods like Grant Park, Buckhead, Kennesaw and Marietta claim home to various Civil War sites. Six Flags Over Georgia lies west of the city, while the famed High Museum of Art, Piedmont Park, Atlanta Botanical Garden and Fox Theatre are in central Midtown.

Hot Tips:

Check out the attractions' websites before you go for special admission rates and museum hours.

Where to Stay

When traveling to Atlanta, you'll find the best hotels in the Midtown and Buckhead neighborhoods. Here, you'll find both the opulent, high-end chain and the thoughtful, local boutique hotel. Additional options abound near the Perimeter and in Downtown Atlanta. Downtown hotels are tailored more toward the business traveler seeking conference and meeting capabilities. For those looking for nirvana outside the city (within an hour of Downtown Atlanta) try bucolic destinations like Chateau Elan or The Inn at Serenbe for a foodie-filled reprieve.

Caution:

If you're in town near the holidays, book your Buckhead or Perimeter hotel in advance. Malls in both areas are popular spots this time of year.

Hot Tips:

Eat at your hotel's restaurant. BLT Steak, Cook Hall, Livingston and eleven offer awesome eats.

What to Eat

Atlanta is a pinnacle city for travelers with an appetite. Immense dining options abound in neighborhoods across the city. If your visit is a short one, plan your meals in Decatur (an easterly in-town neighborhood that seemingly opens a new restaurant every week), Buckhead and Midtown. Doraville is home to Buford Highway, the famed row of mom-and-pop ethnic restaurants (everything from sushi and Chinese dumplings to tongue tacos) and is a prime place for foodies to explore.

Avoid:

Don't go to chains. Try the local spots.

Hot Tips:

It's always a good idea to call and make a reservation. A lot of the hyped or recently opened restaurants book up quickly.

Places to Party

If your idea of an idyllic night out in Atlanta involves dancing, you'll want to hop around Midtown or Buckhead. Both are home to a range of hopping clubs slinging pricey cocktails and thumping beats. Catch live comedians and musicians at spots like Laughing Skull Lounge, Eddie's Attic, Terminal West and The Earl. For a low-key evening, Atlanta offers a smattering of easy-going brew pubs and bars. If you like a posh night out, raise a glass at one of the city's high-end hotel bars.

Caution:

Take Uber or a taxi if you're planning on a wild night out.

Hot Tips:

Visit the club's website before going out and snag a spot on the VIP list. You'll save major bucks.

Where to Shop

For familiar brands and high-end labels, Atlanta's best shopping can be found in Buckhead. Go to Lenox Square Mall for a diverse sampling of well-known retailers. Phipps Plaza, across the street leans toward pricier offerings (Giorgio Armani, Gucci, Jimmy Choo, Valentino, Versace), while various small boutiques can be found throughout the neighborhood. A little further north, the immense Perimeter Mall delights in its extensive options—and surrounding restaurants. The Westside is a home design-lover's paradise with scores of antiques and interiors shops. This area also lays claim to big-name men's shops like Billy Reid and Sid Mashburn.

Hot Tips:

For an incomparable shopping experience, hit the sprawling Scott Antique Markets, held the second Thursday-Sunday of each month.

Best Local Souvenir:

An Atlanta Braves bobblehead. They typically hand them out to the first 20,000 fans at each game, so arrive on time or a little bit early!

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Things to do in Atlanta


Atlanta is known for...

Five of Atlanta's most unique features and characteristics.

1. Central Location:

A city with undeniable Southern roots, modern Atlanta, a major tourist destination in the region is known for its growing number of talented celebrities, its diversity, shopping, thriving nightlife, and sultry weather. It's called Hotlanta both for the weather and the nightlife.

Atlanta is the home of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the world's busiest airport in the world. According to the airport itself about 90 million people travel through the airport every day. Atlanta is also centrally located, within a short flight of where more than 80% of the people live in the United States, according to Hartsfield-Jackson, Atlanta International Airport.  So, if you travel by air and have a layover, you are likely to make a stop in Atlanta. If you live or visit Atlanta, you can take a flight, train or bus to dozens of domestic and international destinations.

 

2. Celebrities:

Through the years, Atlanta has become a hotbed of talent, particularly for rappers and singers who were either born in the city or now call it home. T.I. and his wife Tiny, Bow Wow, Lil Jon, Usher, Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown, Tyler Perry, and Ciara are just a token of the entertainers who call Atlanta home. Julia Roberts is from Smyrna, an area in metro Atlanta, and Tyler Perry got his start in Atlanta, too. There is also a never ending stream of television shows and movies that feature Atlanta, like the Real Housewives of Atlanta, the Braxton's Family Values, and Single Ladies. 

3. Diversity:

Although the old South is described as conservative and maybe even restrictive, Atlanta is known for its diversity and culture. Thousands of people travel to Atlanta for its annual gay pride festivities. You'll also find a healthy mix of people from various nationalities and religious beliefs. Atlanta, therefore, represents a mix of old South values with modern beliefs from its population, which is a tad bit younger than some other cities. 

4. Nightlife:

From Atlanta's nightclubs and music venues to its comedy clubs, the city has everything from high impact partying, to low-key jazz and poetry readings. People visit Atlanta to party in some of the hottest nightclubs in the region. Sometimes celebrities make guest appearances or stop in to hang out in the clubs' lavish VIP areas. The exclusivity associated with some of the more popular clubs on busy nights, makes the nightlife even more desirable. As the sun sets on Atlanta's night scene comes alive with entertainment to suit a variety of tastes. 

5. Shopping:

Visitors can find almost anything that they want to buy in Atlanta. There are dozens of malls and hundreds of shopping centers. Warehouse stores with deals on shoes, clothes, accessories and household appliances are also plentiful. For antiques, modern furniture or household accessories you might shop on Miami Circle to explore its numerous home stores. Shoppers who seek the latest styles from sought-after designers are likely to visit Buckhead. Just about every city in the Atlanta area has shopping areas that locales would call the best.