Things to do in Atlanta, GA

Get Your Bearings in Atlanta

By Malika Harricharan
Atlanta Expert

Stay
Eat
See & Do
Party
Shop

Where to Stay

The best hotels in Atlanta can be found in the Buckhead and Midtown communities. Downtown hotels are nice as well, but are geared more towards conventions. In downtown, you'll be close to convention centers, but surrounded by chain eateries. Midtown and Buckhead offer more diverse and non-chain restaurants. These neighborhoods are a good 15-minute drive from the airport.  

Caution:

Downtown hotels book up quickly during conventions.

What to Eat

While Midtown and Buckhead seem to have many fine dining establishments, neighborhoods like Virginia Highland, Inman Park and the Old Fourth Ward are starting to flourish with new and unique restaurants. Most of these are a 15 to 20-minute ride from the airport. Hotel concierges will tend to recommend restaurants that are in Buckhead or Midtown. Get out to the lesser known neighborhoods mentioned here to really get a feel for Atlanta cuisine.

Caution:

Feed the parking meters or your car could be towed.

Avoid:

Chain restaurants that are prevalent downtown.

Be Sure to Sample:

Uniquely modern southern cuisine.

Things to See

Downtown certainly has many attractions for visitors with the Georgia Aquarium, CNN Studio Tour, Centennial Park and Turner Field, just to name a few spots. However, the High Museum of Art, Fox Theatre and the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, all located in Midtown, offer much culture as well. Stone Mountain Park, about 30 minutes from downtown is a sight to behold itself; it's a granite mountain with carvings of Confederate soldiers.

Take It or Leave It:

Best to book tickets for the Aquarium in advance as lines to buy tickets can be quite long.

Hot Tips:

Museums and botanical gardens offer free entry at times. Check websites for details.

Places to Party

For the see-and-be-seen crowd, the ultimate in nightclubs can be found in the heart of Midtown. Dance the night away at some of the top dance clubs known to be frequented by Atlanta celebrities. For those wanting a more low-key or lounge type of experience, head to one of the pubs or head to the newer bars with craft cocktails like Proof and Provision, or Prohibition. 

Take It or Leave It:

Dress to impress if going to Midtown clubs.

Hot Tips:

Get on a VIP list (via website) for clubs to avoid cover charges.

Where to Shop

For the best in fashion, you'll want to spend most of your time in Buckhead. With Phipps Plaza and Lenox Mall (easily accessible by public transportation) across the street from each other, visitors could really shop 'til they drop. However, you can find neighborhood boutiques in places like Virginia Highland, West Midtown and Vinings as well.

Hot Tips:

Public transit is available to Lenox and is an easy ride from downtown.

Best Local Souvenir:

A paper hat from the Varsity.

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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.