As the birthplace of Dr Martin Luther King Jr., host city to the 1996 summer Olympics and home to the largest urban tree canopy in North America, you’re unlikely to find yourself short of things to do in Atlanta. The diversity of this multicultural commercial hub, where traditional southern eateries sit side-by-side with ethnic restaurants serving cuisine from every corner of the globe, make it a food lovers paradise too.
There’s something here for every sight-seer; whether you have a thirst for knowledge and want to learn about the American civil rights movement or explore the deep seas at the North America’s biggest aquarium; or maybe you’re searching for the ultimate gastronomical delight, or long to get outdoors and see if Atlanta lives up to it’s ‘city in a forest’ reputation, our list of things to do in Atlanta has you covered.
The Georgia Aquarium is home to more than a hundred thousand animals, including the only captive whale sharks outside of Asia. These enormous sharks reside in the similarly enormous 6.3 million gallon exhibit, Ocean Voyager, which forms the centerpiece of the aquarium.
As one of the major global facilities for aquatic animal conservation and research, the Georgia Aquarium has masses of of research and conservation projects ongoing and this background knowledge inspires the exhibits and makes for a highly educational and inspiring experience for visitors. You can even book behind the scenes tours to get a glimpse of how the animals are cared for by the aquarium staff.
The whale sharks aren’t the only giant inhabitants – nine foot Manta rays are also among the highlights, as well as the exceptionally impressive daily dolphin show, and totally adorable Asian small-clawed otters.
Atlanta Food Walks
There are tons of amazing food tours to choose from in Atlanta, and Atlanta Food Walks‘ history-steeped offerings are among the best.
From Dr. King’s favourite – Paschal’s Famous Fried Chicken – at the unofficial headquarters of the Civil Rights movement, to exploring the delights of Atlanta’s oldest market, the immersive Downtown Southern Food Walk will open your eyes to the role of food in shaping Atlanta (and America’s) history and culture.
And of course lets not forget that alongside the engaging stories there are plenty of opportunities to satisfy your appetite with the chance sample the very best of Southern cooking, including soul food chicken, classic Southern barbecue, and sweet Creole candies.
The Center for Civil and Human Rights
As the home of many of the individuals and organisations that led the American Civil Rights Movement- including, of course, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.- Atlanta was right at the center of this critical period of American history.
The Center for Civil and Human Rights tells the courageous stories of the individuals who fought for equal rights for all during the American Civil Rights Movement, and connects this historic struggle with the ongoing global fight for human rights.
The center combines interactive exhibits with compelling storytelling and powerful imagery to immerse visitors in the struggle that eventually led to the transformation of the United States, and to provide a deeper understanding of human rights and the ongoing global fight for equality.
History, architecture, impressive artwork and nature combine in this hidden-gem close to the heart of the city.
With winding pathways, ancient oaks, and elaborate flower gardens, the six acre green space of Oakland Cemetery is a beautiful example of the 19th century ‘rural garden’ cemetery movement that preceded the development of America’s public parks.
Art and architectural examples from Victorian, Greek Revival, Gothic, and Egyptian styles (to name but a few) can be found amongst Oakland cemetery’s mausoleums and sculptures. Enjoy the gardens and take a walk through history on a guided tour (or find your own way with one of the self-guided tour maps from the Visitors Center and Museum Shop) where you’ll discover the resting places of notable figures from Atlanta’s past, and get a glimpse into just a few of the stories that make up this incredible ‘outdoor history museum’.
World of Coca-Cola
For current Coca-Cola lovers, those with fond childhood memories of the fizzy classic and, in fact, anyone whose festive season only starts once the Coca-Cola Christmas commercial airs, the interactive fun on offer at World of Coca-Cola is not to be missed.
Learn how The Coca‑Cola Company grew to be what it is today through thousands of prized artefacts dating back over 125 years of the company’s history, and visit the Vault where the top-secret Coca-Cola formula is secured.
Visitor favourites are the hands-on exhibits- who wouldn’t want to try their hand at mixing their own flavour combination?!
There’s also a full tasting gallery where you can sample hundreds of popular sparkling-drink flavours from around the world including Peruvian Inca Cola, African favourite Bibo Candy Pine-Nut and spicy Thums Up– India’s best-selling soft drink.
The CNN Center
The CNN Center in Atlanta is the world headquarters of the CNN (Cable News Network) 24 hour, all-news channel, and houses many of the network’s studios and main newsrooms.
Anyone interested in television production will love the guided walking tour to get a behind the scenes look at how a live broadcast is produced, including finding out how a teleprompter and the weather map work. As you walk the halls, you’ll get to glimpse the action going on in the newsroom, control room, and – if you’re lucky – maybe even spot a few familiar faces!
This is a great opportunity to get an idea of the day-to-day operation of one of the world’s largest news organisations, especially for families with children and teenagers wanting to get into news and television journalism.
Centennial Olympic Park
The Centennial Olympic Park’s twenty-one acres form the green heart of Atlanta, and the Fountain of Rings – a zero-depth pool area of water jets in the shape of the Olympic Rings- forms the park’s centrepiece.
Be sure to take in one of the Fountain of Rings shows- a dazzling show that lights up the fountain four times daily and is free to view.
During the summer the Centennial Olympic Park hosts free music concerts featuring genre-spanning local artists, as well as big annual festivals. The winter months see the addition of outdoor skating to the activities on offer, as well as the beautiful Holiday in Lights event that turns the park into a winter wonderland for the duration of the festive period.
If you’re planning a trip to Atlanta, we’d love to get you there!
Here at Ridebooker we make booking ground transportation easy, so you can spend less time worrying about how to get there, and more time planning all the exciting things to do once you are!