25 of the Top Things to Do in Atlanta

April 10, 2019

If you’re searching for things to do in Atlanta, you’re in luck

We’ve compiled a list of the best the city has to offer, from family attractions like the Georgia Aquarium to historic sites like Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthplace. We’ve even added a few of Atlanta’s hottest restaurants so you’re sure to get a good meal while taking in all of the amazing things to do in Atlanta.

crowd of people standing in front of large aquarium watching sharks at Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, Georgia, USA

You’ll say “WOW!” again and again at the Georgia Aquarium.

1) Georgia Aquarium

Whether you’re a local or a visitor, the Georgia Aquarium is an absolute must-see. As the largest aquarium in the Western Hemisphere, this attraction boasts over 100,000 aquatic animals. And, while you might not be able to see all of them during a visit you will get to discover an incredible underwater world.

Highlights of a visit include:

  • Whale Sharks
  • Dolphins
  • Penguins
  • Beluga Whales
  • Sea Lions

You can tour the aquarium solo-style with the help of the free self-guided tour app. In addition, the aquarium offers shows, interactive animal interactions, animal encounters and “Behind the Seas” tours.

2) Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site

When it comes to things to do in Atlanta, you can’t overlook visiting the birthplace of Martin Luther King Jr. This remarkable civil rights leader led an extraordinary life, one that is remembered and honored at this historic site.

It’s best to start at the visitor center. Then, tour the birth home of Dr. King before paying your respects at his nearby grave. Afterward, visit the church where he preached. More than 500,000 visitors traverse Auburn Street, the location of these historic sites, each year. Once you visit, you’re sure to come away with a deeper understanding and appreciation behind the man who led the civil rights movement.

Get ready to scream and shout when you ride the coasters at Six Flags Over Georgia.

3) Six Flags Over Georgia

Home to some of the best roller coasters in the nation, Six Flags Over Georgia is a heart-pounding, adrenaline-inducing theme park. Some of the park’s best coasters include Goliath, the Great American Scream Machine, Georgia Cyclone, Dahlonega Mine Train, SUPERMAN: Ultimate Flight, and BATMAN: The Ride. In addition to the crazy coaster thrills, Six Flags offers an all-new 7-acre Hurricane Harbor water park with a zero-gravity drop slide, multi-slide pipelines, interactive kids area, and 38,000 square foot wave pool.

4) The Fox Theater

The Fox Theater has been an entertainment hot spot for almost a century. What opened as a movie palace back in the 1920s now hosts everything from Broadway shows to comedians and concerts. Of course, they still host movies on occasion, too. However, even if you don’t plan on attending an event at the famous Fox Theater you should still plan on stopping by. You can take a guided, behind the scenes tour of the grand, Egyptian-style venue that showcases the largest working Moller theatre organ in the world.

5) High Museum of Art

Designed by architect Richard Meier, the striking exterior of the white concrete, glass, and steel museum is a sight to see in and of itself. Inside, however, visitors will find a world-renowned collection of over 13,000 pieces featuring everything from modern to contemporary art as well as African art, European art, and American photography, among others. One of the most popular exhibits is the “Infinity Mirrors” by Yayoi Kusama.

Rob Bixby [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]

6) Atlanta Botanical Garden

This sprawling 30-acre botanical center features gorgeous outdoor gardens, an award-winning children’s garden, and a unique edible garden. In addition, Fuqua Orchid Center features a renowned collection of orchids never before grown in the Southeast. The display is absolutely stunning! Of course, one can’t forget about the 600-foot Canopy Walk through Storza Woods. This one-of-a-kind exhibit allows guests to traverse through oak, hickory, and poplar treetops on a footbridge suspended 40-feet above beautiful gardens of hydrangeas and perennials.

7) Piedmont Park

Piedmont Park is the place to go to escape the urban sprawl of Atlanta. In addition to being home to the Atlanta Botanical Garden and Lake Clara Meer, this park features excellent views of the skylines, lush greenery and flowers, miles of jogging routes, and a fantastic playground for kids.

This park frequently hosts music and art festivals throughout the year. Highlights include the Dogwood Festival, Atlanta Jazz Festival, and performances by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.

8) Fernbank Museum of Natural History

Visit Fernbank Museum of Natural History to get a closer look at the prehistoric era. This museum is known for its dinosaur exhibits, including an impressive life-scale brontosaurus skeleton. In addition, the museum houses cultural artifacts, hands-on science exhibits, and 75-acres of outdoor adventures including boardwalks and elevated tree pods.

You might think this is one of the things to do in Atlanta that’s for kids only. But, trust us—it’s fun for adults too!

Keizers [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]

9) Ponce City Market

Located at the former Sears, Roebuck & Co. building, this multivendor market has an industrial, modern vibe. After opening in 2014, this market quickly became a prime spot to gather, eat and shop. The Central Food Hall boasts everything from famous chef-owned restaurants to grab-and-go stalls ideal for lunch. Don't miss your chance to visit The Roof at Ponce City Market as well. This newly revitalized space boasts panoramic views, an 18-hole mini golf course, boardwalk-style games, craft cocktails and so much more.

10) Paris on Ponce

Not to be confused with Ponce City Market, Paris on Ponce features unique shopping that can keep you busy for hours! One can find everything from vintage architecture pieces to custom bridal gowns and unique jewelry as well as national chain stores. As a result, it’s the perfect place to shop in Atlanta. Grab a cup of coffee from Three Heart Coffee Roastery to power your day as you browse all the trendy finds and timeless classics this market has to offer.

10) Historic Oakland Cemetery

Typically, you probably wouldn’t consider visiting a cemetery during your vacation. However, the Historic Oakland Cemetery isn’t any ordinary cemetery. In addition to its natural green spaces and striking stone structures, Oakland is the final resting place for Civil War soldiers, golfing legend Bobby Jones and “Gone with the Wind” author Margaret Mitchell. Historic Oakland Cemetery is such an intriguing place weekend tours are offered on weekends (March-October).

11) Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum

Jimmy Carter was born in Georgia. As a result, it’s only fitting that this library and museum honoring his legacy is located in Atlanta.

The state-of-the-art museum follows Carter’s journey from childhood to the presidency with exhibits also focusing on his efforts to promote peace around the world. During your tour, you’ll see numerous artifacts from the Carter administration including the president's personal diary and experience a dramatic “Day in the Life of the President” presentation. In addition, there’s also a full-scale replica of the Oval Office. The Presidential Library is surrounded by two lakes on 30 acres, creating a tranquil oasis that accurately reflects Carter’s own peaceful worldviews.

12) World of Coca-Cola

When you’re in Atlanta, you better not order a Pepsi! (We’re kidding—sort of.) As it was invented in Atlanta, Coca-Cola is the ubiquitous soft drink of choice in these parts. If you don’t want to take our word for it, simply marvel at the World of Coca-Cola which pays homage to the tasty beverage.

The experience includes walk-through exhibits of classic ads, a replica of the bottling process and soda fountains, 4-D theater displays and even a peek a the vault containing the secret formula. Of course, no World of Coca-Cola tour would be complete without actually sampling a Coke. Make sure you’re thirsty, as there are over 100 variations to try!

Rob (Flickr profile) [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]

13) Zoo Atlanta

As one of the best zoos in the U.S., any list of the top things to do in Atlanta should include Zoo Atlanta. With a mission to inspire and preserve, his Zoo strives to not only provide unique animal interactions but educational experiences too.

More than 1,000 animals from around the world call the Zoo home. Among them are the only giant panda twins in the U.S, one of North America’s largest zoo populations of great apes, and an excellent center dedicated to the care and study of reptiles and amphibians. In addition to the animal exhibits, Zoo Atlanta offers a Zoo Train and Endangered Species Carousel kids love!

14) Centennial Olympic Park

Within walking distance of the Georgia Aquarium, you’ll find another of the top things to do in Atlanta: Centennial Olympic Park. This outdoor oasis was originally built for the 1996 Olympics. Today, the 21-acre downtown park remains a top place to take a stroll, have a picnic, and take in stunning views of the Downtown Atlanta skyline.

The park also hosts several festivals throughout the year and features several exhibits honoring the park’s Olympic history.

15) LEGOLAND Discovery Center

If you’re visiting Atlanta with kids, a visit to the LEGOLAND Discovery Center is a must! This highly interactive and educational center is ideal for families with children ages 3-10.

There is much to see and do here, and, best of all, it’s all focused on the LEGO! Build memories with your children as you take a master class from the LEGO Master Model Builders, take a ride on the engaging Kingdom Quest, and enjoy special LEGO 4D cinema experiences as well as an Atlanta-inspired MINILAND exhibit.

Michael Barera [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]

16) College Football Hall of Fame

When you visit the South, you’ll soon find college football is life! As such, it’s only fitting the College Football Hall of Fame calls Atlanta home. Stop by for an immersive fan experience unlike any other. Highlights include a giant indoor playing field, massive helmet wall honoring over 750 schools, memorabilia exhibits, Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl Skill Zone, and much more. With a location in Centennial Olympic Park in Downtown Atlanta, it’s easy to make this Atlanta attraction apart of your itinerary.

17) Atlanta History Center

There’s no question about it: Atlanta is steeped in history. That’s why the Atlanta History Center exists—to curate, protect and tell the stories of this vibrant community.

A trip to the 33-acre Atlanta History Center is more than just a visit to a museum. It encompasses adult and kid-friendly educational programs, historic houses, charming gardens, historic houses, and engaging exhibits. Destinations include the Margaret Mitchell House (author of "Gone with the Wind"), Swan House Mansion, Smith Family Farm, and Centennial Olympic Games Museum.

18) The Center of Civil and Human Rights

Atlanta was at the center of The American Civil Rights Movement so it’s fitting that this museum was erected here. The museum aims to connect the civil rights movement of the past with today’s Global Human Rights Movements. Galleries feature moving imagery, compelling artifacts, and poignant storytelling. Visitors are encouraged to join the ongoing conversation about current human rights movements around the globe.

Take an unforgettable ride aboard the SkyView Atlanta Ferris Wheel.

19) SkyView Atlanta

With a location in Downtown Atlanta, the SkyView Ferris Wheel is the perfect spot to provide sky-high views of the Atlanta Metro area. Climb aboard one of the 42 enclosed and climate-controlled gondolas to experience a ride that takes you almost 20 stories high. There are even VIP gondolas with extra perks like glass floors and Ferrari-style seats to enhance your ride.

20) Catch an MLB Game at SunTrust Park

Die-hard baseball fans won’t want to miss the chance to see a game at this state-of-the-art MLB baseball field. SunTrust Park is the home of the Atlanta Braves and has an amazing game day atmosphere. Even if there’s not a game happening during your visit, touring the local bars and shops near the ballfield is a fun outing.

21) Watch an NFL Game at Mercedes Benz Stadium

The relatively new Mercedes Benz Stadium features a retractable roof and a world-record holding 62,350 square-foot stadium board. Here, you can watch the Atlanta Falcons play or, if you’re a soccer fan, see the Atlanta United FC in action.

Where to Eat

A list of things to do in Atlanta wouldn’t be complete without mentioning some of the awesome places to eat in the city. Be sure to stop by these delicious eateries during your next visit.

The Varsity’s onion rings are a must-order when in Atlanta.

22) The Varsity

If you go to this iconic Atlanta restaurant chain, be prepared to hear: “What’ll Ya Have?” This is the famous question The Varsity is known for and, while there’s no wrong answer, the classic American diner specializes in chili dogs, onion rings, cheeseburgers, and frosted orange milkshakes. The Varsity is an Atlanta staple, so skip the traditional burger chains and give this one a chance during your visit.

23) Fat Matt’s Rib Shack

Barbeque joints are a dime a dozen in Atlanta but Fat Matt’s Rib Shack rises above the rest. Why so? For starters, their juicy meats are served with a tangy yet sweet barbeque sauce that’s literally finger licking good. Combine that with classic southern sides like collard greens and mac and cheese as well as dessert staple pecan pies and you have the making of an epic meal. In addition to the food, the unpretentious restaurant hosts live blues on select nights creating a one-of-a-kind atmosphere.

24) The Silver Skillet

Atlanta breakfast spot’s don’t get any better than The Silver Skillet. This Greasy Spoon-style diner serves up classic American breakfast staples in a retro atmosphere. In fact, the retro diner vibe is so spot on The Silver Skillet has been featured in several movies and commercials. The food, though, is what’s kept customers coming back since 1956. For a true southern breakfast, try the battered pork chops served with eggs, grits, and biscuits and gravy. Another scrumptious southern classic is the country ham with red-eye gravy.

Mary Mac’s Tea Room / Facebook

25) Mary Mac’s Tea Room

Is any trip to Atlanta complete without eating southern fried chicken (No, no it’s not.) Plan on eating at Mary Mac’s Tea Room to enjoy some of the crispiest, juiciest fried chicken in all of Atlanta. For over 70 years, this restaurant has been setting the standard for southern food. And, they know how to do it right! From fried okra to fried green tomatoes, peach cobbler to cornbread, the portions are big and truly delicious. Be sure to come hungry as there is an extraordinary amount of southern comfort food to eat.

Endless Things to Do in Atlanta

As you can see, the things to do in Atlanta just don’t quit. From family-fun to cultural pursuits, this city offers a little something for everyone.

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