Note: All travel is subject to frequently changing governmental restrictions—please check government advisories before scheduling trips. Some attractions and establishments may be closed or providing modified services. We strongly recommend researching any attractions and establishments prior to your visit. This article was last updated October 2020.
All work, no play? Not in this town. While Georgia’ capital city is a thriving business center, visitors looking to add a little (or a lot) of leisure into their trip will have no trouble finding it in Atlanta. Paired with the area’s iconic Southern charm and a glass or two of sweet tea, and you’re in for an incredible escape. Here are some of the best local experiences that make Atlanta truly one of a kind.
Get a SkyView of the Skyline
Want to see a bird’s eye view of downtown Atlanta? Just hop on the SkyView Ferris wheel, towering nearly 20 stories above Centennial Park. With 42 gondolas holding up to 6 people, any seat you choose is literally the best seat in the city to see all its sights. The trip around takes about 15 minutes, and is even more thrilling at night.
Sip Soda at the World of Coca-Cola
Everything is better with Coke, and Atlanta knows this first hand. The city is home to the World of Coca-Cola museum, a 20-acre tribute to the legendary beverage that offers a full immersive experience — from meeting the Coca-Cola Polar Bear to entering “The Vault” to uncover some of the secrets behind the soda’s perfectly crafted formula. And believe us you won’t leave thirsty, with more than 100 international and domestic beverage to taste test during your visit.
Show Off Your Sports Fandom at the College Football Hall of Fame
Saturdays in the fall mean only one thing … GAME DAY. If this sounds like you, the College Football Hall of Fame is an Atlanta experience you can’t miss. Football fanatics will appreciate everything from 50+ interactive exhibits to a 45-yard indoor football field to test their own skills at the game. Don’t forget to personalize your experience by registering your All-Access Pass, which ensures the best school (yours, of course) is highlighted again and again.
Refuel at the Largest Drive-In Burger Joint
Speaking of Game Day, we can’t think of a better way to prep for a victory (or recharge after one) than at The Varsity. The infamous eatery serves up mouthwatering American classics, but don’t confuse this to be an average burger joint — no, this my friends is the world’s largest drive-in. Get the epic experience at their original downtown Atlanta location, which packs up quickly when Georgia Tech plays a home game despite its ability to accommodate up to 800 diners inside. Wash down your chili dog or burger with a Frosted Orange Shake, a classic concoction made up of creamy vanilla ice cream and homemade Varsity Orange drink.
Live Like a Newscaster at CNN World Headquarters
You might be all grown up now, but you can still live out your childhood fantasy of becoming a broadcast journalist at the CNN News Global Headquarters. Take the Inside CNN Studio Tour for a 50-minute behind-the-scenes look into how a news broadcast is produced. Get behind the anchor desk and see how it feels to work for “The Worldwide Leader in News.” You’ll also become well-versed in CNN’s long history and exciting future. Don’t miss a ride up the world’s longest free-standing escalator, and a chance to stay where all the action is at the Omni Atlanta Hotel at CNN Center.
Swim or Sleep with Sharks at Georgia Aquarium
We love a great aquarium, but the Georgia Aquarium takes the cake with its incredibly interactive and unique programs. Take for example their Swim with Whale Sharks program, where you are literally guaranteed the opportunity to swim alongside the largest fish in the world! (Don’t let the “shark” in their name fool you, these aquatic creatures are as gentle as they are giant.) Another unforgettable experience is the Aquarium’s sleepover program, which allows everyone from families and schools to companies and adults to stay the night and enjoy personalized guided tours and the best sleeping spot in the house in front of one of their gallery windows. That is if you can sleep with all the excitement!
Experience Falcon Pride Alongside the World’s Biggest Bird Statue
Even if you’re not a diehard Atlanta Falcons fan, you’ve got to admit the 73,000-pound falcon statue that greets visitors to the Mercedes-Benz Stadium is pretty darn cool. When the artist behind the statue was commissioned, he had one goal: make something one of a kind. Mission accomplished. The resulting piece of art will cause you to stop, stare and probably take more than a few pictures as you admire the world’s largest freestanding bird sculpture in the world — with a wingspan that stretches 70 feet and a height of 43 feet. Move over, Big Bird. This is the real deal.
Celebrate the Perseverance of Civil and Human Rights Leaders
Have you ever dreamed of visiting the birth place and childhood home of Martin Luther King, Jr.? Atlanta gives you just that chance. Explore the legacy of the leader of the American Civil Rights Movement throughout the National Historic Park’s 35 acres, including the home he was born at in 1929 and The King Center — which offers tours that walk you through some of the most important documents from King’s personal collection and other leaders of the Civil Rights Movement. Complete your lesson at the city’s Center for Civil and Human Rights, housing additional civil rights artifacts, alongside exhibits focused on the fight for women’s and LGBT rights, as well.
Discover What Makes the Great Outdoors So Great
Sure, things heat up a bit more than some may prefer in the summer months, but for the most part Atlanta visitors can enjoy balmy, beautiful temperatures. Which makes it a prime place to get out and explore Mother Nature. And there are more than enough unique parks and green spaces to start your journey. Some of our favorites include the historic Grant Park (home to the Atlanta Zoo), Centennial Olympic Park (originally created for use at the 1996 Olympics), Stone Mountain Park (a 3,200-acre park surrounded by the world’s largest granite mountain) and Piedmont Park (featuring a three-acre off-leash area your furry friend will love). If you only remember to pack walking shoes, you’ll be glad you did!
Have more unique reasons to love Atlanta? Tell us in the comments!
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