Top 16 things to do in Atlanta

Food, history, music, sports – whatever you enjoy, Atlanta has you covered.

Even better, this lively city doesn’t make you sacrifice your love of green spaces to experience all it has to offer. Nearly half of Atlanta is covered in tree canopy, so you can appreciate the perks of big-city living without missing out on nature.

Here are some of the best things to do on a visit to Atlanta that you can’t get anywhere else.

1. Experience the Martin Luther King Jr National Historic Park

Celebrate the storied legacy of Dr Martin Luther King Jr and his wife, Coretta Scott King. The Martin Luther King Jr National Historic Park includes a large complex that tells stories of his childhood, his work as a preacher and his civil rights leadership.

Read more: Essential US civil rights sites in the South

Detour: Once you complete your visit at the National Historic Park, walk across the street to get a beautiful skyline view of Downtown Atlanta on the Jackson St Bridge.

You’ll see new artwork each time you visit the Krog Street Tunnel © Warren Weinstein / 500px / Getty Images

2. See the changing street art at Krog Street Tunnel

Street art lovers can catch a fleeting glimpse of the viewpoint of local artists in the Krog Street Tunnel. The graffiti and street art present inside the tunnel changes regularly, but check the walls just outside for commissioned works that tend to stay for a while.

Planning tip: The Krog Street Tunnel is right along the Atlanta BeltLine’s Eastside Trail, so you can continue walking from this street art haven to local shops and restaurants, particularly at the nearby Krog Street Market.

Read more: 15 ways to take in Atlanta – for free

3. Fill up at the Sweet Auburn Municipal Market

This indoor market filled with artisanal shops is great for hungry visitors or those just looking for a casual stroll. Dozens of vendors keep the history of this market alive, which dates back to the early 20th century.

Local tip: Don’t miss the delicious sweet potato cheesecake at the Sweet Auburn Bread Company. The family-owned bakery has been a staple in the city since 1997.

4. Hear Atlanta’s hip hop legacy at the Trap Music Museum

When rapper T.I. named his 2003 album Trap Muzik, he brought to the forefront a subgenre of hip hop that he and other Atlanta rappers were innovating. There’s no better place to learn about Atlanta’s hip hop legacy than at the Trap Music Museum, which T.I. also founded. It’s full of photos and keepsakes from T.I. and other Atlanta artists, including 21 Savage and 2 Chainz.

Coca-Cola memorabilia from around the world at the World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta, Georgia
The World of Coca-Cola celebrates the enduring appeal of the soda first created in Atlanta © karenfoleyphotography / Alamy Stock Photo

5. Sip some soda at the World of Coca-Cola

In Atlanta, Coca-Cola’s brand is so ingrained that “a Coke” is the generic term for any soda, so locals ask for the hometown beverage by its full name. Visiting a museum dedicated to the world’s most famous beverage company in the city of its invention feels obligatory. Even if you’re not interested in learning about the history of Coca-Cola and how it got its start in Atlanta in 1886, stay for the exhibit that lets you taste Coke products from around the world.

Planning tip: The World of Coca-Cola is part of a larger tourist center that includes the Georgia Aquarium and the Center for Civil and Human Rights, all in the same square.

6. Get some retail therapy at Ponce City Market

This former warehouse building sat empty for decades, but it’s now a central shopping district for locals and tourists alike. Ponce City Market also has dining options that are quintessential to Atlanta; make sure you try a King of Pops popsicle. Head up on to the market’s rooftop for minigolf, drinks and cool skyline views.

Planning tip: Ponce City Market is located on the BeltLine Eastside Trail, if you’re planning to walk. The building has deck parking if you prefer to drive.

Fountains in the shape of the Olympic Rings shoot water upwards at Centennial Olympic Park at dusk
The 1996 Olympic Games are celebrated at the Fountain of Rings Plaza © Marilyn Nieves / Getty Images

7. Feel the spirit of The Games at Centennial Olympic Park

Official Olympic venues and courts left over from the Atlanta Olympics are slowly being torn down and repurposed, but the Downtown park commemorating the summer of ‘96 remains. Take a picture of the Olympic rings at the Fountain of Rings Plaza, then take a ride on the SkyView Atlanta Ferris wheel.

Planning tip: Centennial Olympic Park is a short walk away from the World Of Coca-Cola and other Downtown tourist attractions. You can easily tack on a stroll in the park while waiting for your timed entrance at nearby attractions.

8. Catch an indie classic at the Plaza Theatre

Atlanta’s only theater for indie movies, foreign films, classic movies and documentaries, the Plaza has been in business since 1939. Locals love that it maintains its vintage charm while giving moviegoers an opportunity to see films not shown anywhere else in the city.

9. Watch a double-header at Starlight Drive-In

Atlanta’s only remaining drive-in movie theater gives film lovers a nostalgic way to watch two back-to-back movies for the price of one. On the weekends, the Starlight Drive-In parking lot turns into a massive outdoor flea market, with vendors selling everything from tacos to plants and household goods. 

Planning tip: Watching a double feature is an affordable option for the family, as admission for kids aged nine and younger is just $1. You can also bring your own snacks.

A water feature and floral display in the shape of a woman's head and shoulders at Atlanta Botanical Garden
The 30-acre Atlanta Botanical Garden is an urban horticultural haven © Wirestock / Getty Images

10. Smell the blooms at Atlanta Botanical Garden

If you like your outdoor landscapes to be highly curated, you’ll enjoy the 30 acres of outdoor exhibit space at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. It has specific events geared toward different demographics, including children and families, as well as adults and cocktail-drinkers. 

Planning tip: Most of the outdoor paths are wheelchair accessible. Wheelchairs are available for free, and scooters are available to rent.

11. Uncover the story of the city at Atlanta History Center

Nine permanent exhibitions tell the history of the city at Atlanta History Center. The Battle of Atlanta cyclorama, located on the lower level of the museum, is a hand-painted, nearly 360-degree artwork created in 1886, and is one of only two cycloramas that exist in the US today. Step outside to enjoy several trails and to stroll the gardens, which teach visitors about botanical history.

12. See world-renowned works at the High Museum of Art

The largest visual art museum in the southeast US, “The High,” as locals like to call it, features artwork from around the world, in both permanent and traveling exhibitions.

Planning tip: Every second Sunday of the month, the High Museum of Art offers free admission, with a special focus on family-friendly activities.

Many different people are cycling, rollerblading and walking along a stretch of the Atlanta BeltLine on a sunny day
Join Atlanta residents for a walk along the BeltLine, the city’s largest greenway © Christopher V Jones / Shutterstock

13. Stroll or cycle the Atlanta BeltLine

Since work first began on the Atlanta BeltLine network in 2006, it has quickly become the city’s most popular trail system. You can find people biking, riding scooters, exercising, or simply socializing along the trail at most hours of the day. The project is ongoing but, when finished, the BeltLine trails will connect around the city in a full loop. The Eastside Trail is currently the most popular.

14. “Shoot the Hooch” on the Chattahoochee River

If you really want to get a local experience, make sure you go tubing on the Chattahoochee River; what we call “shooting the Hooch.” You can bring your own tube and enter the river from one of the more common entrance areas inside the Chattahoochee National Recreation Area. Alternatively, you can hire a tubing company to bring gear and arrange drop-off and pick up points for you.

Planning tip: The river is gentle, especially in the common stretches used for tubing. However, local laws require that you have a life jacket with you during your tubing adventure, and people aged 13 and younger must wear their life jackets while on the river.

Many people are relaxing and walking in the huge green spaces of Pietmont Park on a sunny day, with a view of the Atlanta skyline beyond the trees
Piedmont Park is a popular venue for festivals and events © A_McIntyre / Shutterstock

15. Go people-watching in Piedmont Park

Piedmont Park is Atlanta’s most popular park. In the spring and summer it plays host to well known annual events such as Atlanta Jazz Fest, but it’s also perfect for an impromptu dance party among friends. Walk along the park’s paved trails to enjoy beautiful views of the city and, even better, indulge in some people-watching.

16. See more than a baseball game at The Battery Atlanta

Baseball fans will enjoy a visit to home stadium Truist Park, in addition to the shopping area around it called The Battery. You can enjoy southern food at the Garden & Gun Club, then see live music at an old Atlanta venue that’s been brought back to life as the Coca-Cola Roxy Theater. Plus, there are plenty of parks and fountains for families (including four-legged family members) to enjoy. 

Planning tip: the area gets busy on baseball game days, but the shops and restaurants remain open even when Truist Park is closed.

Keep planning your trip to Atlanta:

This article was first published Jun 1, 2021 and updated Jun 13, 2024.

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