As the biggest city in Georgia and one of the largest cities on the entire East Coast, Atlanta has a lot going on. This city is absolutely packed with cool things to do, ranging from its deep ties to the civil rights movement, to its successful sports teams, to its mega-famous local corporations like Coca Cola, and its southern charm.
The Best Things to Do in Atlanta
1. Drink Coca Cola Products From Around The World
If you didn’t know it, Coca Cola is from Georgia and is headquartered right in Atlanta. The World of Coca Cola, the company’s flagship museum, is outright awesome to visit. The museum is both highly informative and interactive, with exhibits on the history of Coca Cola, the extreme lengths that went into protecting its secret recipe, the flavor profiles that are added into Coca Cola Products, a movie, and (our favorite) a tasting room!
While every part of the World of Coca Cola is enjoyable, the tasting room is what puts this at the top of our list of the best things to do in Atlanta. Coca Cola owns a wide range of brands, and they serve up really different and unique products all over the world. The tasting room has over 50 of these unique products on tap, and unlimited samples are included in your admission to the museum. Trust me – it is worth the price of admission (which is only about $19)!
2. Hike Along the Doll’s Head Trail
Breaking away from the cliché, we decided to check out a trail that we had heard about from some friends – the Doll’s Head Trail. This trail is located just a short drive outside of downtown Atlanta, and is the product of a really cool concept. The creators of this trail, in protest to the amount of litter and junk that winds up in the area’s forests and parks, decorated a creepy trail using only trash and litter found on the grounds of the state park where it is located.
From rusty old appliances to creepy dolls (thus the name), this trail is a sad, but highly creative reminder of the damage that we do to our ecosystem. The creators of the trail always welcome contributions to the composition of the trail, but they require that all additions to the trail are from trash that is actually found within the park, and nothing else. Bringing your own trash to add to the trail is the exact opposite of what they’re trying to accomplish! The hike itself is not difficult whatsoever, and is actually mostly on a paved trail. This is absolutely doable with small children.
3. Admire the Whale Sharks at the Georgia Aquarium
We have been to some great aquariums before, but it’s hard to top what they do in Atlanta. The Georgia Aquarium is broken out into many different sections, including Cold Water Quest, Dolphin Cast, Tropical Diver and more. Our favorite part was the giant tank in the middle that has giant manta rays, whale sharks, and other huge creatures. This aquarium is really well organized, and while it is a bit pricey to enter (about $40), we think it is worth checking out. Conveniently, it is just a one minute walk away from Coca Cola World, meaning you can knock them both out in the same afternoon!
4. Educate Yourself at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights
As the birthplace of Martin Luther King Jr., you can only imagine how much this city values social progress and the commemoration of civil rights. Commonly referenced as one of the focal points of the Civil Rights movement, Atlanta has countless murals and museums dedicated to the education about and preservation of civil rights in the United States and beyond.
One of the best-organized places to see the history of American civil rights is the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, which uses its multi-million dollar annual budget to present the history of American Civil Rights and link those themes to challenges that are still ongoing today. Admission is steep – entrance will cost you $19.99 – but it is worth the cost.
5. Indulge at Ponce City Market
Atlanta has plenty of trendy indoor shopping and dining spaces, but our personal favorite was Ponce City Market. This lively indoor food court/shopping mall is filled with local restaurants of every variety, from Latin American, to French, to coffee shops, to Asian, and beyond. There is also a nifty spot named Tap on Ponce with tons of local brews on tap that you can have canned to take home or put in a glass to drink on the spot.
On top of all that, there are some great local and national brands with shops here and there is a rooftop entertainment area with games and a full bar. The Roof is especially fun and worth checking out. This is easily one of the most popular places to hang out in Atlanta, and you should make sure you visit with an empty belly and a full wallet.
6. Explore the Little Five Points Neighborhood
Little Five Points is one of Atlanta’s trendiest neighborhoods, and it is known as one of the most popular hipster hangouts in the city. Located on the eastern end of the city, this neighborhood has a few cool shops, great restaurants, and trendy bars. We definitely recommend checking out The Porter Beer Bar for its great food and good selection of local beers. If you’re looking for a fun afternoon activity, checking out the Little Five Points neighborhood is always a great idea! Just be prepared, as the overall vibe is a little grungy compared to the rest of the city.
7. Dine in at a Unique Chick-Fil-A
If you didn’t know, Chick-Fil-A is from Georgia and they are proud of it! Atlanta has so many Chick-Fil-A locations, and you need to make sure you visit at some point during your trip to have some authentic Chick-Fil-A in its hometown. While Chick-Fil-A is already great, Atlanta has a couple lines of upscale Chick-Fil-A locations – called Dwarf Houses and Truett’s – that are exclusive to the Atlanta area. These locations serve up some bonus menu items, like chicken and waffles, and offer a traditional dining experience with a waiter and everything.
Dwarf House locations feel like a standard diner, and the change of pace is a really cool thing to see. Whether you are visiting a dwarf house location, a Truett’s location, or a standard Chick-Fil-A, it doesn’t matter – as long as you don’t try and go on Sunday!
Best Place to Eat in Atlanta
There are a lot of great places to eat in Atlanta. After all, it is a huge city with a very diverse population. However, as far as we are concerned, there is one restaurants that is by far the best place to eat when you are in Atlanta: Mary Mac’s Tea Room. This restaurant – which is extremely popular and is by no means a hidden gem – serves up some of the most traditional Southern cuisine in all of Atlanta. They’ve been in business for over 75 years, and the service is absolutely top not. If that weren’t enough, the prices are extremely affordable, and the food is mouthwateringly delicious. This place absolutely needs to be on your list when you visit Atlanta, even if it means waiting for a while to get a table.
How To Get to Atlanta
When if comes to how to get to Atlanta, there is really no question about it. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) is one of the biggest and businest airports in the entire country, and you are almost bound to find a geat flight option into Atlanta. Delta Airlines’ headquarters and main hub is here, and they serves the entire United States and beyond with a slew of direct flight options. If you read my post on finding cheap airfare, you know that utilizing hub airports is often one of the best tricks…and other than New York’s JFK and Los Angeles’ LAX, you’d be hard-pressed to find a bigger hub airport in the United States. As with any city that has a hub airport, Atlanta is a great city to book an extended layover. If you’re curious what that means or how to do it, be sure to read my post on extended layovers.
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is also served by several budget airlines, including some that made my list of the best American budget airlines. If you are worried or apprehensive about flying on budget airlines, don’t be. They’re awesome and offer so many great benefits. For more information okay flying on budget airlines, check out my in-depth budget airline guide.
How To Get Around Atlanta
TRAIN | BUS | CAR | UBER
Before we went to Atlanta, I had seen time and time again that Atlanta is a car city, and that you really can’t get around with public transportation. We were renting car anyway, because we planned on taking a couple of day trips from the city that were much easier to do on our own set of wheels. However, I want to let it be known that Atlanta does have good public transportation, and the idea that the public transportation is inaccessible is entirely false!
Atlanta has a fairly expansive public transportation system, including busses, streetcars, and trains. The system can usually get you pretty close to where you’re going, and purchasing a Breeze Card enables you to seamlessly switch between all three modes of transportation. Don’t be fooled – you don’t need a car in Atlanta, if you can’t afford one!
Is Atlanta CityPASS Worth Buying?
If you visit the websites of many of the places I listed above in the section on the best things to do in Atlanta, you will likely see them advertising the Atlanta CityPASS. Depending on what you plan on doing, the Atlanta CityPASS can be a great investment or a big waste of money. Here’s the scoop.
The Atlanta CityPASS comes at a hefty price tag of $86 per adult, which is definitely not cheap. However, if you plan on hitting at least 4 of the 5 attractions that it offers you, you will get your money’s worth. The Atlanta CityPASS includes admission to the World of Coca Cola, The Georgia Aquarium, Zoo Atlanta, and 2 of either the Fernbank Museum of Natural History, the Chick-Fil-A College Football Hall of Fame, and the National Center for Civil and Human Rights.
The three attractions that are automatically included in the CityPASS – the World of Coca Cola, aquarium, and zoo – cost about $90. Therefore, if you visit all 3 of them, you’ve already gotten your money’s worth and essentially get to visit two of the other three attractions for free.
If you plan on visiting all 3 of those attractions, the CityPASS is probably worth it. However, if you’re like us and plan on skipping out on one of them (like the zoo, in our case), you will likely need to visit both of the optional attractions to make your money count. We didn’t have the time or desire to do that, so we opted not to go with the CityPASS. If you plan on visiting all three of the included attractions or two of the included attractions and two of the optional attractions, though, then it is definitely worth your money!
That’s all we have for you about the best things to do in Atlanta! Hopefully this Atlanta travel guide helps you to plan the best possible trip to A-town. If you have any questions, be sure to drop a comment in the comment section
If you’re planning a trip to Atlanta, let us know by commenting below! We’d love to chat ahead of time and answer any questions you have.