Atlanta, Georgia’s capital, is a dynamic city where the modern and the historic coexist without noticeable friction. Despite being infamously destroyed during the Civil War, the once bustling metropolis has since recovered to become one of the most important economic and cultural centers in the Southern United States.
Now with three distinct skylines, it is home to the headquarters of multinational corporations like Coca-Cola and CNN. Atlanta is not only the birthplace of Martin Luther King Jr. and the epicenter of the civil rights movement; it also boasts many exciting and innovative attractions that appeal to modern tourists.
When you factor in the Old South’s grace and hospitality, it’s easy to see why Atlanta is one of America’s most popular destinations.
Georgia Aquarium is the largest aquarium in the Americas and was the largest in the world until it was surpassed by the aquarium in Singapore. Beluga whales and manta rays are just two of the notable species that call these waters home. The largest fish in the world, the whale shark, is only found in this aquarium, which is the only place it can be seen outside of Asia.
Large marine mammals, freshwater rivers, open ocean, tropical reefs, and the arctic all make up separate ecoregions. The aquarium has been trying to successfully breed beluga whales in captivity as part of a conservation effort, but this has not yet resulted in a calving.
World of Coca-Cola
Anyone curious about how Coca-Cola is received in different countries can find out here. One of Atlanta’s most popular tourist destinations, the museum was relocated and renovated in 2007 to accommodate an expanded collection of company artifacts. You can hear commercial jingles from the past 60 years, see advertisements from the 1800s, and watch a movie in four dimensions, all in one place.
The CNN Center lives up to its billing as the home of the world’s most recognizable news brand. Connecting the center to Centennial Olympic Park, Phillips Arena, the Georgia Dome, and the Georgia Conference Center is a large food court atrium.
Studio tours of CNN are available, and they feature demonstrations of the equipment used, as well as visits to viewing galleries that look down on the newsrooms and newscasters. In addition to the studios themselves, there is a large hotel nearby where visitors can stay in the hopes of catching a glimpse of their favorite newscaster or special guest.
The Fox Theatre was supposed to be a Moorish-style temple housing a Shrine, but it was eventually converted into a lavish movie theater. The Atlanta Ballet, visiting Broadway shows, and occasional music concerts are regular attractions at this converted movie theater. The theater’s Egyptian and Islamic architectural elements make it a sight to behold even for those who aren’t planning on seeing a performance there.
The theater’s interior is designed to look like an Arabian courtyard, complete with a sparkling crystal starry sky. The women’s restrooms are located on a mezzanine decorated with King Tut’s throne and miniature sphinxes, and the main ballroom was modeled after Ramses II’s temple.
Stone Mountain Park
Stone Mountain is the centerpiece of this park in the Greater Atlanta Area. The bas-relief on the north face of the mountain is the largest one of its kind. Among the memorial’s highlights is a carving of Confederate leaders Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson. The observation deck is 825 feet (251 meters) in the air, giving visitors a breathtaking panorama of Atlanta.
You can learn more about the geology of the mountain at the nearby museum Confederate Hall. The Antebellum Plantation and Farmyard is a replica of a pre-Civil War plantation complete with 19 authentically restored buildings and a variety of farm animals that guests are welcome to pet.
Atlanta Botanical Garden
Next to Piedmont Park, you’ll find this garden with several sections dedicated to showcasing various regions, plant communities, and animal species. There is a children’s garden, a rose garden, a woodland area, and a Japanese garden.
The indoor Fuqua Conservatory is one of the highlights of the botanical garden, as it is home to a variety of tropical, desert, and subtropical plants and animals. Animals such as tropical birds, turtles, and poison dart frogs can also be found here, along with the largest collection of orchids in the United States. Those who aren’t afraid of heights can enjoy a walk through the park’s treetops on the park’s expansive canopy walk.
There are often charity events and art shows held in the botanical garden. The glass sculptures of Dale Chihuly were on display in the gardens in 2004 and attracted half a million visitors.
Centennial Olympic Park
Built specifically for the Summer Olympics that were held in this city in 1996, Olympic Park sees an increase in visitors every year. The park, which is located between the Downtown Aquarium and the CNN Center, boasts a number of entertaining features. The Olympic rings are the centerpiece of an interactive fountain that features timed lighting, water jets, and music.
An assortment of flags from all of the previous Olympic host countries encircle this. This legendary site of athletic greatness also features a large, air-conditioned Ferris wheel and a large lawn on which a summer outdoor concert series is held.
Martin Luther King Jr. Historic Site
Among the many structures at this historic site are the home where Martin Luther King, Jr., spent his formative years and the church where King’s father and later King himself first preached. In addition to a civil rights walk of fame and the “I Have a Dream” international world peace rose garden, this historic park features a firehouse that served as a key community center in the 1960s.
A large mural depicting moments from Dr. Martin Luther King’s life can be found across from the visitor’s center. During MLK Day and Black History Month, in particular, the venue plays host to a number of large celebrations.
This park in Northeast Atlanta, close to Midtown, was originally the property of Dr. Benjamin Walker as a gentleman’s farm in the suburbs. It changed hands several times before becoming part of the Piedmont Exposition Company’s holdings. Several notable architects have worked on different sections of the park, but it was Central Park’s Olmstead who laid out many of the pathways that are still in use today.
There is a large basketball complex there, which hosted Atlanta’s first team in the early 20th century. This park also features a large lake perfect for fishing, a playground, and a concert lawn that attracts a wide variety of visitors throughout the year.
High Museum of Art
The High Museum of Art, found in Atlanta’s bustling Midtown arts district, is widely regarded as the best art museum in the South. In 1905, the Atlanta Art Association (now the Museum) opened its doors. The High family (after whom the museum is named) donated their Peachtree Street home to the museum in 1926.
The High Museum of Art moved to its current location, a Richard Meier-designed structure, in 1983. The museum features a wide range of decorative arts, photography, modern, and contemporary art, as well as works by American, European, African, and African-American artists from the 19th and 20th centuries.