Whether the family is packing in the van for a summer vacation; a couple, young or old; or a single and friends looking for fun. Atlanta is the great destination for everyone. The climate in summer is temperate to hot, so pack your short, grab a map, and get ready for a visit to the city of the South with the most to offer.
Home of the 1996 Summer Olympics, Atlanta is much more than the Centennial Olympic City. The Olympics introduced the world to Atlanta as an international city. The heritage of the Olympics is Centennial Olympic Park as a gathering place for the community, and tribute to the ’96 Olympics.
No two days in Atlanta are the same. If you are looking for action, culture, fine dining, and a great time, head to Atlanta, Georgia this summer.
Interstates 75, 85, and 20 all converge in the heart of Atlanta, making access easy from any direction. If you aren’t traveling via Interstate, all roads lead to I285 the perimeter of Metro-Atlanta. Don’t let the perimeter limited your activity, the life of Atlanta extends within and without I285 in all directions. This article will introduce to a number of places to visit, and ideas, but contact The Atlanta Visitor’s Bureau prior to planning your tip, so that you can make it your own.
There is really is something for everyone to do in Atlanta. Museums, shows, amusement parks and more. Make plans and reservations before your trip, so that you don’t miss anything you want to do. Some venues, specifically theatrical productions, concerts, the ballet, and restaurants fill-up and sell out quickly.
- 1 1. Most Popular Attractions
- 2 2. Georgia Aquarium
- 3 3. World of Coca-Cola
- 4 4. High Museum of Art
- 5 5. CNN Studio Tour
- 6 6. Fernbank Museum of Natural History
- 7 7. Atlanta Botanical Gardens
- 8 8. Atlanta History Center
- 9 9. Zoo Atlanta
- 10 10. Six Flags Over Georgia
- 11 11. White Water Amusement Park
- 12 12. Stone Mountain
- 13 13. Professional Sports
- 14 14. World Class Restaurants
- 15 15. Buckhead
- 16 16. Small Town Hospitality
- 17 17. Lodging
If you plan on visiting the most popular destinations in Atlanta, consider purchasing the Atlanta CityPass. The CityPass has been designed by the city of Atlanta and its partners to combine a package of entertainment and savings for your vacation. CityPass includes admission to the Georgia Aquarium, High Museum of Art, World of Coca-Cola, CNN Atlanta Studio Tour, Fernbank Museum of Natural History or Atlanta Botanical Gardens/Atlanta History Center, or the Atlanta Zoo. The CityPass allows flexibility in planning, and gives you entrance into eight of the above popular attractions, insider tips, coupons, and more. The CityPass is available for $59 for adults, and $45 for kids. This offers you over $50 in savings.
Many of the attractions are located in the New Pemberton Place down town. Pemberton Place offers a plethora of Atlanta attractions in one location, with parking convenient to Georgia Aquarium, the New World of Coca-Cola, and Centennial Olympic Park. Pemberton Place is a twenty acre facility across from Centennial Olympic Park.
The newest, hottest attraction in Atlanta this summer is the new Georgia Aquarium. Locals and travelers are flocking to the world’s largest aquarium. Over 100,000 species inhabit the 8 million gallons aquarium. Visitors are treated to beluga whales, sharks, penguins, jelly fish, rays, sea anemone, and star fish. Hours are 10 AM -5 PM, Monday through Thursday; 9AM – 6PM, Friday through Sunday. Summer hours are extended two hours in the morning, and one hour in the evening. The Aquarium recommends visitors come at opening, or after 3 to avoid the biggest crowds.
Prices range from $18 for children ages 8 – 12, $20 for seniors over the age of 55, and $24 for adults. Tickets may be purchased on-line. Advance purchase is recommended, as tickets are currently selling out in advance. In addition to aquarium viewing, visitors may purchase a ticket to the 3D film, or a behind the scenes experience. If using the CityPass, make reservations in advance for immediate entry.
Atlanta hosts the headquarters of the world’s most popular soft drink. It is also home to World of Coca-Cola, home to the largest permanent exhibit of Coca-cola products and memorabilia. World of Coca-Cola takes the visitor through a history of Coca-Cola, from its founding by a small town pharmacist, Pemberton, to its international reach. Additionally, while visitors are there, they will have a chance to taste Coke from over 70 countries around the world. This is usually the kids’ most favorite part of the tour.
If you have visited World of Coca-Cola before you visited the older facility that hosted over 13 million visitors. Plan a visit to the new World of Coca-Cola. The New World of Coca-Cola is twice the size of the old facility. The new facility will reflect the changing face and world-wide reach of Coke. It will also display a variety of artifacts and memorabilia that have never been seen by the public before. As of May 24, 2007, the World of Coke will be relocated to Pemberton Place, next to the Georgia Aquarium, and across from Centennial Olympic Park. Tickets for the New World of Coca-Cola will be on sale in April 2007. Advance purchase is recommended in order to be able to visit the New World of Coca-Cola this year.
The World of Coke is open year round, closed only on Easter, Christmas, and Thanksgiving. Daily hours are 9 AM to 5PM. Previously, tickets were $9 for adults, $8 for seniors, and $5 for children ages 4-11. Younger children are free. It is unclear if ticket prices will change with the opening of the new facility, so be sure to check the New World of Coca-Cola website prior to your trip.
Atlanta’s High Museum of Art is the premier art museum of the southeast. Newly renovated, in 2005, by Italian architect, Renzo Piano, the new High Museum includes three buildings to house the ever expanding permanent collection and community programs. The High maintains a permanent collection of over 11,000 items. It is also home to some of the most outstanding mobile exhibits in the world, including works from the Louvre, Picasso, photography collections. The High also boasts a permanent collection.
The High Museum of Art is part of the Woodruff Arts Center, which offers the best of theater, music, and the arts. It is a cultural mecca for the south offering the Atlanta Symphony, The Alliance Theater, 14th Street Playhouse, and the museum. Offerings at the Woodruff Arts Center vary throughout the year. Visit their website to find out what is happening when you are in the area. All tickets may be purchased on-line. Adult tickets are $15, senior tickets: $12, children $10 and children under the age of six are admitted free.
Included in the AtlantaPass is a visit to one of the best known news gathering and broadcast centers in the world, CNN Studios. Visitors get a behind the scene tour of the technology and people that make the network of CNN families. The CNN Studio is located at Ted Turner’s CNN Center, also the home of TBS, Inc. This is the same location and part of the building that used to be known as the Omni International. During an economic slump, Turner purchased the facilities and relocated his headquarters in the building. He removed the skating rink, and added numerous retail shops and restaurants, which are now a part of a thriving business center.
Visitors on the CNN tour see how the producer puts news programs together. They are given the opportunity to visit a working newsroom and work with an interactive weather map. Adult tickets are $12, seniors $11, and children $9, age four and under are free.
Optional visits on the Atlanta CityPass include one of the following: the Fernbank Museum of Natural History, Atlanta Botanical Gardens and Atlanta History Center, or Zoo Atlanta. Each of these is a world class facility. The choice will depend on the interests of the travelers.
Fernbank Museum of Natural History is an excellent choice for traveler’s with children, or those with an interest in biology, artifacts, and human culture. The museum features the world’s largest dinosaurs, “Giants of the Mesozoic.” Fernbank also features an IMAX theater, and interactive learning for children and adults. There are often live exhibits at the Fernbank. Currently the Fernbank Museum features snakes and lizards. A new permanent exhibit “Reflections of Culture” opened in January of 2007. This exhibit is designed to compare the similarities and differences of cultures throughout the world. Objects of interest include architecture, furniture, tools, weapons, arts and crafts, and items of personal adornment.
Travel back in time at the Fernbank Museum of Natural History. Trace the development of the earth, life’s beginnings, the rise of the dinosaurs, and the development of the American continents up to European settlement. This is all in addition to the special exhibitions that are featured throughout the year. Check the website for special exhibits and features. The snake and lizard exhibit is the current special exhibit. If you plan on visiting Atlanta in the fall, Fernbank will feature a variety of colorful frogs.
Fernbank Museum of Natural History’s hours are 9AM – 5PM week days and Sunday noon to 5PM. Adult entry is $13, seniors and students admission is $12, children ages 2-12 are admitted for $9. Tickets for the IMAX show is an additional $11 for adults, $10 for students and seniors, and $9 for children. A value pass may be purchased for admission to the Museum and IMAX. Reservations are recommended. Call 404-929-6400. Tickets may be purchased in advance, over the phone. Unfortunately, there is no on-line purchase for Fernbank tickets.
The Atlanta Botanical Gardens is home to an array of beautiful and exotic plant life. The plants are arranged by collections and gardens, throughout what is known as the entire Garden. Once in the lobby, visitors are exposed to tropical gymnosperms, and plants common to the temperate regions of Atlanta. This area is used for introduction to the Garden, and educational purposes, as well. The tropical garden features some of the world’s most abundant flora. The Desert House features special plants from the Spiny Forest, a desert region in Madagascar. The Orangerie house is home to tropical and subtropical plants that are known to be beneficial to medicine. This garden also features a large variety of well-known spices. The Orchid Hall is the only exhibit in the United States dedicated to the preservation of orchids, and public education about this beautiful flowering species. The Cloud Forest is designed after those found in the Andes Mountains of South America. It includes a giant waterfall built of Georgia granite boulders covered with a diversity of plants, including orchids and tubular flower plants. The Cloud Forest also has fallen logs covered with mosses and ferns.
Admission to the Atlanta Botanical Gardens is $12 for adults and $9 for seniors and children ages 3 to 17. Children under the age of three are free. Families visiting with children should plan to visit the Children’s Garden. When planning your trip be sure to check the calendar for special events including drop in classes or special exhibits. The Atlanta Botanical Gardens are closed on Mondays.
The Atlanta Botanical Gardens are located next to Atlanta’s Piedmont Park. The Park is a great place to picnic after your visit to the Botanical Gardens. Bring your Frisbee or football to spend time in Atlanta’s premier park. The lawns are luscious, and your pet is welcome in the park.
The Atlanta History Center offers a variety of exhibits, old homes, and gardens. The permanent collection includes a museum dedicated to the Centennial Olympic Games; a museum dedicated to Atlanta’s history from its native American history to its current status as a thriving metropolis; an American Civil War collection; a collection dedicated to Bobby Jones, golf legend; and a Philip Trammell Shutze collection dedicated to his fine ceramics, furniture, silver, and rugs.
Homes on the Atlanta History Center include the 1930’s Swan House and the Tullie Smith Farm. The Tullie Smith Farm is a typical, antebellum plantation. The plantation home includes a working farm where you will find a blacksmith, candle maker, quilting and spinning, and basket weaving. Visitors tour the plantation where workers are dressed in period clothes, performing duties common to plantation living. The History Center also includes over thirty acres of gardens to tour and enjoy.
Admission to the Atlanta History Center is $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and students over the age of 13, and $10 for children ages 3-12. Reservations can be made by calling 404-814-4125. You may also call ahead, or check the website for special lectures, workshops, or programs.
Zoo Atlanta is located in historic Grant Park, just minutes outside of downtown Atlanta. Zoo Atlanta has over 200 species and 700 specimens from around the world on over 40 lush acres. It is one of the ten oldest, continuously run zoos in the United States. Zoo Atlanta is also a leader in world class natural habitats for animals. Zoo exhibits include The Ford African Rain Forest, African Plains, Asian Forest, World of Reptiles, and Flamingo Plaza. There is also a kid’s petting zoo, carousel, and round the zoo train. Visitors will be able to see giraffes, zebras, orangutans, elephants, lions, tigers, and more. Zoo Atlanta’s most prized possessions are the gorillas and pandas.
The zoo is committed to conservation and research. Zoo Atlanta is also committed to public education. Call ahead to find out about special exhibits, shows, and educational opportunities. The Zoo is open 9:30-5:30 on weekdays and 9:30-6:30 on weekends. Admission is $17.99 for adults, $13.99 for college students and seniors, and $12.99 for children ages 3-11. Zoo Atlanta is open 363 days a year; closed only on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
Six Flags Over Georgia is the Southeast’s premier amusement park. The park boasts a dozen thrill rides including: Batman, Goliath, Ninja, Mind Bender, Acrophobia, Superman, and the Great American Scream Machine. Other rides include Splash Water Falls, Thunder River, and the Wheelie. An entire section is dedicated to children’s amusement, with rides, play areas, shows, and visits from their favorite Loony Tune characters. There are plenty of food vendors throughout the park. There is also a video game room, and plenty of shopping. Music and comedy venues are located throughout the park. Check the calendar for your travel dates for a premier performance at the Six Flags amphitheater.
2007 is Six Flags Over Georgia’s 40th anniversary celebration. Check their calendar for special events throughout the year. Tickets or season passes may be purchased on-line, for a $5 savings. If you plan to visit Six Flags more than once or twice, a season pass pays for itself in two visits. If you are visiting from out of town, check local supermarkets and fast food establishments for discount tickets. Half price tickets are often offered as a promotional on cans of Coca-Cola purchased in the Atlanta area. Half price discounts are often for half a day, but the best time to visit is in the late afternoon and evening. The park is most crowded first thing in the morning. The discount is crucial, because tickets are $49.99. Children under 48″ are admitted for $29.99. Parking is also $15-$20.
In April and May, the park is open from 10AM-9PM on weekends. As the summer progresses the park hours vary. Check the park calendar for the dates you plan to visit Six Flags over Georgia.
White Water Amusement Park is the place to cool down on a hot, sultry summer day. Now owned and operated by Six Flags, your family can save by purchasing a two day pass that includes both parks.
White water offers a wave pool, two large children’s areas, and a variety of high thrill water slides. There are plenty of chairs for those who prefer to stay dry and soak up the sun.
Summer operating hours and prices have not yet been released. Check the website frequently, for updates.
Stone Mountain is a 3,200 acre theme park, located just outside of Atlanta. The park is centered around the world’s largest piece of free standing exposed granite. It is one of the most visited sites in the United States. The side of the mountain is forever marked with a Confederate Memorial carving, featuring three confederate generals. Despite the Confederate Memorial etched in the granite, Stone Mountain has worked to become a place of healing for a nation divided years ago by Civil War. Visitors may learn more about the war in the visitor’s center.
Activities include an 1870’s barn with an outdoor play area, a “Mississippi” paddle-wheel Riverboat Cruise, a scenic train ride, a sky-ride to the top of the mountain, Treehouse challenge, and special “Duck Rides” around the park that end with a splashdown in the lake located at the base of the mountain. The new country town offers shopping, food, and a 4D theater that is a must see on your park visit. Every evening a 45 minute laser light show projected on the side of the mountain can be seen from the lawn. The show is complete with animated laser show, and surround sound music.
There is also an antebellum home to tour, a working grist mill, and a covered bridge. The park has camping facilities including canoes and pedal boats. The camping facilities have been named among the nation’s best. There are nature trails throughout the park, and climbing the 1.3 mile high mountain seems to be a visitor favorite. If you aren’t up to the climb, take the skybucket, and meet your party at the top. You’ll want to see the breathtaking view.
There is no charge for the laser show, and charges for the other attractions vary. The best deal is to purchase an attraction package. They vary in price from $1-$24 for adults, $15-$18 for children, depending on the number of attractions you plan to visit. Parking is $8. Throughout the year there are special events, concerts, and festivals to enhance your visit to Georgia’s Stone Mountain Park.
During the summer months, the park attractions are open from 10AM to 8PM, with the laser show at 9:30PM. Traffic leaving the laser show is always horrific, be prepared for a patient wait to make your way back to the freeway.
If amusement parks, gardens, and historic sights don’t interest you, perhaps Atlanta’s professional sports teams will. Atlanta is home to the Atlanta Braves baseball team, Hawks basketball, Thrashers hockey team, and the NFL Atlanta Falcons. In addition to the teams, the sports fields and arenas located in Atlanta are world class.
Turner Field is home of the Atlanta Braves. The 50,000+ seat stadium was designed with baseball nostalgia in mind, but using state of the art technology. There are a variety of activities to keep the family busy before, during and after the ballgame. Arrive early to catch batting practice and possible grab an autograph or two.
The NBA Atlanta Hawks can be seen at Philips Arena during season. Game tickets range from just a few dollars, if you don’t mind sitting in the rafters, to over a hundred dollars for VIP seating. Tickets can be purchased on-line through Ticketmaster. Visit the Ticketmaster website or the Hawks website for a view of arena seating. Players will often sign autographs before and after the game. If you have the time, hang around in the stands just outside the tunnel. You may be rewarded with an autograph or picture of your favorite player.
If basketball isn’t in season, then maybe it is time for NFL football. The Atlanta Falcons play regularly at the Georgia Dome. If you don’t want to see the players, come out and watch the Falcon cheerleaders. You’ll get a chance to visit the Georgia Dome. The Georgia Dome is one of the most noticeable pieces of architecture once you enter the city. Again, ticket prices depend on seating, but if you have ever been to the Georgia Dome, you know there isn’t a bad seat in the house.
If professional baseball, basketball, or football isn’t your thing, then maybe you’d enjoy an Atlanta Thrasher’s Hockey Game. The Thrashers also play in Philips Arena. Ticket prices vary with seating.
Yet another sporting option is the AFL indoor football team, The Force. The Force is Atlanta’s own indoor arena football team. The action is quick and heavy. Die hard football fans who are not visiting during NFL season should check out The Force at Philip’s Arena.
Tickets for all major sporting events in Atlanta are available year-round through Ticketmaster. If you want to catch a less expensive game, the Rome Braves, an Atlanta Braves farm team plays just over an hour away. Ticket prices are low, from $4 for lawn seating to $10 for club level seating. You have a better chance of meeting players one on one. Don’t forget to purchase a pack of pre-rookie team cards. You never know who is going to make it in the big leagues.
You have to eat while you are in Atlanta, so why not take advantage of some of the world’s best cuisine. Whether you are in the mood for Italian, Brazilian, Persian, Thia, Japanese, or any other, Atlanta has some of the best chefs in the world working behind the scenes to give you a world class dining experience.
It would take a book to contain all of the fabulous restaurants available in Atlanta, so we’ll just mention a few that you might not want to miss.
Dante’s Down the Hatch is a personal favorite. Dante prepares fondue for bread, veggies, meat, and fruit . The restaurant is located across from Lenox Square Mall. Dante’s is fashioned after an old-world ship. You may sit in the restaurant or on the ship’s deck to enjoy live Jazz. It is a quiet, romantic and relaxing atmosphere.
If you are looking for a little more spice, why not try the Imperial Fez Moroccan Restaurant. Belly dancers entertain the guests seated on the floor among lush pillows and Moroccan decor. The Imperial Fez has been voted one of the hottest spots in Atlanta.
The best Italian food can be found in one of the many small Italian cafes in the cities and the suburbs. The small, unimposing Italian restaurants usually offer the best food, service, and wine.
If you like dinner theater, and don’t mind a little low risk audience participation, Agatha’s – A Taste of Mystery is a great dinner theater. The Murder Mystery is always filled with humor, and Agatha’s employs some of Atlanta’s finest actors to lead the adventure. Reservations must be made in advance.
One of the latest trends in Atlanta is the food and service of a Brazilian buffet. Fogo de Chao is one of Atlanta’s busiest restaurants. The salad bar provides the centerpiece for the restaurant from which life springs. Brazilian men in baggy gauchos bring platter after platter of meat: steak, pork, roast, and continue to fill your plate until you tell them to stop. Diners are given a small card. One side is red, the other is green. As long as the green side is facing up, your Brazilian waiters will continue to load your plate with meats.
A trip to Buckhead will introduce you to the nightlife. Within 2 1/2 blocks there are 100 bars, parties, and other great restaurants. Many bars are within walking distance. Some of the more popular bars include: The Beer Mug, Black Bear Tavern, Buckhead Saloon, Chameleon Club, Coyote Ugly Saloon, and Buckhead Pool Hall. Buckhead Pool Hall has been included in music videos and in one of the most famous European Levi’s commercial.
There is also plenty of live music to entertain you on your night out in Buckhead. If you like live music you may enjoy Cafe Tu Tu Tango, or the Havana Club which offers authentic Latino music. Serious dancers will enjoy Dance City Ballroom, which offers a smoke and alcohol free dancing environment. For a more relaxed evening, try some live Jazz at Ted Howe’s Concert Club. Carbo’s Cafe and Piano Bar also offers laid back mood and music.
Fulton County requires that you be 21 to enter any club.
If you love to shop be sure to visit Buckhead. The finest shops and salons line the streets. Just down the road you will find Phipp’s Plaza and Lenox Mall, both offer exquisite shopping experiences. There are also antique shops and art galleries.
If you get tired of the hustle and bustle of the city, take a drive to the suburbs. You’ll find a small town atmosphere in towns like Roswell and Marietta. Merchants still line the city squares, which are beautifully maintained parks. There are lots of antique shops and boutiques to browse. You’ll find that Southern hospitality is not dead, as you are greeted by smiling faces and friendly greetings.
Browse the cities that make up the suburbs. There you will find playhouses, concert venues, comedy venues, and more great food. You may even find some southern fried chicken, with beans and cornbread. You’ll know you have made it in the south when you wash a good southern meal down with a glass of ice cold buttermilk. If you can’t handle the buttermilk, there’s always plenty of Coke.
Hotels and motels are available all over the city to suit families, individuals, or adult travelers. Check expedia.com or hotels.com to find the best value for your money. You will find everything from five star hotels, to mom and pop motels. If you are able, stay downtown, and you will be central to the sites you would like to visit.
The World awaits you, in Atlanta, Georgia. Plan a visit this summer.