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The 20 Best Things to Do in Atlanta for First Time Visitors


Atlanta, the capital and most populous city of Georgia, is a popular tourist destination. It is also visited by many business travelers as it is an important city in terms of commerce, finance, and technology. Those who visit this city will find many interesting things to see and do during their stay, from landmarks of historic significance to fun family attractions. As there are so many activities and attractions to enjoy, you might find it hard deciding which are the best things to enjoy during your firs-time visit to this amazing city. It is important to choose the best activities to make the most of your time in this diverse and wonderful city. Here are the 20 best things to do in Atlanta during your first-time visit.

20. SkyView Atlanta

One of the best ways to get a view across the skyline of downtown Atlanta is to ride the SkyView Atlanta. This is a large Ferris wheel that is located just east of the Centennial Olympic Park. It is 20-stories tall, and it has 42 air-conditioned gondolas. While the views from the top of the ride are impressive, the wheel itself is an equally impressive sight, especially at night when it is lit up. A ride on the wheel is a great opportunity to snap some photos of the city skyline You can also take photographs in front of the wheel.

19. CNN Studio Tours

CNN is famous for being one of the world’s largest news organizations, and its headquarters are based in Atlanta. It is possible to take a tour of the CNN Center to learn about the daily operations of the organization. The tours last for just under one hour, and visitors see the studios used by broadcasters and the control rooms. If you opt for one of the upgraded tours, you might have the chance to access one of the live newsrooms.

18. Zoo Atlanta

Like many other cities, Atlanta has an amazing zoo. However, this one stands out from many other zoos as it has a large panda population, which is one of the highlights of a visit to this attraction. Zoo Atlanta is one of only four zoos in the United States to have giant pandas. However, there is plenty more to this zoo than the pandas, as it is home to more than 200 species, including lions, zebras, reptiles, birds, and giraffes. The zoo gives visitors information about each of the species, and there are exhibitions, public feedings, talks, and displays every day. There are also other activities and rides to enjoy at this venue.

17. Center for Puppetry Arts

Although there is a vast choice of things to do in Atlanta, one of the more unusual options is a trip to the Center for Puppetry Arts. You may have very few opportunities in your life to visit an attraction with this focus. This attraction is a celebration of puppets, with displays including restored puppets from different eras, and some that have featured in films. Visitors will have the chance to learn about the art of puppet making, and they can even watch films such as ‘The Muppets Take Manhattan’. There are also live puppet shows performed daily that both adults and children alike will enjoy.

16. Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area

Another fantastic place to spend time outdoors appreciating nature in the area surrounding Atlanta is the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area. There are 15 separate units of land that are connected by a 48-mile stretch of the river at this massive recreational park. The challenging terrain and stunning surroundings are the perfect natural playground for a wide range of outdoor activities, both on land and in the water. It is a popular place for hiking, kayaking, rock climbing, and rafting. Some activities are suitable for every member of the family and all ability levels. It is also a great place to see wildlife, absorb yourself in the beauty of the area, enjoy a picnic, and take photographs of the surroundings to commemorate your trip.

15. World of Coca-Cola

Atlanta is the birthplace of Coca-Cola, so you should visit the attraction dedicated to this soft drink during your visit, says Conde Nast Traveler. Pharmacist John S. Pemberton invented this soft drink in Atlanta in 1886, and it is now one of the most popular soft drinks in the world. World of Coca-Cola is a temple to the production and history of the brand, and it includes a 92,000 square foot interactive museum. A highlight of a trip to the museum is the 4D theater. There is also a tasting room where visitors can taste the 100 Coca-Cola sodas from around the world. If you are a fan of the soft drink, then this is a fascinating venue to visit.

14. High Museum of Art

For art lovers, the top venue to visit during your first-time visit to Atlanta is the High Museum of Art. You can take delight at the building that houses the museum before even stepping inside, as the physical structure is impressive. Once inside the Richard Meier-designed building, you will see a white porcelain interior that houses a huge collection of 19th and 20th-century art. This includes some impressive pieces by Norman Rockwell, Thomas Sully, and Frederic Church. The varied styles of artwork are a delight to see, and this makes a great activity for a rainy day when outdoor activities are not an option.

13. College Football Hall of Fame

In Atlanta, college football is a big deal, and the College Football Hall of Fame is a celebration of this. Located close to Georgia Aquarium and the Centennial Olympic Park, visitors to this 95,000-square-foot facility can enjoy more than 50 interactive displays. There are also many interesting exhibits, such as historical trophies. This attraction is most appealing to those who are interested in football.

12. Stone Mountain Park

Stone Mountain Park covers a staggering 3,200 acres. This natural beauty spot is one of the most stunning places to visit in Atlanta. Some sections of the park have elevated positions that overlook parts of Atlanta. There is plenty to keep the whole family entertained during a visit to this park, including the world’s largest high relief sculpture, wall carvings, and several family-friendly attractions. This location is situated just outside Atlanta, and you can spend a whole day there. The park is also ideal for watching wildlife and simply relaxing with your family.

11. Oakland Cemetery

An unusual yet interesting attraction to visit is Oakland Cemetery. Located near downtown Atlanta, this is a huge cemetery covering more than 48 acres. It is a pretty place to visit with trees, flowerbeds, winding paths, and interesting gravestones and monuments. There are also elaborate mausoleums, impressive sculptures, and a fascinating collection of art and architecture. One of the reasons people visit the cemetery is because there are many celebrities and notable people from Atlanta buried in this location. Taking a stroll between the gravestones is a surprisingly tranquil activity.

10. Atlanta Botanical Garden

To enjoy some beautiful sights and perfect aromas, then a visit to Atlanta Botanical Garden is the ideal way to spend your time. The gardens cover 30 acres and have some interesting features, such as the Tropical Rotunda, the Edible Garden, and the Lou Glenn Children’s Garden. It is also home to one of the few remaining hardwood forests in the city. It is a peaceful place to spend your time away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

9. Georgia Aquarium

Georgia Aquarium is one of the top attractions for nature lovers, and it is also a fantastic day out for all the family. There are more than 100,000 animals from 700 species at Georgia Aquarium. These are presented in seven different galleries. One of the highlights for many people is walking through the 6.3-million-gallon whale shark tank. There are plenty of opportunities to learn about the different species on display, and there is also lots of different information about protecting their natural habitat. Visitors of all ages will love the displays, and many people find this a peaceful place to spend their time. Furthermore, it is a chance to combine fun with an educational activity.

8. Fernbank Museum of Natural History

There is something of interest to everyone at the Fernbank Museum of Natural History, says Time Out. Visitors are taken on a journey through time as the exhibitions are laid out in the era. You will walk through the swampland and foothill exhibitions of prehistoric times and continue the journey to the modern-day. Visitors can enjoy a 3D film in the IMAX theater and admire the life-scale brontosaurus hanging in the skeleton.

7. Centennial Olympic Park

Located in downtown Atlanta is Centennial Olympic Park. Originally built for the 1996 Olympic Games, this park features fountains, pools, lush lawns, and artwork exhibitions. A highlight of the park is the Fountain of Rings, which is a water display that uses 251 jets. It is a pleasant place to visit and relax.

6. Center for Civil and Human Rights

Not only is the American civil rights movement an important part of the history of the United States, but it also has specific links to Atlanta and Georgia. This 42,000-square-foot museum is devoted to the American civil rights movement and features three permanent and two temporary exhibitions.

5. Atlanta BeltLine

The development of Atlanta BeltLine is ongoing, and the estimated completion date is 2030. It is a network of streetcar rails, trails, and parks. Included within the network so far are 33 miles of trails for walking, jogging, or biking. There are also 2,00 acres of parks. It is unlikely that you will have the time to explore everything that is part of the Atlanta BeltLine during your trip, but you should find time to explore as much of it as possible while you are in the city. Using the trails can take you between some of the landmarks.

4. Fox Theater

Once a movie palace, Fox Theater is now a venue used for performances by top-billed bands, comedy headliners, and Broadway tour stops. There is a jam-packed calendar throughout the year, so it is a good idea to check what is on before your trip and book tickets in advance if there are performances that interest you.

3. Piedmont Park

If you are looking for a peaceful activity that allows you to enjoy the outdoors, then one of the best places is Piedmont Park. Located in Midtown opposite the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, this park covers 200 acres. Some things to enjoy at this park include jogging trails, children’s playgrounds, tennis courts, dog parks, and picnic facilities. This venue hosts a farmers market every Saturday and many events throughout the year. Check what is on at the park before your visit.

2. Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site

Martin Luther King Jr. is one of the most historically significant figures from this city. This attraction is based in the home where Martin Luther King Jr. was born and raised. Also on the site are the Ebenezer Baptist Church where King was once the pastor and The King Center which contains exhibits about the civil rights movement. A further feature of the site is the grave of Martin Luther King Jr.

1. Atlanta History Center

According to US News, one of the most important attractions to include on your itinerary is the Atlanta History Center. This is probably the best place to learn about the history of Atlanta and Georgia. The museum is home to a comprehensive exhibition that is spread across 33 acres and includes several historic homes, beautiful gardens, and miles of trails. You can learn about all aspects of the region’s history, including Native American culture and life in the antebellum South.

Liz Flynn

Written by Liz Flynn

Liz Flynn has worked as a full-time writer since 2010 after leaving a career in education. She finds almost all topics she writes about interesting, but her favorite subjects are travel and food. Liz loves the process of researching information, learning new things, and putting into words what others who share her interests might like to read. Although she spends most of her time writing, she also enjoys spending time with her husband and four children, watching films, cooking, dining out, reading, motorsports, gaming, and walking along the beach next to her house with her dog.

Read more posts by Liz Flynn

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