Best Things to Do in Atlanta, Georgia

Exploring Georgia on your next holiday? Don’t miss the chance to fill your itinerary with all the best things to do in Atlanta, GA. Georgia’s largest city is one of the most popular urban travel destinations in the Southeast USA. Atlanta is jam-packed with history, nature, and culture, and is the perfect pit stop on any Georgia road trip.

One of Atlanta’s many nicknames, “City in a Forest,” hints at its refreshing parks and botanical gardens. Among the top tourist attractions in Atlanta, you’ll also soak up plenty of culture at its museums and enjoy tons of family-friendly activities.

Not sure where to begin planning what to do in Atlanta? Design the ultimate trip with this guide to the best places to visit in Atlanta, GA.

Best places to visit in Atlanta, GA

Piedmont Park

Atlantans and travelers alike throng to Piedmont Park. Located in Midtown Atlanta, the 185-acre park features relaxing wide open spaces, dog parks, and a lake. For outdoor activities, Piedmont Park is one of the best places to go in Atlanta.

Piedmont Park

Nature lovers will love wandering through Piedmont Park’s miles of trails. Along the way, you’ll delight in picturesque lake views as ducks quack on the water.

Plan a family picnic on the lawn as the kids wander the serene green space. Afterward, you can take the kids to Noguchi Playscape. With its artful play structures, this unusual Japanese playground is like none other.

Once you’ve explored Piedmont Park, venture further south into Midtown to fuel up at Mary Mac’s Tea Room. Opened in 1945, the iconic Mary Mac’s Tea Room serves delightful Southern comfort food.

Atlanta History Center

If you’re a history buff, adding the Atlanta History Center to your trip plans is a must.  High on the list of the top Atlanta tourist attractions, the center opened its doors in 1990. With its mission to preserve Atlanta’s history, it offers visitors a wealth of historical treasures.

Atlanta History Center

Visiting the Atlanta History Center, you’ll be thrilled by its 33 acres of museums, historic houses, and gardens. Most impressive is its centerpiece Swan House. Dating back to 1928, Swan House shows off a striking neoclassical style. Besides admiring its architecture and decor, slip down to the basement to check out its impressive china collection. (Extra points if you recognize the house from the Hunger Games trilogy!)

The exhibits at Atlanta History Center are beautifully presented and extensive. Don’t rush your visit. Give yourself plenty of time to soak in the main gallery.

Your tickets also include a visit to Margaret Mitchell House. The “Gone with the Wind” author’s home is, however, located in Midtown Atlanta, about 15 minutes away by car. If you’re short on time, you can schedule your Margaret Mitchell House visit for the following day.

Atlanta Botanical Garden

An oasis in the heart of the city, the Atlanta Botanical Garden is one of the top points of interest in Atlanta. Even if you’re only visiting Atlanta in one day, it’s a peaceful interlude from the urban bustle.

Atlanta Botanical Garden

At Atlanta Botanical Garden, you’ll enjoy a dazzling sight of tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, crocuses, and many other flower varieties. Pick up a map of the garden to help you figure out the layout and plan your route.

Wander through the edible garden and stroll over to marvel at the exquisite rare orchids. Over 2,000 species of orchids call the garden home. Exercise your shutter buttons snapping photos of the most beautiful specimens.

Got some energy to spare? Have a jaunt along the Kendeda Canopy Walk. Opened in 2010, the trail links the formal gardens to over 15 acres of woodlands. Suspended 40 feet in the air, it’s one of the longest canopy walks of its kind in the United States.

Ponce City Market

Even if you’re not into shopping, a visit to Ponce City Market is a must for your Atlanta sightseeing adventure. The market is housed in a repurposed heritage building, charming visitors with its attractive rustic feel.

Ponce City Market

Loaded with shops and food stalls, Ponce City Market is a great place to while away hours. It’s an especially popular Atlanta attraction among foodies. At the market, you’ll indulge in everything from Indian street food to gourmet Italian cuisine to delicious French pastries.

If you are in search of more action, head to Skyline Park. Located on the market’s rooftop, Skyline Park over spectacular views over the city. The whole family will also enjoy carnival-style games, including skee ball and break-a-plate. End your fun-filled visit by treating the kids to pink cotton candy and ice-cream sandwiches.

Centennial Olympic Park

For a breath of fresh air, Centennial Olympic Park is one of the places to go in Atlanta. Located in the heart of downtown, this urban oasis is a legacy of Atlanta’s 1996 Olympic Games. The 22-acre public park teems with walking paths, fountains, and gardens. Centennial Olympic Park is also a popular venue for concerts, festivals, and special events throughout the year.

Centennial Olympic Park

Take a breather with a walk around Centennial Olympic Park. As you walk around, take note of the plaques celebrating the medal winners from the 1996 Summer Olympics. You’ll also love the eight magnificent 65-foot-tall Hermes Towers, paying tribute to Ancient Greece.

While wandering about Centennial Olympic Park, be sure to stop in at the Fountain of Rings. The fountain offers a synchronized music and water display four times a day. The first display is at 12:30 pm. The last show starts at 9 pm.

Football fans should also carve out time for the Chick-fil-A College Football Hall of Fame. Located next to Centennial Park, the interactive museum celebrates all the biggest names in college football. The College Football Hall of Fame is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm. (Closed Tuesday).

Other museums close to Centennial Olympic Park include World of Coca-Cola and Children’s Museum of Atlanta.

Fernbank Museum of Natural History

Fancy delving into science and nature? Squeeze in a visit to the Fernbank Museum of Natural History. The popular museum features spectacular indoor & outdoor hands-on exhibits, including dinosaur displays. There’s also a multi-level clubhouse where kids can explore life under the sea or look for dinosaur fossils.

Fernbank Museum of Natural History

At Fernbank Museum, kids will love poking around the interactive exhibits in the outdoor play area. They’ll have a blast climbing the rope bridges and elevated walkways. If you’re feeling active, opt for a guided half-mile nature walk. There are multiple trails where you’ll learn about the forest ecosystem and its birdlife.

Also not to be missed at the natural history museum is a visit to their giant-screen theater. Settle in to watch a film that’ll bring science and nature to life in an unforgettable way.

National Center for Civil and Human Rights

Want to dive into Atlanta’s civil rights history? Pay a visit to the National Center for Civil and Human Rights. This cultural center highlights an important part of American history in a powerful and moving way. For any visitor to Georgia, it’s one of the most important places to see in Atlanta.

National Center for Civil and Human Rights

The National Center for Civil and Human Rights features interactive exhibits and multimedia displays. Embark on a self-guided tour to learn all about the fight for civil rights and the human rights movement in America and beyond.

Of particular interest is the gallery of items from Morehouse College’s Martin Luther King Jr. collection. The collection comprises items such as Dr. King’s handwritten notes, sermons, and manuscripts.

The center’s Lunch Counter Sit-In is a particularly sobering experience. Put on earphones to immerse yourself in a 1960s-era lunch sit-in. Taking place around the U.S., these non-violent protests were important events in the civil rights movement and in African-American history.

Georgia Aquarium

Traveling to Atlanta with kids? Everyone in the family will love visiting the Georgia Aquarium. The world-famous attraction is the largest indoor aquarium in the Western Hemisphere. The Georgia Aquarium has seven areas containing ten million gallons of water, home to thousands of marine animal species. For kids & parents alike, it’s near the top of the list of what to see in Atlanta.

Georgia Aquarium

At the Georgia Aquarium, you’ll meet dolphins, manta rays, sea lions, penguins, and others. Stand in the glass tunnel to marvel at the marine life swirling above and around you.

On your visit, be sure to slip into the Ocean Voyager Gallery. At the gallery, you’ll catch a glimpse of the world’s largest fish, the whale shark. Finish off with a stop at one of the two gift shops to pick up some cool aquatic souvenirs.

Stone Mountain Park

Looking for some outdoor fun? Zip over to Stone Mountain Park. Located 30 minutes northeast of downtown, the 3,200-acre park is one of the best day trips from Atlanta. Stone Mountain Park is home to a multitude of family-friendly attractions and entertainment.

Stone Mountain Park

Fancy a round of golf? Stone Mountain Park houses two 18-hole championship golf courses. As you drive golf balls, you’ll dazzle at scenic views over Stone Mountain and Stone Mountain Lake.

You’ll also enjoy plenty of other fun outdoor activities here. Stone Mountain Park is home to several picnic areas and nature trails, sliding through its vast natural beauty.

For a memorable journey, trek up the one-mile-long Walk-Up Trail. The trail inches to the summit of Stone Mountain. At the top, you’ll breathe in spectacular views of Downtown Atlanta and the North Georgia mountains.

If you want to keep the kids occupied, the park is also home to some of the most exciting kid-friendly attractions in Atlanta. Bring the Jungle Book to life with a stop at Mowgli’s 4D Jungle Adventure. Or enjoy Dinosaur Explore, a collection of 20 life-size moving & roaring dinosaurs.

LEGOLAND Discovery Center Atlanta

Visiting Atlanta with younger kids? LEGOLAND Discovery Center Atlanta will keep them entertained for hours. Located on Peachtree Street, the interactive museum celebrates the world-famous LEGO brick. For families, it’s one of the coolest things to see in Atlanta.

LEGOLAND Discovery Center Atlanta

LEGOLAND Discovery Center Atlanta offers kids a fun & educational experience. Kids will learn how LEGO bricks are made. They’ll also get to experiment with the brick toys to build a car and race it.

Take a seat in the 4D movie theater to watch LEGO movies with exciting special effects. Or pick the brains of LEGO master builders to watch the creativity soar.

For a more active experience, pedal your way into the sky on the Merlin’s Apprentice Ride. Or battle ogres and rats to save the kingdom on the Kingdom Quest ride.

High Museum of Art

Passionate about art? Don’t miss out on the High Museum of Art. Located on Peachtree Street, this popular art museum houses a collection of over 11,000 pieces ranging from classic to modern art. The museum also covers photography and decorative art, statues, and furniture exhibits.

High Museum of Art

Any visit to the High Museum of Art starts with admiring its porcelain-enameled building. The stunning building was designed by architect Richard Meier and expanded upon by Renzo Piano. It won the 1984 Pritzker Award for its architecture.

The art museum is named after the High family, who offered their home on Peachtree Street to house the initial collection. The present collection includes American, European, and African art amongst others.

Many of the exhibits are accompanied by lectures and films. Check out the museum’s impressive collection of ceramics. You’ll also stumble on interesting temporary exhibits covering a variety of mediums. Unlike many other art museums, photography is allowed provided you don’t use a flash.

After your visit, pop into the nearby Alliance Theatre. Located on Peachtree Street, the Tony Award-winning theater is one of the top performing arts venues in the Southeast. Check the official schedule to see what’s playing during your visit.

Krog Street Market

Built up an appetite? Tame your tastebuds with a stop at Krog Street Market. Offering local food & culture with a Southern vibe, the colorful market is one of the top Atlanta points of interest for foodies.

Krog Street Market

Krog Street Market opened its doors in November 2014. It’s housed in a 1920s warehouse building with rustic exposed brick walls. Inside lies its iconic food court, named one of “The World’s Best Food Halls” by Travel & Leisure in 2015.

At the market, you choose from a wide range of dining options, both casual and upscale. Be sure to sample the fare at one of the Soul Food eateries. They offer memorable delicacies such as fried green tomatoes, deviled eggs with bacon jam, and chicken & waffles.

Krog Street Market is located within Inman Park, Atlanta’s first planned garden suburb. Explore the leafy neighborhood to dig deeper into its food scene and admire its lovely Victorian homes.

Truist Park

Formerly known as Suntrust Park, Truist Park is the home stadium for the MLB’s Atlanta Braves. The park is a one-of-a-kind facility, a ballpark and lifestyle destination rolled into one.

Truist Park

If you’re a baseball fan, catching a Braves game at Truist Park is a must. Experiencing the energy at the stadium will be one of the most memorable moments of your Atlanta trip. Best of all, whatever seat you choose will unleash great views of the game.

Located next to Truist Park, Battery Atlanta is a major draw in itself. The vibrant complex is a treasure trove of entertainment & dining. Before and after Braves games, baseball fans rush to the entertainment center for pre- and post-game food & drink.

At Battery Atlanta, you’ll enjoy cuisine prepared by Atlanta’s top chefs at some of the city’s top restaurants. Or you can watch local & international acts hit the stage at the Coca-Cola Roxy live music venue.

Center for Puppetry Art

Bring your childhood back to life with a stop at the Center for Puppetry Art. Located in Midtown, the center is the nation’s largest organization dedicated to the art of puppetry.

Fans of the Muppets will love exploring the interactive Jim Henson Collection. It’s the world’s largest collection of the famed puppeteer’s props. Keep your eyes peeled for iconic characters like Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy.

The Center for Puppetry Art also features a large Global Collection. The exhibit details the history of puppetry in Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Americas.

Porsche Experience Center

Got a need for speed? Get your thrills at the Porsche Experience Center. Located off the Old Dixie Highway, the center is the most exciting attraction in Atlanta for motorsports enthusiasts.

Book yourself a time slot at the Porsche Experience Center to zoom around in one of its famed luxury sports cars. On the 1.6-mile driver development course, you’ll put the machines to the test, picking up new skills along the way.

Looking for a less hair-raising experience? Drive famed tracks around the world in the Simulation Lab or check out classic cars in the Heritage Gallery.

Chattahoochee Nature Center

Located 40 minutes north of downtown in Roswell, Chattahoochee Nature Center is a superb outdoor escape. The private nature preserve sprawls 127 acres along the banks of the Chattahoochee River. Although it focuses on environmental education, the center also offers plenty for visitors.

Chattahoochee Nature Center

Chattahoochee Nature Center is home to several walking trails through woodlands and wetlands. Embark on the Wildlife Walk to see birds of prey like hawks, vultures, and owls. Or take a relaxing stroll along its upgraded River Boardwalk.

For even more active pursuits, take to the park’s waterways in a canoe or zipline through the forest canopy.

Michael C. Carlos Museum

Located on the historic Emory University campus, Michael C. Carlos Museum is an Atlanta must-see destination for art lovers. The renowned art museum features the largest ancient art collection in the Southeast USA.

The museum’s permanent collection spans the centuries and the globe. You’ll marvel at exquisite art from ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, the Near East. There’s also a sizeable collection of artifacts from South Asia, Africa, and the Americas. The museum also hosts monthly children story times and workshops.

The Michael C. Carlos Museum is open everyday except Mondays between 10 am and 4 pm and from noon to 4 pm on Sundays. Join in a docent-led tour to learn all about its fascinating collection.

Best places to stay in Atlanta for sightseeing

For travelers, the best places to stay in Atlanta sit in & around its city center. Narrow your accommodation search to Downtown and Midtown to stick close to the top tourist destinations in Atlanta.

Canopy By Hilton Atlanta Midtown

Canopy by Hilton Atlanta Midtown

Displaying an exquisite modern style, this 4-star hotel is one of Atlanta’s top hotels. The Midtown location puts the city’s artistic side at your fingertips.

Hotel Indigo Atlanta Downtown

Hotel Indigo Atlanta Downtown

If you’re looking to stay in the center of town, it’s hard to beat this brilliant hotel. Like other hotels in the Indigo chain, the rooms here show off a hip contemporary style. Amenities include an on-site bar, fitness center, and free WiFi.

The Ritz-Carlton Atlanta

The Ritz-Carlton Atlanta

Dive into the ultimate in luxury with a night at this top-notch 5-star hotel. Rooms are spacious and elegant, featuring luxurious furnishings and decor. End the night with seafood, steaks, and cocktails at the classy on-site AG Restaurant.

Treksplorer

Treksplorer is a fiercely independent guide to mid-range luxury travel for busy people. Originally launched in 2011 by founder & editor Ryan O'Rourke to document his travels in East Asia & Central Europe, Treksplorer now includes things to do, where to stay, when to visit, and hiking & walking guides spanning over 30 countries from Japan to Spain and Canada to New Zealand.

DISCLAIMER: Treksplorer is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com and its affiliated international sites.

DISCLAIMER: You'll notice that from time to time I link out to recommended hotels/tours/products/services. If you purchase anything through these links, I'll receive a commission. It won't cost you anything extra, but it will help keep me trekkin' on and delivering more free (and unsponsored!) travel information to you. Thanks :)