What to see in Atlanta? The capital of Georgia is a city full of attractions and places of interest: let's discover the most important of them with a wonderful tour of the city!
Strategically located, Atlanta has always been an important crossroads for the United States of America. Capital of Georgia, the city was one of the first thirteen American colonies and, over the years, has seen unprecedented urban development.
Famous for the 1996 Olympic Games, for being the headquarters of the Coca-Cola Company and, above all, for being the birthplace of Martin Luther King, Atlanta is, however, best known for being one of the busiest airports for stopovers in America. And we do not use the word "stopover" randomly: because despite the presence of one of the most active airports on American soil, Atlanta has long remained off the conventional tourist track, used mainly to connect to flights to the splendors of cities with the highest-sounding names, such as New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.
Yet strolling through Atlanta will give you the opportunity to discover the American dynamism typical of the Southern US cities without jostling with the hordes of tourists that, generally, crowd other more popular American cities. So let's not waste any more time and discover a tour that will help us find out what to see in Atlanta: museums, colonial villas, and tourist attractions.
What to see in Atlanta: the layout of the city
Before understanding what to see in Atlanta, it is a good idea to understand how the city is organized: extending over a very large area, in fact, it is vital to locate the main attractions so as not to waste precious time and, indeed, plan your visit to the main points of interest in the city in a considered and sensible way. Let's start by saying that Atlanta is divided into three different districts: Downtown, Midtown, and Buckhead. The skyscrapers are concentrated here, as are the commercial, financial and cultural activities. The three different districts are crossed from North to South by Peachtree Street, which will be useful to keep as a landmark for finding your way in the city streets.
Downtown Atlanta Attractions: from the CNN Center to the Capitol
Let's start our tour Atlanta from the southernmost district, Downtown. As well as being the business district, Downtown is also where many tourist attractions are located. The tour starts with a visit to the Olympic Park, home of the 1996 Olympic Games and a park around which you will find many places of interest.
The first of these is undoubtedly the heart of journalism made in the USA: the CNN Center is a milestone in our tour of the city and, rest assured, you will not be disappointed. The tour of the television studios lasts about an hour and will show you the magical place where the programs of the most famous news network in the States are produced.
After the tour, cross the park and stop to admire the water features of the Fountain of Rings. Then go on to the Georgia Aquarium which, with its enormous structure, is the largest aquarium built to date in the western hemisphere of the planet. Perfect if you're traveling with children, it's an attraction that's also suitable for adults: you can see the whale shark, visit the seabed and even enter the pools!
Also in Downtown Atlanta, very close to the Georgia Aquarium, is the World of Coca-Cola. Since Atlanta is the city where one of the most famous companies in the world has its headquarters, a venue dedicated to the famous soft drink and, above all, to the imagery that has grown up around it, is an absolute must.
If you want to see Downtown from above, we recommend a ride on SkyView Atlanta, the Ferris wheel from the top of which you can enjoy a splendid view of the entire area. If, on the other hand, you prefer to learn more about American history and, above all, the chapters concerning the battles for the civil rights of African Americans, a visit to the Center for Civil and Human Rights, located not far from the Georgia Aquarium, is highly recommended. The museum acts as an authentic time machine which, with interactive and hyperrealistic paths, will allow you to experience what it meant to be an African-American in the Southern States of America during the 1960s: more than ever relevant in a country that erects barriers and walls, this museum is undoubtedly a must during a trip to Atlanta.
Our tour of Downtown Atlanta ends with the city's pre-eminent symbol: the Capitol. Located at the southern end of the district, get off at Georgia State Transit Station to see the Georgia state government headquarters and admire the golden dome that has dominated the city since 1889.
Our tour of Downtown Atlanta ends here. There are truly a lot of sights to see but it's time to get to know another district of the city, just as full of attractions: Midtown.
Midtown Atlanta's attractions: from Piedmont Park to the High Museum of Art
Our tour of Atlanta continues in Midtown, the district to the north of Downtown. It is a district where the city greenery is flanked by charming residential buildings: there is also a very lively cultural atmosphere in this district, due to the presence of several important museums.
It is above all here, in fact, that the major museums of Atlanta are concentrated and it is from here that this part of the tour begins. In fact, right in the heart of Midtown, at 990 Peachtree Street, you will find the Margaret Mitchell House, a museum house entirely dedicated to the famous journalist and author of "Gone With the Wind".
If your passion is art, however, do not miss a visit to the High Museum of Art, founded in 1905, which is now the most important center dedicated to art in the south-east of the United States. The size of the museum can already be perceived even before entering the building housing it: grandiose and elegant, it was designed by Richard Meier and then enlarged by Renzo Piano. Once you enter, you will be able to admire more than 14,000 works of art from all over the world. A must-see stop in the city.
Not far from the High Museum of Art is the green lung of Atlanta: Piedmont Park. Here you can enjoy a long walk or a bike ride and then visit the beautiful Botanical Gardens, the pride of the city's greenery. It covers 30 hectares and will give you the opportunity to plunge yourself into a natural universe that will literally take your breath away.
More things to see in Atlanta
Atlanta is a city full of things to do and see: it will be really difficult to stay idle when visiting the beautiful capital of Georgia. If, for example, you feel the need to delve into the history of the city, we suggest you take a trip to the district of Buckhead, where the Atlanta History Center is located. Housed in a splendid campus, in addition to getting to know the history of the city more closely, you can admire historic villas and residences dating from the early 1900s.
Talking of Atlanta, moreover, we cannot but speak of Martin Luther King, who was born in the city. In fact, there are traces of his life and his struggle for the civil rights of African Americans all over the city, and many tours help you discover the life of the pastor and activist, but if you want to visit the historical sites independently, we recommend that you visit the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park, located in the Sweet Auburn area, the city's historic African-American neighborhood. Here, in addition to the house where Martin Luther King was born, you can take a look at the church where he was a pastor and, above all, at his tomb.
If you want to explore the surroundings of Atlanta, just a 30-minute drive from the city center, you'll find one of Georgia's favorite attractions: Stone Mountain Park. Famous above all for the enormous rock with the bas-relief (much discussed) depicting the three Civil War Confederate leaders, in reality, this great park is the perfect place to leave behind the typical chaos of the metropolis get your fill of fun in contact with nature. You can, for example, take the cable car to the top of Stone Mountain or, perhaps, climb the path on foot.
Shopping in Atlanta: the Atlantic Station
Going to the U.S. also means shopping and visiting the large malls scattered throughout the country. If, however, you are looking for a special and luxurious experience, we recommend you take a trip to Atlantic Station, a very popular residential area of Atlanta where shopping is the main activity. In the center of this small district, in fact, there is a large outdoor shopping center with over 50 shops and restaurants. If you want to take a break from shopping, you can always visit the Extreme Dinosaurs Exhibition or the Millennium Gate Museum, entirely dedicated to the history, art, and culture of Georgia.
If you are looking for a more human-friendly area, full of alternative shops and small cafés, go without delay to Little Five Points, an area located in the eastern part of the city. As well as being one of Atlanta's trendiest neighbourhoods, it's also the perfect place for anyone looking for records and vinyl.
What to eat in Atlanta
What are the typical dishes of Atlanta and what are the absolutely unmissable preparations on a journey to discover the flavors of the south? Although Italians may not believe it, even in the United States, including Atlanta, there are typical and traditional dishes. The cuisine of the southern states of the USA, in fact, is the result of various influences that make the local cuisine particularly tasty.
For example, during a trip to Atlanta, you should not miss trying Po' Boys, special sandwiches filled with fried fish and accompanied by sauces and salads. Look for them in the city or visit the Sweet Auburn Curb Market, a food market with an adjoining food court where you can try all the local delicacies, cooked and served on the spot.
When is the best time to go to Atlanta? The good news is that in the city it is never very cold and, during the summer, the hilly position (the city is at an altitude of 300 m) allows you to escape the heat to some extent. Our advice is to visit the city from May to October, but always carry an umbrella with you: during the summer, in fact, rainfall is never absent, and indeed it is abundant in the city throughout the year. Usually, however, these are short showers that, as a result, do not last all day.
To visit Atlanta (and the United States in general) you must be in possession of a passport with an expiry date after the date of return to Italy. All those who are planning a trip to the US and Atlanta, then, must obtain the ESTA authorization, necessary to enter the United States under the program "Visa Waiver": the ESTA lasts two years and gives the opportunity to stay in the United States for consecutive periods not exceeding 90 days.