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Spotlight: Atlanta

Navigate the Peach State’s diverse capital city like a native

There’s no denying it—Atlanta, Georgia, is massive. It sprawls across a gigantic geographic area and just keeps growing and growing. But don’t rush to judgment here, as guidebook labels can be traps and collective wisdom can be misleading. This large and bustling cityscape is best viewed as an eclectic collection of five distinct, much smaller neighborhoods—Downtown, Midtown, Westside, Eastside and Buckhead—which are all strung together by Peachtree Street. Embrace this nuanced view of Atlanta and you’ll be well on your way to enjoying an insider’s understanding of “The City Too Busy to Hate.”

If you’re like most visitors you’ll find yourself starting in Downtown. This is the hub of all major happenings about town, including home games for the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons (at the Georgia Dome) and the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks (at Philips Arena). This is also where you’ll find Centennial Olympic Park, a 21-acre oasis in the heart of the city full of green spaces, dotted with water fountains and supported by an informative visitor center. Built to commemorate the 1996 Summer Olympic Games, the park now serves as a scenic hub for attractions like the Georgia Aquarium, CNN Studio Tours and the World of Coca-Cola Museum.

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Getty Images/iStockphoto

The Georgia Aquarium is the largest in the western hemisphere and a must-visit for all ages. Home to massive whale sharks, elegant belugas and a playful group of bottlenose dolphins, this cutting-edge facility also features an extravagant Broadway-style show, in which actors and dolphins perform incredible acrobatic feats. At the World of Coca-Cola, visitors can sample more than 60 different products while exploring the fascinating history of the world’s most iconic soda, while a trip behind the scenes at CNN includes an hourlong guided tour of the newsroom and high-tech control room.

Take a Bite Out of Southern Culture

Over in Midtown, arts and culture come to life. Take a stroll through Piedmont Park before heading to the High Museum of Art, a groundbreaking museum that was the first in the world to showcase items on loan from Paris’ legendary Louvre. After exploring galleries of classic and contemporary works, head to one of Midtown’s world-renowned gourmet restaurants for dinner, then catch a show at the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.

Westside Atlanta is a shopper’s paradise and a food-lover’s dream come true. Head to Roman-inspired Atlantic Station to plunder your way around a neighborhood-sized, open-air shopping center that’s so big it has its own ZIP code. For a mouth-watering food tour (professionally guided or otherwise), beeline it for the Design District, also known as West Midtown. This area has rapidly transformed from an industrial hub into a hip and trendy spot for young professionals, resulting in a fantastic food scene.

Serious shopaholics will also find themselves in the lap of luxury with a trip to the neighborhood of Buckhead, perhaps the wealthiest spot in all of Atlanta. Sporting a wealth of high-end retail outlets, the area is the part-time home of Sir Elton John, and is renowned for its megamansions and overt opulence.

When it’s time to let your hair down, shift your focus to Eastside Atlanta. This artsy and trendy neighborhood is the place to find live street music and impromptu public art projects. It’s also home to iconic Turner Field (home of the Atlanta Braves, where you can catch Major League Baseball games) and Zoo Atlanta. Those traveling with children will definitely want to make a stop at the zoo, which is home to a daily slate of interactive keeper-led wildlife shows, as well as a petting zoo for kids.

Georgia Department of Economic Development

Georgia Department of Economic Development

Look at Atlanta’s Past

Finally, for history buffs, Atlanta is home to a vast collection of eclectic museums and sites. Three in particular are can’t-miss: Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site, Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum and the Atlanta History Center.

The Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum is worthy of a visit if only for its spectacular views of the city. Perched on a hilltop high above the downtown core, it offers panoramic views of the city far below. The museum showcases items from Jimmy Carter’s presidency and his Nobel Peace Prize, as well as an exact replica of the Oval Office, which makes for a surreal walk-through.

At the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site, visitors can explore the life and incredible accomplishments of Atlanta’s most notable and distinguished citizen. Guests can pay their respects at Dr. King’s gravesite.

For More Information

Atlanta CVB
800-285-2682
www.atlanta.net
Georgia Department of Economic Development
800-847-4842
www.exploregeorgia.org