We have to admit, Atlanta wasn’t a city we were all that excited to visit. But after spending 3 days there this past January, we discovered that there is much more to the capital of Georgia than its busy airport, unbearable summer heat, and downtown traffic.
Huffington Post calls it “The Big American City You’ve Been Missing Out On”, raving about its awesome tourist traps (they really are pretty cool), the residents’ love their peaches and breakfast (but not peaches for breakfast), street art, and American history.
In their article “6 reasons to love Atlanta” CNN, explains that Atlanta is really “a lot of small towns, coexisting, inside and alongside the borders of that big city.” We think the more time you spend in Atlanta, (and we certainly haven’t spent enough) the more reasons you’ll find to love this Southern gem.
Best Time to Visit Atlanta
Despite the notoriously hot and humid weather (average highs are around 30°C), summer is the peak season for tourism in Atlanta. Which is understandable, considering that most of Atlanta’s festivals and outdoor events take place during this time of the year.
If you want to avoid the heat and the crowds, we suggest visiting Atlanta during the shoulder season, in the spring or in the fall. The temperatures will be much more manageable (expect low to mid-20s) and there will be no shortage of things to do and see.
If you want to score a great deal on accommodation, follow our footsteps and head to Atlanta in the winter. We visited in January and despite the chilly breeze outside (it was around 10-12°C during the day), the blue sunny skies made it feel much warmer. A pair of good windbreakers was all we needed to stay warm and enjoy our days in Georgia’s capital.
Top Things to Do in Atlanta
Atlanta is home to some diverse attractions, everything from historical sights to museums, outdoor adventures, and the ever growing sprawling food halls.
Start exploring Atlanta with a visit downtown, where you’ll have a chance to check out some of Atlanta’s top attractions, like the World of Coca-Cola, the Centennial Olympic Park, the CNN Studios, and the Georgia Aquarium, which just happens to be the largest aquarium in the world!
History buffs will love visiting the National Center for Civil & Human Rights, Atlanta History Center, Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site, and going even further to explore neighborhoods like Grant Park, Buckhead, Kennesaw and Marietta, all which claim home to various Civil War sites.
Admission to Atlanta’s top attractions is a bit pricey and can quickly add up. To save, consider using an Atlanta CityPASS and save up to half-off admission prices at the Georgia Aquarium, World of Coca-Cola, Inside CNN Studio Tour, Zoo Atlanta, Center for Civil and Human Rights, and more!
Foodies will be thrilled to hear about the food hall frenzy that’s been happening in Atlanta. In her article, 11 Reasons to Visit Atlanta This Fall, Travel & Leisure writer, Allison Entrekin, talks about two sprawling food halls that have recently popped up in the city, the Krog Street Market that features sixteen food and beverage outposts and the Central Food Hall in the Ponce City Market.
Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy a visit to the Atlanta Botanical Gardens and the nearby Piedmont Park, a perfect place to relax in the afternoon. For something a bit more active, Hike Stone Mountain, paddle down the Chattahoochee River, or go rock climbing in Tallulah Gorge State Park. For more ideas check out these 10 Outdoor Adventures Around Atlanta.
Where to Stay in Atlanta
If you want to be within walking distance to a lot of Atlanta’s top sights, staying Downtown is definitely the way to go. Here you’ll find all the big chains, like The W, Hyatt, Hilton, Marriott and lots of others. Rates are bound to be a bit higher than elsewhere in town, but for some, the close proximity to major sights and attractions will be worth it.
Alternatively, Midtown and Buckhead are also great areas for accommodation. Thrillist took the time to narrow down a lot list of Atlanta’s hotels in their handy Guide to the City’s Best Digs, which features everything from modern tree houses to amazing rooftop finds.
If you are looking for a more youth-friendly accommodation, you’ll be hard pressed to find a lot of options. But the few that do offer dorm room accommodation have all the typical hostel amenities. CBS Atlanta talks about Best Youth Hostels In Atlanta in this article.
Where to Eat & Drink in Atlanta
When it comes to the food scene in Atlanta, you won’t’ be disappointed. According to Atlanta Magazine, “Chefs are opening restaurants at breakneck speed [in Atlanta], testing the limits of what they can do, and reviving the classics we’ve missed.” Needless to say, there are lots of choices, which they have narrowed down to Top 50 Best Restaurants in Atlanta. As you would expect, a meal at a lot of these fine establishments comes with a hefty price tag.
For a more budget-friendly option, consider making a reservation at one of the restaurants on Southern Living’s list of Atlanta’s Best Cheap Eats or the GA Followers’ list of 15 Cheap Atlanta Restaurants For Eating On a Budget. For ultra-budget options, search through Atlanta Eater’s 11 restaurants to fill you up for under $10 a plate.
For the best tea in town, head to a Just Add Honey, at the Sweet Auburn Curb Market, where the wonderful owner will undoubtedly introduce you to a few new tea flavours and make you fall in love with tea just a tiny bit more.
If you want to wash down your meal with a few drinks, you’ll be happy to know that Atlanta offers a stellar selection of bars, pubs, and clubs. But don’t head out the door before you learn about these 15 Most Important Atlanta Bars, because some of them were the birthplaces of boozing trends that spread to the rest of the ATL drinking scene and are definitely worth your visit.
How Much Time Do You Need in Atlanta
If you are coming to Atlanta for a conference or a convention (we did, and apparently so do a lot of other visitors), you can tack on a day or two to your visit and get a good feel for Atlanta’s main attractions.
Here are a few examples of how to best spend your time in Georgia’s capital:
- 3 Days in Atlanta by Viator
- Two Perfect Days in Atlanta by Forbes Travel Guide
- If You Only Have Three Days in Atlanta by Afar