Only in Atlanta
Atlanta is experienced every day by people who have never even visited the city. Each time you watch CNN on television or buy a Coca-Cola from the grocery store, you experience Atlanta. This three day itinerary highlights only a few attractions, but be prepared for sensory overload as you glimpse the sights seen only in Atlanta.
*Unless otherwise noted, transportation to these venues is accessible by MARTA, Atlanta's rail and bus line. Plan your trip via MARTA.
Day One: Downtown and Around
Head to the World of Coca-Cola where the famous soft drink's story is told through fascinating exhibits, a 4-D theater, classic ads and a fully-functioning bottling station. Taste more than 70 Coca-Cola products from around the world and pick your favorite before raiding the gift shop for souvenirs.
Head to the Georgia Aquarium, where you can see more than 120,000 animals of 500 different species in more than 8 million gallons of marine and fresh water. The world's largest aquarium also houses the world's largest fish: whale sharks and much more.
Visit Centennial Olympic Park, the world's gathering place during the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games. Today, the park features the popular Fountain of Rings and a variety of events including Fourth Saturday Family Fun Days, a free festival with hands-on activities, April through September.
Insider's Tip: Music at Noon is a free concert series every Tuesday and Thursday during the warm months.
The SunDial Restaurant Bar & View is located at the top of the tallest hotel in the western hemisphere, the Westin Peachtree Plaza. Travel to the top to dine in the revolving restaurant with breathtaking views of downtown Atlanta.
The Inside CNN Atlanta Studio Tour is an exciting way to discover how a newsroom operates. Watch behind-the-scenes action of the newsroom, see what it takes to put a news broadcast together and even learn how the weather map works.
Insider's Tip: Don't spend vacation time waiting for an appointment. Make reservations in advance for the 45-minute tour.
The Sweet Auburn district is the birthplace of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site includes a visitor center depicting the story of Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement, the restored King Birth Home, Ebenezer Baptist Church where three generations of the King family preached, and the King burial site.
Visit the Jimmy Carter Library & Museum, located next to the Carter Center. The library includes a replica of the Oval Office and Jimmy Carter's Nobel Peace Prize, as well as traveling exhibitions.
*Transportation to the MLK National Historic Site or Jimmy Carter Library/Carter Center would be best by car (both locations have free parking) or Marta bus system.
Option #1: Between April and October, catch a MLB Atlanta Braves baseball game. Arrive early at Turner Field and take advantage of activities such as pre-game pep rallies, or test your hitting or throwing skills at Scout's Alley in the west pavilion. Grab a bite to eat at the Chop House situated above the Braves bullpen, and visit the Braves Museum & Hall of Fame.
Insider's Tip: Visitors are allowed to bring food into the ballpark, so grab dinner at an Atlanta landmark on North Avenue, The Varsity, serving chili dogs, hamburgers and the signature Frosted Orange. Picnic tables are located right inside the ballpark's entrance.
Option #2: During the cooler months, experience Atlanta's indoor teams by attending an NBA Atlanta Hawks basketball game at Philips Arena.
Day Two: Cultural Quickies
Mix and match these cultural must-sees in Atlanta. All are located in the Midtown area except for Fernbank Museum of Natural History.
Tour the Margaret Mitchell House and Museum, centered around the Midtown apartment where Margaret Mitchell wrote "Gone with the Wind." Exclusive photographs and exhibits tell the story of Margaret Mitchell beyond the book. The Gone with the Wind Movie Museum illuminates the making of the movie with memorabilia including the actual doorway of Tara from the movie set.
Insider Tip: The Center for Southern Literature literary series at the Margaret Mitchell House hosts well-known authors with an evening reception, reading and a book signing.
The Atlanta Botanical Garden features one of the world's largest permanent displays of tropical orchids, 15 acres of outdoor display gardens and the Fuqua Conservatory, home to rare and endangered tropical and desert plants. The Garden also includes an expansive children's garden with special enclaves including a maze beginning at a colorful caterpillar's mouth and ending at the Butterfly Pavilion; fossil digging; and carnivorous plants.
The High Museum of Art hosts European and American paintings, special exhibitions, African, decorative, folk and 20th century art and photography. Past exhibitions have included works by Van Gogh, Michelangelo, Picasso, Degas, Dalí and Toulouse-Lautrec, as well as Elton John's private photography collection and currently has over 11,00 works in its permanent collection.
Housing the largest museum dedicated to the art of puppetry, the Center for Puppetry Arts is your ticket to see dazzling sets and the artistry of puppetry from several different areas. Adult shows complement the children's performances, and a museum hosts famous puppets such as Pigs in Space from "The Muppets," masks from "The Lion King" and Izzy from the Centennial Olympic Games.
Home to the world's largest dinosaurs, Fernbank Museum of Natural History is the largest natural history museum in the Southeast. Fernbank uses innovative exhibit design and programming to bring natural history to life through galleries and hands-on exhibits to stretch your imagination. The 315-seat IMAX theater provides a powerful adventure experience with films showing in the afternoon and evening. Opening March 2011, Nature Quest is a cutting-edge, innovative children's wing featuring interaction with live animal habitats and exploration of ecosystems found throughout the world.
Option #1: An evening at The Fox Theatre
The opulent Fox Theatre was designed in the late 1920s as headquarters for the Shriner's organization. Now, it presents Broadway musicals, the Atlanta Ballet, a summer movie festival, concerts and more. Check out the schedule for the Fox while in town. The lavish decorations inside include an indoor Arabian courtyard with twinkling stars and drifting clouds; a striped canopy; and ornate period furnishings.
Option #2: The neighborhood of Virginia-Highland is one of Atlanta's most popular areas for shopping, dining and nightlife. Noted for its renovations of 1920s homes, the area features tree-lined avenues dotted with unique ethnic and chef-owned restaurants, antique shops, art galleries, spas and salons, boutiques and a selection of bars and pubs.
Day Three: The World's Eighth Wonder
Stone Mountain Park is Georgia's most visited attraction, drawing nearly 4 million visitors each year. With more than 3,300 acres of natural beauty, the park is a unique destination where families and friends can enjoy the outdoors while experiencing an exciting variety of attractions, entertainment and recreation. Travel back in time to the town of Crossroads to see what life may have been like in a 1870s Southern town. Crossroads includes the new Treehouse Challenge (Opening May 28); Georgia's only 4-D theater; The Great Barn, Atlanta's largest children's indoor play experience; and live entertainment. Other attractions include the skylift to the top of Stone Mountain, the new Ride The Ducks Adventure, Scenic Railroad, Antebellum Plantation and more.
Stone Mountain Park dinner option:
Miss Katie's Sideboard is an attraction in itself with down-home, delicious Southern cooking. Tables revolve and get taller all by themselves and watch out for (literally) hand tossed rolls coming your way.
*You will need a car to visit Stone Mountain Park. The entrance fee is $7.
Plan your Day:
Stone Mountain Park
Explore vibrant and distinct experiences that can be found only in the USA.