The Fourth of July is one of those holidays that, if it falls on a weekday, you can use to fashion a short vacation. You get the free holiday, plus the weekend plus a few days on either side of the holiday. For these few weekdays surrounding the actual holiday, you’ll have to request vacation days. But, no matter, you’re still getting a long stretch of days off without dipping too far into your accumulated vacation days.
So, what to do with this annual midyear opportunity for a bonus vacay? We have a few ideas for getaways in and around Atlanta.
Stay Downtown and Take a Tour
- Civil Rights
Civil Rights Tours Atlanta are led by Tom Houck, who once was driver for the family of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. You will hear from civil rights icons Andrew Young, John Lewis and Julian Bond. You will visit the site of the famous Atlanta Student Movement Rush Memorial Church, see the graves at South-View Cemetery of Daddy King and John Wesley Dobbs.
You will visit the birth house of Dr. King, the Ebenezer Baptist church he co-pastored with his father and the Old Fourth Ward where he grew up. You will stand near the crypt of MLK and Coretta Scott King, and a whole lot more.
This is guaranteed to be three hours you won’t soon forget, if ever.
Georgia is the No. 1 filming location in the world, according to FilmL.A. and Atlanta Business Chronicle, and a significant percentage of filming and post production occurs in Atlanta. Hook up with Atlanta Movie Tours to see locations where your favorite movies or TV shows were shot. You might like the Atlanta Heritage Tour, one of the four Big Zombie tours or Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind Tour, to name a few.
Bicycle Tours Atlanta puts you behind the handlebars of a bicycle and gives you a choice of tours. Options include the Fall in Love with Atlanta tour, the Atlanta Street Art Bike Tour and Atlanta’s Journey for Civil Rights tour. Helmets and water are included.
Here’s our handy guide to Downtown hotels.
Stay in Midtown, Where Atlantans Go to be Cool
- Piedmont Park
Take a walk. Take a nap. Take a picnic. Join all the folks who come to Piedmont Park every day, to skate, to walk the dog, to jog, to sit under a tree and read. Relax – you’re on vacation.
- Atlantic Station
See a movie, shop at national retailers including IKEA, grab a bite. Check out Tot Spot Tuesdays, Wellness Wednesdays, Improv in the Park and Movies in Central Park.
- West Midtown
Shop and dine at Westside Provisions District. See what’s happening at the area’s four art centers: Goat Farm Arts Center, Westside Cultural Arts Center, Atlanta Contemporary Art Center and King Plow Arts Center.
- Center for Puppetry Arts
Even the children’s puppet shows are immensely enjoyable, but the center also performs adult puppet shows, and this is the place to tour the Worlds of Puppetry Museum. Just across the street is The Breman, Atlanta’s Jewish museum.
- High Museum of Art
If your vacay includes the first Friday of the month, then you can drop in for art-making, live performances and drinks. Of course, you can enjoy the special exhibits and permanent galleries pretty much any time.
Just across the street from the High, find the Museum of Design Atlanta. Look for special exhibits, design conversations and learning events for kids such as LEGO robotics, coding and Minecraft.
Here’s our guide to Midtown hotels.
Go South, to Serenbe
- See a play, take a walk, enroll in a culinary workshop, take in a festival, shop, treat yourself to a spa visit. Serenbe is all about peace and relaxation. The Inn at Serenbe has 27 guest rooms located in six buildings.
Go North, to the North Georgia Mountains.
- Dahlonega is your destination for wineries, shopping on the town square, panning for gold or finding a waterfall.
- Blue Ridge is a popular weekend and holiday spot for Atlantans who come to bike, hike, shop, fish, tube down the Toccoa River or take a trip on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway.
Tip: If you travel north on Georgia 400, you'll drive by North Georgia Premium Outlets; if you head north on Interstate 575, you'll pass The Outlet Shoppes at Atlanta in Woodstock at Exit 9.
Stay in Buckhead and Shop
- Lenox Square. This favorite Atlanta shopping mall is home to Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s and Neiman Marcus. Need we say more?
- Phipps Plaza. Just across the street from Lenox Square, Phipps is where to find the AMC Phipps Plaza 14, LEGOLAND Discovery Center, the Build A Bear Workshop and shops including Hugo Boss, Dior, Gucci and Georgio Armani, among many others.
- Shops Buckhead Atlanta is six blocks of designer heaven. Jimmy Choo, please.
- Shops Around Lenox is an outdoor shopping center right next to Lenox Square. Crate & Barrel and Reese Witherspoon’s Draper James are two popular stores.
- Andrews Square. Nestled between West Paces Ferry and Peachtree roads, this gem is home to classy boutiques and popular bars.
Here’s your guide to hotels in Buckhead.
Visit Atlanta’s Top Attractions
- Fernbank Museum of Natural History features dinosaurs, movies on the Giant Screen, special exhibits and more.
- Atlanta History Center is your destination for two historical homes, fascinating exhibitions, a beautiful walkable garden, a popular restaurant and a terrific gift shop.
- World of Coca-Cola is packed with fascinating Coca-Cola history and memorabilia plus a tasting room where you can sample Coke products from across the globe.
- CNN Studio Tour takes you behind the scenes of news gathering. See the control room, the newsroom and one of the studios you see on TV all the time.
- Georgia Aquarium is an undersea adventure, but you don’t have to get wet. See whale sharks (the world’s largest fish), beluga whales, turtles, river otters, penguins, sea otters and plenty more.
Venture out to Atlanta’s remarkable restaurant scene
If we've convinced you to have a Fourth of July getaway exploring Atlanta, here are a few more hotel choices.
Don’t forget to start the Fourth of July at the Peachtree Road Race then take in fireworks when the sun goes down. It is, after all, America’s birthday.
Journalist Carol Carter writes and edits for Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau.