Things To Do Before Your Atlanta Summer Vacation

A little planning will guarantee you a memorable Atlanta vacation.
  • Perhaps make time to see some Atlanta civil rights monuments like this one of Andrew Young.
    Perhaps make time to see some Atlanta civil rights monuments like this one of Andrew Young.
  • Major League Soccer fans might schedule a trip around an Atlanta United game. (Allie Bartelski)
    Major League Soccer fans might schedule a trip around an Atlanta United game. (Allie Bartelski)
  • If you're bringing kids to Atlanta, find out what's showing at the puppet theater. (Thistle Theatre photo)
    If you're bringing kids to Atlanta, find out what's showing at the puppet theater. (Thistle Theatre photo)
  • Say hello to these Asian small clawed otters at Georgia Aquarium. (Georgia Aquarium)
    Say hello to these Asian small clawed otters at Georgia Aquarium. (Georgia Aquarium)
  • You could run into CNN's Sanjay Gupta at the network's Studio 7.
    You could run into CNN's Sanjay Gupta at the network's Studio 7.

Make the most of your summer vacation in Atlanta. With just a bit of planning, you can maximize your hours or days here. Organize your trip by either neighborhood or interests.

Buckhead
Think about what you would most like to do in Atlanta then separate your adventures by neighborhood. Let’s say that you are a Civil War aficionado and you don’t want to miss the amazing exhibit, “Turning Point: The American Civil War,” at Atlanta History Center. The history center is located in Buckhead, so since you plan to be there, look for other things you might like to do in that neighborhood. You’ll want to eat, so here’s a list of Buckhead restaurants. If there is a shopper in your group, note that Buckhead is home to Lenox Square and Phipps Plaza, both indoor shopping malls; the Shops Buckhead Atlanta, six blocks of luxury shops; and Shops Around Lenox, an outdoor center, home to Draper James and Crate & Barrel, to name two stores there. Also nearby is Andrews Square, where you’ll find several charming boutiques. When you're planning where to establish your Atlanta vacation headquarters, peruse this list of places to stay in Buckhead.

Downtown
There is so much to do downtown that you might be wise to sit down with your traveling group (friends, family) and list the many attractions downtown. Plan to start your day in Centennial Olympic Park, then while some members of your group visit, say, the Georgia Aquarium, others might prefer World of Coca-Cola or a CNN Studio Tour. All of these are situated around the park as are the Chick-fil-A College Football Hall of Fame and the Center for Civil and Human Rights. Since these attractions surround the park, your group can split up then plan a time for meeting back in the park. When it’s time to eat, consult this list of downtown restaurants, all nearby. You'll need to sleep. If you want to stay downtown, check this list.

Midtown
Art lovers in your group? The High Museum of Art sits right on Peachtree Street at the Woodruff Arts Center, where you can hear the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra or catch a play at Alliance Theatre. The Museum of Design Atlanta is just across Peachtree Street. Not far away is the Center for Puppetry Arts where the puppet shows are first rate and the Worlds of Puppetry Museum is fascinating. Stomach growling? Head to one of these Midtown restaurants or pick up a picnic and carry it over to Piedmont Park. If you would like to make Midtown your home away from home, consider one of these Midtown hotels.

Another way to plan your trip is by interest.

History Buffs
Atlanta is steeped in history, most notably Civil War history and civil rights history. We’ve already directed you to the Atlanta History Center for an unforgettable exhibition about the American Civil War. You should hit two stops if civil rights history is what you seek. At the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park, visit his birth home, the tombs of both Dr. King and Coretta Scott King, the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church and much more. Follow that up with a visit to the Center for Civil and Human Rights. Atlanta's civil rights monuments tell even more of the city's civil rights history.

Another option is to take a tour. Choose from Civil Rights Tours Atlanta, led by Tom Houck, once a driver for the King family, or take the “Atlanta’s Journey for Civil Rights” tour with Bicycle Tours of Atlanta. Visit the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library & Museum to learn about the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter’s work for human rights.

Sports
Sports fans should plan their trip around their favorite sport because it’s all here. In the summertime, head to SunTrust Park to watch the Atlanta Braves, to Mercedes-Benz Stadium to take in an Atlanta United FC soccer game, McCamish Plaza at Georgia Tech to watch the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream. Here’s more about Atlanta's summer sports action.

Food
Summer wouldn’t be summer with barbecue. Check our Barbecue Smackdown to choose which Q restaurant to visit while you’re here.

Drink
If you love popular local bars, read up on these "hidden" Atlanta bars. Shhh, don't tell anybody.

One more important thing to do before heading to Atlanta is to purchase a CityPass, which gives you a 42-percent discount on five of Atlanta's most popular attractions, and it is good for nine days after your first use. CityPass gives you admission to Georgia Aquarium, World of Coca-Cola and the CNN Studio Tour. Then you get to choose either Zoo Atlanta or Atlanta History Center and either Fernbank Museum of Natural History or the High Museum of Art. The really great news is that for a family of four (two adults and two kids), CityPass saves you $199. And, CityPass allows you to bypass most lines.   

And with that, you're all set for your summer vacay in Atlanta. Have fun.

Journalist Carol Carter writes and edits for Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau.

 

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