- I was born and raised in Atlanta, and I’m sharing the best things to do, see, and eat in the city.
- Tourists should visit Martin Luther King Jr.’s birth home and the High Museum of Art.
- They should eat at The Breakfast Boys, The Beacon, and JoJo’s Beloved Cocktail Lounge.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Atlanta is known for its food, art, and civil-rights sites.
As a local who’s lived there my whole life, I know A-Town is full of places to take in the skyline, listen to live music, and enjoy Southern comfort food.
Here’s a list of must-visit hotels, sights, and eateries from across the city:
Things to know before you go
- COVID-19 PROTOCOL: Atlanta, and Georgia at large, are open for travel, but Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms in July issued a citywide mask mandate for indoor public places.
- WEATHER: It’s called Hotlanta for a reason. In the summer, the temperatures can reach above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. But the weather is also unpredictable. The temperature can be 65 one week and then shoot up to 90 the next. In the winter, temperatures can drop into the low 30s.
- CURRENCY: The city uses US dollars, and many businesses accept credit cards.
- WALKABILITY: Atlanta is a walkable city if you’re in the Midtown area. MARTA is the local transit system. I suggest using rideshares if you’re outside Midtown and don’t want to rent a car.
Where to stay
The Hilton Inn is close to the airport
Located minutes from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and about 20 minutes from downtown Atlanta, the Hilton Inn provides comfortable rooms and great access to the city.
Airport hotels can be a good choice in a city like Atlanta where things are spread out. MARTA is still accessible if you want to go downtown and to the surrounding areas.
Room rates start at $US149 ($AU204) a night.
Tip: The hotel is conveniently located by the airport and several local restaurants. It also offers an airport shuttle service.
The Omni Atlanta Hotel at CNN Center is in a prime downtown location
The Omni Atlanta Hotel at CNN Center is the perfect base for walking to local restaurants and lounges. It’s also an easy pickup spot for rideshares to get to other parts of the city.
Rates start at just under $US200 ($AU273) a night.
Tip: MARTA is right down the street, and McCormick & Schmick’s across the way is perfect for cocktails.
The W Hotel is the perfect spot for massages, and it has a rooftop pool with a view
The W Hotel has a rooftop pool and a spa, both of which make for a relaxing weekend in A-Town.
Rates start at $US244 ($AU333) a night.
Tip: The hotel is blocks away from Centennial Olympic Park, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, and the Georgia Aquarium.
Things to do and see
Several beautiful hiking destinations are located a short drive from the city
At Hurricane Falls, the Tallulah River crashes 90 feet (27.43m) into a blue-green, cliff-lined pool.
The stunning waterfall is located an hour outside Atlanta at the Tallulah Gorge State Park.
Finally, located 20 miles (32km) southwest of the Atlanta airport, Cochran Mill Park is mostly flat land, which makes it great for beginners. The park features the ruins of three historical mills and a stunning waterfall.
Tip: Don’t forget your bathing suit. There are a few places you can swim during the warmer seasons.
Walk around the Sweet Auburn Historic District
The historic Sweet Auburn neighborhood was home to Martin Luther King Jr. and the American civil-rights movement.
The area boasts prominent local restaurants, including Mangos. It also showcases many murals, such as the one of the civil-rights leader John Lewis.
I recommend starting at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park and then strolling down to the various sites and restaurants.
Stroll through the streets of Atlanta to find famous murals and art installations
From Southwest Atlanta to Buckhead, you’ll see street art depicting pop-culture legends and the city’s landmarks.
For example, in the Little Five Points neighborhood, there’s a mural of the local rap duo Outkast.
View exhibits from well-known and up-and-coming artists at the High Museum of Art
The High Museum is the perfect family outing, especially if you’re trying to stick to a budget on your vacation. The museum offers free admission on the second Sunday of every month.
In addition to the art exhibits, it also has special family-friendly programs.
Tip: It hosts various events for toddlers on Thursdays and Jazz on Fridays.
Tiny Doors ATL is a unique way to see the city
Searching for tiny doors at local restaurants and sports arenas throughout the city is a unique and fun adventure.
Tiny Doors ATL showcases 7-inch (18cm) door sculptures created by the artist Karen Anderson Singer that are designed to reflect the spirit, architecture, and unique elements of the surrounding area.
You can see tiny doors in Old Fourth Ward Skatepark, Skyline Park at Ponce City Market, College Park, Drip-Thru Coffee, and Grant Park.
Tip: Out of all the doors, the only one that actually opens is located in Grant Park.
Make sure to check out the many museums downtown
If you’re looking for popular attractions the entire family can enjoy, don’t miss World of Coca-Cola, Georgia Aquarium, and Children’s Museum of Atlanta, which are all located just steps away from one another downtown.
Across the street, the Olympic Rings sculpture is on display at Centennial Olympic Park. And if you head a little farther north, you’ll find the Fernbank Museum of Natural History.
Tip: For more grown-up fun, the Fernbank museum hosts Fernbank After Dark on the second Friday of each month. Adults 21 and over can enjoy food, drinks, and special programming.
Sports fanatics can catch a game and root for one of Atlanta’s numerous sports teams
If you love the Hawks, the Falcons, or the Braves, Atlanta is a great place to be.
Football fans will also probably want to stop in at the College Football Hall of Fame downtown.
Tip: The stadiums and the hall of fame all offer tours.
Movie fans can see where some of the biggest blockbusters were created
Atlanta is a major hub for film and TV creation. Fans of everything from shows such as “Stranger Things” to blockbusters including “Avengers: Endgame” will get a kick out of the available filming-location tours.
The tours usually last up to three hours, and prices range from $US70 ($AU96) to $US140 ($AU191).
Tip: Wear comfortable shoes because you’ll do plenty of walking.
Where to eat and drink
Toast on Lenox has great customer service and amazing food and cocktails
Toast on Lenox is a Southern-style restaurant nestled in Buckhead, and it’s perfect for a quick bite or a cute night out.
Whether you’re dressed up or down, you’ll fit in with the quaint and cute decor.
Tip: Ask for Bri at the bar if you’re looking for a great conversation with a local.
The Breakfast Boys is a trendy brunch spot with unique decor and great eats
One of Southwest Atlanta’s newest restaurants has served the likes of the “Real Housewives of Atlanta” star Cynthia Bailey.
The Breakfast Boys is perfect for foodies, and it has great service.
The menu features jerk chicken and sweet-potato waffles and, of course, the traditional shrimp and grits.
Tip: Parking isn’t always easy to find, but your best bet is to look for a spot on the street.
JoJo’s Beloved Cocktail Lounge is a 1970s-themed bar
JoJo’s Beloved is the perfect spot if you want a unique 1970s spot that plays Donna Summer and Chaka Khan hits.
If you’re in the mood for a good drink, then this is your best option.
Tip: It’s reservation only. You can try your luck at the bar, but it’s first-come, first-served with a two-drink minimum.
The Beacon has a great mix of restaurants
Who doesn’t love a good food hall full of restaurants and dessert spots?
Tip: At Pin & Proper you can bowl with footballs.
Mojave is a hidden gem in Marietta
Mojave is a Latin-inspired restaurant in the Marietta neighborhood that’s great for a date night.
From brunch to dinner, this restaurant is a huge hit with its variety of housemade family recipes.
Tip: The ribs with asparagus is definitely an underrated dish.
Poor Calvin’s brings a twist to Midtown with its fusion cuisine
Poor Calvin’s in downtown Atlanta mixes Asian-inspired cuisine with Southern comfort food.
Originally from Vietnam, the chef Calvin Phan has made a name for himself with an impressive menu that includes spring rolls, lobster mac and cheese, and grilled lamb chops.
Tip: The lobster wontons are to die for.
Atlanta Food Truck Park is perfect for vegetarians and vegans
Tip: Adult beverages are available by BlitzedbyTY.
Hippin Hops Brewery is a chill spot for friends to gather
Hippin Hops Brewery is a trendy spot that’s perfect for all beer lovers.
Tip: There are a few other cool bars, lounges, and restaurants in the area as well.
Jeni’s has the best dessert on the BeltLine
There are a few other locations around the city, and there are even some scattered across the South and the Midwest.
It’s not hard to figure out why the shop has such a cult following with so many flavors to choose from.
Tip: You can also grab a pint of Jeni’s ice cream at a local Publix supermarket.
Sublime Doughnuts is always a hit
With two locations in Atlanta and one in Thailand, Sublime Doughnuts is not to be missed.
The Nestle Crunch doughnut is a little bite of heaven.
Tip: The locations in Atlanta are open 24 hours a day, so you shouldn’t have a problem fitting a doughnut run into your trip.
Ponce City Market is full of fun food and drinks
If you’re not quite sure what you’re in the mood for, head over to Ponce City Market where there are dozens of food stalls and restaurants to choose from.
When you’re done eating, you can also shop around for local finds.
Tip: Ponce has a farmer’s market on Wednesday nights.
Adventurous foodies should make a trip to Sweet Stack Creamery
Nestled in Atlanta’s Sweet Auburn Historic District, Sweet Stack Creamery boasts a menu of ice-cream sandwiches with very distinctive flavors.
The Black Panther ice cream with activated charcoal, coconut, and vanilla wafers won my heart.
Tip: The line can be long, but it’s worth the wait. There’s free parking in the Dwell parking garage nearby.
Final tips before your trip
- Food is a huge deal in Atlanta. Atlanta is known for its brunches, so don’t forget to dress to impress. They can also last hours, so be prepared.
- MARTA is the best form of transportation if you want to cut down on your Uber bill. Another option is renting a car because MARTA doesn’t reach everywhere in the city.
- Visit in the fall if you’re looking for mild weather. The summer months can be a little brutal with temperatures reaching 100 degrees Fahrenheit. But fall weather is in the perfect 60s-to-70s range.