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Discovering Atlanta: The Maine Chick's Guide to Georgia's Capital

Discover the charm of Atlanta, Georgia, where history, culture, and fun come together. As the capital of Georgia, Atlanta has something for everyone, from historic sites and famous attractions to diverse neighborhoods.

Although we initially came for the Falcons Vs. Vikings football game, our trip turned into an exciting adventure. We explored food halls, art museums, biking trails, and parks, making the most of our time in the city. Atlanta played a significant role in the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement, adding to its rich heritage.


Whether you're a history buff, foodie, art lover, or outdoor enthusiast, Atlanta has activities tailored to your interests. Join me as I share my top recommendations and help you plan your own unforgettable Atlanta experience.

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Marvel at the Atlanta Aquarium

Claiming its title as the biggest aquarium in the western hemisphere, the Georgia Aquarium houses a diverse array of aquatic creatures, ranging from alligators to beluga whales. With its wide range of educational programs, live events, captivating shows, and noteworthy research and conservation initiatives, this aquarium is an essential stop for any Atlanta visit.


My favorite part of the aquarium visit was the iconic acrylic tunnel, allowing guests to be surrounded by thousands of marine creatures. Manta rays, sea turtles, and whales gracefully swim by, creating a close and immersive experience. Another standout feature was the scheduled shows (which require advance booking) featuring talented performers like lion seals and dolphins showcasing incredible tricks!


Admission cost: Visit the Aquarium website to find the most up-to-date ticket prices.

Hours: Monday - Thursday: 9:00am - 6:00pm, Friday - Sunday: 9:00am - 9:00pm

Recommended duration: 3-4 hours, or 2-3 hours if you arrive early and the crowds are minimal!

 

Savor the Flavors at the World of Coca Cola

Right across from the Aquarium, the World of Coca-Cola awaits. The experience begins with a brief guided tour, after which you're free to explore the exhibits at your own pace. Instead of just observing and reading descriptions, there's a wealth of interactive activities, including watching 3D movies, testing your scent identification skills, and, of course, sampling various cola products from different parts of the world.


In the realm of food museums, this one proved intriguing to explore. However, I wouldn't categorize it as a must-do, especially if you're pressed for time. If your schedule is tight, you might consider skipping it. But if time permits, especially after your visit to the aquarium, it can be a worthwhile addition to your itinerary.


Admission cost: Adults aged 13-64: $21.00, Youth aged 3-12: $17

Hours: Monday - Thursday:10:00am - 5:00pm, Friday - Sunday: 10:00am - 6:00pm

Recommended duration: 1 to 1.5 hours

 

Stroll Through Centennial Park

In downtown Atlanta, Centennial Olympic Park, constructed for the 1996 Olympics, sprawls across the area and is home to the expansive Georgia Aquarium and the World of Coca-Cola. Don't miss the chance to capture a perfect photo at The Rings and enjoy the grand views of downtown Atlanta.

 

Discover Beauty at the Atlanta Botanical Garden

Despite being a bustling urban hub, Atlanta boasts a breathtaking haven for plant enthusiasts. Nestled in the heart of the city, the Atlanta Botanical Garden showcases magnificent plant collections spread across 30 acres of outdoor gardens.


During my visit in early November, the garden was in a transitional phase, gearing up for the holiday season with Christmas decorations being set up. Despite this, I thoroughly enjoyed exploring the garden's lush spaces and wandering through the greenhouses filled with tropical plants, desert flora, and the enchanting orchid house. Visiting during spring and summer would likely offer a more vibrant and colorful experience with an abundance of blooming flowers.


Admission cost: Visit the Botanical Garden website to find the most up-to-date ticket prices.

Hours: Tuesday - Sunday: 9:00am - 6:00pm, last entry at 5:00pm

Recommended duration: 2-3 hours

 

Relax at Piedmont Park

Explore Piedmont Park following your visit to the Botanical Garden, and make your way to the High Museum of Art. This green oasis boasts walking and jogging paths, picnic areas, playgrounds, tennis courts, a public swimming pool, two ponds, and a dog park. Serving as a peaceful retreat from the bustling city, the park provides an ideal setting to unwind and enjoy some moments of relaxation.

 

Admire Art at the High Museum of Art

This impressive white building in Midtown is the top art museum in the southeast. It has over 18,000 pieces of art, including classics and contemporary works from European, African, and American artists.


Outside the museum, don't miss 'The Shade,' a Rodin sculpture dedicated to 122 members of the Atlanta Art Association who tragically lost their lives in a 1962 plane crash in Paris.


During my visit, there was a captivating Beatrix Potter Exhibit showcasing the renowned author and illustrator's storybook creations, most notably known for Peter Rabbit. I was pleasantly surprised by the extensive collection and thoroughly enjoyed observing the sketches of these adorable animal characters.


Admission cost: Adults: $18.50, Children Under 6: Free

Hours: Tuesday-Saturday: 10:00am - 5:00pm, Sunday: Noon- 5:00pm, Monday: Closed

Recommended duration: 2-3 hours

 

Attend a Falcons Game

Our primary motive for visiting Atlanta was to watch the Falcons vs. Vikings game at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Positioned in the heart of Atlanta, the stadium is conveniently within a short walking distance from Centennial Park. If your visit aligns with the football season, catching a game is definitely worth considering!

 

Visit the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park

When in Atlanta, you can take a self-guided tour of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Memorial. The Center includes Dr. King's birth home, the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, and Freedom Hall. Visiting the MLK National Park is free and essential when exploring Atlanta, as it plays a significant role in the city's history.

 

Atlanta's Food Scene

Our time in Atlanta was a gastronomic adventure, filled with diverse tastes discovered through a food tour and visits to the city's bustling food halls. Two restaurants, Wisteria and Atlanta Breakfast Club, left a lasting impression with their delicious Southern dishes.


Restaurant Favorites

Wisteria, situated in Inman Park, offers a blend of neighborhood bistro and fine dining, serving inventive Southern cuisine. My "Coastal Shrimp and Grits" main course was particularly delicious, with poblano peppers and a flavorful seasoned broth sauce that elevated the grits. We also enjoyed the fresh and well-balanced "Fried Green Tomatoes" appetizer, complemented by the Agrodolce sauce, lemon aioli drizzle, and cilantro.

Atlanta Breakfast Club - 249 Ivan Allen Jr Blvd NW, Atlanta

Located just behind the Atlanta Aquarium, The Atlanta Breakfast Club is a modern diner featuring retro seating and classic American breakfast options. The must-try dish is their specialty, chicken and waffles. You can also customize the buttermilk fried chicken and Belgian waffles with various additions, such as peach cobbler or eggs, bacon, and cheese. Another noteworthy option is the fried green tomato BLT served on buttermilk biscuits – absolutely delicious!

 

Food Halls

Ponce City Market - 675 Ponce De Leon Ave NE, Atlanta

Ponce City Market occupies the revitalized Sears, Roebuck & Co. building—a historic local icon transformed into a hub for apartments, offices, shops, and the vibrant Central Food Hall. This lively restoration project attracts both locals and visitors who come together to dine, shop, work, and live in the dynamic space. The rooftop hosts Skyline Park, a carnival-style area offering boardwalk games, an 18-hole mini-golf course, and traditional carnival fare. Please note that there is an admission fee for rooftop access.

Krog Street Market - 99 Krog St NE, Atlanta

Housed in a refurbished 1920s warehouse, Krog Street Market is a meeting spot for grabbing a meal, enjoying a drink, or exploring artisanal ingredients. Recognized by Travel + Leisure as one of the world's best food halls in 2015, the market includes numerous food stalls and diverse restaurants offering Southern classics, Japanese, Vietnamese, Indian, and more.

Politan Row - 197 Peachtree St NE Ste 150, Atlanta

Nestled in Midtown Atlanta’s Colony Square, Politan Row is a food hall situated near the High Museum of Art. Following our museum visit, we stopped by for a late lunch and savored a delicious Southern BBQ plate with a choice of meat and two sides. My selection included pulled pork, macaroni and cheese, and chili.

 

Explore Inman Park with Guided Tours

Bike Tour

We took the "Fall in Love with Atlanta" 2.5-hour bike tour by Bicycle Tours of Atlanta to make the most of our Atlanta visit. Exploring on a bike is a fantastic way to find hidden local gems and cover more ground than you might on your own.


During this tour, you'll see the Atlanta Beltline, Inman Park, the Krog Tunnel, Jackson Street Bridge, Cabbagetown, The Old Fourth Ward, Oakland Cemetery, and the King Historic District.


We decided to upgrade to electric bikes, but they weren't really necessary. While eBikes are more fun, the tour involves frequent stops, and the ride is mostly flat with no hills.

Food Tour

Another excellent way to experience a new city like a local is by joining a food tour! We participated in the 3-Hour Atlanta Beltline Food, Street Art, and History Tour, enjoying a variety of foods from pizza and chicken wings to donuts and gelato. This tour was generous with portion sizes, so consider skipping breakfast before embarking on it!


Even though this food tour covered the Inman Park area, the same as the bike tour, we still learned new information and visited entirely different places. If you're short on time, I recommend choosing either the bike tour or the food tour, as they both cover the same neighborhood, with a bit of overlap in history.

 

Atlanta Visiting Tips

Maximize Your Atlanta Experience with these Visiting Tips
  • MARTA - Streamline your entire trip by utilizing Atlanta's MARTA transportation system. Simply download the app to purchase tickets or passes for multiple days. Upon entering the metro or bus, scan the QR code on your app.

  • Recommended Length of Stay - To fully enjoy Atlanta and explore its main attractions, I recommend a minimum stay of at least 3 full days, or a long weekend. Our 4-day trip felt perfect, allowing us to pack our schedule with all the key experiences.

  • Where to Stay - We chose Peachtree Center in downtown Atlanta for our stay. With a nearby metro stop, it was convenient for transit, and we could easily walk to attractions like Centennial Park, the Aquarium, World of Coca-Cola, and the Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Keep in mind that while the area lacked many restaurants, you can venture to nearby places for dining options.

 

Thanks for reading!

- The Maine Chick

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