There’s a reason it’s called “Hotlanta.” As the nation’s ninth-largest metro area, Atlanta, Georgia, offers all the modern conveniences and attractions, shopping, dining, entertainment and nightlife, you would expect from a major city. Amid its miles of tree-lined streets, Civil War backdrop, and genuine southern charm, you will also find natural wonders and historic preservation.
Known as a “city of trees,” because of its lush magnolias, dogwoods, magnificent oaks and southern pines, Atlanta is also lush with history. Not only was the area important in the Civil War and Civil Rights Movement, but the city also played host to the 1996 Olympic Games.
With Atlanta’s mild climate, visitors can enjoy year-round outdoor festivals, beautiful gardens, art shows, free outdoor concerts, and nature trails. Local zoos, amusement and water parks are always a hit with the young'”and the young at heart, too.
Here are 25 things you can do and see while touring this southern hot spot.
1. Marvel at more than 30 acres of gardens and forests, walk a 40-foot-high treetop trail, and tour the 10,000 square-foot Fuqua Orchid Center at the Atlanta Botanical Garden.
2. Discover graceful beluga whales, manta rays, giant whale sharks, playful penguins, sea otters, and many other aquatic animals at the Georgia Aquarium, the largest aquarium habitat in the world.
3. Explore 32 acres of gardens and woodland areas along with an 1840’s farm, a restored 1928 mansion and one of the south’s largest history museums at the Atlanta History Center.
4. Enjoy the charming, quirky neighborhood of Decatur with its more than 200 boutiques, eateries and galleries'”just six miles east of downtown Atlanta.
5. Navigate your way through 3,200 acres of natural beauty at Stone Mountain Park, located just 16 miles east of downtown Atlanta. Enjoy scenic train rides, year-round festivals, outdoor activities and a sky ride to the top of the mountain.
6. Catch a performance by the Atlanta Ballet or Broadway show at the 5,000-seat Fox Theatre, opened in 1929.
7. Watch a racing event, see vintage vehicles or take a driving lesson at Road Atlanta’s 2.5-mile, 12-turn world-class road course, situated on 750 acres in the rolling hills of Northeast George'”just 35 miles north of Atlanta.
8. Trace the history of Atlanta’s beloved baseball team at the Braves Museum & Hall of Fame, featuring more than 600 artifacts and photographs, and tour Turner Field.
9. Shop hip boutiques, dine at unique restaurants and enjoy nightlife at the historic Virginia-Highland area. Developed in the early 1900s, the area is made up of seven commercial villages.
10. See the world’s largest dinosaurs come to life at Fernbank Museum of Natural History. Explore cultures through hands-on exhibits and catch the latest IMAX movies.
11. Let the kids discover, imagine and explore how things work in their world at the Imagine It! Children’s Museum.
12. Get a tattoo, flip through vinyl records, browse vintage clothes and taste bohemian life at Little Five Points shopping district.
13. Visit the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum and learn about the life and work of the 39th U.S. President.
14. Tour the Margaret Mitchell House, the three-story mansion where author Margaret Mitchell wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, Gone With the Wind .
15. See more than 200 species of animals, including pandas, gorillas and reptiles, at Zoo Atlanta, located in Grant Park.
16. Learn how ancient people lived at the Michael C. Carlos Museum. View objects from Egypt, Rome, the Near East, and the West. See African art, European and American Renaissance works from the 9th century through the 20th century.
17. Explore Jewish heritage through exhibitions, publications and resources at the Atlanta Jewish Federation museum.
18. Picnic near Lake Clara Meer, enjoy walking, skating and bike paths, and attend events on more than 180 acres of lush woods at Piedmont Park.
19. Explore six city blocks of a subterranean marketplace featuring more than 100 specialty stores and street-cart merchants, plus Kenny’s Alley music and nightlife district at Underground Atlanta.
20. Experience the World of Coca-Cola and sample nearly 70 different beverages from around the world. The museum features a multi-sensory 4-D theater, an 1880s soda fountain, and unique live-action bottling line.
21. Rent a canoe, bike, camp and enjoy the great outdoors along a 48-mile stretch of the Chattahoochee River. Visit the Nature Center for more fun activities.
22. Shoot 18 holes at more than 100 public and private golf courses in the Atlanta metro area.
23. Explore the birth home of Civil Rights Leader Martin Luther King Jr. as well as the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, and The King Center, where Dr. King’s Nobel Peace Prize is displayed at the MLK National Historic Site & Sweet Auburn District.
24. Take a 55-minute guided tour of Atlanta’s CNN studios and get an up close look at news and broadcasting in action.
25. Catch a Broadway play at the Tony Award-winning Alliance Theatre at the Woodruff, which has been showcasing stellar performances for four decades.