Georgia’s sprawling capital city is best known for its role in the Civil Rights movement, inspiring loads of artists in both hip-hop and R&B, Southern hospitality, and of course, everything Coca-Cola. Atlanta is growing pretty rapidly, so there’s always something new and exciting in town to see, eat, or do—as well as tons of classic hangouts for locals and tourists alike.
Start off your trip with burgers and bar food—and if you want, liquor and libations—at The Vortex Bar & Grill. (Note: Even if you’re just eating, The Vortex is adults-only, so bring your ID but ditch the kids!) Known for delicious sass and insanely decadent burgers, The Vortex’s menu includes a behemoth burger called the “Quadruple Coronary Bypass” that uses patty-melts instead of buns and is topped with bacon, fried eggs, mayo, onions, relish, and loads of cheese. Plus, it comes with bacon cheese fries. The whole thing is over 9,000 calories. Bon appetit!
“If you're looking for the best burger in town, look no further. The Vortex is the place to get your burger craving fixed. They have an extensive menu with lots of burgers. I enjoyed mine as it had bacon and BBQ sauce. I wouldn't choose any other place to get a burger. You will not be disappointed.” -Anthony R. on Yelp.
Built to repurpose the 1996 Atlanta Olympic buildings, Centennial Olympic Park is a public park and a great place to explore. There’s a Ferris wheel, fountains, excellent views of the city skyline, and tons more. Plus, it’s home to Atlanta’s 4th of July celebration, a cool display of Christmas lights, a summer concert series, and other cool events.
“What a cool park with so much to see and do, and paths that take you to these different statues and monuments . . . Don't miss the Women's Suffragist installation! Great place to walk, jog, bike, use the scooters, and even picnic or play frisbee. Music City Hop bus drops off right out front and comes every 30 minutes!” -Rumit P. on Yelp.
Sometimes, it seems like Coca-Cola is the lifeblood that powers Atlanta, so of course, the iconic beverage brand has to have its own museum! With a 4D movie, an interactive “Taste It!” exhibit, a pop culture gallery, and a sneak-peek at the bottling process, there’s something for everyone at the World of Coca-Cola.
“I didn't know if I was going to like this museum because what is interesting about cola? I was wrong. I enjoyed learning about the history of Coca Cola and the mystery behind the ‘secret formula’ that is still locked in a safe to this day . . . You start off with a free can of coke of your choice and then get walked into the theater for a five minute Coca Cola commercial. After that it's pretty much self guided, there are several rooms and halls to browse through.” -Lynn U. on Yelp.
The coolest part about Gunshow is how the restaurant is set up: roving carts bring dishes around to communal tables, dim-sum style. The menu changes frequently and is pretty eclectic with everything from beef tartare and lo mein to crab cakes and old-fashioned banana pudding.
“A must-try restaurant in Atlanta! We had dinner there on a Saturday evening two weeks ago, and the food experience was sensational. The dishes offered that night were refreshing and creative with both attractive presentation and delicious tastes. We ended up having all the dishes including deserts! . . . It was totally worthy of waiting for a table with reservation three weeks in advance. If you want to have dinner at Gunshow, remember to reserve a table early!” -Rita L. on Yelp.
Ah, how to describe Sister Louisa’s Church of the Living Room & Ping Pong Emporium? This irreverent Southern-Baptist-themed watering hole is a little on the wacky side: Expect karaoke (performed in choir robes), drag shows, ping pong tournaments, and religious decor. Be prepared to let the unholy quirkiness of Church wash over you.
Enjoy drinks, games, great service, and a free-spirited atmosphere when you spend a night at Church. Image courtesy of @racheldermack on Instagram.
“One of our favorite places. The sangria is amazing and the staff always friendly! The owner, Grant, is a huge part of the community, and we adore him. If you haven't checked this place out, you should put on your Sunday best and join the fellowship.” -Eric H. on Yelp.
A prime spot in Downtown Atlanta isn’t the only thing this chic boutique hotel has going for it—not by a long shot. From drinks upon arrival to kinetic sculpture art on its rooftop terrace, Glenn Hotel is a delight from start to finish. You can get in on the luxury even if you’re not staying here by grabbing a meal at Glenn’s Kitchen or a drink at SkyLounge.
“On a recent trip to Atlanta, I had the pleasure of staying at the Glenn Hotel. It was new to me, but it's in a classic older building with all of the charm you'd expect from a Georgian manor . . . The room had a classic charm with modern conveniences. ” -Gary G. on Yelp.
The Silver Skillet is a classic Southern diner that has been keeping the people of Atlanta well-fed since the 1950s—and everything from the menu to the decor has pretty much stayed the same the whole time. Expect to see dishes like country ham and red eye gravy, grits, corned beef hash, and steak and eggs on the breakfast menu of this beloved greasy spoon.
“An old-fashioned diner with great service and a warm atmosphere. The staff and regulars provide true southern hospitality. . . Their menu is extensive and any southern breakfast can be had. I enjoy going here not just for the food, and will always go back here.” -Key M. on Yelp.
The Museum of Design Atlanta (also known as MODA) hosts one or two rotating exhibits and is the only institution in the Southeast that’s dedicated to the study of design and its impact on everyday life. The exhibits cover topics like 3D printing, healthy living, Italian motorcycles, and more.
Check to see what exhibitions are currently on display ahead of time by visiting the museum’s website. Image courtesy of @maydenelizabeth on Instagram.
“It's small but oozing creativity and depth. Left feeling inspired . . . The museum not only shares experiences that are important to our society but lets you be a part of them! With talks and workshops—They truly believe in the power of community. All in all, art is much more than fine art. It's important to understand the art that has shaped us daily.” -Caro R. on Yelp.
Another equally quirky spot, the Robert C. Williams Museum of Papermaking is a free museum dedicated to the art of—you guessed it—making paper and printing. Browse thousands of books, tools, papers, machines, manuscripts, and more, or even consider signing up for a class or workshop if you have the time.
“A gorgeous museum on the campus of Georgia Tech that offers various papermaking and printmaking classes to students, faculty, staff and the general public. I really enjoyed the class I attended for making my very own valentines. Great value for my dollar for the level of instruction and materials that were provided.” -Christy L. on Yelp.
Atlanta’s quintessential Southern cookin’ eatery, Mary Mac’s Tea Room, is straight out of 1945. Pork chops, fried chicken, grits, sweet potato soufflé, banana pudding, and tons more can be found on the extensive menu. And if you mention that it’s your first time visiting, they’ll give you a free cup of pot likker soup (it’s the liquid leftover after boiling collard greens) with cracklin’ bread (dried cornbread to crumble on top), and a bread basket with cornbread, yeast rolls, and cinnamon rolls.
“First thing's first—the service here is amazing, and our waitress made us feel as if we were visiting family . . . The food was amazingly delicious,... The fried chicken was on point and their chicken pot pie was so filling. We also tried their okra, mac and cheese, sweet potato, and pot likker . . . We left with our hearts and bellies full.” -Daisy C. on Yelp.
The Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park has several buildings, all of which were important to Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights movement in general. You can visit his boyhood home, the church where MLK and his father were pastors, a historic firehouse that has a display on the desegregation of firefighting, a rose garden, visitor center with a museum, and more.
“This museum is a must-visit for every American at least once in his/her lifetime. It's powerful, insightful and a reminder of the work and legacy of Dr. King. . . . It's a major walk down memory lane, and a reminder how far we've come and how much more work there is to be done.” -Nicole C. on Yelp.
Atlanta is brimming with vibrant energy and a long list of culturally enriching stops to pack your itinerary with. These are some of our favorite places in Atlanta—what are yours? Let us know on Facebook.