Hit the Bricks – Atlanta’s attractions
Atlanta’s attractions are known worldwide, and visitors to the Southern metropolis will never run out of things to do. The city is home to the World of Coca-Cola as well as CNN Studios, both offering daily tours. Discover an array of art and exhibits that change throughout the year at the city’s many museums, and take a stroll through history at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site, the Atlanta Cyclorama (Civil War buffs will be fascinated) or Crossroads, a new addition to Stone Mountain Park.
There’s plenty to do in Atlanta when you’re not doing business, so hit the bricks and take in the city’s acclaimed attractions. Following is a brief guide to just a few of the most popular venues. Call for hours and admission fees.
Atlanta Botanical Garden
Thirty acres of woods and gardens include the Dorothy Chapman Fuqua Conservatory, an exotic orchid center, rose and rock gardens, Japanese gardens, a delightful children’s garden and Storza Woods, one of the city’s few remaining hardwood forests.
1345 Piedmont Ave., NE 404/876-5859
Centennial Olympic Park
Share the legacy of the 1996 Centennial Olympics held in Atlanta. This 21-acre park in the center-city was itself the center of festivities during the Games and features engraved brick pathways, a visitor center and an Olympic ring-shaped fountain that’s great for beating the heat.
240 International Blvd. 404/223-4412
CNN Studio Tours
Experience the world news live during a 50-minute walking tour at CNN Center. Go behind the scenes of the special effects and Headline News studios, and see how this 24-hour network operates around the clock to deliver coverage of breaking news and world events.
One CNN Center 404/827-2300
Fernbank Museum of Natural History
Walk on fossil-embedded floors as you explore the history of Earth, from its beginnings through to modern man. And definitely don’t miss the dinosaurs. Check listings for the IMAX theater, which runs special shows throughout the year.
767 Clifton Rd., NE 404/929-6300
Fernbank Science Center
See the stars in the planetarium theater, experience an aerospace lab with a flight simulator and a wind tunnel, and look inside an Apollo space capsule. Outdoors, take paved paths through 65 acres of woods and turtle-filled ponds.
156 Heaton Park Dr., NE 678/874-7102
High Museum of Art
The museum is the largest in the Southeast, with noted permanent collections and traveling exhibits housed in a striking building by Architect Richard Meier. The four-level atrium has a curving, walk-up ramp, but don’t worry, there are elevators, too. Next door, the Robert W. Woodruff Arts Center houses performances for the Alliance Theater and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. (For current schedules, call 404/733-5000.)
1280 Peachtree Street, NE 404/733-4400
High Museum of Art, Folk Art and Photography
A satellite facility of the main High focusing on folk art and photography as its name implies. Located smack dab in the middle of the city’s convention district.
30 John Wesley Dobbs Ave. 404/577-6940
Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site
Featured at the King Center for Nonviolent Social Change, the marble tomb of Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. is surrounded by a reflecting pool and inscribed with the famous words “Free at Last.” Both King’s birthplace and the famous Ebenezer Baptist Church are located on the grounds of the national historic site, where National Park Service rangers lead free tours.
450 Auburn Ave. 404/331-6922
Michael C. Carlos Museum
Located on the campus of Emory University in Atlanta’s Druid Hills neighborhood (of Driving Miss Daisy fame), this museum jewel displays centuries of art from Egypt, Greece and Rome. The Egyptian collection includes 3,000-year-old mummies, some on permanent display. Other fascinating, ancient artifacts include Greek pottery and Roman jewelry, with additional temporary exhibits from throughout art history.
571 S. Kilgo St., NE, Emory University 404/733-4444
Get big hair when you create static electricity or watch magnetic forces hurl a metal ring 22 feet up in the air. Lift a 100-pound weight with one hand or see yourself shrink and grow as you walk within a distorted room. Roll up your sleeves and learn at this popular science and technology museum, which offers 150 interactive, hands-on exhibits to play with for kids and adults, along with special exhibits and daily demonstrations of the science in our lives. Of course, there’s also a Science Store that kids love.
395 Piedmont Ave. 404/522-5500
Six Flags Over Georgia
The family amusement park features the requisite roller coasters – nine, to be exact, including the new “Superman, Ultimate Flight” – plus thrill rides, water attractions, daily stage entertainment and nightly fireworks.
Six Flags exit off Interstate 20 West 770/948-9290
Stone Mountain Park
Covering 583 acres (25 million square feet), Stone Mountain is appropriately named as the largest exposed mass of granite in the world. The mountain’s side features the largest bas-relief carving in the world (depicting three heroes of the Confederacy), and turns into a natural screen for a spectacular laser show on summer nights. Take the open-air railroad on a five-mile journey around the mountain base, or ride the cable car 825 feet up to the mountaintop. The park also has an antique car museum, riverboat rides (if the weather’s good), golf and tennis, and visitor’s center with a museum. In one of its newest additions, called Crossroads, travel back in time to an 1870s southern town, or try The Great Barn for four floors of 21st-century fun.
Stone Mountain exit off US Highway 78 East 770/498-5690
World of Coca-Cola
Follow the history of the world’s best-selling soft drink, first created in Atlanta 110 years ago and now served a billion times a day throughout the world. Move at your own pace through a pavilion of galleries filled with memorabilia, interactive exhibits and videos, and sample Coke products from around the globe (not available in the U.S.) at the futuristic soda fountain.
55 Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. 404/676-5151
Lions and tigers and bears, oh, yes! Go wild at Zoo Atlanta, where Giant Panda pair Lun Lun and Yang Yang are popular residents. The zoo houses nearly a thousand animals, including a group of gorgeous silverback gorillas and slithery reptiles of all sorts, in settings created to mimic their natural habitats. Kids love the gift shop here, too.
800 Cherokee Ave., SE 404/624-5822
History on Tour
You’re never too far away from history in Atlanta, from its Native American roots to its role in the Civil War and its place in current events. Historical markers throughout the city point out its historic past, and are sometimes startling, considering the modern venues in which they’re found.
The local area’s saga and some of the city’s famous residents, including golf legend Bobby Jones, are chronicled at the Atlanta History Center (130W. Paces Ferry Rd., NW; 404/814-4000). Guided tours of two historic homes – the Swan House, a 1928 classical revival mansion, and the Tullie Smith home – are also available.
Take a tour of the Georgia State Capitol Building (206 Washington St.; 404/656-2844) and watch a short film to learn its quirky past. The Capitol dome is covered in real gold mined from north Georgia, and the building is surrounded by statues of memorable politicians. Its eclectic museum exhibits artifacts, historic flags and more. At the Carter Library and Museum (441 Freedom Parkway; 404/331-3942), peruse more than a million original documents and photos from Georgia native Jimmy Carter’s presidential years. Exhibits detail Carter’s day-to-day life in the White House, and a replica of the Oval Office that is said to be quite accurate.
Civil War buffs will love the world’s largest painting, a 358-degree panorama of the 1864 Battle of Atlanta. Brought to life with music, lighting and narration by James Earl Jones, the diorama is on view at the Atlanta Cyclorama (next door to Zoo Atlanta at 800 Cherokee Ave., SE; 404/658-7625). And at the Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park (Old U.S. 41 and Stilesboro Rd., Kennesaw; 770/427-4686), visitors can hike 16 trails through the Civil War battlefield, where Union forces led by Gen. William T. Sherman met entrenched Confederates.
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