Georgia's sprawling capital city is best known for its role in the Civil Rights movement, inspiring loads of hip hop and R&B artists, its Southern hospitality, and, of course, everything Coca Cola. Atlanta is growing pretty rapidly, and so there's always something new and exciting to eat or see in town, as well as tons of classic favorite hangouts for locals and tourists alike.
Start off your trip with a meal at the notorious burger joint, Vortex Bar and Grill. They're known for their sassy attitude and insanely decadent toppings and burgers, including a behemoth made with 4 full patty melts for buns, sandwiching bacon, patties, mayo, and loads of cheese, plus it comes with bacon cheese fries. The whole thing is over 9,000 calories. Bon appetit!
It sometimes seems like Coke is the lifeblood that powers Atlanta, so of course Coca-Cola has a museum, The World of Coca-Cola, dedicated to the beverage right here in the city. Kids will definitely love seeing the vault and watching the 4D movie, and adults will appreciate the retro Coke ads, and the ability to sample strange soda flavors from across the globe at the end, so there's something for everyone.
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 tons more.
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: for example, beef tartare, lo mein, crab cakes, and old-fashioned banana pudding are all things that can be found in one night...and they're all totally worth a sample.
Booze + arcade games (and board games, too!) = a guaranteed good time. Get to Joystick Gamebar a little on the early side, because it often reaches capacity and a line forms at night. Definitely sample their craft cocktails, and bring some quarters for the games!
Ah, how to describe Sister Louisa's Church of the Living Room & Ping Pong Emporium? This irreverent Southern Baptist-themed watering hole is a step weirder than Joystick. Expect karaoke (performed in choir robes), drag shows or ping pong tournaments, or just enjoy a PBR and let the weirdness of "Church" wash over you.
Wrecking Bar Brewpub is located in a Victorian home that was once a church, a dance school, and an antique store before it was turned into this brewery and restaurant. On tap you'll find everything from the obvious (IPAs, stouts, kolsches, and pales) to the strange (goses and sour pale ales). If you're feeling really adventurous, try one of their beer cocktails!
The Glenn Hotel's prime location isn't the only thing this chic boutique hotel has going for it, they also pay attention to the details, from the drinks upon arrival to the kinetic sculpture art on the rooftop terrace, your stay will definitely be comfortable, and probably have a few pleasant surprises.
The Silver Skillet is a classic Southern diner that has been keeping Atlanta citizens well-fed since the 1950's, 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 redeye gravy, grits, corned beef hash, and steak and eggs on the breakfast menu of this beloved greasy spoon.
The Museum of Design Atlanta (aka the MODA) hosts one or two rotating exhibits, and is the only institution in the South 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.
Another equally quirky spot, the Robert C. Williams Paper Museum is a free museum dedicated to the art of paper-making and printing. Browse thousands of books, tools, papers, machines, manuscripts and more, and even consider signing up for a class or workshop if you have time.
The city of Atlanta plays an important role in author Margaret Mitchell's popular Pulitzer Prize-winning novel "Gone With the Wind," and so if you're a fan of the book (or the movie, starring Vivian Leigh and swoon-worthy Clark Gable) then you'll want to stop by the Margaret Mitchell House & Museum, where Mitchell lived when she wrote her masterpiece.
Atlanta's essential Southern cookin' eatery, Mary Mac's Tea Room, is straight out of 1945. Pork chops, fried chicken, grits, sweet potato souffle, 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 left over after boiling collard greens) with cracklin bread (dried cornbread to crumble on top), and a bread basket with cornbread, yeast rolls, and cinnamon rolls.
The Martin Luther King Jr National Historic Site has several buildings, all important to Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights movement in general. You can visit his boyhood home and the church where MLK Jr. 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.
Locals and tourists alike love Gladys Knight & Ron Winans' Chicken & Waffles, which is a nice, sit down joint with Southern-Asian fusion dishes (like collard greens spring rolls), as well as classic fried chicken options, including the incredible chicken and waffles for which they're known (of course).
Enjoy the often-awesome Atlanta weather outside at the beloved Der Biergarten. The patio goes well with a pint of one of their many, many, many beers on tap, and a slice of warm apple strudel dripping with vanilla ice cream.
End your trip through ATL at one of America's greatest dive bars: Northside Tavern. Cheap drinks, live blues music every night, pool, and a friendly but interesting crowd have kept this little joint open since the 1970's!
Summers in Atlanta can be humid and hot, but temperatures rarely top out over 90, and there are tons of events going on in the city to sweeten the deal. Prices are cheaper in the winter, naturally, and even though it rarely gets cold enough to snow, the city pretty much shuts down if they get any. Spring and fall are reliably good as well, catch a Falcons game or a Braves game, if you can.