Atlanta for History Buffs, Music Fans and Families

With historical sites like the Fox Theatre, family-friendly activites and Atlanta's live music scene, there are things to do in Atlanta for every traveler!

As the capital of Georgia, Atlanta boasts an exciting blend of historical significance, up-and-coming artistic talent and family-friendly attractions. This guide to fun things to do in Atlanta will surely be enough to keep Georgia — and this thriving city of nearly 6 million residents — on your mind.

Getting Around Atlanta

Rent a car after you land at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, just 8 miles south of downtown, so you can explore the variety of must-see sights that are spread across the metro area.

Atlanta Map

What to Do if You’re … a History Buff

Many people associate Atlanta with the Civil War, thanks to Margaret Mitchell’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, “Gone With the Wind.” Guests can tour Margaret Mitchell House and Museum, the restored Tudor Revival-style home where she wrote her best-known work. Afterwards, wander south about half a mile on Peachtree Street to the Fox Theatre. Completed in 1929, the Moorish-style theater is on the National Register of Historic Places and offers behind-the-scenes tours most Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

Margaret Mitchell House History buffs can go inside the home of Margaret Mitchell, author of the beloved novel, “Gone With the Wind.”

The Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site features the civil rights leader’s birthplace, historic Ebenezer Baptist Church and the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame. Guests can even visit the final resting place of Dr. King and his wife, Coretta Scott King.

For a glimpse of pre-civilization history, the Fernbank Museum of Natural History includes a robust dinosaur exhibit, as well as a 65-acre old-growth Piedmont forest (some trees are 300 years old) and rotating exhibits aimed at conservation.

Like your history with a side of sports? Don’t miss Centennial Olympic Park, a key gathering spot for fans and athletes when Atlanta hosted the 1996 Olympics. It now serves as a lush public park and a popular venue for outdoor concerts. Football enthusiasts should stop at the adjacent College Football Hall of Fame, which offers interactive exhibits for fans of all ages.

What to Do if You’re … a Music Fan

Atlanta has long been known as an eclectic musical hub, producing artists in the genres of hip-hop, R&B, gospel, country, blues and much more. On any given night, opportunities abound to hear up-and-coming talent, earning the city’s music scene accolades from Time, Thrillist and The New York Times.

Tabernacle The Tabernacle, known locally as “The Tabby,” is a church-turned-music venue that often hosts big- name acts on the rise.

Here are just a few places to go in Atlanta for live music:

  • Eddie’s Attic in Decatur is popular for intimate, singer-songwriter shows. It takes the music seriously — cellphone use is restricted. The list of big-time talents who have played here is impressive; it includes The Black Crowes, Jennifer Nettles and John Mayer.
  • The Tabernacle, nicknamed “The Tabby,” is a midsized venue in a converted 1910-built church. It holds 2,600 fans and has hosted acts like Adele and Eminem before they reached the height of their fame.
  • MJQ Concourse can help get you back to Atlanta’s hip-hop roots. The underground dance club (seriously, it’s subterranean) hosts live shows by performers including HXV and Gucci Mane.
  • To see a serious lineup of genre-spanning talent, plan your visit during the two-day annual Music Midtown festival every September, when more than 20 acts take over Piedmont Park.

What to Do if You’re … Traveling With Your Family

Start at the great-for-all-ages Georgia Aquarium. Opened in 2005, it boasts more than 10 million gallons of fresh and saltwater, which support 100 habitats for marine wildlife including whale sharks, dolphins and penguins.

Georgia Aquarium Kids and grown-ups can all enjoy the Georgia Aquarium and its 100 habitats for marine life.

For more animal encounters, visit Zoo Atlanta, a 40-acre park with more than 1,300 animals, including lions, giraffes, orangutans and giant pandas on loan from China. Families can pick up “Zoo’s Clues” game cards upon entry to play an interactive scavenger hunt together.

Kids and grown-ups will find something to engage their imaginations at Atlanta’s Center for Puppetry Arts, which underwent a multimillion-dollar expansion in 2015. The Midtown mecca of play now houses the world’s largest collection of Jim Henson memorabilia, including the beloved Kermit the Frog character puppet. Guests can view hundreds of puppetry artifacts, see live shows by master puppeteers and participate in workshops.

Coca-Cola was invented right in downtown Atlanta, where today visitors can explore the 100,000-square-foot World of Coca-Cola featuring more than 1,200 brand artifacts, a 4-D theater and the chance to taste sodas from around the world. You can also see the vault where the top-secret formula, invented in 1886, is stored. Bonus: History buffs will love this destination, too.

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Rent a car at Atlanta Hartsfield Airport

About the Author

Jennifer Bradley Franklin is an Atlanta-based journalist whose work appears in Conde Nast Traveler, Delta Sky, USA Today and other publications. While she loves getting new passport stamps from far-flung places, the allure of exploring her constantly evolving hometown is undeniable.