Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site
450 Auburn Ave. NE, Cabbagetown
The childhood home of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is the center of this NPS site in Atlanta. While most of what you see here will be on a self-guided basis, there are ranger-led tours offered through the actual house. You sign up for a tour the day-of at the info desk located inside the visitor center—be sure to check for updates before you go, but generally tours run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and your safest bet is earlier in the day. After signing up, you can visit the other surrounding historic sites: Ebenezer Baptist Church (where Dr. King was baptized and served as a pastor), Dr. and Mrs. King's gravesite, and more.
660 Peachtree St. NE, Midtown
Like many Fox’s around the country, Atlanta’s oldest theatre was originally owned by movie mogul William Fox—it opened in the late 1920s, showing black-and-white movies with sound played by an enormous Möller organ that remains in the theatre today. In the 1960s, the city’s arts and cultural patrons banded together to save the theatre in its current incarnation as a performing arts venue. It’s worth visiting for the ornate (and original) architectural details alone, but this is also the place to see dance, broadway shows, comedians, and live music.
225 Baker St. NW, Downtown
Georgia’s massive downtown aquarium is the largest in the United States, with tanks holding everything from bottlenose dolphins and manta rays to several beluga whales and whale shark (which you’ll see from below in their enormous Ocean Voyager tank). Side note: This is a great place to plan a kid's birthday party.
Isamu Noguchi Playscapes
Piedmont Ave. & 14th St., Midtown
Designer Isamu Noguchi is best known for his iconic Herman Miller collaborations and his notable public sculptures, but also spent much of his career studying the playing habits of children, and designing playscapes that would, as Noguchi said, “Instead of telling the child what to do, [would] become a place for endless exploration.” Noguchi’s only built playground in the United States opened in Piedmont Park in 1976, was recently restored and re-painted by (who else?) Herman Miller Cares.
248 Oakland Ave., Grant Park
While we wouldn’t normally put a cemetery on the top of our must-see list, Oakland is a solid exception. Founded in 1850 and designed in the style of the 19th-century rural garden movement, it’s full of gorgeous trees and immaculate landscaping, plus it’s home to plenty of famous Atlantans, including golfer Bobby Jones and Gone With the Wind author Margaret Mitchell. There are guided tours year-round, and you can also download their app for the self-guided version.
Atlanta Botanical Garden
1345 Piedmont Ave., Midtown
We’re suckers for a lush botanical garden in a big city, and Atlanta's is no exception. Half of the acreage is taken up by the Storza Woods, a (rare) surviving urban forest that visitors can experience from above via a relatively new canopy-walking experience. In addition to the customary Conservatory, which holds beautiful specimens of rare plants (the orchid section is breathtaking), the garden is also home to an ambitious edible garden that showcases seasonal produce via healthy raised beds and an impressive vertical herb garden. Check the schedule for outdoor cooking demonstrations by local chefs.
The Goat Farm Art Center
1200 Foster St., Blandtown
This 19th-century industrial complex (which has cycled from manufacturing space to artist studio over the years) is part studio space, part event space, and part We Work, with a lot of hybrid uses that fall between and on either side of those categories. Fun fact: The Walking Dead and Hunger Games have both been filmed here.
10th St. and Monroe Dr., Downtown
The plans for the Atlanta Beltline propose to redevelop twenty-two miles of abandoned railway beds that encircle the city’s downtown core into a running and biking path, complete with new parks, accessible transit, and plenty of greenery. The ambitious plan has a long way to go, but the finished pieces are already in (heavy) use by bikers, runners, and young couples with strollers and cups of coffee. For a starter course, check out the Eastside trail—two miles of hiking and biking trails that connect Piedmont Park and Ponce City Market.
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