Atlanta, GA

Destination Location

Overview

Are you ready to explore what Georgia's capital city has to offer? From the arts and culture scene to the great dining options, it's no wonder Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport has been the world's busiest airport since 1998.

Home to some of the largest Fortune 500 companies – including Coca-Cola, Turner Broadcasting, The Home Deport, AT&T and Delta Air Lines – Atlanta has continued to thrive and grow over the last decade. Offering great excursions for families, singles and couples, Atlanta prides itself as the heart of Georgia.

Travelling with children? Don't miss the World of Coca-Cola where the soft drink's history is retold in a series of exhibits. Visit the 4-D theatre and tasting area before heading over to the impressive gift shop. The Georgia Aquarium is always a favourite, and features 120,000 types of marine life through 8 million gallons of marine and fresh water. Bring your camera; the whale sharks are really something to see. Share in Atlanta's history with a visit to the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site and the Jimmy Carter Library & Museum.

Head over to Midtown Mile where great retail shopping converges with some of Atlanta's best architecture. In addition to some of the city's most iconic buildings – the Bank of America Plaza, the Atlantic Center, 1180 Peachtree, and Promenade II – the district is also the epicentre of the music and arts scene. Visits to the Fox Theatre, Woodruff Arts Center, the High Museum of Art, the Museum of Design Atlanta, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the Center for Puppetry Arts, and the 14th Street Playhouse never disappoint.

Atlanta really offers something for everyone. If you're a news junkie, take the Inside CNN Atlanta Tour and watch how a live news broadcast comes together. Sports fan? Head down to the Varsity – a landmark in its own right – and catch the Braves take to the mound. In the cooler months, Philips Arena hosts the NBA's Atlanta Hawks (NBA). Movie lovers can be swept away by Gone with the Wind, a 60-minute tour of the Wind Historic District, featuring the "real" stories behind the South's most famous epic romance, including walk-on guides.

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Airport served by: Atlanta, GA (ATL)

Destination basics

There's a reason locals call it Hotlanta. Summers in the city are hot and humid with average daily temperatures of 32 C (89 F) in June and July. Typical of this U.S. region, Atlanta receives does receive a lot of rain. Spring and fall are drier than summer and early winter.

On the flip side, winters are quite comfortable, but temperatures can fluctuate depending on the weather patterns. Warm, maritime air can bring spring-like highs while strong Arctic air masses can push lows into the teens (−11 to −7 C). January averages 6 C (42 F) with the occasional blanket of snow.

It's Atlanta's high elevation that creates a more temperate climate than some other cities further south.

Average monthly temperature and average monthly rainfall diagrams for Atlanta, GA

Atlanta is a city rich with history and culture, and is known as the “city not too busy to care.” It is often pointed to as an example of successful urban development and growth. Evidence of this can be seen everywhere from the skyscrapers that fill downtown to the many prosperous restaurants, shops and businesses spread throughout the city.

Downtown
As in many cities, Atlanta's downtown serves as the center of business and government. It is not, however, the hub of the social or cultural scene, and other than fine dining or professional sports events, it pretty much shuts down after business hours.

The ever-changing skyline is dominated by sky-high hotels and office buildings. There is perhaps none more impressive than the Peachtree Center, which serves the business community in both capacities. Most major chain hotels are represented here, as well as many of the world's most well known corporations, such as the world headquarters of Coca-Cola. The Georgia World Congress Center plays host to a never-ending string of trade shows, while in the southern corner of downtown you'll find the golden-domed Georgia State Capitol Building.

Opened in 1989, the enclosed mall of shops and restaurants known as Underground Atlanta also houses the most comprehensive division of the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau. Standing near the entrance is the World of Coca-Cola, the soft-drink giant's interactive museum. For athletics, visit the 71,000-seat Georgia Dome, home of the Atlanta Falcons, or check out Philips Arena, featuring Hawks basketball and Thrashers hockey. Across the street, the massive CNN Center is home to cable television's first 24-hour news network.

Midtown
Midtown's skyline is dominated by mighty hotels such as the Four Seasons and Sheraton Colony Square standing side-by-side with the regional headquarters of such giants as IBM and BellSouth. Midtown is home to the city's greatest concentration of cultural outlets, including the Fabulous Fox Theater, the High Museum of Art, and the Woodruff Arts Center, which hosts the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. Known for its diversity, Midtown is home to much of Atlanta's gay community. You'll see plenty of rainbow flags fluttering from porches of the beautifully restored Victorians between Ponce and 10th Street. From the mansion dwellers in Ansley Park, to the seedier elements that haunt the liquor stores of Ponce de Leon and the grungy-cum-preppy types that wander around Georgia Tech, a broad cross-section of Atlanta natives will greet you on the sidewalk. Despite the neighborhood's reputation for glamorous clubs and fine dining, the unquestioned social center of Midtown is Piedmont Park, a 180-acre expanse of green where Atlantans turn out to walk their canine companions.

Buckhead
The legends of how Buckhead earned its unusual moniker are varied, but most center around the mounting of a slain deer over the door of a 19th century public house. Today, the wild tavern tradition is still in full swing. Despite the regular disorder brought on by the drinking crowd, Buckhead's downtown area remains safe, and is home to many fine shops, restaurants and spas. World-class hotels like the Ritz-Carlton and the Grand Hyatt Atlanta stand steps away from the city's most elegant shopping venues in Phipps Plaza and Lenox Square.

As you move away from central Buckhead, a growing battalion of high-rise luxury apartments and condos attract the city's prosperous up-and-comers, while the tree-lined neighborhoods west of Peachtree live on as exquisite enclaves of old Atlanta money. Just a mile down this awe-inspiring stretch of road from the rollicking, disco-themed Have A Nice Day Cafe sits the Georgia Governor's Mansion.

Virginia-Highland
More commonly known as "the Highlands," this largely residential neighborhood centers on the intersection of the Virginia and North Highland avenues. Most points are within walking distance of the Jimmy Carter Center in Inman Park, Emory University in Druid Hills, and Piedmont Park in Midtown.

High rents have banished the starving artist crowd downtown, but in their place have come numerous galleries, representing the city's best mix of modern and folk art. Although not as glitzy as Buckhead, shopping is a casual pleasure, and the quirky boutiques here draw a large window-gazing crowd.

Young and middle-aged professionals mix easily with a mild influx of students from the nearby university in the Highlands' bars and restaurants. A vibrant nightlife thumps through the laid-back atmosphere at such pubs as the Dark Horse Tavern. Highbrow restaurants like Southern-influenced Harvest rub amicable shoulders with popular brazier joints such as Neighbors and Moe's & Joe's.

Little Five Points
This conglomeration of second-hand shops, piercing parlors, funky bars and music venues touches on the old neighborhoods of Inman Park and Candler Park, pricing much of the real estate well beyond the range of the young rebels that flock here. Many nicely-restored bungalows and post-Civil War era homes line the peaceful streets nearby, including a good number of respectable bed-and-breakfasts. Good eats are plentiful in Little Five Points, but fine dining has thus far eluded the rough-edged neighborhood. One notable exception is the Flying Biscuit Cafe, home of Atlanta's best breakfast.

East Atlanta
Climbing out of a long period of steady decline, this is the latest addition to a growing list of gentrified Atlanta neighborhoods. As is the case elsewhere, the process in East Atlanta is a slow one, and even as a solid collection of shops and restaurants gains a foothold in the blocks around the intersection of Flat Shoals and Glenwood Avenues, most of the surrounding area continues to struggle. One notable out of the way spot is JavaVino, where you can sip wine to slow down and then coffee to speed you back up. Your shopping options represent an interesting mix, while most of the area's watering holes lean toward the local, blue collar crowd.

Vinings
This trendy area has re-invented itself over past few years to become a rather enviable and affluent neighborhood. Sitting at the far northwest corner of the city, the Vinings is largely home to folks who want to live in the city but really don't. Following the money, great new restaurants like Canoe are gaining widespread praise as they take their place alongside such re-invented local favorites as the Vinings Inn. Shopping, however, still draws the majority of traffic, mostly to Cumberland Mall at I-75 and Windy Hill Road, but also to the Vinings Jubilee center, a collection of shops and boutiques developed to resemble a town square.

Visitors to Atlanta expecting a sleepy Confederate capital with Old South charm may be in for a surprise. While Atlanta has held onto the charm and character of her past, she has also grown into her new role as a modern, cosmopolitan city.

Sports
Few professional teams have dominated their sport as totally as baseball's Atlanta Braves. Their home is Turner Field, one of Major League Baseball's most modern and entertaining facilities, featuring restaurants, a museum and interactive games.

Home games for the NFL's Atlanta Falcons are played at the Georgia Dome, while across the street, Philips Arena is home to the Atlanta Hawks and the National Hockey League's newest franchise, the Atlanta Thrashers. For exciting college action, step over to the Georgia Tech campus in Midtown or Georgia State downtown to watch their athletes compete in two dozen varsity sports.

Parks
With over 180 acres of lakes, fields, tennis courts and bike paths, Midtown's Piedmont Park plays host to concerts, arts and crafts shows, and the annual Atlanta Dogwood Festival. In the heart of downtown, Centennial Olympic Park, with its spectacular five-concentric-ring fountain, is a popular spot with lunch hour sun-seekers. A bit more bucolic and relaxed is Chastain Park in Buckhead, which features a two and a half mile walking trail and hosts a summer concert series.

For the lover of natural wonders, take a short drive east to Stone Mountain State Park. This 3,000 acre expanse of forests and lakes centers around the park's namesake, a chunk of solid granite that rises 1,683 feet and is adorned with the world's largest bas-relief sculpture.

Located in the northwest corner of Piedmont Park, the Atlanta Botanical Gardens houses floral specimens from the four corners of the globe, as well as a family-friendly children's garden. Flora is fine, but it can't roar like fauna, which can be found in abundance at Zoo Atlanta, located within the grounds of beautiful Grant Park.

Museums
Lovers of high culture will discover a world of spiraling wonder at the High Museum of Art in Midtown. This architectural marvel is home to over 10,000 works, and plays frequent host to touring collections, such as those of Pablo Picasso and Norman Rockwell.

For all-out fascination, few attractions can match the Fernbank Museum of Natural History, which also offers a five-story movie screen in its IMAX theater. Or for a refreshing twist on history, learn that of the planet's most famous soft drink at the World of Coca-Cola Museum at Underground Atlanta.

Historical Landmarks
The legacy of Atlanta's past is given its rightful due in Buckhead at the Atlanta History Center, just down West Paces Ferry Road from the Governor's Mansion. In addition to its excellent museum, the history center maintains an expansive property of gardens and trails, complete with an authentically-restored working plantation.

Of course, no event played a more prominent role in the history of Atlanta than the Civil War. The Battle of Kennesaw Mountain was perhaps the South's most significant victory in the fight for Atlanta in 1864, and this slice of history is immortalized at the 3,000 acre Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield. For more on Atlanta's role in the Civil War, visit the Cyclorama in Grant Park, a 365 degree mural that depicts the Battle of Atlanta. And no view of Atlanta history would be complete without a glance through the eyes of Margaret Mitchell. The Margaret Mitchell House and Museum in Midtown is where she wrote most of the legendary epic "Gone With the Wind."

Just east of downtown, the Jimmy Carter Center occupies a 30-acre compound of gardens and pools, and commands an impressive view of the city. Just down the road, another of Atlanta's favorite sons is honored at the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site.

For an often overlooked glance into Atlanta's past, stop by the Oakland Cemetery where you'll find a veritable Who's Who of Atlanta history, literature, politics and society dating back to 1850.

Theater
Atlanta's premier venue for stage events is also one of her most beloved and storied landmarks. The Fabulous Fox Theatre was built in 1916 at the corner of Peachtree Street and Ponce de Leon, as a temple for the Shriners fraternal organization. Today, the Fox plays host to myriad cultural events, including concerts, musicals, opera, ballet, and regular performances by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.

A few blocks down Peachtree, the Woodruff Performing Arts Center is the home turf of the Alliance Theatre Company, and also sponsors a full schedule of ballet and children's shows.

Numerous other companies compete to produce a crowded theater schedule each year in Atlanta. Among the most popular venues are Midtown's Shakespeare Tavern, Seven Stages Theatre and the Neighborhood Playhouse.

Music
For top-notch classical entertainment, nothing beats the summer classics series at Chastain Park Amphitheatre. This 6,000 seat pavilion plays host to the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra from June through August, as some of the biggest names in show business perform to the accompaniment of the ASO.

If you like your music a bit louder, head down I-85 to the HiFi Buys Amphitheatre. This outdoor venue features 7,000 covered seats and an expansive, sloping lawn to accommodate 12,000 more. Recent bookings have included such powerhouses as the Dave Matthews Band and the Lilith Fair.

Tops among smaller venues is Blind Willie's, a tiny Virginia-Highlands dive that offers an intimate setting for some of the best local talent and legendary stars working in blues today. A few blocks away in Midtown, the Cotton Club is popular with a younger crowd, and provides a great atmosphere for getting to know the best in up-and-coming bands. For true variety, head over to the Variety Playhouse in Little Five Points. Harmony and soft strings are the keys at Eddie's Attic in Decatur, where such prominent acts as the Indigo Girls frequently drop in.

From fine to casual dining, Atlanta offers many dining options ranging from French to African to Asian to Cajun that suit many different palates. Definitely check out their nightlife, which is both vibrant and sophisticated, and brings out some interesting and colorful characters.

Downtown
Atlanta's Downtown offers several great dining options. The city's best Russian is found at Nikolai's Roof on the 30th floor of the Atlanta Hilton and Towers. You'll find the Westin well-stocked, too, from the Savannah Fish Company at street level to the elegant, rotating Sun Dial offering unparalleled views from the roof. For local tradition, few options can touch the Varsity. Since 1928, this white tiled drive-in has turned out greasy dogs and chili burgers to rave reviews.

The downtown club scene matches the restaurant scene, with chic options.

Midtown
Trendy Midtown is home to some of the city's most enduring culinary landmarks, sitting side by side with the latest and trendiest kitchens. Top choices include South City Kitchen, where local chefs fashion innovative twists on Southern favorites, and Veni, Vidi, Vici, consistently rated atop Atlanta's crowded list of the best Italian.

A bit kinder on the pocketbook but rich in local tradition is Mary Mac's Tea Room, favorite of local son Jimmy Carter, while just up Piedmont Road, the city's best barbecue and blues await at Fat Matt's Rib Shack. No dining tour of Midtown would be complete without a bite at the Park Tavern, situated within Piedmont Park with sweeping views of the skyline.

This lively neighborhood is top of the Atlanta heap for trendy, cutting-edge nightlife. The martini rage continues unabated at the Leopard Lounge, where the swinger-cum-yuppie crowd shakes to the beat of swing music. Go to Halo to kick it stylishly with the high-rollers, or hit the Loft for live music. Over at the slower-paced Prince of Wales, darts and ale prevail with a view over Piedmont Park .

Buckhead
Buckhead packs more tables per square foot than anywhere else, and features many of Atlanta's hippest offerings. Chops vies with Bone's for top dog status in the steak and business game. For unbridled contemporary elegance, it's 103 West, while seafood takes center stage under the three story, 50 ton copper trout at The Atlanta Fish Market, a popular stop for media mogul Ted Turner.

For Italian, sample the Tuscan platters at Maggiano's Little Italy. For the utmost in romance and new Southern, choose the patio at Horseradish Grill across from Chastain Park.

Peachtree Road offers an impressive stretch of bars, starting with Fado, an Irish-themed pub that serves up great stout amid regional decor. The most dignified spot for a drink in all Atlanta is the bar at the Ritz-Carlton Buckhead. Stop by for a brandy if you want to drink in Buckhead but you like things quiet.

As the night heats up and you find yourself wanting something more lively, head to the M!X for tapas bites and a trendy atmosphere. Once you've got something in your stomach, end your night by mingling with the beautiful people at one of the many hip clubs in the vicinity.

Virginia-Highland
The hippest Highlands grub to be had is at Dish, a converted corner gas station offering a unique global menu, and the single-room, upscale Thai phenomenon, Surin of Thailand. Down the street, the casually-elegant La Tavola is tops for Italian. Come early for Atlanta's most popular weekend brunch at Murphy's across the street, or sample their solid American dinner menu. The shack with the big covered porch next door is Taco Mac, a favorite for affordable Mexican, people watching and every beer known to modern man.

Where Highland meets Virginia Avenue, you'll find Highland Tap hosting the young professional martini gang. If you're more in the mood for a cold pitcher, cross the street to Moe's & Joe's or stop by Neighbor's for a bite and a seat on the Highlands' biggest patio. The Dark Horse Tavern is a crowded night spot; if you don't like the crowd, head to the downstairs bar to hear a local band play.

Little Five Points
The restaurants of "L5P" keep pace with their surroundings, in energy and attitude. Walk through the enormous skull on Moreland Avenue and enter the Vortex Bar & Grill, a landmark famed as much for its oversized burgers as it is for the huge skull sculpture outside. For unique, unbeatable omelets and fanciful dinners, venture off the main drag to the Flying Biscuit. Lodged among the piercing parlors of Euclid Avenue, you'll find  tastes from around the Caribbean at the Bridgetown Grill.

This eclectic corner boasts Atlanta's most extreme nightly parade of alternative rockers and rebellious youth. Wear your nose ring when you visit the Vortex, one of L5P's most visible and lasting landmarks. Across Moreland Avenue, remember your earplugs when diving into the Star Community Bar, where local bands drive young crowds wild. Nearby, the Brewhouse Cafe offers good brew and live international sports.

Euclid Avenue has another slew of options. Start with El Myr Burrito Lounge, and choose from over thirty brands of tequila. The Little Five Corner Tavern down the street has more drinks and food, on one of the best corners in the city.

Atlanta

State: Georgia

Country: United States

Atlanta by the Numbers
Population: 470,000
Elevation: 1,035 feet / 315 meters 
Average Annual Precipitation: 50 inches / 127 centimeters
Average Annual Snowfall: 3 inches / 8 centimeters
Average Winter Temperature: 45°F / 7°C
Average Summer Temperature: 81°F / 27°C

Quick Facts

Electricity: 110 volts, 60Hz, standard two-pin plug

Time Zone: GMT - 5

Country Dialing Code: 1

Area Codes: 404; 770; 678 

Did You Know?

The city was originally named Terminus and then Marthaville before finally settling on Atlanta.

Atlanta is home to the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site, the largest museum solely dedicated to a famous civil rights leader.

Orientation 

Atlanta is the capital of Georgia. The city is about 71 miles (114 kilometers) from Athens, GA and about 860 miles (1384 kilometers) from New York City.

Visitors to Atlanta often ask about a certain local curiosity. Even though just about every other street, plaza, or business establishment is dubbed "Peachtree," there doesn't seem to be a single peach tree in the entire city. The reason for this absence, simply enough, is that peach trees are not indigenous to the area. But the phenomenon of the peachtree naming mania stems from a confusion that dates back 200 years.

In 1782, military scouts moving west through Georgia discovered a small Cherokee village on the banks of the Chattahoochee River named, as the explorers understood it, Standing Peachtree. Historians, however, speculate that since it was unlikely that the natives had named their village after a variety of vegetation they had almost certainly never seen, the settlement's name came from the pitch tree, a type of evergreen found throughout the region. Nevertheless, by 1812, the new American military had established Fort Peachtree on the site of the Cherokee village, establishing a tradition of misnomerism that would continue for hundreds of years.

The small outpost in northwest Georgia saw limited action in the War of 1812, but by the early 1820s, a growing influx of white settlers gave rise to conflict with the indigenous population. The peace was largely kept by the willingness of the Cherokee and Creek tribes to agree to a long series of ever more disagreeable treaties, which granted more and more land to the white settlers. The final blow was struck in 1837, when federal forces rounded up over 17,000 Cherokee and Creek Indians, and began a forced westward march that was to stretch over some 800 miles into what is now Oklahoma. More than 4,000 perished along the way, which later came to be known as the "Trail of Tears."

With the Indian situation no longer a concern, construction of the new Western & Atlantic Railroad proceeded. Late in 1837, a town was founded near the site of Fort Peachtree that would serve as the southern terminus of this new railway. The town was, rather poetically, named Terminus.

It grew rapidly, as rail workers, pioneers and traders established homes and businesses, which, in 1843, was renamed Marthasville. In 1845, the city was renamed Atlanta, and in 1848, Atlanta elected Moses W. Formwalt as its first mayor. As more track was laid throughout the South, Atlanta became connected to almost every major port and trade center, making it a vital link between Dixie and the markets of the North.

If the boomtown had been important to the South's economic well-being before, it became absolutely critical when war broke out. During the summer of 1864, 100,000 federal troops under General William Tecumseh Sherman pushed back Confederate defenders through north Georgia, culminating in the Battle of Atlanta on July 22nd. Sherman's forces shelled the city for over a month, until Atlanta surrendered on September 2nd. Before doing so, however, the rebel forces set flame to whatever they felt would be useful to the enemy, effectively burning down two-thirds of Atlanta. Of the 4,000 homes, businesses and civic buildings that stood in Atlanta before the summer of 1864, only 400 remained.

Reconstruction was a difficult period for the entire South, but it succeeded in Atlanta more than in other places. The valuable rail system was rebuilt within two years, and Atlanta became more urban and civilized, erecting theatres, schools and even two opera houses. By 1870, the city boasted over 250 stores, a horse-drawn streetcar system, and Atlanta University, which today stands as the world's largest predominantly-black college. In 1877, Atlanta was named the new capital of Georgia, with a population nearing 37,000.

In 1886, local druggist John Pemberton introduced something he called a "brain tonic." Meant to relieve headaches, the tonic proved such a hit with his patrons that Pemberton was able to sell the recipe to another local businessman a year later for a whopping USD2,300. Ten years later, recipe-buyer Asa Candler had made Coca-Cola a household name.

The trials of the early 20th century played out in Atlanta as they did elsewhere in urban America, with great city advancements frequently marred by civic strife. By 1900, the city's population and workforce was almost evenly divided between white and black, but the laws of segregation dramatically divided these two populations. In 1960, Atlanta native and civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr. established the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in his Auburn Avenue neighborhood. His Center for Nonviolent Social Change now stands near his boyhood home within the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Site. Atlanta was also the first major Southern city to elect a black mayor: 35 year-old Maynard Jackson in 1974.

Through the latter part of the 20th Century, Atlanta has continued to expand as a vibrant, vital international city. In 1966, the city became the first in history to be awarded a professional baseball and football franchise in the same year. Eight years later, this would be the site of baseball history, when the Atlanta Braves' Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth's home run record. In 1968, the Atlanta Hawks brought professional basketball to Atlanta. In 1976, the Georgia World Congress Center opened as the largest single-floor exhibit space on the planet, and in 1979, Atlanta unveiled MARTA, a state-of-the-art public transit system.

Today, Atlanta stands as a premier American city and the capital of one of the nation's most rapidly-developing economic regions. Expansion and development continue as new ventures are born and residents flock from around the country. The influx has been so great that it is sometimes said that the hardest thing to find in Atlanta (besides a peach tree) is someone who was born in Atlanta.

Points of interest in Atlanta, GA

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