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Got Georgia on your mind? Maybe that’s because the state’s buzzing capital brims with hip hangouts, top-notch museums, and an innate friendliness that leaves visitors singing its praises. From envied eats to cable-car rides, our guide uncovers why the Big Peach is one big deal. Atlanta, here we come!
By Amanda Gleason
Loews Atlanta Stay grounded by relaxing in the rejuvenating spa at this polished spread, which offers the city’s only Turkish bath as part of its long list of calming amenities.
Glenn Hotel Snag a seat in the hip rooftop lounge of this boutique getaway, where you can sip on a Mexican Mule cocktail and enjoy late-night jams spun by the house DJ.
The Westin Peachtree Plaza Towering 73 stories above downtown, this lofty hotel is topped by a revolving restaurant where guests can take in 360-degree views of the shimmering city and its outskirts.
Take In the sights from above with a…
It’s up, up, and away at The Lodges at Historic Banning Mills in Whitesburg, about 45 miles west of Atlanta. This adventure center is home to an epic climbing wall, free-fall tower, and its main attraction: high-speed zip lines. Whether your comfort level takes you 50 or 300 feet high, the 60 zip lines that zigzag over the treetops and the winding Snake Creek Gorge are sure to excite your inner daredevil. And with names like Big Daddy—a 1,500-foot-long, high-speed zip—bragging rights are on the line. Courses are interspersed with cable and wood sky bridges, the highest hanging 180 feet above the bending gorge. “First fear, then fun,” says Michael Holder, a zip-lining instructor. Remembering that advice atop the towering platforms is the tricky part.
Georgia Aquarium Swim with whale sharks, the largest fish in the world, or eye beluga whales, manta rays, and other marine life that call the biggest aquarium on the globe their home.
The New American Shakespeare Tavern See the works of Shakespeare and other playwrights come alive on the small wooden stage of this cozy theater, which also offers a British pub menu.
(Photography by Spencer Scott "Carving at stone mountain" Licensed under cc)
Explore the local geology during a…
Rock ’n’ Stroll
What’s it take to be Georgia’s most visited attraction? A giant rock, a high-flying cable car, and the world’s longest-running laser show, for starters. See what the fuss is about at Stone Mountain Park, 15 miles east of downtown. Here, you can hitch a ride on a high-speed cable car (or make the one-mile trek by foot) to the top of Stone Mountain, the largest freestanding piece of exposed granite in the world. Tearing yourself away from the Appalachian Mountain views may prove difficult, but the famed 45-minute laser show happening every Saturday night this month is well worth it. Watch as the massive rock transforms into a monolithic, outdoor screen for storytelling and special effects. The grand finale: booming fireworks set to music. How’s that for a kickoff to fall?
Be sure to eat a meal at…
Local Three Duck meatloaf and deviled eggs with bacon are just a couple of the dishes that have foodies raving about this cozy restaurant, named for its three Atlanta owners.
Holeman & Finch Public House Hungry hordes come for the double-patty cheeseburgers at this famed gastropub. Claim your spot early—only 24 of the juicy delicacies are made nightly, starting at 10 p.m.
The Optimist Dishes like octopus potato salad and wood oven–roasted oysters reel in the seafood lovers to this beach-inspired eatery, which opened in May.
(Photography by Lydiat "Ebenezer Baptist Church" Licensed under cc)
Step back in time by following a…
The man who had the world’s most famous dream once walked the streets of Atlanta’s Sweet Auburn neighborhood. Follow Martin Luther King Jr.’s footsteps on a free, guided tour of the home in which he was born. As you wander the two-story house, your guide will enlighten you with lesser-known facts about the peace advocate. (Did you know his birth name was Michael?) To see where King’s religious career was launched, make your way to the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church—now a museum called Heritage Sanctuary—fresh from a floor-to-ceiling restoration. End your journey at the King Center, a memorial site where guests can visit MLK’s tomb, guarded by an eternal flame that symbolizes his dedication to lasting hope.
Apache Cafe Musicians, poets, actors, and more take the stage during open-mic nights held every Sunday at this timeworn venue. Sign up for a slot when the doors open at 7 p.m.
World of Coca-Cola Sample more than 60 Coca-Cola products from around the world (try the Beverly!) at the Atlanta-based beverage company's museum.
Fernbank Museum of Natural History History buffs can also eye a 123-foot-long replica of the world’s largest dinosaur here, where even the floor tiles are embedded with 150-million-year-old fossils.
Foodies can watch the pros cook a meal during an…
How long should you cook steak? What brand of knives do the experts use? If you’ve ever wanted to grill a culinary pro with your burning questions, you’ve got a chance during the Atlanta Botanical Garden’s Well-Seasoned Chef Series. From May through October, on the first three Tuesdays of each month, some of the city’s most talked-about farm-to-table chefs prepare a four-part tasting menu (wine included) for hungry guests in an outdoor kitchen. Most of the ingredients are harvested from the Edible Garden, a one-acre spread where the dinner takes place and nearly 75 different fruits, vegetables, and herbs grow throughout the year. With a roster full of well-known names like Art Smith (Oprah’s former chef and the owner of Southern Art and Bourbon Bar), rest assured you’ll learn from the best in town. Bon appétit!
Getting There Fly into Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), located about 10 miles south of downtown.
Getting Around Take a spin on the 90-plus routes operated by MARTA, the city’s mass transit system ($2.50 per one-way ride). If Georgia Aquarium and World of Coca-Cola are on your agenda, hop on “The Peach” route.
Getting Out Catch more than 120 flicks during the Atlanta Underground Film Festival, taking place September 13–16 at the Goat Farm Arts Center.
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