Awarded Top 10 city to travel to in 2022About Best In Travel 2022
The South's so-called capital isn't nicknamed Hotlanta for nothing, y'all. Charismatic and lush, Atlanta is a feverish, easy-on-the-eyes cavalcade of culture, cuisine and Southern hospitality.
The New South
With more than six million residents in the metro and outlying areas, Atlanta continues to experience explosive growth thanks to domestic transplants and international immigrants alike. Beyond the big-ticket Downtown attractions you will find a constellation of superlative restaurants, a palpable Hollywood influence (Atlanta is a hugely popular film-production center) and iconic African American history. That last point can't be overstated: any nationwide African American intellectual, political and artistic movement you can mention either had its genesis in Atlanta, or found a center of gravity here.
City in a Forest
Without natural boundaries to control development, it's fair to say Atlanta is more a region than a city. Yet for all its sprawl and suburbanization, there is a lovely urban core covered with trees – some 36% of the city to be exact, making it one of the most densely forested cities in the US. Magnificent oaks, Southern pines, dogwoods and magnolias pepper the nation's ninth largest metro area, a refuge for 343 parks, nature preserves, gardens and public spaces. Among the green is the ongoing Atlanta BeltLine, transforming the city's urban core and cutting a cinematic path through the canopy.
A Civil Rights Giant
Martin Luther King Jr, the quintessential figure of the Civil Rights movement and arguably America's greatest leader, was born and raised in Atlanta, the son of a preacher and choir leader. His lineage was significant not only because he followed his father to the pulpit of Atlanta's Ebenezer Baptist Church, but also because his political speeches rang out with a preacher's inflections. King remains one of the most respected figures of the 20th century and is Atlanta's quintessential African American hero, his legacy emblazoned across the city's historic Sweet Auburn district, home to the Martin Luther King Jr National Historic Site.
Fried Green Refinement
Atlanta is a quirky and cultured metroplex, with world-class museums, theater and arts. The economy is robust, the population is young and creative, and the social scene is refreshingly diverse. Distinct neighborhoods are like friendly small towns, rife with pristinely preserved historic homes and thoroughfares of hip bars, cozy coffee shops and independent shopping. And the food? Be it classic Southern eats such as pecan pie, fried chicken and pimento cheese; innovative, chef-driven New American foodie haunts; or ethnic holes-in-the-wall, Atlanta's dining scene is a culinary juggernaut.
Atlanta: Voted Top 10 City as Best in Travel 2022
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Historic SiteMartin Luther King Jr National Historic Site
The Civil Rights movement owes a great debt to the actions of various martyrs, communities and political actions throughout the American South, but almost no aspect of the movement can be mentioned without including Atlanta and the city's most famous son, Martin Luther King Jr. Who was Martin Luther King Jr? Martin Luther King Jr, the quintessential figure of the Civil Rights movement and arguably America's greatest leader, was born and raised in Atlanta, the son of a preacher and choir leader. His lineage was significant not only because he followed his father to the pulpit of Atlanta's Ebenezer Baptist Church, but also because his political speeches rang out with a preacher's inflections. King remains one of the most respected figures of the 20th century and is Atlanta's quintessential African American hero, his legacy emblazoned across the city's historic Sweet Auburn district, home to the Martin Luther King Jr National Historic Site. What to see at the Martin Luther King Jr National Historic Site The historic site commemorates the life, work and legacy of the Civil Rights leader, taking up several blocks. Stop by the excellent visitor center to get oriented with a map and brochure of area sites. Here you'll find a video theater showing short films, and the D.R.E.A.M Gallery, which hosts changing exhibits that elucidate the context – the segregation, systemic oppression and racial violence that inspired and fueled King's work. The majority of the site is self-guided, with ranger-led tours for Dr King's Birth Home only (ask about availability at the visitor center upon arrival, and beware, they book up fast). The new Ebenezer Baptist Church is the home of the congregation once led by Dr Martin Luther King Jr. Stop by the World Peace Rose Garden, which borders the Peace Plaza. The King Center is Dr King's final resting place. A 1.5-mile landscaped trail leads from the site to the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library & Museum. Tickets and other practicalities It's free to visit the Martin Luther King Jr National Historic Site, however, all buildings are temporarily closed. Visitors may take a a self-guided tour of the campus.
MuseumHigh Museum of Art
Atlanta's modern High Museum was the first to exhibit art from Paris' Louvre and is a destination as much for its architecture as its world-class exhibits. The multilevel building houses a permanent collection of eye-catching late-19th-century furniture, early American modern canvases from the likes of George Morris and Albert Gallatin, and postwar work from Mark Rothko. You can easily lose yourself (and a day) in this excellent art museum. The permanent collection The permanent collection at the High holds over 18,000 different pieces. They fall into seven different categories: photography; decorative arts and design; African art; European art; American art; modern and contemporary art; and folk and self-taught art. Exhibitions The gallery hosts touring exhibitions (including the Obama Portraits in 2022), multi-sensory installations, displays of works by solo artists as well as themed shows and rotating pieces from the permanent collection. You could see works by big 20th-century names such as Picasso, through to contemporary photographers such as Zanele Muholi. Architecture The striking, bright-white art repository, with its curved ramps and monumental swooping three-story glass atrium that shelters natural light like a precious resource, is a Midtown icon, its reflective white enamel facade standing in stark contrast to the surrounding skyscrapers and greenery. It earned its designer, Richard Meier, the 1984 Pritzker Prize. The most recent expansion was designed by Renzo Piano and opened in 2005. Tickets and other practicalities Timed-entry tickets should be bought online in advance of your visit and give access to the galleries and exhibitions. Events are ticketed separately. The museum's galleries are all wheelchair-accessible.
MuseumCenter for Civil and Human Rights
The striking Center for Civil and Human Rights was a 2014 addition to Atlanta's Centennial Olympic Park. It is a sobering $68-million memorial to the American Civil Rights and global human-rights movements, designed to inspire and empower people to face the challenges for freedom and dignity that still exist in the world today. Exhibitions are beautifully designed and thoughtfully executed, featuring stories from the past and present day where people have been fighting for their rights. Learn about non-violent protests before moving on to the indisputable highlight, an absolutely harrowing interactive mock Woolworth's lunch-counter sit-in simulation, where visitors put themselves in the place of the non-violent protestors who asked to be served at white-only lunch counters in 1960. The experience will leave you speechless and move some to tears. Tickets and accessibility Timed-entry tickets must be bought online in advance of your visit. The center is fully accessible to people with disabilities, and wheelchairs and other assistive devices are available at no cost on a first-come, first-served basis.
LandmarkMartin Luther King Jr Birthplace
The home where Martin Luther King was born and spent the first twelve years of his life is now part of the National Historic Site. Free first-come, first-served guided tours take about 30 minutes to complete and require same-day registration. Arrive early and stop at the visitor center at the site to check availability – there are only 15 spaces on each tour and slots fill fast. The tours can depart anytime between 10am and 4pm, but you are free to visit the rest of the park at your leisure before your designated tour time.
MuseumFernbank Museum of Natural History
Fernbank is a supremely kid-friendly museum that explores a bunch of subjects (dinosaurs, geology, shells, IMAX-style theater), all attached to a 65-acre old-growth forest and 10-acre Wildwoods outdoor educational area within – reached by elevated walkway from the museum’s terrace. While children will have a blast, Fernbank is so well put together and organized that adults will surely enjoy it as well. The museum is northeast of Downtown, near Decatur.
ChurchEbenezer Baptist Church (New)
The new Ebenezer Baptist Church is the home of the congregation once led by Dr Martin Luther King Jr. As befits one of the most influential church communities in American history, the structure is impressive – light filled, airy and more welcoming than muscular. The church is across the street from the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, and welcomes visitors to Sunday morning services. Dress nicely.
MuseumCenter for Puppetry Arts
A wonderland for visitors of all ages and hands down one of Atlanta's most unique attractions, the museum – expanded in 2015 – houses a treasury of puppets, some of which you get to operate yourself. A major addition is the Worlds of Puppetry Museum, housing the most comprehensive collection of Jim Henson puppets and artifacts in the world.
A glorious, rambling urban park and the setting of many cultural and music festivals. The park has fantastic bike paths and a Saturday Green Market (from 9am to 1pm).
ChurchFirst Ebenezer Baptist Church
Martin Luther King Jr, his father and grandfather were all pastors here, and King Jr's mother was the choir director. Sadly she was murdered here by a deranged gunman while she sat at the organ in 1974. A multimillion-dollar restoration, completed in 2011, brought the church back to the 1960–68 period when King Jr served as co-pastor with his father. Today looped recordings of King's speeches play in the church building.
Whether it’s a guided tour of a historic landmark, private tasting of local delicacies, or an off-road adventure — explore the best experiences in Atlanta.