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How to Visit Atlanta Like a Local: 5 Must-See Places in ATL

The beautiful Atlanta skyline at night.

The beautiful Atlanta skyline at night.

Places to Visit in Atlanta

The unofficial capital of the South, Atlanta has just about everything you could look for when planning a vacation. But if getting caught in the quintessential tourist trap isn’t for you, consider taking in the area like the locals do by visiting some of the top five places in the metro-Atlanta area. Whether you have young children or you are a couple without kids, there is a special destination sure to interest you.

1. The Atlanta Botanical Garden

What has been ranked of the top 10 botanical gardens by USA Today and named one of the most beautifully designed botanical gardens in America? The Atlanta Botanical Gardens, of course! It is open rain or shine, so don’t be afraid that inclement weather may ruin your plans.

If you’ll be in town for an extended stay, consider registering your child for a summer camp. Classes are available for children ages 4–12, and include activities such as creating art, learning how to grow and prepare snacks and meals from fruits and veggies, and more.

Non-camp activities include things such as storybook time, dancing in the garden, viewing art exhibits, and plenty of trails and spectacular garden sculptures.

Spring and summer concerts in the garden offer some local talent as well as big-name artists including the likes of Ricky Skaggs, Mandolin Orange and Melissa Etheridge.

2. Piedmont Park

Although Piedmont Park is a great place for tourists to visit, locals know there are great things to do there for free year-round.

Looking for activities for the kids? Piedmont Park offers paved roads perfect for traditional walking, pushing strollers, and riding bikes. The park also features the Noguchi Playground and Lake Clara Meer, where you can feed ducks. Or take a stroll over to the Legacy Fountain where you can see a LED-lighted fountain that shoots up to 30 feet in the air. When the show is over, let your kids play around on the splash pad. Or visit the Piedmont Park Pool, open from 3 to 5pm Monday through Friday for free!

Older visitors may enjoy the Bocce Ball area or taking a free bird walk with the Atlanta Audubon Society on the first Saturday of every month. Consider taking a self-guided tree tour where you see some of the largest species in the state of Georgia.

3. College Football Hall of Fame

You don’t have to be a die-hard college football fan to enjoy your time at the College Football Hall of Fame. This museum offers interactive displays where you can play football and run the field, or tech-savvy things such as creating your own mascot.

At the beginning of your CFHOF trip, you’ll customize your experience with an all-access pass on a lanyard. After your trip, your all-access pass lets you download interactive segments, TV or radio broadcasts, and more.

Learn the science of football, see the various types of gear football players have worn throughout the years, and even learn about the more technical aspects of the game, such as strategy.

Take a few things into account when visiting the Hall of Fame. The location itself is downtown, which means you may have a lot of traffic, particularly if a sporting event or convention is going on the same day. Although Chic-Fil-A sponsors the Hall of Fame, it doesn’t serve food on Sundays (even when the museum is open), so plan accordingly.

Just some of the urban artwork featured along the BeltLine.

Just some of the urban artwork featured along the BeltLine.

4. The BeltLine

The BeltLine is a 33-mile stretch of trails that winds through the Atlanta area. Not only does the Beltline offer green space to the metro, but you’ll also find shopping experiences, eateries, and an overall good place to walk, bike or hike. And if you like artwork, you’ll find the Beltline offers a variety of artwork along the trails.

Along the BeltLine is Ponce City Market, a thriving community of upscale shops and one-of-a-kind restaurants. Don’t forget to visit the rooftop, where you can see great views of the city, play on an 18-hole miniature golf course, or amuse yourself with boardwalk-style games

Krog Street Market is also a great destination along the beltline. There you will find local produce, prepared foods, boutiques, and top-notch cuisine. Krog Street Market also holds fun events such as tasting events, sports viewing, and other seasonal events, such as an Easter Egg Hunt.

Consider visiting the lakes at Lanier Islands.

Consider visiting the lakes at Lanier Islands.

5. Lanier Islands

If you aren’t afraid of traveling about 45 minutes north of Atlanta to the Gainesville area, consider visiting the lakes at Lanier Islands.

The activities available at Lanier Islands are dependent on the season, but you’re likely to find something that catches your attention. If you like outdoor adventure Lanier islands offers hiking and walking trails, cruises, horseback riding, ziplines, boating, water sports, a water park, beach volleyball and swimming.

The area offers a variety of accommodations, including campgrounds, lake houses, and luxury villas and suites. If you visit around a holiday, Lanier Island likely has a coordinating activity. For example, during the Christmas season, you can go on a miles-long Christmas light tour and during the summer you can view fireworks over the water.

Atlanta Botanical Garden

Piedmont Park

College Football Hall of Fame


Lanier Islands

© 2019 Diane Lockridge