Atlanta gleams amid glass and steel towers, but the heart of the South’s largest city is its people. Visitors are likely to be greeted with a big helping of “How y’all doing” hospitality. Atlanta may have birthed Gone with the Wind, yet today’s big bustling city is more New South than old. This diverse population with 4 million residents is decidedly youthful – younger than the US population and more racially diverse. You’re more than likely to meet folks who came for a weekend and decided to stay a lifetime.
Atlanta began as a transportation mecca. It still is, but with a 21st-century global approach. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is the busiest airport in the world. Atlanta is America’s most accessible city with direct, non-stop service to more than 155 US destinations – 80 percent of those within a two-hour flight. It’s also the second busiest for international flights. And with the MARTA trains, visitors can roll into town without a car.
Centennial Olympic Park, the heart of downtown’s tourist hub, is marked by playful fountains that draw visitors to its pulse. From there, they walk to world-class attractions such as the popular Georgia Aquarium, home to whale sharks and wave pools, and The World of Coca-Cola, a dedication to a century of top-notch advertising. Sports fans congregate here too, to cheer the NFL Falcons and NBA Hawks in the Georgia Dome and the MLB Braves at Turner Field. The city’s rich cultural history comes to life in Sweet Auburn, once the richest Black street in America. It’s a mecca for Civil Rights travelers at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site and Ebenezer Baptist Church.
Dining out is essential to Atlanta’s social scene, where chef-run indie restaurants dish up modern American cuisine in strikingly beautiful dining rooms. Among the chic up-to-the-minute places are plenty of cozy diners, cafes and bistros, as well as small mom and pop hole-in-the-walls on Buford Highway where you can dine from menus with little English and lots of flavor. Sweet tea may be the drink of daytime, but at night, clubs pour libations to tickle evening fancies.
Look beyond the city’s core, because Atlanta’s neighborhoods are packed with personality too. Midtown melds in-town glitz with culture of the fabulous Fox Theatre, the High Museum of Art, famed Piedmont Park and the Atlanta Botanical Garden. The Westside has become a magnet for foodies, architecture and design enthusiasts, and shoppers. Buckhead blends boutiques and galleries with fabulous dining, while Little Five points lives on the edge between bohemian grunge and a solid theatre scene.
Culture oozes in Atlanta like heat off the sidewalks in July. Emerging designers pepper the city’s boutiques. Indulge in high-brow, Grammy-winning symphony, opera, and ballet. The Fox Theatre hosts the best touring shows in nation. Catch home-grown plays on stage at both The Alliance and Horizon Theatres, improve at Dad’s Garage, or inspire your imagination at the Center for Puppetry Arts. It’s easy to fall in love with this beautiful city’s cultivated charm.