An Atlanta travel guide – American history and southern hospitality
Get your bearings
The intersection of the I-20 and I-75 expressways marks Atlanta’s Downtown, the city’s glass and steel business centre. Immediately to the north is Midtown, artistic centre and home of Georgia Institute of Technology. Sweet Auburn, south-east of Downtown, is Atlanta’s historical African-American neighborhood where you’ll find Martin Luther King’s birthplace and tomb. Quirky Little Five Points north of I-20 attracts an arty crowd to bohemian boutiques, while to the north, where I-85 and I-75 join, lies fashionable Buckhead, known for high-end shopping and galleries.
More than 100,000 animals in eight million gallons of water make the Georgia Aquarium the world’s largest collection of marine creatures. The World of Coca-Cola tells the story of the world’s favourite soft drink. Sample sodas from around the globe in the tasting area at the end of your visit. The white, porcelain-tiled building housing the High Museum of Art is almost as impressive as the works inside. A large collection of Hudson River School paintings shows America as these 19th-century artists viewed it, with romanticised mountain vistas and idyllic farm scenes.
Dig into southern history on your Atlanta city break. Begin with the Civil War, examining weapons, uniforms and photographs at the Atlanta History Center. Then explore the life of Atlanta’s great civil rights leader Martin Luther King at his birthplace, church and grave. Freedom Hall in the Visitor’s Center continues the story of the American civil rights struggle with artefacts and photographs.
When summer arrives in Georgia, Atlantans head for shady parks. Outside the city, spring wildflowers blanket the hiking trails that wind around Stone Mountain, carved into a memorial to the American Civil War. Downtown’s lush, green Centennial Olympic Park draws crowds to its fountain of five interconnected Olympic rings. Lake Clara Meer and mature live oaks refresh visitors to Midtown’s Piedmont Park, crisscrossed by running trails and home to the Atlanta Botanical Garden.
Sweet tea and dim sum
Grits (corn porridge) and sweet tea are staples of a Georgian’s diet, and they’ve been perfected at Mary Mac’s Tea Room. Flaky buttermilk biscuits, moist fried chicken and pork chops have had customers returning to this Atlanta institution since 1945. Southern fusion cooking combines traditional southern favourites with international ingredients, like Asian seasonings or South American vegetables, popular throughout Midtown and Bucktown. On the city’s north-east side. Korean, Venezuelan, Vietnamese and Salvadorian restaurants make up the multiethnic dining centre of Buford Highway.
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