Georgia’s influential capital is a unique big city wrapped in Southern charm. Initially rising to prominence for its role in the Civil Rights Movement, the cultural beacon of the South offers so much to do, see and explore.

From its vibrant dining scene and renowned cultural attractions to museums, one-of-a-kind-shopping and historic neighborhoods, believe us when we say that a trip to Atlanta is always a good idea. (Did you know that trees cover 36 percent of the city!?)

How you spend your day in Atlanta is up to you, but trust the following things to start your day stay in the ATL off right. 

Check out Krog Street Market

Located in a 1920’s warehouse in the heart of Inman Park, Krog Street Market has become a necessary stop in the city. Named one of the “Ten Best Food Halls” by Fodor Travel, this food hall has a wide range of culinary fare ranging from barbeque, Southern-style fried chicken, classic sandwiches, soup dumplings and Tex-Mex.

Tucked in the back corner of the market is the Ticonderoga Club, a quirky burgeoning bar from three of the city’s best mixologists. Leading Esquire’s list of the “21 Best Bars in America,” the Ticonderoga Club serves innovative concoctions like the Have Mercy (Reposado Tequila, orange bitters, cynar, pineapple cordial) and Old Salt (white rum, sherry, lemongrass, lime.)  

We suggest trying their signature drink and sandwich, Ticonderoga Cup (rum, cognac, sherry, pineapple, lemon, mint) and the New England style Ipswich Clam Roll with fresh and salty clam bellies and buttered split bread with a hint of tartar sauce that melts in your mouth. The sandwich is so tasty, Atlanta Magazine named it one of the ’20 Best Sandwiches’ in the city. Thank us later.

Interesni Kazki mural in East Atlanta Village.Get Hoppy in EAV

Just a bit outside of the city center is the hip and trendy East Atlanta Village. EAV, as the locals say, is a historic neighborhood full of outdoor art murals, eclectic shopping, tattoos parlors and music venues. The food and drink scene isn’t too shabby, either. Neighborhood darling, The Porter Beer Bar features over 800 beers with more than 50 on tap. What’s more, the Porter has been a two-time James Beard Award semifinalist for Outstanding Bar Program and is beloved by craft beer publications like the “Beer Advocate” and “Draft Magazine.” Don’t be afraid to wake up the inner beer lover in you!

Go to a Museum or Two

Atlanta continues to impress with its cultural attractions. The Center For Civil and Human Rights highlights the connection between the American Civil and global Human Rights Movements. Using compelling artifacts and imagery, the museum features three permanent exhibits including; “Voice to the Voiceless,” Martin Luther King Jr.’s Morehouse Collection containing his personal papers and items; “Rolls Down Like Water,” chronicling the fight for civil rights in the 1950s and 1960s; and “Spark of Conviction,” an interactive look at how global human rights affects us all.

The High Museum of Art boasts over 16,000 art pieces in seven collection areas including American, African and European art and new media and design. The museum’s photography department is its most extensive collection with over 6,500 photos, beginning from the 1840s to present day. Once a month, the museum hosts a live Friday Jazz series and First Friday with cocktails and live performances.

Taste Coca-Cola from Around the World

Adjacent to the Georgia Aquarium and located in the Pemberton Place complex is the World of Coca-Cola, dedicated to the world’s most popular beverage company. As a visitor, you can get a glimpse of the bottling process, watch an interactive 3D film, visit the vault where the secret formula is held and see over 1,200 rare artifacts from the company’s 125-year history. We suggest preparing your taste buds for the ‘Taste It!’ Beverage lounge, which offers 100 different beverages made by the company from around the world. From the African fruit-flavored fave, Bibo Candy Pine Nut to the best-selling spicy Indian beverage Thums Up and the crowd favorite Italian pre-dinner drink, Beverly, enjoy a sampling of the world’s soft drink preferences. Bottom’s up!

Side view of Ponce City Market in Atlanta framed through steel cross beams on a neutral overcast afternoon.

Head To Ponce City Market

Housed in the historic Sears, Roebuck & Co. Building, Ponce City Market has been instrumental in revitalizing this once dissolute area. The vibrant mixed-use market features various retail shops and restaurants, across from the historic Fourth Ward Park.   

Central Food Hall features 15 eateries with offerings from James Beard winning chefs including Sean Brock of the casual Mexican concept Minero, Hal Linton of Hops Chicken and Anne Quantrano’s W.H. Fish Camp, a modern take on the traditional fish shack. After grabbing a bite, take the freight elevator to the rooftop; the picturesque Atlanta city skyline provides the perfect photo backdrop or place to chat while digesting a memorable meal. Popular destination 9 Mile Station takes a cue from European cuisine and adds an American twist. Not to mention, there’s an elevated beer garden perfect for a craft beer or cocktail (or two) for your pleasure.  

Riding the SkyView is a fantastic way to spend a day in Atlanta as evidenced by a view of downtown with a clear blue sky in the background.

Hop on the Streetcar

We’ll be the first to admit, getting around the city can be a challenge. Luckily, the Atlanta Streetcar eases some of the transportation woes. Traveling in a 2.7-mile loop with 12-stops including connections to MARTA’s Peachtree Center train station, the streetcar is an efficient way to check out some of the city’s historic sites in under thirty minutes. By riding the entire streetcar route, you can see the King Center and Fairlie-Poplar Historic District or downtown attractions like Centennial Olympic Park, CNN Center and SkyView, the city’s ferris wheel.

Learn About Fashion and Film

Located in Midtown Atlanta, the SCAD Fash Museum of Fashion + Film features fashion-centered exhibits and film dedicated to the exploration of fashion past and present. The 10,000 square-foot space features a fashion conservation lab, extensive public gallery, and a state-of-the-art media lounge for film and presentations. The museum has featured exhibits from designers Carolina Herrera, Oscar De La Renta and Atlanta’s own Andre 3000 of the Grammy award-winning rap duo Outkast. Most recently, the museum hosted collections from the late French designer Pierre Cardin and the Emmy award-winning TV show “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

Head To The Oval Office

Get lost in history, literally. The Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum offers an expansive look at the United States Presidency. The library, which sits on 35-acres of manicured land and gardens, features a life-size replica of the Oval Office, a presentation on “a Day In The Life President,” a Camp David exhibition, in addition to rotating exhibits and monthly events.

The archives also function as a research facility, with over 27 million pages of Jimmy Carter’s and his administration’s documents and correspondence, 500,000 photographs and hundreds of hours of audio, film and videotapes. As we said, you can get lost.

A bicyclist passes a mural of a woman touching her phone along the BeltLine in Atlanta.

Walk The Beltline

The Atlanta BeltLine is nature and art at its finest. Composed of 22 miles of green space and trails connecting 45 neighborhoods, the Atlanta BeltLine features the largest temporary art exhibition in the South, with more than 100 works to-date. This massive pet-friendly outdoor space takes full advantage of the city’s warm climate providing a variety of free events like skateboarding, fitness and yoga classes throughout the year.

If you get hungry along the way, some of the city’s best restaurants exist on the Beltline, including LadyBird Grove & Mess Hall. On mile marker number nine, look for LadyBird’s decked out lodge-style space featuring nature-themed murals, taxidermy and the best in campfire cuisine. We suggest trail snacks like the pimento cheese fritters, smoked wings or Spatchcock roasted chicken grilled with chilies, cilantro, onions and served with grilled tortillas and salsa verde. For a perfect accompaniment, try the delectable (and hard to find) Tropicalia beer from Creature Comforts. 

Visit The Second Largest Aquarium In The World

At 550,000 square feet with over 10 million gallons of water and home to thousands of species like beluga whales, manta rays, sea lions and whale sharks, the Georgia Aquarium is the largest in the country and second largest in the world. Check out the award-winning dolphin exhibit, “AT&T Dolphin Celebration,” for a musical theater performance from the animals themselves.

The 4D Theater combines 3D high-definition projection with special effects to simulate the experience of being underwater with the animals. The 4D effects are coordinated with the film, taking the experience up a notch. Since the admission price includes the 4D Theater experience, we recommend checking out the Shark film, which follows these powerful, mysterious creatures in their natural habitat. You won’t be sorry.

As the heart and soul of the South, Atlanta offers something for everyone. Whether you’re in it for the culture, history, food or just a bit of relaxation, the city is one of the best places to book a day room, let your hair down and explore.

Escape for a daycation. Explore a city organically. Do so conveniently with a day room from HotelsByDay.

Image Credits:

Featured Photo – “Atlanta Skyline” by joiseyshowaa via CC BY-SA 2.0

“Interesni Kazki mural in East Atlanta Village” by Bradley Huchteman via CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

“Ponce City Market” by MILKOVÍ via Unsplash

“Skyline of Atlanta, Georgia” by Matt Kieffer via CC BY-SA 2.0

“Bicyclist on Beltline” by David Goldman/Associated Press via CC BY 2.0

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Pleshette Johnson

PJ is a freelance writer and editor from Atlanta, Georgia. She is an avid foodie and traveler with a passion for exploring off-the-beaten path destinations. When she's not traveling or eating, she loves going to concerts or binge-watching Netflix.