If you’re visiting Atlanta in the summer, the very first thing you’ll feel is the great humidity, but that’s no reason to stay inside. There are hundreds of activities and places to explore outdoors, including the Atlanta Beltline. It’s one of the newest outdoor amenities in Atlanta, featuring 22 miles of reclaimed abandoned railroad tracks and connecting people and communities throughout the city’s neighborhoods. If New York’s High Line Park impressed you, Beltline will absolutely leave you, and it’s 1.3 million visitors, breathless. Not only is it a great, pet and family-friendly outdoor spaces, but there’s also public art installations, restaurants, and cafes right along the Belt
Looking for a park with even more nature? Head to Stone Mountain Park, a 3,200-acre park built around the world’s largest slab of exposed granite. There, you can take a panoramic ride to the top of the rock, view the Atlanta cityscape, ride their Scenic Railroad, hike the numerous trails, or have a picnic by one of the park’s lakes. It’s a full day adventure, but feel free to spread it over two days so you won’t feel rushed.
Still want to experience nature, but also need to spend some time inside? Grab tickets for the Atlanta Movie Tours, where tour guides will tell you behind-the-scenes stories about the over 700 movies and dozens of television shows filmed in Atlanta over the decades. Whether you’re a film buff or only see the summer blockbusters, you’ll walk away from the tours with new insight into the area’s rich film history and why the city’s a beloved filming location.
What about wildlife? Well you don’t need to leave Atlanta to see some amazing animals. Not only is Zoo Atlanta one of the four zoos in the United States who have giant pandas, but Zoo Atlanta is home to America’s only twin giant pandas, Ya Lun and Xi Lun!
Atlanta, despite being landlocked, also isn’t lacking fish and sea creatures. With over 10 million gallons of water and about 120,000 sea animals, including whale sharks, bottlenose dolphins, and beluga whales, the 12-year old Georgia Aquarium is one of the largest aquariums in the world. Best of all, it’s only a 13-minute drive away from Zoo Atlanta, so you can visit both in one perfect day visit.
Still in the mood for nature and animals? The perfect stop to round out your visit is the Fernbank Museum of Natural History. Not only will you be able to explore the state’s geologic history played out in exhibitions (including NatureQuest, an award-winning immersive experience) on limestone tiles which feature Jurassic-era fossils, a 900-gallon saltwater aquarium and a rich rose garden, you’ll see the world’s largest dinosaur fossil, Argentinosaurus, which weighs over 100 tons and measures 123-feet long.
Arriving in the spring? You’re just in time for baseball. Catch an Atlanta Braves game in their new SunTrust Park stadium, take a tour of Turner Field, or just relax in the stands and enjoy watching one of the most popular major league teams engage in America’s favorite pastime. If you’re not a fan of baseball, you can also watch a WNBA or NBA game at the Philips Arena, or see the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome for some live football. Racing and auto fans are also in for a treat with the Atlanta Motor Speedway and Road Atlanta.
And smack-dab in the heart of downtown Atlanta, you have the urban oasis that is Centennial Olympic Park. In addition to being near many of the other locations on this list, Centennial plays host to annual festivals and music events, a child-friendly interactive fountain, and an audio walking tour for anyone interested in the wealth of architectural and general history of the space.
In the mood for something unusual? Try the Center for Puppetry Arts It’s one of the world’s few puppet museums and featuring a behind-the-scenes tour and a glimpse of puppets from throughout the world and human history. You’ll also find an interactive exhibit specifically highlighting Jim Henson’s work and collection.
Finally, what would a trip to Atlanta be without the obligatory visit to the World of Soda? With a variety of special ticket offers and a low-cost general admission, there aren’t many reasons you should miss this, whether you’re a Soda fan or not. The dozen multimedia exhibits, hundreds of artifacts, and 100+ beverages will fill your trip with red-and-white splashed memories.