As the capital of Georgia, and the state’s largest city, Atlanta is a flourishing metropolis that is celebrated as being the entertainment hotspot of the South. It is the home to a variety of lively nightspots, chic boutiques, gourmet restaurants, professional sports franchises, and illustrious landmarks. Coupled with its myriad of attractions, Atlanta showcases its deep roots in United States history at museums like the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site, Atlanta History Center, and the Center for Civil and Human Rights.
The city also boasts the honor of hosting the 1996 Summer Olympic Games, which helped propel Atlanta into the spotlight as being an international city ready to play an integral role in global commerce. To which, prosperous conglomerates like Coca-Cola, Home Depot, Delta Air Lines, and the United Parcel Service (UPS), are headquartered in Atlanta and have further fueled the city’s attraction to a dedicated and educated workforce.
All in all, Atlanta is the ideal mix of city life and southern living where visitors can choose from a multitude of unique activities that reflect the city’s diverse cultural environment, romantic architectural styles, and captivating urban recreation. The following are locations that are not only brilliant places for photography opportunities but are also gratifyingly memorable:
Piedmont Park is Atlanta’s central gathering place with over 200 acres of premium green space surrounding Lake Clara Meer and Clear Creek. The park is open daily from 6am to 11pm and features a wide-range of activities that are open to all outdoor and exercise enthusiasts. Many of these include the Active Oval (consisting of soccer fields, volleyball courts, and baseball fields surrounded by a running track), tennis courts, dog parks, basketball courts, bocce courts, and an aquatic center. For families, there are playgrounds, picnic pavilions, dog parks, and hands-on educational opportunities at the Educational Garden and apiary. There is quite literally something for everyone, and connecting everything are a series of paved pathways that are utilized by walkers, runners, and bicyclists alike.
Piedmont Park also plays host to a number of Atlanta’s favorite annual events including the Atlanta Dogwood Festival, Music Midtown, Atlanta Ice Cream Festival, Atlanta Jazz Festival, Atlanta Pride Festival, and Screen on the Green. Along with these special events, every Saturday (from mid-March to December) the park is the site of the Green Market, where local vendors sell fresh produce, local food, and handcrafted gifts. Here visitors can peruse the various stalls of local small businesses while listening to live music and observing one of the many rotating activities or demonstrations that are offered on that day.
With everything that Piedmont Park has to offer, the highlight is by far its picturesque reflection views of the Midtown Atlanta skyline in Lake Clara Meer. The greatest photography location is from a viewing inlet that is accessible from a trail that parallels Charles Allen Drive along the southeastern shoreline of the lake. It is an impeccable spot to photograph a sunrise or sunset while appreciating the serenity of the park’s natural landscape.
Centennial Olympic Park:
As its name implies, the Centennial Olympic Park is the legacy of the 1996 Summer Olympic Games and has become the thriving epicenter for the downtown district. Surrounding the 21-acre park are popular attractions like the World of Coca-Cola, Sky View Ferris Wheel, Georgia Aquarium, CNN Center, College Football Hall of Fame, and more. Within the grounds are a plethora of sites like the Visitor Center, Fountain of Rings, various memorials and statues, concert stage, and multiple playgrounds.
The park is open daily from 7am to 11pm has become an urban oasis that encourages visitors and locals to explore an abundance of activities that are offered within the park. One such activity is the hour-long walking tour that circumnavigates the park beginning and ending at the Visitor Center. The tour is self-guided and is downloadable so that guests may enjoy each stop at their leisure. The tours are loaded with informative facts about the history and evolution of Centennial Olympic Park, as well as the lasting legacy of the 1996 Olympics.
Adjacent to the Visitor Center is the Fountain of Rings, an interactive fountain that is shaped in the traditional Olympic Rings symbol that is showcased throughout the Olympics. Throughout the year, the fountain performs a synchronized presentation where bursts of water effects are incorporated with lighting displays and sound effects, while set to an enjoyable musical program. These highly captivating water exhibitions are orchestrated four times a day: 12:30pm, 3:30pm, 6:30pm, and 9:30pm.
Along with family-friendly activities, Centennial Olympic Park hosts live concerts, like Music at Noon and the Wednesday WindDown, which feature different genres of music that are performed by local musicians. In addition to its weekly live musical performances, the park is the site for popular annual events and festivals like the 4th of July Celebration, Sweetwater 420 Fest, and Holiday in Lights, just to name a few.
SkyView Atlanta Georgia:
Situated on the southeastern periphery of Centennial Olympic Park, the SkyView Ferris wheel is an exhilarating experience that owns some of the best aerial views of downtown Atlanta. It soars approximately 20 stories high and is equipped with 42 climate-controlled gondolas that provide a comfortable environment as you begin your journey skyward.
Each gondola can accommodate up to 6 guests with adult admission starting at $13.89 + tax; however, an upgrade is available for $50 per person, where visitors travel in luxury in one of their VIP gondolas that comes equipped with a glass floor, Ferrari-style seats, and a longer flight time.
The operating hours vary where Sunday to Thursday the Ferris wheel is operational from 12pm to 11pm, Friday from 12pm to 12am, and Saturday from 10am to 12am. If you ride the SkyView Ferris wheel during the day, make a point to return in the evening to catch the pulsating light show. It is brilliantly illuminated with fluorescent lights and provides onlookers with an electrifying scene.
World of Coca-Cola:
The World of Coca-Cola is a gallery that encapsulates the rise of the corporate monolith that is Coke, and how it became a recognizable, household name. The tour of the museum includes multiple exhibits that are centered on Coca-Cola and how it has evolved over the years. The exhibits are creatively and magnificently presented with an array of informative details that keep guests intrigued throughout the tour. The displays are spread over the building’s two stories, which are laid out as follows:
The Loft – A collection of over 200 past and present historical relics that span more than 125 years of Coca-Cola memories. The compilation includes international treasures where over 30 different countries are represented.
Milestones of Refreshment – An in-depth explanation behind the origins of the Coca-Cola bottle and the inspiration behind its recognized contours and distinctive packaging. Walking through the gallery will have visitors face to face with over 1,000 original memorabilia pieces that date back to the beginning.
Bottle Works – A sneak peek behind-the-scenes at the Coca-Cola bottling process. Although the bottling line has been slowed down for viewing purposes, this section of the tour utilizes some of the same equipment and methods that are implemented in one of Coca-Cola’s main bottling plants.
Coca-Cola Polar Bear – In the hub, or central foyer, stands the 7-foot tall Coca-Cola Polar Bear. This friendly and beloved character has been featured in many of Coca Cola’s advertisements and makes for the perfect photo opportunity.
Pop Culture Gallery – An assortment of original works by several prominent artists, like Andy Warhol and Norman Rockwell, who were inspired by the brand when creating their pop culture masterpieces. The artwork displayed highlights and educates onlookers of the various shifts in American culture and historic events.
The Bubble-izer – This interactive display immerses visitors by transforming them into an effervescent bubble that fizzes atop a chilled Coca-Cola. At the end of the experience, the comical transformation can be photographed and shared with family and friends.
Virtual Taste Maker – A hands-on test where cunning guests test their luck, as the early creators did, to produce the perfect flavor combination of Coca-Cola. Guests interact with a series of five dials that are manipulated in an effort to enhance taste and flavor combinations. As substances are mixed, each ingredient that is added has a theatrical affect on the visuals and sound effects.
Vault of the Secret Formula – Originally housed in a SunTrust bank in downtown Atlanta, Coca-Cola’s legendary secret formula was later secured in the Vault of the Secret Formula at their headquarters. The recipe is widely regarded as the most closely guarded and best-kept secret, which is why the company has been a success for the last 125 years. A tour of the vault encompasses a comprehensive narrative of how competitors tired to mimic the company’s success, how Coca-Cola kept the formula a secret, and the subsequent myths that arose from the formula’s secrecy.
Taste It – Often considered the highlight of the tour, Taste It is an unlimited taste-testing room that showcases over 100 flavors and beverage concoctions from around the world.
Coca-Cola Store – The Coca-Cola Store offers an immense assortment of Coca-Cola merchandise items, many of which are unique to the store. Items range from clothing and accessories to one-of-a-kind artwork and stuff animals.
Adult admission starts at $17 with operating hours running from 10am to 5pm Sunday through Thursday and 9am to 5pm on Friday and Saturday. In general, the tour is a wonderfully crafted journey that details the history and inspiration behind some of the most influential marketing campaigns, which helped propel Coca-Cola into the imposing force that it is today.
Located in the heart of downtown Atlanta, the CNN Center is the global headquarters of CNN Worldwide, the global leader in news and the world’s most trusted news source. The CNN Center is home to the CNN offices, newsrooms, and studios, as well as the Omni Atlanta Hotel at CNN Center and an extensive food court. It also features the world’s largest freestanding escalator at 196-feet long and 8 stories high.
Specialized tours of CNN Studios allow guests a sneak peek behind the curtain and into the inner workings of the twenty-four hour news network. There are three different tours that are offered: Behind-the-Scenes, VIP, and the HLN Early Morning Express Tour with Robin Meade.
The Behind-the-Scenes tour is CNN’s basic tour that runs every 20 minutes from 9am to 5pm Monday-Sunday. Adult admission is $15 per person and features a 50-minute walking tour throughout the halls of CNN Center. This exclusive tour is given by a knowledgeable guide who delves into the history of the network, from its first broadcast to its rise as the world’s leading news enterprise. They also share how news is gathered and organized, as well as production secrets of how they are able to consistently keep their finger on the pulse of everything relevant.
The CNN VIP Tour is given Monday through Saturday at four different timings: 9:30am, 11:30am, 1:30pm, and 3:30pm. The tour provides guests with expanded access to CNN Studios and includes a visit to the CNN newsrooms. Here, visitors have an opportunity to experience the state-of-the-art technology that is implemented throughout all of the daily programs produced by CNN Studios.
The HLN Morning Express Tour with Robin Meade runs every Thursday at 8:30am, with adult admission starting at $43. Guests on this tour get exclusive access inside the live HLN control room, the HLN set in Studio 7, and are given a HLN Morning Express souvenir press pass with lanyard. There is also a possibility of speaking with the producers of the show and having an opportunity of meeting with Robin Meade.
Jackson Street Bridge:
The Jackson Street Bridge is an iconic overpass that spans the Freedom Parkway between Highland Avenue and Cain Street in Atlanta’s Historic Old Fourth Ward. Ever since it was featured during the opening credits of AMC’s ‘The Walking Dead,’ the bridge has risen in notoriety because of its unbeatable skyline view. It is widely considered the quintessential view of downtown Atlanta because of how the cityscape is perfectly framed above the confluence of interstates with the rows of houses and apartments lining the edge the freeway. Although the vista is best captured at sunrise or sunset, visitors can’t go wrong with a picture from this location at any time of day.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Park:
The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Park is a living memorial to the life and work of the devoted civil rights leader. Located in Atlanta’s Sweet Auburn neighborhood, the 35-acre park consists of numerous significant historical modern-day monuments and landmarks that span several city blocks. Some of the most prominent structures in the park include Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s boyhood home for the first 12 years of his life, the original Ebenezer Baptist Church where he was a co-pastor with his father, and the tomb where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was laid to rest.
A recent addition to the park was the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame, which encourages guests to walk in the literal footsteps of the instrumental leaders from the civil rights movement. From here, visitors can walk to other fundamental structures like The King Center, which was established to provide educational materials and exhibits of the continued implementation of nonviolent demonstrations, and Fire Station No. 6., one of the South’s first desegregated fire stations.
All of the buildings that are featured on the grounds are interconnected and run by the National Parks Service, so rangers are available to answer questions and conduct tours. The park is open daily from 9am to 5pm, except on major holidays, with 30-minute guided tours of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birth home running from 10am to 4pm. Tours are free and based upon availability, so it is recommended to arrive early to secure a spot.
Atlanta Botanical Gardens:
Located at the northwestern border of Piedmont Park in Midtown, the Atlanta Botanical Gardens is a collection of spectacular botanical specimens that span more than 30 acres. The garden’s mission statement affirms that it means to, ‘develop and maintain plant collections fro the purposes of display, education, conservation, research and enjoyment.’ It has done so through its implementation of weekly classes and shows that aim at educating visitors about the importance of horticulture.
These offerings allow adults to immerse themselves amongst rare and endangered plants of different biomes at the Dorothy Chapman Fuqua Conservatory, whereas children are afforded a hands-on agricultural experience at the Children’s Garden. Other key elements of the park are the Edible Garden, Sunflower Fountain, Sheffield Botanical Library, Longleaf Restaurant, and Japanese Gardens.
Throughout the grounds, there are a network of trails and pathways that navigate to all areas of the garden, but the most remarkable of them all is the Kendeda Canopy Walk. The 12-foot wide pathway traverses 600-feet and gains a maximum elevation of 40-feet, allowing visitors an elevated view of the surrounding shaded woodlands. The reverse suspension bridge was designed to have a minimum impact on the environment while navigating guests past a multitude of vegetation, from azaleas and hydrangeas to oak and hickories.
The walkway begins at the Southern Seasonal Garden and proceeds through the Storza Woods before culminating at the Sourwood Terrace. It is one of the only tree-level canopy walkways in the United States and delights visitors with a birds-eye view of one of they city’s last remaining urban forests.
Thanks to the size of the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, there are a plethora of garden varietals that coalesce to create a world of magic and tranquility. The operating hours of the gardens are Tuesday to Sunday from 9am to 5pm and they are closed on Mondays. Adult admission starts at $21.95 and does not include tax or the $3 online transaction fee.
Krog Street Tunnel:
The Krog Street Tunnel is an open-air accumulation of ever-changing street art that links the neighborhoods of Inman Park to the north with Cabbagetown to the south. The underpass has become a must-see attraction thanks to its eclectic art renditions, which are eccentric as they are inspired. Many locals and visitors flock from all over to admire this urban canvas and the assortment of techniques that are continuously evolving with the introduction of new images, words, tags, and ideas. The end result has turned this dull piece of infrastructure into a vibrant kaleidoscope of imaginative graffiti where no wall or pillar is left unadorned.
SunTrust Park has been the home of the Atlanta Braves since 2017 and became the first of its kind to integrate a state-of-the-art baseball stadium with a multi-use development and entertainment district. The neighborhood, referred to as The Battery Atlanta, is a confluence of retail shops, restaurants, residential areas, and live music theater, while featuring SunTrust Park as its centerpiece.
At first glance, SunTrust Park has the appearance of a throwback stadium with its traditional brick walls and intimate seating capacity of 41,500, but upon closer inspection, this ballpark is far from old school. The design of the seating arrangements gives fans the impression that they are on top of the action, no matter where they are seated. Another added bonus is that, thanks to its southeastern orientation, avid Braves fans are rewarded with a tremendous view of the Atlanta skyline from the upper concourse behind home plate.
Furthermore, the concourses are wide and shaded with many locations providing an unimpeded view of the field, so that fans can continue watching the game while waiting at concession stands for refreshments. With Atlanta commonly referred to as Hotlanta, it is no wonder that every level of the ballpark features air conditioning to ensure that the fans stay cool on those blistering hot summer days.
As with most modern stadiums, SunTrust Park has a large kid-friendly zone behind the grandstand in left field called Hope & Will’s Sandlot. The area is full of entertainment from a multitude of baseball-themed activities to the thrilling zip-line. There are also an abundance of food amenities like the long time, fan favorite Chop House, which is a three-level brew house in right field that is home to the impressive pork Tomahawk Chop sandwich.
Opened in 2017 and located in the heart of Atlanta, the Mercedes-Benz Stadium is a state-of-the-art multipurpose facility that is the home of the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons and MLS’ Atlanta United. The arena is renowned for setting an unprecedented benchmark through its sustainability and performance innovations, most notably, its conservation of energy, light, and water.
Visually, the stadium’s exterior utilizes an innovatively sleek design that culminates in a series of dramatic edges, which exaggerate its intimidating features. In addition, a beautifully designed, massive stainless steel statue of a falcon clutching a football in its talons helps perpetuate this menacing feeling as fans approach the entrances from the outdoor plaza.
Once inside, the interior incorporates floor-to-ceiling windows, which allows natural light to illuminate the stadium while providing guests with impeccable views of downtown. Technologically speaking, the creativity behind the wrap-around, 360-degree video display board and 3D mega column is visually stunning. Coupled with the oculus-shaped retractable roof that can open or close in 12-minutes, this stadium is a sight to behold.
Just when you thought things couldn’t get any better, the Mercedes-Benz Stadium offers a myriad of signature restaurants and bars that exceed expectations. Every concession stand features prices that are affordable and are the cheapest of any other professional sport. There are freestanding beverage stations that provide visitors who purchased non-alcoholic beverages with an opportunity for unlimited refills, unheard of at most of the other professional venues.
In terms of seats and suites, if you are fortunate enough to have sideline suites, then be prepared to be astonished when you realize that the suites are literally on the sideline and provide guests with an experience that is as close to the action as a paid guest can get. Along with the various suites, every seat in the stadium is spectacular and provides fans with an immersive experience that is equally enjoyable as it is memorable.
Recommended Local Eateries:
*Elliott Street Deli & Pub – A indiscreet pub and deli serving deliciously hot sandwiches and affordable cocktails in a turn-of-the-century building.
*Petit Chou – A craftsman menu that is full of locally sourced and original food that is sure to impress. One of the local favorites is the avocado toast.
*The Vortex Bar & Grill – A menu that is full of unique choices of hamburgers, as well as a monstrous burger held together by 2 grilled cheese sandwiches.
*Yeah! Burger – A restaurant that serves a variety of hamburgers using farm-fresh ingredients and humanely sourced beef.
*My Fair Sweets – A boutique bakery that serves freak shakes, or over-the-top milkshakes, along with other mouth-watering selections.
*Sky Lounge at the Glenn Hotel – An elegant lounge with a panoramic view of the city and handcrafted fusion cocktails. Voted as one of the best bars in Atlanta and top 23 rooftop lounges in the world.
*Blaxican Food Truck – Mouthwatering Mexican soul food like the collard green quesadillas and BBQ steak tacos.
*Mix’D Up Food Truck – Serving creatively inspired burgers that are fresh, giant, and delicious. One of the favorites is The Pile, which is an Angus burger that is served on top of a handful of Buffalo fries that are dripping in cheese.
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