Atlanta Attractions

I moved here almost 19 years ago and have always thought that Atlanta is a great place to live, but a poor place to visit without a native guide. But a longish discussion on another forum about Atlanta area tourist attractions made me realize that there is a lot more to do than I was giving us credit for. Between family visits and an 8-year old, I’ve hit all of the following:
Atlanta Zoo
World of Coca Cola
Underground Atlanta
Top of the Westin.
Botanical Garden
High Museum
Fox Theater
Centennial Olympic Park
Six Flags
Margaret Mitchell House
Carter Center
The Capitol Building
Turner Field
CNN Center
Stone Mountain
MLK Center/Birth Home/Church/Museum
Atlanta History Center in Buckhead

It seems that our biggest problem as a tourist destination isn’t a lack of things to do, but a lack of centralization and ease of access. 10 years later the Olympic revitalization of downtown seems to really be happening and that is becoming a reasonable place for someone to spend a day or two.

But it still seems that our neighborhoods, from Hong Kong highrise in the making Buckhead, to Va-Hi, L5P, and the newer and more vibrant Poncey Highlands, East Atlanta/Oakdale are still the best thing about living in Atlanta. The beltline and changes to Peachtree to make it more walkable and add a street car will make our neighborhoods more accessible for tourists without getting into cars and make things even better.

We have all the peripheral attractions you could want, but it still seems like we’re lacking a single unifying reason to come to Atlanta. Since we’re not going to get a lake or oceanfront any time soon, it seems like an event is the right thing to drive the city. Why is it our music and arts events seem to always collapse under their own weight just as they are getting to the level of national attention?

3 Comments so far

  1. tiffany (unregistered) on June 20th, 2006 @ 2:15 pm

    i think atlanta just lacks a compelling feature or culture that makes people say “ooh! y’know, i’ve always wanted to visit atlanta.”

    you find there’s plenty to do *once you’re here.* but what’s this city famous for? almost every tourist destination has at least one thing they’re famous for that people want to experience.


    – miami has the beach, fabulous art deco architecture and a thriving nightlife.

    – san francisco has bay views, a famous bridge, and lies within an hour or so of wine country, scenic hills, the pacific ocean and the pacific coast highway.

    – orlando has disney.

    – new orleans has/had a thriving local cuisine, river views, a complex history, wonderful architecture, voodoo and a general culture of debauchery.

    – d.c. has the government, the monuments, river views, and the smithsonian.

    – savannah has the ocean, gorgeous old architecture, and a spooky history.

    – philly has constitution hall, the liberty bell and cheesesteaks.

    atlanta is best known for …? having a big a** airport and lots of strip clubs. the aquarium is starting to change that. but will your average family find the rest of the city compelling enough to come? i’m not so sure.

  2. bored (unregistered) on June 20th, 2006 @ 6:14 pm

    whats wrong with strip clubs being the tourist attraction? Thats why businessmen love Atlanta!

    I think the problem is that there aren’t too many family-friendly venues. The zoo, aquarium and six flags (even though there are quite a few of them) are fun for kids, but the rest won’t entertain them for a few hours at a time.

    The MLK, Atlanta History, and Carter Center are educational for older kids, not when mommy and daddy want to let the brats run around.

  3. BPJ (unregistered) on June 21st, 2006 @ 3:26 pm

    I wouldn’t argue that Atlanta is on the list of 100 top cities to visit, and I’m not sure it would make the top 200. But that doesn’t mean there’s little to do here, as we sometimes hear. Atlanta has better arts offerings and restaurants than all but a few American cities. To some people, that’s a scandalous thing to say, but it’s true. And we’ve actually packed a lot of history into less than 175 years.
    People who live here might want to investigate Atlanta’s theatres, restaurants (real ones, not chains), galleries, and historic sites. As for big events, check out the National Black Arts Festival – it’s for everyone, not just African-Americans.

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