Oh, you're going to Atlanta? You should...
August 20, 2013 4:41 PM   Subscribe

I'll be in Atlanta, Georgia (US) the second week of September for a work conference. The conference ends on Thursday night, so I'll have all day Friday and Saturday morning to myself. My current to-do list contains one item: visit the aquarium (whale shark!). What else should I see or do while in Atlanta?

I'm staying downtown and won't have a car - but I'm pretty adept at using public transportation, and if something's just super cool amazing YOU HAVE TO SEE THIS I'm willing to spring for a taxi. I'm a pretty nerdy computer geek and I love science stuff. I do tend to like smaller, quirkier things (skipped Mount Rushmore in order to see the Reptile Gardens when I was in South Dakota, for example, and I'm sad we missed the Corn Palace).
posted by RogueTech to Travel & Transportation around Atlanta, GA (24 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
We used to joke that it's a great place to live, but I wouldn't want to visit there. That's kind of unfair but was maybe once true.

Limiting myself to stuff on the MARTA rail line: High Museum of Art (Arts Center station), Oakland Cemetery (King Center station, I think), maybe head over to Decatur for lunch (Decatur station).
posted by thelonius at 4:46 PM on August 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Zoo Atlanta! Fernbank Museum of Natural History! The Varsity! The High Museum of Art! (Cred: just moved from Atlanta a few months ago) :)
posted by sleepykitties at 4:49 PM on August 20, 2013

Forgot about Fernbank - they opened up that big new museum just after I moved away. That is about a 1 or 2 mile walk from the Edgewood-Candler Park station. There may be a bus that you could get from a station, too.
posted by thelonius at 4:52 PM on August 20, 2013

I was really impressed with the Martin Luther King Jr Historic Site when I visited Atlanta. It has a surprisingly complex take on King and the civil rights movement, not just the big talking points you learn about in school. Looks like you can get there by bus from a couple different MARTA light rail stations.
posted by ActionPopulated at 5:02 PM on August 20, 2013

Yay for Whale Sharks! And yay for MARTA! If you are patient, it really will get you most places.

Absolutely go to the High--they have The Girl with the Pearl Earring and other Dutch Masters right now, which is an amazing exhibit. There's also a local artists show right now, and the permanent collection is pretty great, too.

The King Historic District is also worth a few hours to a whole day.

On the list of things I still haven't been to but want to go to soon because it sounds awesome is The Center for Puppetry Arts, which among other things has an extensive Jim Henson collection, including the muppets from Dark Crystal.
posted by hydropsyche at 5:15 PM on August 20, 2013 [6 favorites]

Emory University has an antiquities museum, if mummies, hieroglyphics and the like float your boat.
posted by camdan at 5:18 PM on August 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Hydropsyche - how could I forget about the Center for Puppetry Arts?! It is great - especially if you can watch a show, too :) OP that is a strong contender for must-sees
posted by sleepykitties at 5:21 PM on August 20, 2013

The Coke Museum is sort of cheesy, but in a totally fun sort of way. You can try Coke products that are only sold outside of the US.
posted by COD at 5:34 PM on August 20, 2013 [2 favorites]

Came in to also say, Coke Museum. COD nailed it -- cheesy but fun. Next to the aquarium. Also, do the CNN tour, which is also nearby.
posted by kovacs at 6:08 PM on August 20, 2013

If you can make it to where Emory is, then be sure to stop by the CDC Museum. It's free and has a lot of great exhibits on infectious diseases and epidemiology. And if you get there between 9 AM and 1 PM, the gift store is open...
posted by Mercaptan at 6:15 PM on August 20, 2013

The Jimmy Carter library.
posted by brujita at 7:07 PM on August 20, 2013

Get the Pemberton Place pass and see The World of Coca Cola after or before the Aquarium. They are in the same place. CNN is down the street and the tour there is pretty cool.

Have a drink a Trader Vic's. only because its freaking awesome and there aren't that many more of them in the world.

See some old and broken down strippers at the Clairemont Lounge.

Eat anywhere on Buford Highway. Chef Liu's for noodles and dumplings. Tacos, pho, whatever floats your boat.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:18 PM on August 20, 2013

Segway tour. You can cover a lot more ground than on foot, and it's fun to ride.
posted by Sophont at 7:34 PM on August 20, 2013

I really liked breakfast at Flying Biscuit. Definitely eat their biscuits if you go there! I visited years ago so I'm not sure about the location, but if you like breakfast food, check them out.
posted by shortyJBot at 7:40 PM on August 20, 2013

Oakland Cemetery and then eat at Six Feet Under. It's a short walk from the MLK Jr Stop.

Decatur Square is neat and cute with options for food, drink and shopping and literally on top of the Decatur stop. Take a bus from there to the DeKalb Farmer's Market.

The Federal Reserve has a neat little museum, it's at the Midtown stop.

The center for Puppetry Arts is awesome, and a bit of a walk from Arts Center Station. If they have a show, just get tickets and go, I've never been disappointed, usually I'm flat out amazed.

The Cyclorama is amazing civil war culture/kitsch from the early days of the 20th century, You'd have to catch a bus from Five Points which may be a bit sketchy. It's right near the zoo, my suggestion is to get a cab and do both.

Things to miss in my mind: Underground, Flying Biscuit, most things Downtown and some of Midtown.

Instead: Lenox Square, Homegrown, Decatur, Grant Park, Poncey Highlands, Little Five Points and Atlantic Station.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 8:18 PM on August 20, 2013 [2 favorites]

Visit the Coca Cola factory, tour Emory and Georgia Tech, and go to as many fine-dining restaurants in Buckhead as possible.
posted by lotusmish at 8:53 PM on August 20, 2013

I wouldn't think Lenox Square is so notable that it's worth a trip, unless you really feel like going to a mall. It's a very nice mall. If you do something in Buckhead, I'd say, just walk around on Peachtree (when Atlantans say that, they mean the big street that goes north from downtown, not Peachtree Terrace or Peachtree Lane or whatever; it is very simple!) around where Pharr Road intersects.

Actually, taking a bus from, oh, the Arts Center station, North to the Lenox station, and then resuming the train travel, would be a nice way to see that part of town.
posted by thelonius at 8:53 PM on August 20, 2013

I wouldn't think Lenox Square is so notable that it's worth a trip, unless you really feel like going to a mall.

Agreed, I just put it in as an option to consider instead of Underground Atlanta which is sketchy and dirty and for some reason or another, otherwise well-meaning people will still send clueless tourists there like it's an amazing shopping destination.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 9:33 PM on August 20, 2013

It was pretty much like trying to make a Bourbon Street ride at Disneyland. I was never a fan of the revived Underground. I agree: avoid. (I hadn't thought about the Cyclorama in years, we used to go there as kids).
posted by thelonius at 10:44 PM on August 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

You want smaller and quirkier? I lived for a decade in Atlanta (a long time ago) and on a recent visit back with some time to kill, I went to the Highland Hardware store. I don't even do any woodworking, but I spent a very happy hour walking through the aisles of this amazing store. It's not too far from Little Five Points which is a pedestrian friendly part of Atlanta. The fried chicken at Deacon Burton's Grill is outstanding. Take MARTA to the Inman Park station and it's a short walk.
posted by three blind mice at 3:17 AM on August 21, 2013

See Gold Panda on Wednesday at the Basement.
posted by ijoyner at 6:30 AM on August 21, 2013

I just wanted to come back to say don't bother with Underground Atlanta. It's just touristy crap and slightly dangerous.

I like shopping at Lenox Square as much as the next person, but it's not a destination by any means.

Also, the World of Coke is cheese and AWESOME! You can see old coke commercials, an exhibit of postcards where you can see Coke signs (really cool in my opinion) and the tasting room is hella fun.

I too like Little Five Points but I think it's ambitious by MARTA in the short amount of time that you have.

If the Atlanta Dream make it to the play-offs, you might have a chance to take in a Women's Basketball game at Phillips Arena, which is downtown.

If you want to wander a cute neighborhood, Virginia Highland is sweet.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:18 AM on August 21, 2013

No one's mentioned yet the Auburn area and the brilliant small museum there, the APEX museum. I also did the MLK Jr museum and memorial and found that amazing and so very well done. The Coke museum is very cheesy but fun - however I'm not sure how representative Cokes of the World was as the representative for the UK was Lilt ... hm ...

I did go to Underground Atlanta as advised by THE WORLD and I am so glad that people confirm it's sketchy and dangerous!

Oh yeah and watch out for those taxi touts at the airport, you can get the MARTA right from there to Peachtree, wherever, but I got whisked into a taxi and very scared, never happened to me anywhere else! Have fun!
posted by LyzzyBee at 1:37 AM on August 25, 2013

Response by poster: So I just wanted to say thank you to everyone. I got home from ATL on Saturday and had a great time! I saw the aquarium and the World of Coke. The World of Coke was interesting, but I think my favorite part was the soda tasting room. I got to tell my coworker from Tanzania that I tried a soda from his home country! He was amused, as was I. :) There is also a ferris wheel near Centennial Park; I rode it with 4 other "singles" and we had a great time talking about where we were from and why we were in ATL.

The conference was at the Grand Terrace Hotel and the Fox Theater. Great venues and the hotel staff were amazing - just in case anyone's reading this in the future, definitely check them out.

All in all it was a great trip, thanks to everyone for their recommendations. There were enough things that I wanted to do and didn't get a chance to see that my husband and I are thinking of doing a long weekend in ATL sometime in the future.
posted by RogueTech at 8:20 PM on September 16, 2013

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