Downtown Atlanta may have been built as early as the early 1800s, but this roughly 4-square-mile, 9-block city is as up-to-date and vibrant as it was yesterday.
There’s nothing tired or shabby in the streets of downtown Atlanta, and the terraced cafes and bars of the streets and the area’s exciting nightlife create a youthful vibe that’s vibrant and alive. The area also embraces a modern approach to culture, evident in its eclectic art galleries, innovative theatres and public artworks.
Everything that was old has been rejuvenated in great style and given a new lease of life, making downtown Atlanta one of the most exciting tourist destinations in America today. Do any of these fifteen things to do in downtown Atlanta and you’ll have a fantastic time there.
1. Skyview Atlanta
Take a spin on the Skyview Atlanta Ferris Wheel on Luckie Street for the best panoramic views of downtown Atlanta.
The Ferris wheel is 20 stories high and more than 200 feet tall, and there is nothing nearby that can block the view. When the downtown Atlanta skyline flashes with thousands of lights, it’s incredible during the day and impressive at night.
Skyview Atlanta has 42 air-conditioned gondolas, including one with plush leather seating and a glass-bottom booth for those who want a VIP experience.
2. Ring Fountain
Located in Centennial Olympic Park on Park Avenue in downtown Atlanta, the Ring Fountain is a fountain designed to replicate the Olympic rings and is the largest fountain of its kind in the world.
Four times a day, the fountain’s 250 sprinklers perform computer-choreographed performances to music and blast water 35 feet into the air.
The shows are fun and interactive during the day, so if the weather is hot, it’s the perfect place to frolic and cool off. The after-dark show, accompanied by stunning lighting, is nothing short of hypnotic.
Suggested Tours: Atlanta: Downtown, Midtown or East Side Segway Tour
3. ATL Cruzer
Explore downtown Atlanta on two or four wheels, whichever mode of transportation is more comfortable. Both of them are fun.
Ride a Segway and take a guided tour of DT’s top attractions. The tour covers about four miles of city streets and lasts an hour and a half, with frequent narrated stops.
Sit in the seat of an electric car and let someone else drive. The driver-guided eco-vehicle seats up to 5 people and travels 15 miles in 90 minutes.
4. Apex Museum
The Apex Museum on Auburn Avenue in downtown Atlanta is dedicated to the history of African Americans in Atlanta and Georgia.
The museum commemorates the timeline of African-Americans in the city from their first arrival to the present. In addition to informative bulletin boards, video presentations, artwork and artifacts, there are numerous photographic exhibitions, many of which are fascinating insights into the era of the Civil Rights Movement.
5. State Farm Arena
State Farm Arena is the best place in downtown Atlanta to watch the Atlanta Hawks play basketball or catch a live concert.
This large venue has a seating capacity of less than twenty thousand and a fifteen-acre sports field. There are restaurants serving everything from soul food to pasta, a brasserie with stunning views of the pitch and private lounges with super luxurious decor.
6. Zuckert Gallery
Enter the ZuCot Gallery on DT Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Parkway for a different art experience.
Bold, colorful, and eclectic, the 3,500-square-foot gallery is decidedly contemporary in both the way the work is displayed and the art it presents.
ZuCot Gallery regularly hosts innovative art galleries and frequent networking sessions with contributing artists.
7. Ponce City Market
Housed in an old department store, Ponce City Marketplace on Ponce de Leon Boulevard in downtown Atlanta is a true community center. Don’t expect traditional markets; this one is more diverse.
Ponce City Market has great shops, a produce market and a food hall with more than 30 restaurants serving everything from sushi to hot dogs. It doesn’t stop there either.
Take the elevator and go straight to the roof. In addition to some of the best views of downtown Atlanta, you’ll find amusement parks, cocktail bars, beer gardens, and miniature golf.
Available Tours: Ponce City Market 2.5-Hour Weekend Food Tour
8. CNN Studio Tour
A behind-the-scenes tour of the CNN news studio. The CNN Center on Marietta Street in downtown Atlanta is a mixed-use building that houses broadcast facilities for several global news companies, as well as retail stores and restaurants.
Start your tour with the world’s longest free-standing elevator, then take a guided tour of the facility. They’ll give you insider information about the company’s history and then give you a sneak peek into the newsroom during the live broadcast.
In the VIP tour experience, you can enter the live newsroom and meet the host. Now that’s totally newsworthy.
9. VIDA Ultra Lounge
For a sophisticated evening in a great location, head to Harlem Nights Ultra Lounge on Courtland Street in downtown Atlanta.
The club has more than 11,000 square feet of interior space, occupied by a huge dance floor, lounge area and VIP seating. They have a small but tasty menu for anyone looking to dine before the DJ starts spinning records for the evening. They serve all types of drinks and have an arm-length cocktail list.
The Harlem Nights Ultra Lounge is only available to those over 21 who will appreciate if you dress appropriately.
10. The World of Coca-Cola
Find everything you need to know about the world’s most famous refreshment at The World of Coca-Cola. The museum on Baker Street in downtown Atlanta is dedicated to the Coca-Cola Company and the beverages it has produced for over a hundred years.
Spread over 20 acres, the museum includes exhibits on working bottling machines, displays of the beverage’s unique recipes, informative videos and a tasting station offering 60 beverages for visitors to try.
Skip the Line: World of Coca-Cola: Skip the Line Admission
11. Agatha’s Mystery Dinner Theater
A different and very interesting evening at Agatha’s “A Taste of Mystery” dinner theatre. The theater, which has been presenting Mystery and Murder Dinners for three decades, is located on Peachtree Center Boulevard in downtown Atlanta.
Take a seat at a table in a retro-style restaurant and enjoy a five-course meal while watching the mystery comedy drama unfold. Expect some farce, expect good laughs, but most of all expect to eat well and be entertained well.
12. Relay shared bicycles
Ride a bike from the Relay Bike Share program at Centennial Olympic Park or any other pick-up point in downtown Atlanta and ride around the area.
Downtown Atlanta has super bike lanes that wrap around some of the best places in the area. Download the Maps app to your phone, plan your route and discover the DT powered by your own pedals. It’s a great way to explore, and you can stop and start over at any time.
13. Center for Citizenship and Human Rights
The Center for Citizenship and Human Rights is a museum located in Pemberton Square in downtown Atlanta. The museum is dedicated to the achievements of the civil rights movement, not only in the United States but around the world.
The museum’s eye-opening exhibits include memorabilia related to Martin Luther King, Jr., an interactive gallery of segregation and other historically important civil rights artifacts.
The museum also hosts an interesting exhibit featuring some of the worst and most dangerous dictators in the world.
CONTAINED IN: Atlanta CityPASS®
14. Uncle’s Southern Cuisine
When leaving downtown Atlanta, be sure to try the local food. Big Daddy’s Southern Cuisine on Martin Luther King Jr Drive will provide you with a hearty home-cooked meal that will make it hard to get up from the table.
Chicken wings, slow cooker roast, or beef liver braised with onions are all must-try, as is catfish. Serve with kale, yam soufflé, mashed potatoes or pasta and you won’t want to eat it for another week.
Related Food Tours: Modern Southern Food Tour of Historic Inman Park
15. Laosi District Winery
Visit the Old Fourth Ward Distillery on Edgewood Avenue in downtown Atlanta to learn how they distill their beverages.
Using 130-year-old technology, this distillery produces craft-crafted gin and vodka using fresh ingredients on its premises. Like all good winery tours should be in the tasting room, this tour is over.
Don’t miss trying their lawn darts. This is a true downtown Atlanta-style limoncello with a hint of ginger. This will make your visit to downtown Atlanta even more worthwhile.
Where to Stay: Best Hotels in Atlanta (GA), Georgia
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