Hands up, I’ll admit I was not too excited about spending 3 days in Atlanta, it got added to our trip simply because it was the cheapest place to fly into from London. For some reason or another, I had a misconception that Atlanta would not be for me and therefore wrote it off before we even arrived.
But hey, I am human and I was wrong. Atlanta is somewhere you should want to visit and like most cities you just need to find the right parts. So I thought I would share some of the top things to do in Georgia’s capital city to add to your 3 day Atlanta itinerary, in hope that you see the city in the way I eventually did.
First up here are some tips for before you arrive:
Tips for visiting Atlanta, Georgia
Consider the Size
It is a big city. I am very much one for walking on city trips, but this is just not doable in Atlanta, be prepared to set money aside for Ubers.
Uber and Lyft are commonly used and easily accessible in Atlanta but choose your commuting times wisely. Being a big city there is a lot of traffic and with that increased fares on Uber. In order to save money and time avoid travelling by car during rush hours.
Choose your accommodation location wisely
Think about where you want to stay, as I mentioned it is a big city. We stayed at the beautiful AC hotel at Phipps Plaza however it was located in Buckhead, which was really far away from everything we wanted to visit, meaning we spent a lot on getting around. Personally, I would recommend staying in Midtown for the best location. To find out more information on the many different areas of Atlanta use this Atlanta moving guide.
Uber and Lyft are commonly used and easily accessible in Atlanta but choose your commuting times wisely. Being a bit city there is a lot of traffic and with that increased fares on Uber. In order to save money and time avoid travelling by car during rush hours.
Safety in Atlanta
Before we arrived we warned a lot about safety in Atlanta, however, the majority of the time I felt 100% safe.
The only time I felt uncomfortable was being in the Downtown area during the evening, we only spent one night here, which was when we first arrived. We had to visit a petrol station in the evening, sadly, I did feel quite intimidated while here and I think it clearly stood out that not many tourists stay in this area of Atlanta.
It also probably did not help that we opted to save money on this night by staying a budget motel, while we were perfectly safe we heard some odd goings on outside and I am pretty sure the car park was used for drug dealing. I am pretty sure you could find this in every city if you looked hard enough though.
I would advise the same as I do in every place, keep your wits about you and do not walk around on your own at night time. If you are not very familiar with the area then opt to stay in more ‘tourist’ areas such as Buckhead and Midtown Atlanta.
I visited Atlanta as part of a road trip from Atlanta to New Orleans. Check out my full itinerary if this is something you are planning on doing.
How to spend 3 days in Atlanta, Georgia
Things to do in Atlanta
The Georgia Aquarium in Downtown Atlanta
I will concentrate on the more ‘touristy’ attractions to start with. As well as being non-profit the Georgia Aquarium is the second largest aquarium in the world, it is seriously impressive. We spent a few hours here but you could easily spend a good amount of a day here if you wanted. They also have a big focus on conservation and education, as far as I am aware a large amount of their collection, including the Whale Shark, have been rescued and cannot be released.
If you have an interest in marine life or if you are looking for things to do in Atlanta with kids then I would recommend a trip to the aquarium, it is great value for money ($28.00 adult ticket).
Just outside of the aquarium is Johnny Rockets so head there for a delicious and affordable lunch – the milkshakes are incredible.
World of Coca-Cola
Just across from the Aquarium in Downtown Atlanta is the World of Coca-Cola – I will be honest it is not fantastic and it is pretty gimmicky but again, it is probably a good thing to do in Atlanta with kids. It is essentially a walk around where you learn everything regarding the history of the Coca-Cola brand, you also get to sample various special edition flavours and such as well.
I would not say this is an essential thing to do and if you are pushed for time during your 3 days in Atlanta then it may be best to skip it.
Centre for Civil and Human Rights
The National Center for Civil and Human Rights in downtown Atlanta (opposite the World of Coca-Cola) is an engaging cultural attraction that connects the American Civil Rights Movement to today’s Global Human Rights Movements. It is a collection of various exhibits, imagery and storytelling, we did not actually make it here due to time constraints, however, it did come highly recommended.
If you are planning on visiting all three of the above attractions you will save money by purchasing an Atlanta City Pass. The City Pass will gain you entrance to 5 different attractions for $62 ($49.99 for children under 12).
The City Pass includes The Aquarium, World of Coca-Cola, Centre for Civil and Human Rights, Zoo Atlanta, CNN Studio tour and the Fernbank Museum of Natural History.
Atlanta Botanical Garden
If you are visiting Atlanta during the Summer or Spring consider adding a walk through the Botanical Gardens into your 3 day Atlanta itinerary. It is incredibly beautiful with exhibits changing for various occasions as well as in different seasons. If you are visiting for a particular exhibition ensure it is at the Atlanta location as it is also linked with the gardens in Gainsville.
Ponce City Market
The Ponce City Market is a must-do when visiting Atlanta at any time of the year. A converted historic Sears building is now a creative vibrant hub for both locals and tourists, I absolutely adored this area of Atlanta.
On the exteriors of the building, you have a variety of stores including Sephora and Rip Curl as well as some vintage homeware store above is an area reserved for apartments and office space. The main area of the Ponce City Market is a large street food market with various bars and a ton of indoor and outdoor seating space. Dotted in between the various eateries which offer cuisine from all around the world are independent boutique stores which sell everything from homewares to jewellery to stationery.
The whole building radiates cool industrial vibes with quirky elements making it a fun place to chill out with friends over some food and drinks. The building also puts on various classes and clubs throughout the week as well which is more aimed at locals and those who have recently moved to the city in order to meet new people.
Skyline Park at Ponce City Market
Despite being part of the Ponce City Market the Skyline Park deserves its own section. The Skyline Park brings old-timely fun to the heart of Atlanta with an old school fairground on the very top the building. The themed event spaces offer mini golf, slides a viewing tower alongside various fairground sideshow games all on top of building boasting one of the best views across Atlanta.
It is not the cheapest attraction in the city as you pay for the various attractions on top of the $10 admission fee but on a hot sunny day it is beautiful up there and I do recommend going up for some cocktails and street food. Ensure you are up there for sunset as well for a completely breathtaking skyline.
The park opening times change throughout the week but generally, it opens at 3 pm until late evening, there is also limited capacity so head over early on sunny days.
The Beltline isn’t really an attraction but I recommend heading over here at some point during your 3 days in Atlanta. Part of the Beltline actually backs on to the Pounce City Hall and if you walk the whole thing it will lead you back into the main city, however, it is a long walk, so some may opt not to do this. There are various places you can rent bikes to ride the Beltline instead.
Essentially, the Beltline is an urban redevelopment connecting various parts of the city. A lot of it runs through vast green areas where they also have sections of vibrant street art complementing all the natural greens around.
Apart from dotted cafes along the way, as I mentioned there is not too much around I just found it a really beautiful and a nice contrast to the heavily built-up areas of the rest of the city.
Little Five Points
Little Five Points is known as the ‘hippy’ area of Atlanta, think Camden in London but on a smaller scale. In this area you will find a ton of independent record stores and alternative clothes stores, however, we headed over to Little Five Points for the food.
In Little Five Points you will find a restaurant called The Vortex which I would go as far as saying is the best restaurant in Atlanta (The Vortex has recently been voted 30th among the 100 Best Burgers in America). We visited after seeing it on the programme Man Vs Food, I can confirm we did not take on an eating challenge, however, the portions are generous and the taste is delicious. Ensure you put eating at The Vortex on your 3 day Atlanta itinerary.
Lenox Square Mall
This may be an addition to your itinerary depending on where you come from, as I come from the UK I love visiting American Malls as I find the stores much better than ours, however, if you are from the United States this may not be of any interest to you.
The Lenox Square Mall is in the Buckhead area and contains a mixture of designer and high street stores. There a huge Forever 21 as well as stores such as Bath & Bodyworks and Sephora. As with most American Malls, they also have a food hall alongside restaurants located on the exterior including a Cheesecake Factory.
Six Flags over Georgia
I am a massive Theme Park fan, therefore, Six Flags over Georgia was one of the first things on my Atlanta bucket list – however, sadly it was not meant to be as the park was not open. The park is not open every day of the year and the dates when it is open is dependant on the time of year, so ensure you check before you travel there as it is just outside of the city.
The park is full of high thrill rides and there is a strong DC theme running throughout with rides such as Batman: The Ride and Justice League: Battle for Metropolis. If you are travelling to Atlanta with children the park does also cater to kids as well with smaller rides and various character meet and greets.
We found 3 days in Atlanta to be a perfect amount of time, it gave us enough time to allocate everything we had planned in advance as well as giving us time to discover things while there. Atlanta is a great city to spend time sightseeing and then having the evenings to relax in a bar and eating fantastic food in one of the many restaurants.
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