I was lucky enough to go to Atlanta, Georgia for a work trip, and since I had never been, I decided to stay an extra three days to explore on my own. Even better—my husband was able to fly out to meet me. Who doesn’t love an impromptu mini vacay?!
My favorite thing about Atlanta? The food! I haven’t spent much time in the south, and southern or soul food is hard to find where I live. Good meat, new sauces, corn bread, coleslaw, beans, mac and cheese…We ate BBQ every meal we could for the whole extended weekend. To our delight, we learned that when you enter “BBQ near me” into google maps, dozens of restaurants come up no matter where you are in the city. This allowed us to visit more neighborhoods as we Lyft’d our way from place to place. Think of it as a bonus way to tour the city instead of just staying in a two mile radius from your hotel or Airbnb.
Besides the food, Atlanta has a lot to offer in the way of sightseeing and activities. Olympic Park made for a great afternoon. The Coca Cola museum, the Georgia Aquarium, the college football hall of fame, the ferris wheel, statues, and water features are just a few attractions in this very walkable area. Of course the park was packed, but it was so big that it didn’t feel crowded. There was plenty of space to wander and enjoy with no one too close by. The ferris wheel was closed when we were there, and I wish we had come back at night to see it all lit up.
We couldn’t do everything at Olympic Park in one day, so we decided on the aquarium. As we told people we met about our plans, we received mixed reviews on whether or not this was a must do when you’re only in Atlanta for a few days. I had my mind set, though, and almost $100 later, we were inside the aquarium. Honestly, it wasn’t the best aquarium I’ve ever been too, but I did get my jellyfish fix!
Although I’m partial to the jellyfish, the best feature was the floor-to-ceiling glass displaying all kinds of sea life. I could have watched that for hours, but it was quite crowded and there was an urging pressure to be courteous and let others in the small viewing spot. The norm seemed to be to enjoy the view, take some photos, and then let other have a turn after several minutes. I have no problem sharing and taking turns, but it seems the viewing space could have been bigger for as popular as it is.
The aquarium also boasted sting rays, various whales and sharks, seahorses, otters, penguins, and more fish than you could count. It was a good use of time and we definitely got our steps in that day, but since there are aquariums all over the world, next time we’ll stick to attractions that are unique to the area.
The best thing we did in ATL was the Atlanta History Center. How incredibly fascinating! Being from the west coast, there isn’t nearly as much rich, deep history close by like there is in the south and on the east coast. Our Lyft driver told us she had lived in Atlanta all her life and had never been here. I don’t always like to visit places more than once, but I would certainly come here again. After several hours, we hadn’t even seen all there was to offer.
The highlight of the Atlanta History Center was absolutely the Battle of Atlanta Cyclorama. This 360 degree display of battle was breathtaking. The amount of detail in every inch of the place made the display just spectacular. We watched a presentation about the work of art and learned a great deal about modifications to the art and the political reasoning behind it. Fun fact: Clark Gable is hidden in the cyclorama.
Besides this exhibit, we toured the Swan House and gardens. This beautiful 15 acre estate was built in 1928 by the Inman family. We were wowed by the incredible detail inside and out. It’s so beautiful that you can book it for your wedding!
Like most big cities, three days in Atlanta was not enough to see everything. I think we did a pretty good job for our first time. I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to come here for work and to make a trip out of it. If for nothing else, we definitely need to come back for more BBQ!