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Things to See and Do in Atlanta, Georgia in 5 Days

Author Sophia Murphy
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Atlanta, Georgia, is known by many names, from Hot ‘Lanta to Hollywood of the South, to the ATL, to the Big Peach and more. But whatever you call it, you can’t call it boring.

Sports fans to history buffs alike will find something to love in this city with its array of festivals, trendy shopping districts, rich history, and vibrant culture. And while the activities will keep you busy, the food will keep you coming back for more. From upscale dining to down-home cooking, the cuisine in Atlanta is sure to please every palate.

My 5-day, 4-night stay in Atlanta was nothing short of exciting. And I’m giving you my best recommendations here and in my follow-up article, The Best of the Rest: Where to Eat, Things to Do, and Unique Experiences in Atlanta.

Want to discover more? Let’s go!

Atlanta, Georgia – Just the Facts

But before we delve into my recommendations, here are some facts about Atlanta that you may find interesting.

  • Atlanta is the capital of Georgia and its biggest city. While its population is just over 500 000 people, its tourism industry is booming; about 57 million people visited Atlanta in 2019.  
  • The Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport is the busiest airport in the World and has maintained that title for many years.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. was born, raised, and buried in Atlanta. His tomb can be found on-site at The King Center.
  • While Peachtree has become synonymous with Atlanta – there are roughly 70 streets that contain the word Peachtree in their name – there is only one Peachtree Street. This street, made famous by Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind starts at Little Five Points in the downtown core and runs through much of Atlanta.  
  • Atlanta’s film industry is thriving. From Black Panther to the Walking Dead to Stranger Things, some of your favourite movies and TV shows are filmed in Atlanta.
  • Coca-Cola was invented in Atlanta in 1886 by Dr. John Pemberton and used, at first, to treat common illnesses.

Making the most of your trip to Atlanta, Georgia

If you want to be close to the action in Atlanta, consider staying downtown. You’ll have your choice of hotels like  The GlennThe OmniEmbassy Suites and many more. And best of all, you’ll be within walking distance of many popular attractions such as the Georgia Aquarium, World of Coca-Cola, and Centennial Park.

And my best advice for attraction hoppers? Get yourself Atlanta CityPASS® tickets.

If you’re planning a trip that’s three or more days, and you want to see the best of Atlanta, CityPASS® tickets are a must.


CityPASS® offers bundled prepaid tickets for many popular North American tourist destinations, like Atlanta. And it makes it easy and affordable to see some of Atlanta’s top-rated tourists’ sites without paying full-fare prices. You can even use the digital pass right from your phone; it’s that easy.

I used my CityPASS® to enter the World of Coca-Cola, the Georgia Aquarium, the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, the Chick-fil-A College Football Hall of Fame, and Zoo Atlanta.

Things to See and Do in Atlanta, Georgia, in 5 days

Okay, now that you’ve got the basics, let’s talk about the best attractions to see in Atlanta. First stop: Centennial Park.

Centennial Olympic Park

Centennial Olympic Park

Built for the 1996 Summer Olympics, Centennial Park is conveniently located in the heart of the entertainment and hospitality district. This 22-acre park is a beautiful place to snap some pics or decompress after a day of touring the city.

The park is also full of surprises: you can ride on the SkyView Atlanta Ferris Wheel, visit the Fountain of Springs, or pose by the Olympic rings. Be sure to look down as you stroll along the walkways, though. The bricks are engraved! Over 500 000 bricks were sold to fund the Park’s construction and engraved with the names of the people who donated.

Throughout the year, Centennial Park is home to many special events, such as concerts and festivals. If you make downtown your home base, you’ll be at the center of things. You can stop in at the Visitor Information Center on the park grounds to find up-to-date information on where to go and what to do during your stay.

Georgia Aquarium 

Shark tank at Georgia Aquarium

I took a quick walk through the park to get to the Georgia Aquarium, the largest aquarium in the United States.

Of course, aquariums are a must-see if you have kids in tow. But the sights and sounds of this marine wonderland will delight even adults. The aquarium boasts eight exhibits/galleries and a 4D theatre. It offers unique adventures like animal encounters, swim and dive experiences, tours, and presentations. This aquarium has everything from sharks to dolphins, penguins to manta rays.

Their many installments and interactive displays around the aquarium are not only fun but also educational and highlight the aquarium’s dedication to marine life conservation.

My favourites were the penguins and the river otters. So cute! Did you know otters chirp, squeal, and purr? Now that was a surprise!

World of Coca-Cola

World of Coca Cola display PIN

After the aquarium, it was a quick jaunt over to The World of Coca-Cola (they’re right across from each other). I didn’t know what to expect here. But the World of Coca-Cola is filled with fascinating memorabilia and fun things to see and do. Coca-Cola’s history dates back 125 years and is not without intrigue and controversy.

Visitors to the facility can take a tour of the room appropriately named The Vault, where the secret Coca-Cola recipe is housed. Visitors can also watch the bottling process and explore various rooms ad exhibits that recount Coca-Cola’s interesting past.

But no trip to the Coca-Cola Museum would be complete without a visit to the Taste It! Gallery where you can discover over 100 Coca-Cola products from around the World. Trust me, you don’t want to skip this part of the tour.

College Football Hall of Fame

College Football Hall of Fame Atlanta Georgia

Not big on sports? Don’t let that stop you from visiting the College Football Hall of Fame. I had a blast at this museum, and I can’t tell the difference between a field goal and a punt.

There are interactive installments, RFID passes that personalize your experience with the activations around the center, and cool memorabilia. The history of the game is all on display. You can even try your luck as a quarterback with their virtual reality experience, call real-time plays, or kick a field goal on their indoor field. 

National Center for Civil and Human Rights

Artwork from the National Center for Civil and Human Rights

If you don’t have time to see everything on this list, at least make sure you visit the National Center for Civil and Human Rights.

The memorabilia, the history, and the immersive experiences in this building will speak directly to your soul and leave you wondering how you can affect change in your daily life. From the Civil Rights movement to current human rights struggles, the exhibits on display ask us to reflect on how far we’ve come and understand how far we still must go.

Every level of the museum has something to offer. Make sure you have at least two or three hours to go through this space; there is so much to see and experience.

One standout immersive experience for me was the Lunch Counter Sit-In. This interactive exhibit is, all at once, jarring, moving, and thought-provoking. Additionally, watching the funeral of Martin Luther King in black and white, like it was 1968, was a surreal experience.

Zoo Atlanta

flamingos at Zoo Atlanta Georgia

You’ll find Zoo Atlanta just minutes from Downtown Atlanta, Georgia, in the historic Victorian district of Grant Park. Zoo Atlanta is the place to be if you want to see animals up close and personal.

Some of my favourites at the zoo were the Giant Panda, the Red Panda (which looks nothing like you think it would), the elephants, and the giraffes. But visit the zoo to see everything from rhinoceros to apes and snakes. Your kids will love it, and so will you!

Plan to spend a few hours at Zoo Atlanta, as there are so many animal exhibits to see. On the grounds, there is also a dedicated Children’s Zoo complete with miniature train rides, a petting zoo, a merry-go-round, and an aerial playground.

Author Sophia Murphy feeding an elephant at Zoo Atlanta

Zoo Atlanta also offers special encounters with the animals. In my group encounter, we met Tara, the elephant. We had the chance to feed her (under supervision) and learn about her and the other elephants at the zoo. Tara won our hearts. And FYI, elephant trunks are awesome!

Atlanta Botanical Garden

Earth Goddess Sculpture Atlanta Botanical Garden
Eric Yarnell, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

While perusing social media one day, I came across a beautiful picture of what looked like a larger-than-life structure of a woman’s face covered in blooming flowers. Water cascaded down from her uplifted hand and fell into a pool below. Known as the Earth Goddess, this stunning sculpture made of shrubs and flowers was hard to forget.

When I got to Atlanta, Georgia, I knew I had to visit the Botanical Gardens, where this lovely lady is located, to see her with my own eyes.

Nestled in Mid-town Atlanta, the Botanical Garden is an oasis for those who value art, nature, and beauty. With 30 acres of outdoor gardens to peruse, the Botanical Gardens offers an experience like no other.

Get lost in this urban garden, walk the suspension bridge, visit the tropical plants in the conservatory and be awed by the floral displays and exhibitions.

High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia

Exterior view High Museum of Art Atlanta Georgia

Whether you’re a fan of Bellini, Monet, or contemporary art, the High Museum of Art has something for you.

The museum is just a short ride from the Botanical gardens in Midtown, so it’s easy to visit both on the same day, as I did. The High, as it’s often called, is a masterwork of architectural design. Its white façade and sunlit interior atrium are a precursor to the treasures that await inside the galleries.

Prepare to be wowed by the beautiful artifacts, paintings, and history on display at the museum. Within its walls, the High Museum houses over 17,000 pieces of European, African, and American art, as well as folk, contemporary, and photography pieces.

The High also has a dedicated children’s zone, Greene Family Learning Gallery, where families can play and learn in interactive environments.

Things to See and Do in Atlanta Georgia

Phew! That was a lot to see in five days, but worth every minute. And while no two attractions were alike, they all were thoroughly enjoyable. But I’m not done just yet; check out The Best of the Rest: Where to Eat, Things to Do, and Unique Experiences in Atlanta for a take on the food, memorable experiences, and more that only Atlanta, Georgia has to offer.

For more family-friendly travel guides:


Travel assistance provided by CityPASS® and Discover Atlanta. All opinions are entirely my own.