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You could easily spend a couple weeks or more in Atlanta and still not see and do everything you’d want to in the city. This southern destination is a popular spot for family vacations, romantic getaways, and business trips, but it’s also a common layover city for flights headed all over the world. So, if you find yourself on a layover in Atlanta, don’t waste your time just sitting at the airport. Here are nine ways to experience Atlanta in just 48 hours.
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Air travel often leaves us feeling exhausted and in need of some fresh air and natural beauty. Therefore, one of the best things to do right after you arrive in town is to head to the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. Here you can see hundreds of types of flowers and plants in a peaceful environment and simply take a breath of fresh air. Depending on when you visit, you may be able to see special exhibitions or even listen to an expert lecture in the garden. The garden is typically open from 9am to between 5pm and 9pm, depending on the day and season. Self-guided and guided tours are available for groups, and the adult admission price is $21.95.
Sampling some hearty and comforting southern food is a must when you’re in Atlanta, regardless of how long you’ll be in town. One iconic dish that’s worth trying is chicken and waffles, and fortunately, there are some excellent restaurants serving this southern favorite in Atlanta. Some recommended spots in town include South City Kitchen, Chick-a-Biddy, Gladys Knight’s Chicken and Waffles, and Nana G’s Chicken & Waffles. This is a perfect meal for brunch or really any other time of the day too.
During your 48 hours in town, also make a point to visit Ponce City Market. This is an excellent place to wander around and indulge your foodie side because there are lots of food and drink options to choose from all under one roof. The food hall is the heart of Ponce City Market, but there are also shops, flats, and offices here. You can listen to live music here, participate in festive seasonal events, take creative classes, and even play a game of mini golf on the roof.
Atlanta certainly has no shortage of great bars, but one of the most unique ones is called Sister Louisa’s Church of the Living Room and Ping Pong Emporium. This quirky spot is filled with creative paintings, neon signs, and has organ karaoke sessions. You can even join a ping-pong tournament on Monday nights at 9am! Stop by on Sundays from 5pm to midnight or any other day of the week from 5pm to 3am.
Another essential Atlanta stop for any first-time visitor to the city is the World of Coca-Cola. Here you can learn about the history of the soda and how its made, thencheck out exhibits about the iconic brand and try samples of beverages that are loved all around the world. In fact, there are over 100 different beverages you can try here! It’s a fun experience for both kids and adults and is sure to keep everyone entertained for a while. General adult admission tickets are $17, and that includes all of the exhibits, films, and experiences. You can also book a VIP guided tour to learn more. Depending on the day of the week and season, World of Coca-Cola is typically open between the hours of 9am or 10am to 5pm.
Little Five Points is one of the most eclectic neighborhood of Atlanta and offers a different vibe for tourists interested to see various parts of the city. Here you’ll find an artsy, bohemian, and independent community that values creativity, expression, and local businesses. A great stop here for craft beer lovers is the Porter Beer Bar, which has an impressively huge beer menu and a cozy space. It’s also fun to check out the thrift shops, record shops, and unique clothing shops in Little Five Points, including Criminal Records, Rag-O-Rama, and Clothing Warehouse.
Atlanta is considered to be Martin Luther King Jr.’s hometown, which makes this an excellent destination for history buffs and anyone who is passionate about civil rights. Sweet Auburn was his old neighborhood, and you can get to this area via streetcar now from downtown. You can tour King’s home for free, but tours are on a first-come, first-serve basis if you don’t get tickets in advance. Other King sites in the area worth seeing are the Ebenezer Baptist Church and King’s tomb. There’s also a visitor center at this historic site where you can view a short film and get an overview of what is here. The standard hours for the site are 9am to 5pm daily.
Nearly every big city has its large and famous park, and Piedmont Park serves that role for Atlanta. This is a beautiful urban park that always has something fun going on. You can take a guided walking tour of the park that’s free or a bird walk that lasts two to three hours. Otherwise, park highlights include the dog park, bocce court, aquatic center, and promenade for relaxation.
Atlanta’s craft brewery scene has been exploding in recent years, creating lots of excellent places in town to sample a delicious local brew. Some of the top breweries in town include Monday Night Brewing, Orpheus Brewing, Scofflaw Brewing, and SweetWater Brewing.
Last but not least, the Georgia Aquarium is definitely worth a visit during your brief time in Atlanta, even if you’ve been to other aquariums in the past. That’s because this is the largest aquarium in the world, making it easy to spend several hours awed by sea life in its magical exhibits. Buy your aquarium tickets online before you arrive at the aquarium for a discounted price.