In the heart of the South, Atlanta has a decidedly cosmopolitan and fast-paced ambiance, attracting visitors with its thriving restaurant scene and abundant cultural attractions. People from all over the country have relocated to this commercial hub, contributing to the city’s unique feel. The new Atlanta is progressive and eclectic: Museums and performance venues bring in the culture hounds, just as verdant parks attract outdoorsy types. Meanwhile, families flock to the city’s larger-than-life aquarium and World of Coca-Cola.
Whatever your preferred vacation, you could easily spend the brunt of a two- or three-day trip in the downtown area, exploring the most popular and best things to do. In the evening, migrate to the trendy northern neighborhoods of Buckhead and Virginia-Highland for a taste of Atlanta’s thriving restaurant scene and hopping nightlife.
How To Save Money in Atlanta
- Invest in an Atlanta CityPASS If you plan on visiting popular sites like the Georgia Aquarium, Zoo Atlanta or the World of Coca-Cola, the CityPASS will save you big bucks on your total cost of admission.
- Visit in the winter Hotel prices start to dive in the late fall and early winter, with rooms going for less than $100 a night, even in fancy Buckhead.
- Buy in bulk MARTA‘s $2.50 flat-rate fare is pretty reasonable, but if you’ll be hopping on and off public transport, buy day passes instead. Day passes start at just $9 a day with weekly passes costing around $24.
Atlanta Culture & Customs
Although Atlanta is situated in the Deep South, it lacks the typical Southern charm that you find in cities like Savannah or Charleston. Rather, Atlanta is big, bustling and mostly occupied by professionals who have moved into the city for business. As part of the effort to become one of the most progressive cities in the South, these new residents chose to build up a modern skyline. Atlanta now has one of the tallest buildings in the U.S. (the Bank of America Plaza), and hosts major companies like Coca-Cola, UPS and Home Depot.
Atlanta also a stronghold in show business, as the headquarters of Turner Broadcasting, CNN and several hip-hop record companies like BME Recordings, So So Def Recordings and Grand Hustle Records. Many artists have also called Atlanta home, including Usher, Ludacris, T.I. and Lil Jon. Several popular movies and television shows have been shot in the area, including “The Vampire Diaries,” “The Blind Side” and “Zombieland,” among many others.
But the city’s culture is still tied to its roots, particularly in the country’s Civil Rights movement. Atlanta was the birth city of Martin Luther King Jr., and it holds a large contingent of influential groups like the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Once a city with its fair share of racial tensions and protests, Atlanta is now the “city too busy to hate,” a label a growing mix of residents proudly stand by. The city also has an active gay community, and hosts one of the largest gay pride parades in the country.
Atlanta may be quickly climbing the country’s culinary ranks, but that doesn’t mean it’s left its traditional southern roots behind. The Big Peach is known for hearty comfort foods like fried okra, fried chicken and sweet tea, but a growing immigrant population is broadening the playing field. For everything from Korean to Peruvian, head to Buckhead, where most of Atlanta’s top dining spots are located.
If you’re looking for a more contemporary menu, travelers heap praise on Bacchanalia, Sotto Sotto and The Optimist. But if you’re in the mood for a more casual menu, The General Muir and American Food and Beverage Company are favorites, as is Fox Bros. BBQ.