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Welcome to Atlanta


Back in 1837 Atlanta was little more than a hamlet existing to serve as a railway terminus; then came the Civil War that saw the town burned to the ground. Undaunted, 135 years later Atlanta bustles with more than three million people, and has been chosen by numerous leading international companies as the home of their corporate or regional headquarters. The lively, thriving city styles itself as the capital of the 'New South', and its dramatic skyline is littered with gleaming skyscrapers.

Atlanta attracts visitors both for holidays and business, with its plethora of entertainment, shopping and cultural attractions as well as innumerable top class convention and accommodation venues. The downtown Peachtree Centre pedestrianised precinct covers 14 blocks of retail space, including three massive hotels, dozens of restaurants and imposing office towers. There are also plenty of museums, galleries and centres for performing arts, as well as the world's largest aquarium.

Atlanta has not lost its pioneering southern spirit or charm despite its modern guise, and the city's symbol of the phoenix serves as enduring reminder of its troubled past and bright future. The energy that was embodied in its famous sons, Martin Luther King, Jr and Ted Turner (founder of CNN) still crackles in the air and the genteel olde-world atmosphere still lingers in the residential neighbourhoods. Above all, Atlanta radiates a warm welcome in the true tradition of Southern hospitality.

Information & Facts


Atlanta has four distinct seasons, and a temperate climate. Winters are very cold with temperatures below freezing for much of the time, but the daytime weather is mild enough to sit outdoors, with only an occasional snowfall. Summers, by contrast, can be hot and humid with heat wave spells lasting days at a time. Average temperatures for summer show up as fairly low, however, but this is somewhat misleading. Atlanta receives abundant rainfall, which is evenly distributed throughout the year.

Eating Out

Offering just about every type of cuisine under the sun, eating out in Atlanta is a sensory explosion and visitors with a taste for excitement and variety won't be disappointed. One of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the United States and the third largest city in the country, there are a lot of restaurants to feed a lot of people in Atlanta!

Atlanta locals love to dine out so visitors can expect restaurants to be bustling and dripping with atmosphere. From traditional Southern cooking like fried chicken, shrimp, fish and okra to the legendary peaches, pecans, peanuts and Vidalia onions that Georgia is known for, the food in Atlanta is second to none. Be sure to sample some peach cobbler and a slice of pecan nut pie for good measure.

You can't beat the hospitality of the south and the quality of the food isn't far behind. Head to Buckhead for trendy eateries and good home-cooked food, while Decatur, Midtown and Virginia-Highland can't be beat when it comes to international cuisine. Most of Atlanta's finest restaurants require reservations and it is customary to tip waiters 15%, while in expensive restaurants, tipping anything up to 20% is the norm.

Getting Around

Atlanta's trains and buses reach most parts of the city, but they are not always the most convenient way to get around, and services are limited outside of the immediate city limits. The MARTA (Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority) network is inexpensive, safe and well-integrated, but travel can be slow. A one-way MARTA pass, good for travel anywhere on the system, costs $1.75. There are weekly, weekend and visitor's passes available for various rates that are even more economical. Atlanta is a car-dominated city, so there is plenty of parking, especially at tourist sights, but traffic on the freeways and in the city centre can be very busy, particularly during rush hours. During conventions and big sporting and entertainment events, it is easier to use public transport to get around. 'The Buc' is operated by BATMA; it is a free shuttle service connecting the two MARTA rail stations with many hotels, shopping areas and businesses in the city. Car rental agencies require an International Driving Permit only if the visitor's national license is not in English, and most prefer drivers to be over 25 years of age. Taxis are available, but it is easier to order one by phone than to find one on the street; they can also be found in taxi stands around the city. Visitors should be cautious of unlicensed taxis, and women travelling alone at night should order taxis by phone.

Kids Attractions

One of the most exciting cities in the United States, Atlanta is a great place for children on holiday to explore and enjoy. Steeped in a rich and diverse cultural and political history, kids can learn and discover while having a great time sightseeing - what more could a parent ask for?

Pack a picnic basket and blanket and head off to the Atlanta Botanical Gardens for a day of sunshine and fresh air, or for a slightly more active day, take the kids to the Six Flags Over Georgia Theme Park where plenty of fun and screams can be had enjoying the rides on offer. The Fernbank Science Center is a must for all inquiring minds and the wonderful outdoor trails to be enjoyed are great for kids of all ages, while the neighbouring Fernbank Museum of Natural History will simply amaze all who visit. Stone Mountain Park is must, where mountain trails abound, and after a day in the great outdoors, children will love the laser light show in the evening.

On quieter, days or when the weather is bad and outdoor activities with the kids is not an option, take the kids to one of the fantastic museums such as the Imagine It! Children's Museum of Atlanta where kids can crawl, paint, play and enjoy all the fascinating exhibits on display. Most of the shopping malls in Atlanta feature indoor playgrounds, but one of the favourite has to be HippoHop Indoor Playground, where kids will have fun jumping, climbing and playing on inflatable equipment.

English is the most common language but Spanish is often spoken in south-western states.

The US Dollar (USD) is the unit of currency and is divided into 100 cents. Only major banks exchange foreign currency. ATMs are widespread and credit cards and travellers cheques are widely accepted. Travellers cheques should be taken in US Dollars to avoid hassles. Banking hours are Monday to Friday 9am to 3pm.


The heat makes for a lethargic day, but the night air opens the bright doors of Atlanta's night owl hotspots. This flashy city can get downright gritty but in both cosmopolitan bars and street side clubs it is best to come dressed to impress.

Buckhead is a good place to start. The area has a festive night scene with a line of hopping nightclubs and rowdy bars. Here are dance clubs, pubs and a bit of something for everyone, although venues close at 3am. Downtown has some chic lounges and cocktail bars, especially in the large hotels. For a bit of trendy Atlanta nightlife, the Virginia Highlands regularly packs a young professional crowd into stylish clubs.

Smaller venues scattered around the city are perfect to revel in a bit of southern baritone blues. Others prefer one of four huge concert venues, part of any major band's American tour. Of course, Atlanta hip-hop features many clubs with line-ups of rising and returning stars.


Shopping in Atlanta is more of an activity than a pastime and with so much on offer, Atlanta's shopping malls, boutiques and markets are more than enough to meet every shopaholic's needs.

Head to Buckhead for some first class shopping opportunities or discover the trendiest boutiques, which can be found in Decatur, Virginia-Highland and Little Five Points. Some of Atlanta's best buys can be found at Lenox Square which is anchored by Bloomingdale's, Neiman Marcus and Macy's and features almost 250 specialty stores and 5 restaurants for weary shoppers to rest their legs.

For budget buys head to the North Georgia Outlets where just about anything under the sun can be found for a bargain. Most people won't leave without buying something. In addition to countless shopping malls, Atlanta also has some wonderful flea markets where antiques are a popular buy. Don't be afraid to haggle with the sellers as you are guaranteed to find some steals!

Most shops in Atlanta are open from Monday to Saturday from 10am to 9pm and on Sundays from 12pm to 6pm. The sales tax varies by city and state in the US and ranges from 4% to 15%. This is added to the price of goods at the point of purchase.

There is no system for refunding non-US visitors in Atlanta but large and expensive purchases are often tax-exempt if they are shipped from outside the state they are bought in.


Home and birthplace of the iconic Martin Luther King Jr, Atlanta is far from short on history and culture, and the city's attractions bear testament to this. Visitors need look no further for stories of the south and for some of the United States' finest exports, such as the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.

History buffs will love the countless museums this city has to offer, from the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site and the Atlanta History Center, to the Atlanta Cyclorama and Civil War Museum and the Carter Center. A trip to the World of Coca-Cola is a must for lovers of the world's best known brand, while kids of all ages will love the Georgia Aquarium, and Zoo Atlanta, which features a panda exhibition. Wander through the Botanical Gardens or ponder at the magnificent artwork in the High Museum of Art, the choices are endless!

An Atlanta CityPass can be bought for $69 for adults or $49 for children and is valid for nine days. The pass allows the bearer free admission to six of the city's top attractions. The CityPass booklet provides attraction information, transport directions and best times to visit as well as coupons and other special features.

A highlight of the Atlanta Botanical Garden is the Fuqua Conservatory, a giant greenhouse enclosing different climate-controlled eco-systems that was financed by an Atlanta businessman in memory of his wife. A walk through the conservatory takes visitors from a desert into a steamy tropical jungle. Outdoors the gardens are criss-crossed with dedicated nature walks, bypassing many quiet spots designed for peaceful contemplation, as well as tasteful garden sculptures.

Set in nine hectares (23 acres) of beautiful gardens, the Atlanta History Center is the ideal place to soak up the rich history of the state. The main attractions are two historic homes, open to the public offering informative guided tours. The Tullie Smith House originally stood outside the city limits but has been relocated to the History Center, along with its outbuildings. The house was built in the 1840s and survived the near-total destruction of Atlanta in 1864 when General William Sherman burned almost every business and more than two thirds of the city's homes during his infamous 'March to the Sea'. It was once the home of yeoman farmer Robert Smith and his family, who owned 11 slaves and farmed on about 324 hectares (800 acres). The farmhouse is typical of most in Georgia at the time, despite popular belief that not all Georgians owned large plantations and mansions. The Swan House, built in 1928, is a grand Italianate mansion that is an Atlanta landmark, once the home of Edward and Emily Inman, heirs to a cotton brokerage fortune. The History Center also features several other historic buildings and exhibitions.

As one of the South's pre-eminent museums, Fernbank Museum of Natural History is a gateway for discovery and exploration, unfolding the story of the earth's history, the physical universe, the environment and human culture through exhibitions, programs and films in the IMAX Theatre. Opened in 1992, Fernbank is accredited by the American Association of Museums and is 'Atlanta's Home to Dinosaurs,' a reputation highlighted by Giants of the Mesozoic, a distinctive permanent exhibition which features the world's largest dinosaurs.

The Fernbank Science Center houses a museum, observatory, planetarium and a forest. There are also wonderful exhibits to explore and marvel at such as the solar experiment and even the original Apollo 6space shuttle, which Is housed in the indoor facility centre. The 1.5 mile (2.4km) forest trail features plants, trees, mosses and flowers all marked for identification.

The impressive Georgia Aquarium is the largest of its kind and boasts over 100,000 animals from 500 species. A range of different environments play host to fascinating animals from around the world, from belugas and African black-footed penguins, to sea lions and sea otters, stingrays, sharks and a riot of colourful fish. The Aquarium also has a 4-D theatre that features an animated 3-D film, interactive seats and live actors; a café and the Ocean Ballroom for special events.

Atlantas's High Museum of Art is home to 11,000 pieces in its permanent collection and includes 19th and 20th century American and decorative art, important and visiting European collections, as well as contemporary art and photography, and African folk art.

The Imagine It! Children's Museum of Atlanta is one of the most fascinating places parents on holiday in the city can take their younger kids for a day of exploring, learning and discovering. With exciting galleries such as the Curious George Gallery or exploring trees, children also get the opportunity to paint the walls, crawl through a playground or even don a raincoat and play in a forest stream.

About 15 miles (24km) south of Atlanta in Clayton County is the town of Jonesboro, a not-to-be-missed destination for movie fans and those hankering for a taste of the real 'Deep South'. Jonesboro was the setting for Margaret Mitchell's acclaimed novel, and later film, Gone with the Windand devotees come to see the local historic plantation houses and learn about the real people whose lives inspired the fictional characters of the novel. In Main Street, the Road to Tara Museum is housed in the Jonesboro Depot Welcome Centre, containing original props, costume reproductions, doll collections and an extensive photo gallery associated with the making of the movie, Gone with the Wind. The Welcome Depot is also the departure point for daily tours, starting at 1pm (except on Sundays), that take in the local scenes where the film was shot and offer a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the true life stories on which the book was based. In Carriage Drive, a beautiful Greek Revival plantation home dating from 1839 is open to the public along with its authentic outbuildings.

In 1864 Kennesaw Mountain was the scene of a bloody Civil War battle when General Sherman led his Union forces against the entrenched Confederate forces at the site, resulting in the death of more than 67,000 soldiers. The park consists of several thousand acres of protected land, covered with more than 17 miles (27km) of interpretive walking trails. The trails encompass historic earthworks and cannon placements, and notable markers and memorials have been provided to commemorate the event. A small museum at the site displays Civil War artefacts, and a visitor's centre provides information about the battle on the site. This popular park is visited by more than a million people each year, many of whom come to picnic and enjoy the views afforded across Atlanta.

In January 1929 a baby boy was born in an upstairs bedroom of a house in Atlanta. Today the Victorian house is the centre of a protected site dedicated to the memory of that baby, Martin Luther King, who grew up to become America's Nobel prize-winning Civil Rights leader. A half-mile stretch of Auburn Avenue, including King's birth home, the Ebenezer Baptist Church where he preached, and the memorial tomb at the King Center where he is buried, has been designated a historic site, drawing hundreds of visitors every day. The exhibits contained within provide insight into the life and times of this much-revered man.

Although it doesn't sound like much of a tourist drawcard, visitors to the Federal Reserve Bank are unanimous in their enthusiasm about the fascinating Monetary Museum found there. Whether part of a guided group tour (recommended for scholarly types), or just perusing the exhibitions on one's own, a visit to the Federal Reserve Bank is bound to instil in visitors a renewed appreciation for the rich history that informs present-day money use in America. Tour highlights include an extensive 'History of Money' exhibition, displaying antiquated currency from all over the world; interactive, multimedia displays that teach you how to spot counterfeit money; the opportunity to lift a $450,000 gold bar; and a free bag of shredded money to take home as a souvenir. Visitors are guaranteed to leave the tour with a better understanding of the role that money plays in their everyday lives.

A great day out for kids of all ages, Six Flags Over Georgia is a fantastic amusement park filled with rides and thrills for just about every child to enjoy. Try the Acrophobia, the Superman, the Batman or the Goliath for the really adventurous, while younger tots will enjoy the Thomas the Tank Engine ride, Up UP and Away and the River Carousel.

Stone Mountain is situated about 20 minutes from Atlanta and features numerous man-made and natural attractions. Most awesome of these is the huge relief carving of the three Southern heroes of the Civil War, which has been etched into the mountainside. The images of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, and Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. 'Stonewall' Jackson cover an area larger than a football field and are part of the largest relief sculpture in the world. Three sculptors worked in succession on the carving, beginning with Gutzon Borglum in 1915. He later became famed for his carvings at Mount Rushmore. Subsequently two other artists pursued the work that was completed finally in 1972. Visitors can either walk up the mountain or take the Skylift to the top from where the views of Atlanta and the Appalachian Mountains are incredible. Stone Mountain also features a restored Antebellum Plantation featuring a colonial mansion, slave cabins, coach houses and barns. The park also contains several lakes and hiking trails, a wildlife reserve and petting zoo.

Located in downtown Atlanta, and home to the law firm in the Matlock TV series, the Flatiron Building is officially known as the English-American Building. It was completed in 1897, five years before New York's Flatiron Building, and shares the same unique and prominent flatiron shape. Designed by Bradford Gilbert, the building has 11 storeys and is the city's second and oldest standing skyscraper, listed in the National Register of Historic Places. While the building is occupied by tenants ranging from architectural firms to law offices, its exterior is an impressive site.

Atlanta's Fox Theatre, which is often promoted as the Fabulous Fox, is one of the magnificent movie palaces built in the United States during the 1920s. The theatre's unique beginnings and Moorish design set it apart from other theatres of that period. Today it hosts an array of artistic and cultural events, including a summer film series, the Atlanta Ballet and performances by national touring companies of Broadway shows.

Northern Georgia is hilly and mountainous, dotted with numerous small towns, fascinating historic sites, national parks and forests. Most of the towns and attractions are within an hour's drive of Atlanta. Among the highlights of an exploration of this region are the New Echota State Historic Site (the last capital of the Cherokee nation); Chickamauga at Fort Oglethorpe, which is the oldest and largest Civil War military park; Jasper, where the marble quarries produced the marble used in the Capitol in Washington, DC; the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway, at the end of the Appalachian Highway; and the spectacular Tallulah Gorge near the town of Clayton. The northwestern Georgia region is a paradise for nature lovers, offering hundreds of wooded hiking trails, sparkling trout streams, scenic lakes and camp sites.

The Woodruff Arts Center, originally known as the Memorial Arts Center, opened in 1968 and is one of the largest arts centres in the United States. The Woodruff uniquely combines four visual and performing arts divisions on one campus and is home to the Alliance Theatre, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the High Museum of Art, Young Audiences and the 14th Street Playhouse.

In 1886 Jacob's Pharmacy, a small drugstore in Atlanta, began selling a new headache and hangover tonic called 'Coca-Cola'. In 1891, entrepreneur Asa Candler paid $2,300 to acquire the rights of what is now the world's most valuable brand. The following year he founded the Coca-Cola Company. The new, environmentally-friendly construction houses more than just a museum dedicated to Coca-Cola; it is an entire soft-drink experience. Thousands of Coke objects, trivia and memorabilia are contained among the interactive exhibits in this building, backed up by commercials, radio jingles, a 4-D theatre, tasting and a Pop Culture Gallery.

Home of the author Joel Chandler Harris, who wrote of the sly fictional characters Br'er Rabbit and Br'er Fox, Wren's Nest has been open to the public since 1913 after Harris's widow sold it to the Uncle Remus Memorial Association. A great place to visit for any child who knows the Uncle Remus tales, there is even storytelling on Saturday afternoons.

Zoo Atlanta features around 1,000 animals representing 250 species from around the world and sees over 1 million tourists every year. Children will absolutely love discovering all the animals and even some slightly more exotic ones such as the giant pandas, the 24 western lowland gorillas, Sumatran tigers and Sumatran orangutans. For smaller children there is a petting zoo which allows kids to interact with goats, pigs and sheep.

Looking for something a bit different?  Check out our selection of cultural & adventure holidays or if you're looking to go it alone then see our selection of solo holidays.

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