Planning a short stay in a big city requires some pre-planning to ensure you get to see/do all of the things it has to offer. This is the perfect guide to a weekend in Atlanta, and covers a variety of options to cover all types of travelers.
Why Atlanta? This was the top question asked when people asked where we were travelling next, what’s there to do there? Home to the largest airport in the world, Atlanta is an international hub for people passing through. With almost 6 million people living in this southern city, I knew there was more to this city than a stop-over.
When researching Atlanta, I discovered there was a lot to do, see & eat here and immediately knew Atlanta would be more than a one time trip.
Why You Should Visit Atlanta
Atlanta is a unique southern city that everyone should visit at least once. Known for its southern hospitality, history, and sports there is something for everyone to enjoy. This guide to a weekend in Atlanta will provide you with a variety of things to do, with a mix of everything.
I highly recommend getting an Atlanta City Pass which provides you access to the top attractions at a fraction of the cost. This pass includes access to the following:
- Atlanta Aquarium (the largest in the WORLD)
- World of Coca-Cola museum
- CNN Studio Tours
- National Center for Civil & Human Rights OR Zoo Atlanta
- College Football Hall of Fame OR Fernbank Museum of Natural History
Where to Stay in Atlanta
Atlanta is a large city, with a ton of distinct neighbourhoods to visit. With so many amazing neighbourhoods, it can be difficult to know where to stay. Here is a great guide to choose which area would be best depending on what you wish to do:
We opted to stay in an Airbnb as we like the freedom to cook and typically have our own space. Note: we did NOT cook, but it was nice to have the option!
When deciding on where to stay, firstly make a list of all the things you plan to do and see. For example, I decided to map out all of the things we planned to do, to make sure we stayed relatively close to limit transit times. Let me tell you there are a ton of neighbourhoods in Atlanta however, and all of them sound amazing!
Downtown Highlights: World of Coca-cola, CNN, Center for Civil & Human Rights, Centennial Olympic Park. Good for first time visitors, active, business, high end and sports travelers.
Old Forth Ward Highlights: Ponce City Market, Very walkable, pet friendly, outdoor recreation, shopping & dining. A former industrial area perfect for hipsters, travellers who want to experience the city like a local.
Midtown Highlights: Peidmont Park, Peachtree Streets, High Museum of Art. Perfect place for visitors with a vibrant nightlife scene, and over 150 restaurants. Art district with theatres, centers and more.
Inman Park Highlights: Krog Street Market, Beltline Eastside Trail, Inman Park Festival. The first suburb complete with a streetcar, Inman park is a gorgeous neighborhood filled with Victorian houses, manicured lawns, stunning street art and an impressive food and beer scene.
Buckhead Highlights: Lenox Square and Phipps Plaza, Atlanta History Center, Buckhead Wine and Beer festivals. For the high end traveller who wants to experience the luxurious city life. Buckhead is a the third largest business district and the perfect place to enjoy high-end shopping, world-class dining and nightlife.
We ended up choosing a beautiful character home in Cabbage Town which was the perfect location and everything we wanted to see was relatively close by and most times within walking (or scooter) distance.
Atlanta, the transportation hub then and now
Founded in 1837 as the end points of the Western & Atlantic Railway, Atlanta was first named Marthasville after the Governor’s daughter. The name however, was then changed to Atlanta, which is the feminine word for Atlantic.
Today, Atlanta is still a major hub for transportation but now known as the largest international hub via Jackson-Hartfield International Airport which sees multiple flights to Europe, South America and Asia daily!
A Weekend in Atlanta
In this section, I am going to go into detail on our itinerary. Being that I am the type of person who likes to see and do it all when on vacation, I spend a ridiculous amount of time researching, planning and making itineraries. From the food, to the activities this trip while short, had the perfect mix of the best things to see and do in Atlanta.
Guide to a Weekend in Atlanta
Day One | West Egg – Georgia Aquarium – Ladybird
We flew in on the red eye flight, therefore we arrived at 7:00am local time. With eight plus hours before we could check-in to our home for the next couple of days, what better time than now to start exploring. This weekend guide to Atlanta is jam packed, but flexible to fit your needs.
The first stop was for breakfast, and West Egg topped our list based off the numerous recommendations. One thing to know about Atlanta is they brunch HARD! Luckily, we showed up rather early for brunch and just missed the rush.
If you are a lover of brunch, excellent coffee and a sucker for a killer atmosphere make sure to stop in to West Egg (early) for food!
From here, we headed to the Georgia Aquarium, which wasn’t in our initial plan. However, we discovered that quite a few attractions offer luggage storage so it seemed like the perfect place to go with all of our bags.
This aquarium is spectacular, housing one of the largest single aquatic habitats in the world. Firstly, the aquarium offers the most abundant collection of aquatic life in the world, and is a must see. Not initially on our list, everyone in our group agreed it was one of the top experiences. Make sure to stick around for the Dolphin show – you will not be disappointed!
Next on day one of our weekend guide to Atlanta, we headed to Ladybird which is a very cool bar with an impressive outdoor area, food trucks and the coolest interior! Featuring unique cocktails and food menu, this very popular bar is right on the beltline, therefore making it an easy stop during any point of your trip.
Day 2 | Falcons Game – New Realm Brewery – Krog Street Market
Day two started with excitement for the Falcons/Seahawks game. Seeing sporting events in different cities always proves to be a fun filled day with the best food and drinks. I’m not a huge sports fan myself, but the man is. Luckily, if you time it right travel can be quite reasonable to follow his team. I have now been to New York, Seattle, Phoenix & Atlanta thanks to football!
The new stadium in Atlanta is a sight to see in itself, with huge grounds surrounding it the pre-event proved to be just as fun as the game itself!
If sports aren’t your thing, this day would have the morning free to switch it out with another activity. After the game, we headed to New Realm Brewery to try out some craft beer. As I mentioned previously, Atlanta has very distinct neighborhoods and they are so much fun to explore.
Located in an old industrial neighborhood, this multi-level brewery offers delightful flights and an extensive food menu. A favourite part of travelling in a group, is being able to order many menu items and share them! The beer was wonderful, however the star of the show was the baked mac-and-cheese. When I tell you it was the best mac-and-cheese I have ever had, I still think about it from time to time.
From here, it is off to Krog Street Market! Full of many food and beverage vendors, this is the perfect place when you want to try it all! It wasn’t uncommon for us to end our nights here as it was a quick walk home.
Day 3 | Homegrown – Zoo Atlanta – Ponce City Market
Homegrown was on the top of the list for food to experience while in Atlanta. Close to our home base, we ended up having breakfast there twice. I recommend their breakfast sandwich, or pancakes.
Next up is Zoo Atlanta. This is an option included in your CityPass and ended up being such a fun day! With a huge variety of animals, the highlights were the Gorilla habitat that you can see they put a lot of energy into conservation. Make sure to follow the schedule so you can witness their feeding!
To me, the coolest thing about the city is that it is all connected by the beltline, a pathway that surrounds the inner city area making it easy to get around. Following the zoo, we rented scooters and were easily able to travel around visiting spots as we went.
Ending up at our next stop, Ponce City Market. A great big former industrial building, Ponce City Market is now home to many shops, food vendors and an amazing roof top scene. Plan to spend a couple hours here exploring, and eating amazing food. Make sure to go up to the rooftop where they have games, a bar & one of the best views of the city.
Day 4 | Fox Bros BBQ – Beltline – Ocean Wave – Claremont Lounge
For our final day, we kicked it off with a massive early lunch at Fox Bro’s BBQ after that, we were so full plans were hard. Ultimately, we chose a ‘free’ day exploring along the beltline again as the scooters were SO fun the day before.
Scooting along the Beltline is the perfect way to burn off the calories from lunch. Make sure to stop into the many bars, shops & markets along the way, such as Pour Taproom. Pour Taproom offers endless options of beer, cider & wine all of which are on tap for you to enjoy.
Depending on what you choose to do, picking up a quick lunch & spending the day at Piedmont Park would be a great addition to the final day. The park is gorgeous, with fantastic views of the city.
For dinner, we decided upon Ocean Wave a second restaurant to Tuk Tuk. Voted the best Thai food in the country, Tuk Tuk was a little out of town, but Ocean Wave offered authentic Thai right in the city. After dinner, it is a quick walk to the world famous Claremont Lounge, a must do when in Atlanta.
While the famous lounge was closed, we enjoyed more views of the city on their rooftop lounge. This was the perfect ending to our couple of days in Atlanta.
I hope you enjoyed my weekend guide to Atlanta & it is helpful for planning your trip! Don’t forget to save this post for later, to refer back to for any future trips.
If you enjoyed this guide, make sure to check out my guide to Todos Santos, MX as well.