The beating heart of the American South, Atlanta is a bustling financial and commercial center that also boasts a thriving cultural community. Originally a railroad town that served as a gateway to more remote corners of the Southeast, the vibrant city is now the largest in Georgia and remains a crucial transportation hub. Home to world-renowned chefs, entrepreneurs, and media moguls, Atlanta’s magnetic charisma is grounded in its historic roots, but enhanced by its present-day charm and amenities.
Known for having a diverse population, progressive views, and rolling hills, the Peach City also boasts consistently nice weather for much of the year. The best times to travel to Atlanta are in the spring, when the azaleas and dogwoods are in full bloom, and the fall, when the Appalachian foothill foliage is at its best. Atlanta winters are usually mild, and fewer hotels and restaurants are booked. (During the summer, however, average temperatures often exceed 90 degrees, and rain is frequent.)
The city was a touchpoint during the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, and visitors can learn about this era at the Center for Civil and Human Rights and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, which includes access to the house in which the civil rights leader grew up and the church at which he was a pastor. Other popular attractions include the High Museum of Art, Georgia Aquarium (the largest in the hemisphere), Piedmont Park, and the College Football Hall of Fame. Atlanta also has a burgeoning restaurant scene, with famous culinary talents bringing new interest to already dynamic neighborhoods, like chef Kevin Gillespie’s creative, genre-defying new Glenwood Park spot, Gunsmoke, or Angus Brown and Nhan Le’s ambitious Asian cooking at Octopus Bar in South Buckhead. A mix of big-name hotels and antique-adorned bed and breakfasts; sports bars and craft cocktail dens; and well-curated boutiques and artisanal shops provide locals and visitors endless options for entertainment. To help narrow down the choices, T+L’s Atlanta travel guide highlights the best places to eat, stay, shop, and visit in Georgia’s state capital and the surrounding area.
Best Time To Visit
In spring, when the azaleas and dogwoods are in full bloom, or fall, when the crisp and cool climate and orange-hued trees beckon you outdoors for concerts and festivals.
Despite its legendary traffic, Atlanta is a city best navigated by car, so rent one or have the number of a car service handy. The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) is a system of buses and trains that offer access to major attractions and destinations in the city, including the airport. Each ride is $2.50 and there are discounts for multiple rides.
July is on average the hottest month, with an average high of 89°F (32°C). January is the coldest month, with an average high of 52°F (11°C).
Know Before Visiting
Atlanta might be an urban metropolis, but it’s only about 90 miles from the Blue Ridge Mountains, so pack some hiking gear and comfortable walking shoes so you can explore the surrounding natural attractions. The city itself also boasts several scenic parks and walking trails. The developing BeltLine (a historic 22-mile railroad corridor that is being transformed into a network of green spaces) is one outdoor jaunt every visitor should experience.
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