Atlanta is one of the premier cultural hotspots that has managed to maintain its reputation of southern hospitality. This city is full of little neighborhood gems, nationally recognized attractions, and urban renewal projects setting the pace for the rest of the country. There's something for everyone here, from street art and classic architecture to repurposed railroad systems and puppets.
Perhaps the best reason to visit Piedmont Park is the stunning view you get of the Atlanta skyline. This park is the central green gathering space in the city and has plenty of ways to enjoy the outdoors. There are paths for running and jogging, playgrounds, tennis courts, two ponds, a dog park, and a public swimming pool. Most of the city's large festivals take place here, too, including the Jazz Festival, Gay Pride Festival, and Screen on the Green, an outdoor summer event where free movies are shown outdoors on the big screen.
There isn't much you can't do at the Painted Pin. This bar/bowling alley/entertainment center was once an industrial warehouse space. It now features a range of fun things to do, like giant Jenga and classic games like shuffleboard, bocce ball, ping pong, and skeeball. The full-service bowling lanes each have their own chesterfield couch for seating and personalized service, as the staff delivers your bowling ball and shoes. The Painted Pin has plenty to eat and drink, too, so you don't have any reason to leave.
There's no restaurant quite like The Varsity in Atlanta. This place has been family-operated since 1928 and is considered the World's Largest Drive-In Restaurant, but the retro atmosphere and amazing views of the city make this a good place to dine in, too. The Varsity is home to the city's favorite hot dogs and hamburgers. While this isn't really the place to go if you're trying to eat healthy, they also make a mean chicken salad for those counting calories.
In 1996, the summer Olympics were held in Atlanta; while Centennial Olympic Park is the event's legacy to the city, the park has become so much more. Centennial Olympic Park is the center of the tourist district and surrounded by some of the most popular spots in Atlanta. It's the downtown destination for live local music, festivals, and home to the world's largest interactive fountain incorporating the Olympic Rings.
The Atlanta Beltway runs along 22 miles of an old railroad corridor circling downtown. It will include 33 miles of trails and connect 1,300 acres of public parks when the project is completed. This is the perfect place for a run, walk, or bike ride in the city and a convenient way to get from here to there. There are unique shops and restaurants along the Beltline, too, so you have plenty of places to stop and take a breather before continuing your walk.
It's always nice to escape to nature in a big city, and what an escape the Atlanta Botanical Garden is. Located in the heart of Midtown, these gardens include an award-winning Children's Garden, an edible garden complete with a demonstration kitchen, and an orchid center with one of the most impressive collections in the country. There are plant bogs, conservation gardens home to interesting amphibians and endangered frog species, and 30 acres of outdoor gardens to explore.
Atlantic Station is a popular neighborhood in downtown Atlanta and a major retail and business spot. This community is the national model for growth and sustainable development; it's also home to popular chain stores, an 18-screen movie theater, funky cafes, and an ice skating rink from November to January. Don't worry, there's plenty of summer fun, too. When the weather gets warm, catch an outdoor movie or stop by a beer festival on the Atlantic Green.
The Center for Puppetry Art opened in 1978 and has remained a fun and educational place for both kids and adults who are young at heart. Here, you can participate in a workshop or visit the hands-on museum to learn more about the art of puppetry. They put on puppet shows aimed at kids and shows with more adult themes for anyone who's looking for a new kind of date night. Don't miss the Jim Henson Collection Gallery, home to more than 500 puppets, costumes, and props paying homage to the genius behind the Muppets.
Anyone interested in watching a Broadway show, concert, or classic film should visit the Fox Theater. It was built in 1929 and still has stone staircases, murals, and a steel freight elevator reminiscent of the time. Guided tours are available if you want to learn more about the history of the theater without staying in for a show. Tour highlights include Might Mo, the world's second-largest theatre organ, and retro lounges where you can step back in time to another era.
Located between Cabbagetown and Inman Park, this tunnel is one of the most unique areas in the city and one of the best places for street art. The walls are covered with murals and graffiti tags that are constantly changing and the tunnel itself has become something of a community center. While you're here, check out the posted flyers to see if there are any nearby events that interest you, and make sure to take a selfie or two.