The city began in what is now known as Downtown Atlanta. As railroads merged, terminating in a city once (appropriately) known as “Terminus,” a rough-and-tumble town emerged—transforming eventually into the Capital of the South. Now, Downtown Atlanta is the city’s tourism hub thanks to an impressive mix of attractions, restaurants and massive venues, like the Georgia World Congress Center and Philips Arena, all within walking distance of each other. Get your downtown day started by visiting any of the must-see stops below, including everything from attractions to historical sites and more things to do in Downtown Atlanta.
This jaw-dropping museum is one of the city's newest, and adds tremendously to Atlanta's position as a world-class city. Inside you'll find high-tech, interactive experiences that immerse visitors in the American civil rights movement and entrench guests in current human rights stories from around the globe.
This expansive park was built for the Atlanta-hosted 1996 Summer Olympics and continues to be one of the city's most popular greenspaces. If a concert or festival isn't taking place, you'll find kids splashing through the Fountain of Rings, families sharing a meal at Googie Burger or locals keeping cool with King of Pops popsicles.
This high-tech attraction is a massive, new addition to downtown's landscape. The sprawling shrine to college football features a wall of over 760 college football helmets (one for every team in the U.S.), a 45-yard indoor football field, a fight song karaoke station and Georgia’s only 4-K movie theater, among other activities.
A National Register Historic District, this Downtown area is home to the city's first high-rises. Most notably, Atlanta's version of the famed flat-iron building—the English American building—is at the corner of Peachtree, Broad and Poplar streets.
Since 2005, Georgia Aquarium (the world's largest) has been one of Georgia's most visited attractions. Here, six distinct galleries explore what really goes on beneath the surface of the world’s oceans and rivers; highlights include whale sharks, manta rays, Beluga whales, sea otters, piranhas, coral and Atlantic bottlenose dolphins.
This National Historic Landmark was built in 1889 to resemble the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Historical markers on the grounds explain how the city was rebuilt after the Civil War. Located on the fourth floor, a museum displays exhibits about Georgia’s resources, history and government, plus quirky artifacts.
If you’ve ever wondered how the world’s 24-hour news giant runs, this tour of CNN's global headquarters is a must. Get a look at CNN's fast-paced newsrooms and have a chance to be a weatherman or news anchor. Best yet, there's always a chance you'll run into Robin Meade while lounging in the CNN Center food court.
Take in sweeping views of downtown and the city beyond on SkyView, Atlanta’s 20-story Ferris wheel. You’ll soar in a climate-controlled gondola for 15 minutes and four full rotations of the wheel. At night, the ride lights up with millions of LED lights, bathing Centennial Olympic Park in a quilt of multicolored light.
Remember the aforementioned railroad terminus? Underground Atlanta is the exact spot where Atlanta's transportation industry was born, eventually creating a bustling city around it. While safety is a concern when visiting Underground—something the city is working hard to improve—this spot is a must for history buffs.
Leave it to the world’s best-known soda brand to tell its story in such a dynamic way. You’ll find multisensory experiences around each corner but the Vault of the Secret Formula is the real showstopper. This ode to the secret recipe combines sights of a shadowy man with whispering voices and interactive games.