Atlanta in 1 Day: all you need to know

Atlanta is a cosmopolitan city that offers many interesting proposals to do in a day, both cultural and in nature.

Lorena Morales

Lorena Morales

8 min read

Atlanta in 1 Day: all you need to know

Jackson Street Bridge, Atlanta, United States | ©Joey Kyber

The city of Atlanta is not only known for its tall buildings, but also for its urban parks where you can go to breathe fresh air. Whether you are interested in history, movies, botany, botany or street art, you will find something for everyone in the city. You should go prepared if you want to know everything there is to see and do in Atlanta in one day.

The tour I propose includes four sites: Westside Park, the park that houses the reservoir that has become famous for appearing in series and movies; Centennial Olympic Park, built for the 1996 Olympic Games; the Marthin Luther King Historic Site, leader of the struggle for civil rights for people of African descent; and the Atlanta Botanical Garden, where you can see numerous collections of plants illuminated in a special way at night.

See the famous reservoir at Westside Reservoir Park

Visiting The Walking Dead sites| ©Thomas Hawk
Visiting The Walking Dead sites| ©Thomas Hawk

During your 1-day stay in Atlanta, you can't miss Westside Park, formerly known as Bellwood Quarry, where you'll see the reservoir made famous by appearing in series like Stranger Things and The Walking Dead. The park is a true lung of the city, and offers a great panoramic view of Atlanta.

Westside Park, opened in 2021, is full of trees, green areas to enjoy a picnic, bike paths and playgrounds for children. I recommend that you visit early in the morning so that you have enough time to see other attractions. From downtown Atlanta, you can reach the park in about 16 minutes by car, or in about 40 minutes by public transportation.

If you have already visited the city or you are a fan of the series, you can take a tour of Stranger Things in Atlanta or a tourof The Walking Dead, to know the places where many scenes of these series have been filmed in Atlanta and many more curiosities about the series.

  • Hours: 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. The Park Information Center is open from 9 am to 4 pm.
  • Location: 285 Andrew Young International Blvd NW, Atlanta.
  • Admission: Free.
  • How to get there: from Atlanta International Airport you can get there in 30 minutes by car on Highway 285, or in an hour and a half by public transportation.

Book a tour of The Walking Dead

Visit Centennial Olympic Park in Downtown Atlanta

Centennial Olympic Park| ©nnever5000
Centennial Olympic Park| ©nnever5000

Centennial Olympic Park was built when the city was preparing to host the 1996 Olympic Games. It is a park of 85,000 square meters where there are green areas, paths, sculptures, a 61-meter high Ferris wheel, squares and fountains.

There is the Fountain of the Rings, which has the shape of the Olympic emblem of 5 intertwined rings. These rings are 8 meters in diameter and are formed by about 250 water jets that reach 10 meters in height. They are usually harmonized with lights and sounds several times a day and, as you can walk among them, many visitors take advantage of them to cool off in summer.

Surrounding the rings are the 23 flags of the cities that hosted previous Olympic Games and surrounding them are the 8 Hermes Towers, 19 meters high, inspired by the towers that surrounded public spaces in ancient Greece.

If you want to tour the park without missing anything, you can listen to the audio guide of Centennial Olympic Park, although it is only available in English.

More information about Centennial Olympic Park

  • Hours: All day. The Information Center is open from 9 am to 4 pm.
  • Location: 285 Andrew Young International Blvd NW, Atlanta.
  • Admission: Free.
  • How to get there: from Westside Park you can reach Centennial Park by car in about 10 minutes, or by public transportation in 45 minutes.

Purchase your Atlanta City Pass

Attractions near Centennial Olympic Park

Very close to Centennial Olympic Park are other popular tourist attractions such as the CNN studios, the Georgia Aquarium, the College Football Hall of Fame, the World of Coca Cola and the National Center for Civil and Human Rights. Remember that with the Atlanta City Pass you can get discounted admission to the sites of your choice.

National Center for Civil and Human Rights

Among the sites near Centennial Park is the National Civil and Human Rights Center, a place where you can learn about the history of Atlanta. The history of the city is marked by the struggle for human and civil rights, whose main spokesman and defender was Martin Luther King until he was assassinated in 1968.

I recommend that, if you can not enter, at least come to see its modern architecture, with the two large curved walls that frame it. Also, don't miss the large water sculpture in the back, with quotes from Margaret Mead and Nelson Mandela.

On the Center's grounds you can see interactive exhibits on the history of civil rights on the 3 floors of the Center.

  • Hours: Tuesday to Friday from 12 am to 5 pm. Saturdays from 10 am to 5 pm.
  • Location: 100 Ivan Allen Jr. Boulevard, Atlanta.
  • Admission: about 20 EUR for adults.
  • Directions: The National Civil and Human Rights Center is located about 500 meters from Centennial Olympic Park.

Walk through the Martin Luther King Jr

Home of Martin Luther King Junior.| ©Lucas J
Home of Martin Luther King Junior.| ©Lucas J

Two and a half miles from Centennial Park is the Martin Luther King Jr. Historic Site, which is the place where the leader was born and dedicated himself to the struggle for civil rights for people of African descent in the United States.

There you can visit several sites of interest related to Dr. King's life and work. I recommend that you first go to the Dr. King Historic Site Visitor Center, where they will provide you with information about the significance of these sites of historical, social and cultural value. In addition, tours of Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthplace are organized there on a first-come, first-served basis, with 15 people per tour.

There are usually a lot of people who want to see the house, so I recommend that you go as early as possible and sign up as soon as you arrive, as you may have to wait to see the house. The tours run every day, except some holidays, from 10 am to 4 pm.

If you are interested in learning more about the life of Martin Luther King Jr and the struggle he waged for civil rights, I recommend you take a tour with an expert guide, who will tell you everything in detail.

Sign up for a Martin Luther King guided tour of Atlanta

What to see at the Martin Luther King Jr. Historic Site

  • The Martin Luther King Jr. Birthplace, located at 451 Auburn Ave.
  • The Historic Baptist Church, where the leader was baptized and pastored, as was his father, Martin Luther King Sr. It also hosted important meetings for the civil rights struggle. It is not open to visitors. It is located at 407 Auburn Avenue.
  • Informational panels displayed on the sidewalks in Dr. King's neighborhood related to its history. The residences were preserved to maintain the spirit of the neighborhood where Martin Luther King Jr. lived, but you cannot enter to see inside.
  • Fire Station No. 6, one of the first stations to promote black-white integration, now serves as a museum.
  • The Carter-King Peace Trail, a 1.5-mile trail that honors the two Nobel Peace Prize laureates, President Jimmy Carter and Dr. King. The trail crosses Liberty Park.
  • The International Civil Rights Walk of Fame, which displays the actual footprints of prominent individuals in the struggle for human and civil rights, such as Rosa Parks or the pacifist Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu.
  • Peace Square, with the beautiful International Rose Garden for World Peace and peace-related messages from schoolchildren in the city.
  • The King Center, where the graves of Martin Luther King and his wife are located. It contains exhibits on Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks and Gandhi. It is located at 449 Auburn Ave.

Learn more about the Martin Luther King Jr. Historic Site Visitor Center

  • Hours ofoperation: daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., except Christmas, New Year's Day and Thanksgiving.
  • Location: 450 Auburn Ave NE, Atlanta.
  • Admission: Free.
  • Directions: From Centennial Park you can take a bus to the Martin Luther King Jr. Historic Site, which will drop you off in about 10 minutes. There is also a subway line that runs nearby.

Piedmont Park and the Atlanta Botanical Garden

Piedmont Park| ©Charles Green
Piedmont Park| ©Charles Green

Another park you can't miss is Piedmont Park, located 4 and a half kilometers from the Martin Luther King, Jr. Historic Site, about 15 minutes away by bus. It is a beautiful place to enjoy the sunset in the city of Atlanta, where you can take the best pictures of the city.

The park has trails, playgrounds for children, Clara Meer Lake in the center, a botanical garden and restaurants and bars such as Willy's Mexican Grill, which are open until 10 pm.

A map of the park can be found on the Piedmont Park website.

  • Hours: Every day from 6 am to 11 pm, except Christmas, New Year's Day and Thanksgiving Day.
  • Location: 450 Auburn Ave NE, Atlanta.
  • Admission: no charge.
  • Directions: From the Martin Luther King, Jr. Historic Site, you can take a bus to Piedmont Park, which will drop you off in about 15 minutes.

Atlanta Botanical Garden

One of the most beautiful sites in Piedmont Park is the 40-acre Atlanta Botanical Garden, which you can visit both day and night. It is a site dedicated to plant conservation, which has been designed and cared for down to the smallest detail.

In the park you can see numerous collections of plants from around the world, an arboretum, a Japanese garden and sculptures that are true works of art, such as the glass sculptures of Dale Chihuly and the famous sculpture of Earth Goddess, created by Mosaïcultures Internationales de Montréal, which has become an icon of Atlanta.

During the night, the lights are turned on and the park takes on a particular magic. Not to be missed if you visit Atlanta in December.

  • Hours: daily from 9 am to 4 pm and from 5 pm to 11 pm, except holidays. Check opening hours on the Atlanta Botanical Garden website.
  • Duration: The average visit to the garden lasts 1.5 to 2 hours.
  • Location: 450 Auburn Ave NE, Atlanta.
  • Admission fee: about 15 EUR general admission, 25 EUR on weekends, 28 EUR to visit the park at night.
  • How to get there: from the Martin Luther King, Jr. Historic Site, you can reach the botanical garden entrance in 15 minutes by car or 25 minutes by bus.

Enjoy Southern cuisine in Atlanta

Famous Waffles and Chicken dish.| ©Jeff Keyzer
Famous Waffles and Chicken dish.| ©Jeff Keyzer

In the evening, if your tour of the city has not been tiring, you can take the opportunity to try the typical food of Atlanta, better known as southern food.

Among the outstanding dishes within the southern food are the pork barbecue, pork ribs dipped in hot sauce, fried chicken and Brunswick stew. Although what I would most recommend is that you end your day with one of Atlanta's best food tours.

Some of Atlanta's most renowned restaurants are The Establishment and South City Kitchen Midtown, both located near Piedmond Park.

In addition, in Atlanta there are many alternatives to enjoy at night, such as watching a music or theater show, or taking a night tour to see the lights of Atlanta, when the illuminated city looks with a different charm.

We have reached the end of the tour that I propose to do in one day in Atlanta, with the most representative sites of Atlanta. In addition, at each milestone of the itinerary you will find information about nearby sites so you can also learn about other options. I hope you find this information very useful and, if you decide to spend a few more days in the city, you can enjoy the best tours of Atlanta.