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Atlanta is a city full of entertaining and exciting activities. Visitors may choose to spend a day at one of Atlanta's golf resorts or day spas, browse through the Southeast's finest shopping malls or visit one of the many historical and family attractions. Evenings may be spent dinning in any of Atlanta's fine friendly restaurants and after that spend the remainder of the evening at one of Atlanta's many night spots. Atlanta has attractions and activities for a family on vacation, someone visiting for business, or a couple searching for romance. History buffs will find tours and museums, thrill seekers will find fast moving amusement park rides, sports enthusiasts will have plenty to choose from, and visitors searching for relaxation will find sandy beaches, luxurious accommodations, and great golf. Whatever the reason for visiting, anyone is sure to enjoy Atlanta's southern hospitality.
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7-Nights Southern Charms

Price: $3,569 - # of Days: 7 days
Sweet tea and the sea. Magnolias and Muscadine. Fresh, ripe peaches and inviting pillared porches. Follow the oak-lined streets to the endless delights awaiting in the genteel South. Beginning and ending in Atlanta, this southern U.S. tour stops in the capital city of Columbia before heading to the ...

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8-Nights Journey Along the Civil Rights Trail

Price: $3,175 - # of Days: 8 days
Journey Along The Civil Rights TrailTravel to the American South and immerse yourself in its music, art, food and stories, while meeting locals, exploring the sights, and hearing moving first-hand stories from the Civil Rights Movement. Meet activists, visit museums, devour delicious cuisine and pay...

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Overview

Introduction

Atlanta, Georgia, is a bustling, world-class city, with a skyline full of impressive architectural designs that complement rolling hills and abundant foliage. Atlanta is consistently ranked as one of the best places to do business in the U.S., and more than two-dozen of Fortune's Top 1,000 businesses have offices there. The Atlanta airport (Hartsfield-Jackson) is usually ranked as one of the world's busiest, and its airport code, ATL, has become the city's nickname among locals.

Atlanta's fast-paced, ready-for-the-future attitude is evident in its booming convention business. Other Atlanta attractions include pulsing nightlife, showplace museums, sophisticated fine-arts facilities and painstakingly restored historical landmarks.

Downtown Atlanta has several hubs of activity. Adjacent to Centennial Olympic Park is the Georgia World Congress Center convention facility, CNN Center and the Georgia Aquarium. A few blocks away, Peachtree Center is a cluster of grand hotels, retail shops, restaurants and business towers. Cultural events downtown include concerts in Centennial Olympic Park and a range of presentations at Woodruff Arts Center and Georgia State University's Rialto Center for the Performing Arts. The Atlanta Streetcar, which currently makes a 2.7-mi/4.3-km loop throughout downtown and the Sweet Auburn district, is slated for major expansion over the next decade.

Just a few miles/kilometers away, the city's progressive sights and sounds evolve into quiet dogwood- and azalea-lined streets. Residents of historic, in-town Atlanta neighborhoods, such as Buckhead and Virginia-Highland, enjoy restored homes, baby-stroller-friendly sidewalks, unusual antiques shops and art studios, and intimate, cozy outdoor cafes.

Must See or Do

Sights—Centennial Olympic Park; Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site; an Atlanta Braves baseball game; CNN Center; the World of Coca-Cola; Atlanta Botanical Garden.

Museums—The High Museum of Art at the Woodruff Arts Center; Atlanta History Center; Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum; Fernbank Science Center and its planetarium.

Memorable Meals—Spaghetti alla bottarga at Sotto Sotto; house-made potato chips with melted Maytag cheese at Buckhead Diner; a chili-cheese dog and onion rings at The Varsity drive-in near the campus of Georgia Tech; tomato pie at Mary Mac's Tea Room; breakfast at the Flying Biscuit Cafe.

Late Night—Live music at Eddie's Attic; salsa dancing at Sanctuary; live blues at Blind Willie's; barhopping down the popular Edgewood Avenue.

Walks—A shopping, eating and drinking expedition through Virginia-Highland; a nature walk in the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area or through Fernbank Forest at the Fernbank Museum of Natural History.

Especially for Kids—Georgia Aquarium; Fernbank Museum of Natural History; Center for Puppetry Arts; Grant Park's Zoo Atlanta; Wren's Nest—the Victorian-style home of Joel Chandler Harris, creator of the Uncle Remus stories; The Children's Museum of Atlanta; the children's garden at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens.

Geography

Atlanta's phenomenal growth in the past few decades—in the age of suburbs and superhighways—has created urban sprawl. Lake Lanier, once a weekend getaway 40 mi/64 km north of Atlanta, is part of the city's northern suburbs. Southern suburbs, likewise, stretch 40 mi/64 km south to Lake Jackson in Butts County, formerly a rural community. Still, recent years have seen a trend back toward the center, with much redevelopment and construction downtown and in the in-town districts that encircle it.

The Atlanta Beltline is at the center of much of this growth, as it continues to be developed, and residential and commercial buildings spring up around it. The Beltline connects most in-town neighborhoods to a single walking path, with parks, shopping centers, bars and restaurants close to the path.

Rather than a single city center, Atlanta has several pockets of development. Downtown occupies a large area that begins at the intersection of Interstate 20 and I-75/85 and extends north for about 3 mi/5 km. Three smaller districts of note are nearby: Little Five Points—a quirky mix of outlandish shops, galleries, restaurants and bars to the east of downtown—is surrounded by the vibrant old residential neighborhoods of Inman Park, Candler Park and Poncey-Highland. Inman Park itself has become a destination as well, with several shops and some of the city's most noted restaurants all along a single stretch on Highland Avenue. West End, a short distance southwest of the central downtown area and close to the intersection of I-20 and West Whitehead Street, is the location of the Atlanta University Center, a consortium of four historically African-American colleges.

Immediately north of downtown is Midtown (the two areas can be roughly separated by Ponce de Leon Avenue—Highway 78—known locally as just "Ponce"). West of Midtown, across I-75/85, is Atlantic Station (the country's largest brownfield redevelopment project) with retail and entertainment, offices, residences and a hotel, all built on the site of a former steel mill. To the west of Atlantic Station is the Westside Provisions district, a popular destination that hosts some of the city's best dining and shopping. Virginia-Highland adjoins Midtown to the east (east of Piedmont Park) and is a sought-after residential neighborhood with a concentration of sophisticated boutiques and restaurants.

About 2 mi/3 km north of Midtown is another major area: Buckhead, known for its beautiful homes, thriving restaurants and clubs, high-rise business towers and upscale shopping.

Atlantans often describe locations as ITP or OTP: being inside or outside of the Perimeter—I-285, which encircles the city. Most suburbs lie outside of it.

History

Atlanta's future would have been hard to predict in 1837, when the town, in its earliest incarnation, was known simply as Terminus—the final stop on a rail line that ran from Chattanooga, Tennessee. Trains became the engine for growth. By the mid-1840s, the city, with a new name, was situated at the crossroads of several rail lines running through the southeastern U.S.

As a transportation and manufacturing center, Atlanta was vitally important to the Confederacy during the Civil War. As such, it was targeted by the Union army under Gen. William T. Sherman. Union troops captured the town in 1864, burned key buildings and destroyed the rail system. Confederate troops burned bridges and warehouses containing ammunitions and supplies to keep them from Sherman's troops. As a result, Atlanta was left in ruins.

Following the war, Atlanta worked quickly to rebuild. It became the capital of Georgia in 1868. In 1888, celebrating its rebirth, Atlanta adopted a phoenix rising from the ashes as its official symbol.

Atlanta's rapidly growing population in the late 1800s included a large number of African Americans, many of them former slaves who were educated by missionaries in freedmen's schools. These institutions contributed to Atlanta's eventual role as a leader in African American higher education. The city also became important in the Civil Rights movement during the 1950s and 1960s. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was born and educated in Atlanta and, like his father, preached at Ebenezer Baptist Church.

Then came air travel: Again, Atlanta was poised to expand its role as a transportation hub. Today it sits at the center of a web of interstate highways and international flight patterns. That's the reason that southerners like to joke, "You may be going straight to hell, but you're still going to have to pass through Atlanta first."

Today, the city's growth continues. It is the home of such prominent companies as Coca-Cola, CNN, UPS and Georgia-Pacific, and has become a hot spot for tech start-ups and marketing agencies.

Potpourri

Atlanta is Coca-Cola country, fondly called "Co-Cola" by native Atlantans. Don't even think of ordering Pepsi there.

The plural of y'all is all y'all. Yet 50% of Atlanta residents are from somewhere other than Atlanta, so y'all is becoming heard less frequently.

Little Five Points is sometimes referred to as L5P, but don't confuse it with (big) Five Points downtown, the original crossroads from which the city grew.

A naked dog is not a hairless mutt; it's a plain hot dog at The Varsity restaurant. If you get it to go, you'll hear your order shouted as, "One dog a-walkin'."

When you see Peachtree on a street sign, you know you're in Atlanta. More than 65 streets there have the word as part of their name.

Atlanta is actually the city's third name. Founded in 1837 as Terminus, its name was changed to Marthasville in 1843. Just two years later it became Atlanta—a name that finally stuck.

Atlanta's quickly becoming a Hollywood hotspot, as increasingly more movies are filmed there. It's not uncommon to spot a top celebrity at a local bar or restaurant, particularly at in-town locations.


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