How to spend 24 hours in Atlanta

Heading to the USA? There's a high chance you'll pass through Atlanta, the sweet tea-obsessed city in the South with the world's busiest airport.

How to spend 24 hours in Atlanta, Georgia - photo courtesy of Georgia Department of Economic Development
How to spend 24 hours in Atlanta, Georgia - photo courtesy of Georgia Department of Economic Development

With a world-famous music and entertainment scene, Civil Rights-related museums, charming restaurants and food markets, and warm - sometimes very warm - temperatures most of the year, there's more than enough to get you out of the terminal.

Getting to Atlanta: whether you're on an extended stopover or enjoying a brisk visit, you can fly direct to Georgia's dynamic capital with Virgin Atlantic in around 10 hours from the UK*.

Morning

Piedmont Park

Start your Atlanta journey with a leisurely stroll around Piedmont Park, the city's grandest green space.

Lake Clara Meer, Piedmont Park, Atlanta - photo courtesy of Georgia Department of Economic Development
Lake Clara Meer, Piedmont Park, Atlanta - photo courtesy of Georgia Department of Economic Development

Located in the heart of the buzzy Midtown district, the park has miles of paved paths which wind around lawns, playgrounds, sports fields and the picturesque Lake Clara Meer.

Find the semi-circle deck on the farthest end of this lake to witness one of the most iconic Atlanta skyline views.

Margaret Mitchell House

'Gone With the Wind' author Margaret Mitchell penned one of the greatest literary works - which spawned one of the greatest film works - of the early 20th century.

It was in this humble home-turned-museum where she wrote her American Civil War-era story, and now visitors can learn about her Pulitzer Prize-winning work and fascinating life through exhibitions and tours.

Afternoon

Mercedes-Benz Stadium tour

If you're a sports fan, getting up-close to the stadium that hosted 2019's Super Bowl bonanza should surely be on your itinerary.

Home of Atlanta's premier football and American football leagues, the cutting-edge retractable-roof venue in downtown Atlanta offers daily tours, which will take you to the field, the locker rooms of sports stars and the Skybridges with impressive views of both the field and the Georgia capital. Tickets do sell fast, so book early.

World of Coca-Cola

Did you know Atlanta is the birthplace of the world's most famous fizzy drink? You can immerse yourself in all things Coca-Cola in their dedicated downtown-based interactive museum, full of interesting artefacts, exhibits and a 4D theatre show.

The Vault at World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta- photo courtesy of Georgia Department of Economic Development
The Vault at World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta- photo courtesy of Georgia Department of Economic Development

This is also where you can see The Vault of the Secret Formula, where the original beverage recipe created more than 125 years ago is securely stored.

Come thirsty: the tour culminates with unlimited access to 100+ global Coca-Cola varieties from Brazil to Thailand.

SkyView

Atlanta's downtown area is crammed with excellent attractions, but the SkyView ferris wheel might be the most thrilling.

Though it's no London Eye in terms of scale, the SkyView takes you up some 200 ft high in climate-controlled gondolas to reveal splendid views of the downtown area and beyond.

You can make the ride more special by booking the VIP experience: this comes with expedited queueing and boarding one specially-made gondola equipped with Ferrari red-and-black leather seats and a clear glass floor.

Martin Luther King, Jr National Historic Park

No visit to Atlanta would be complete without paying respects to the city's most iconic world leader. The complex in the historically African-American neighbourhood features King Jr.'s birth home (with guided tours), a rose peace garden, monuments, his and his wife's fountain-encircled tombs and stirring civil rights exhibits. The best part? It's all free.

Krog Street Tunnel

Further east of the city lies Krog Street Tunnel, Atlanta's coolest street art landmark.

This working underpass has every inch of its concrete walls and columns covered in vibrant graffiti works from talented artists both local and beyond - a camera-wielding tourist's dream.

Inside the Krog Street Tunnel, Atlanta © John Getchel - Flickr Creative Commons
Inside the Krog Street Tunnel, Atlanta © John Getchel - Flickr Creative Commons

Take time to read some of the many community posters and flyers tacked on its walls: you might end up at a fun evening event and experience Atlanta like a local... albeit briefly.

Evening

Krog Street Market

A quick stroll from the tunnel will lead you to Krog Street Market, a veritable food and drink destination contained in a 1920s' warehouse.

It's been on many a list of America's best food halls, with market stalls serving artisanal ice cream and pork belly Korean baos to sit-down restaurants from nationally-renowned chefs. Beyond the high-quality food selection, the market also has a few fine boutique shops, too.

Beltline

The Beltline is an impressive urban redevelopment initiative which sees 22 miles of unused rail tracks transformed into a public park.

If already in the Krog Street area, you can enter the attraction-rich Eastside Trail: follow the path northwards and explore the various art installations, dance to live performers, jog, bike, or roller-blade along the tree-lined route.

Spy a coveted al fresco restaurant table for a meal or drink or watch a few brave souls swerve and spin at a large skateboard park - it's an absolute must-visit in the city.

Ponce City Market

As the day is wrapping up, hop off the Beltline once you've reached Ponce City Market, based near the fast-changing Old Fourth Ward neighbourhood.

It's a massive brick mixed-use complex (and former Sears distribution building), which now hosts a plethora of food hall merchants, restaurants and bars, regional fashion shops and an ever-changing entertainment/event line-up.

Entrance to Ponce City Market, Atlanta © Wyliepoon - Flickr Creative Commons
Entrance to Ponce City Market, Atlanta © Wyliepoon - Flickr Creative Commons

Want to end your visit with a stunning view of the Atlanta skyline? Pay a $10 entry fee to access The Roof at Ponce City Market, where a trendy beer garden, mini-golf course, boardwalk games park and snapshot of this exciting Southern city await.

Weather in Atlanta

As you can see below, the weather in Atlanta is hot and sunny in summer with cooler temperatures in winter. Rain is not uncommon throughout the year but then neither is sunshine - Atlanta is comparable to Tenerife in this respect, with lots of lovely sunshine all year-round.

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Maximum daytime temperature °C
Hours of sunshine (daily)
Days with some rainfall

You can also see when we think is the very best time to go.

Does Atlanta sound like your sort of city break? Fly from London Heathrow and Manchester using the latest online offers from Virgin Atlantic.

Travis Levius

Travis Levius
Posted on Tuesday 26th March 2019 in: City Culture North America

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