9 Things to See in Atlanta for Free

Atlanta, a major city in the American Southeast and a capital of Georgia, has got a great deal of things to offer for its visitors. And whi...

Atlanta, a major city in the American Southeast and a capital of Georgia, has got a great deal of things to offer for its visitors. And while those famous and somewhat unique attractions - World of Coca Cola, Georgia Aquarium and CNN Studio Tours - should probably end up in your bucket list, especially if you travel with kids, don't discount the following 9 places in Atlanta that you can see and experience 100% free of charge.

1. Midtown. 
Midtown in Atlanta is a better and a newer version of its downtown. 
It's safe, clean and green.
Many businesses are located in midtown, so there is quite a bit of white collar workers on a typical weekday. 
Condo construction in midtown is thriving as many baby boomers have now retired and decided to downsize from a full house to a condo with quick and easy access to shops, restaurants, theatres, etc.
According to one of the locals I spoke with, real estate prices for condos have skyrocketed in the recent years.
The headquarter's building for Coca Cola is rather modest if not ascetic for such a wealthy company.
You can see quite a few historical buildings in midtown Atlanta, including the house of Margaret Mitchell (to the left) who wrote the best selling book ever existed (after Bible and other holy books) called 'Gone With The Wind'.

2. Fox Theatre Historic District. 
Technically, a part of midtown, Fox Theatre Historic District is a cultural heart of Atlanta. Fox Theatre occupies an extraordinary building which was originally planned as a Yaarab Shrine Temple. Shriners, as they call themselves, is a freemasonry organization in the US, Canada, Australia and other countries. 
Fox Theatre's building stands out from other buildings in Atlanta. According to wikipedia, its architect, Olivier Vinour of the firm Marye, Alger and Vinour, incorporated elements from Islamic architecture (building exterior, auditorium, Grand Salon, mezzanine Gentlemen’s Lounge and lower Ladies Lounge) and Egyptian architecture (Egyptian Ballroom, mezzanine Ladies Lounge and lower Gentlemen’s Lounge). You may want to take a tour (fee required) if you want to see interior.
The timing for opening Fox Theatre could not be worse as it happens a few months after the stock market crashed in 1929 which led to the Great Depression in the US. That event marked the start of a series of unfortunate events for the theatre that almost led to its demolishing in mid-1970s. But happily, it was saved and restored, so it currently looks pretty much like it did back in 1929.
Fox Theatre is not the only nice building in the Historic District. Others also deserve to be mentioned.
Bank of America Plaza (left) and The Ponce Condominium (right).

3. Piedmont Park. 
Like Central Park in New York or High Park in Toronto, Piedmont Park is Atlanta's lungs and much needed green space for those living in a city.
A flower of a tulip tree.
Whether you like walking, jogging, cycling and playing a beach volleyball or any other sport game, Piedmont Park is the place to be.
The park is not terribly big, but you can surely find a space to be alone and enjoy solitude.
Some local art.
Piedmont Park is also adjacent to Atlanta Botanical Gardens (admission fee required).

4. Mansions at Winn Park. 
Atlanta, like any other big American city, has good and bad neighbourhoods.  Midtown is generally safe any time of the day.
But the area around Winn Park is particularly good and beautiful, you would wish you got lost there.
Century-old Victorian style houses and lush greenery do the trick.
I've heard that another neighbourhood east of downtown - Virginia Highland - is very similar to this one, but I didn't make it there.
Busy streets of midtown is just around the corner, yet you don't feel that big city bustle while at Winn Park neighbourhood.
My favourite mansion.

5. Museum of Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. 
There is one interesting and unusual place for those who are curious to find out how the largest financial system in the world functions and where American money get literally produced.
I'm talking about Federal Reserve Bank and its Atlanta's subsidiary (known as Atlanta Fed). The bank established a nice museum with behind the glass view of the some of their real operations (money sorting and counting). Unfortunately, pictures are not allowed inside the building/museum, so you'll have to visit it yourself.
The Fed's building is the masterpiece as well with some classical elements combined with monolithic white marble.

6. Martin Luther King, Jr Memorial. 
No trip to Atlanta would be complete without visiting Martin Luther King, Jr Memorial.
Georgia had historically been a centre of American slavery, so no wonder Atlanta happened to be a birthplace of a future leader for the civil rights movement - Martin Luther King, Jr.
The story of Martin Luther King, Jr and what he did not only to fight the racial discrimination, but paved a way to combat other civil rights discrimination, would probably warrant a separate article. I'll only mention that this place, Ebenezer Baptist Church was chosen as the King's memorial, because this is were he was baptized and served as a pastor.
The tomb of Martin Luther King, Jr. and his wife, Coretta Scott King.

7. Downtown. 
Downtown Atlanta is not the nicest place in the city, however this is where you can locate the majority of popular tourists attractions.
Downtown generally looks nice, sometimes a bit rundown. There are lots of old buildings from 1920s and 1930s.
This building, overlooking an always busy part of Downtown Connector (a junction of two major Interstate highways that cause epic traffic jams) is apparently abandoned.
Locals tend to avoid it outside of weekday working hours and there is a reason for that - you don't really feel safe there despite the presence of police and safety ambassadors.
No doubt, Georgia is famous for its peaches. Every car plate in Georgia has it.
But whoever approved names for Atlanta's roads was definitely biased in favour of a peach tree. I found at least 4 different roads in midtown and downtown Atlanta that bear that name - Peachtree.
Peachtree Center, a neofuturistic complex of buildings is probably the ugliest structure I've ever seen in downtown areas of big cities.
It's 'unique selling point' is a number of pedestrian sky bridges that connect different buildings.
Looks like Detroit, seriously. In a good way.

8. Centennial Olympic Park. 
Atlanta hosted 1996 Summer Olympic Games. Despite the tragic Centennial Olympic Park's bombing on July 27 that killed 1 and injured 111, the games was a success for Atlanta - both economical and reputational. 
Centennial Olympic Park is the access point to World of Coca Cola, Georgia Aquarium, Centre of Civil and Human Rights and CNN Studio Tours.
Giant sun-powered generators installed at the parking lot.

9. Atlanta Airport. 
And last, but not least, Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport. It plays a vital role in the Atlanta's current economic boom. 
It's the busiest airport in the world by passenger traffic, and the one that claims to have the largest number of direct flights within the US.
The Atlanta's airport is a hub for the biggest US carrier - Delta.  At least 2/3 of the airport space is taken by Delta!
The airport also hosts the Museum of Aviation (admission is free) which should be interesting for aviation enthusiasts.

You Might Also Like