21 Essential Atlanta Bucket List Ideas, Food & Activities

Updated

Atlanta is a city filled with history, adventures, and exciting activities the whole family is sure to enjoy. It’s where the civil rights movement began, it’s home to one of the busiest airports in the world, and about half of the streets have the word “peachtree” in their name.

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We think that this fascinating city should make everyone’s bucket list, and Atlanta locals agree! Here are the top things to do, brought to you by those who know their city best.

Unique Atlanta Bucket List Ideas for Locals

Whether you’ve lived in Atlanta your whole life or only for a few years, here are the things that those in the know recommend for your bucket list.

1. Go hiking in Morningside Nature Preserve

The Morningside Nature Preserve might be one of the best-kept secrets in Atlanta, and many locals don’t even know about it. The area features 30 miles of easy walking trails and babbling creeks, both of which are kid- and dog-friendly.

Pro tip: For the more adventurous, there are also two and a half miles of narrow, mostly unmarked walking trails. The paths are easy to walk but might be a tad bit hard to find.

2. Escape the city at Atlanta Botanical Gardens

If you’re a local and you haven’t been to the botanical gardens, it’s time. This lush paradise is commonly used to get away from the hustle and bustle of it all. Even though you’re still in the city, once you step inside the gardens, you’ll feel like you’re in another world. 

There are stunning floral displays, incredible topiaries, and plenty of fountains, sculptures, and open grassy fields to enjoy.

3. Tour the CNN Center

Take a step behind the camera and gain an inside look into the work and coordination that goes into live news broadcasts. The tour is interesting and fun for elementary-aged children on up. 

Pro tip: Tours last around 50 minutes, so you’ll have plenty of time to fit other things into your day.

Must-Do Atlanta Bucket List Ideas for Visitors

If you’ve never been to Atlanta before, then you’ll want to include these activities on your travel bucket list

4. Check out the view from SkyView Atlanta

SkyView Atlanta is a Ferris wheel that reaches 20 stories at the top. The gondolas are fully enclosed with floor-to-ceiling glass for stunning views of the city. There are bench seats on both sides with views of Centennial Park to one side and a panorama of the city skyline on the other.

Pro tip: The gondolas are air-conditioned, so this activity can be done comfortably in the summer.

5. Check out the World of Coca-Cola

Even if you’re not a Coke fan, you’ll probably enjoy this museum dedicated to America’s favorite beverage. Walk around and enjoy floor-to-ceiling exhibits, advertisements and memorabilia from the start of Coca-Cola, and everyone’s favorite exhibit at the end called Taste It! where you can sample flavors of Coke from around the world.

6. Get a dose of history at the Atlanta History Center

Get an inside look at Atlanta as you’ve never seen it before at the history center. Explore all 33 acres, roam through historic houses, stroll through gardens, and learn from the award-winning exhibits. You’ll be glad you put this on your itinerary.

Atlanta Bucket List Ideas for Spring and Summer

Springtime is perfect for outdoor adventures and, while summer might be a bit hot and humid, there are still plenty of activities that shouldn’t be missed.

7. Walk or bike the BeltLine Trails

When finished, the Atlanta BeltLine will be a 22-mile loop that connects 45 Atlanta neighborhoods. Currently, the Eastside and Westside trails have been completed, offering miles of pleasant walking and biking paths.

Pro tip: Both paths are near the downtown area and feature multiple access points. 

8. Shop at local farmer’s markets

Atlanta is host to several farmer’s markets during the spring and summer growing seasons. You can find produce, fresh-made bread, pastries, handmade goods, and craft drinks at any market you visit.

9. Go on a segway or electric bike tour

There are several segway and electric bike tours available if you want a unique up-close look at the city. Choose a docent-led tour for a guided trip around the city filled in with plenty of historical information and fun interaction, or go on a self-guided tour if you prefer to take things at your own pace and do your own fact-finding at historic sites.

Pro tip: Electric bike and segway tours often have height and weight restrictions. This type of tour is best for teens on up.

Atlanta Bucket List Ideas for Fall and Winter

Fall and winter are perfect seasons to get out and about and explore all that Atlanta has to offer. Here are several of our top picks we think you’ll love.

Pro tip: When making a travel bucket list, break activities up by season, so you’ll know what options you have available depending on when you plan to travel.

10. Visit the MLK Jr. National Historical Park

Get up close and personal with MLK Jr. by learning about his young life and viewing his childhood home. Take a walk and trace his footsteps, then listen to his world-famous speech in the very church where he first shared it. 

11. See a show at Fox Theater

The first movie to play on the big screens at the Fox Theater, built in 1928, was Mickey Mouse’s famous debut Steamboat Willie on Christmas 1929. Today, you can take a tour of the theater, learn more about its history, and catch a show.

12. Attend an Atlanta Falcons game

Fall and football go hand-in-hand, so what better way to enjoy both than by attending a Falcons game at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium? Plan ahead and take a tour of the stadium before or after the game, check out the team store, and enjoy some of the best stadium food in the NFL.

13. Revel in the splendor of fall 

Georgia puts on a gorgeous display when it comes to fall colors, and you’ll be treated to the stunning reds, yellows, and oranges of fall in and around Atlanta. 

Atlanta Bucket List Ideas for Kids and Families

Planning to travel with little ones? Check out these family-friendly activities your kids are sure to love.

14. Get up close with animals at Zoo Atlanta

This gigantic zoo is arguably one of the best in the nation with tons to explore and plenty of animals to observe. Animal lovers of all ages will enjoy viewing the tigers, lions, pandas, elephants, gorillas, orangutans, and dozens of other animals housed in the park. 

Pro tip: The park also has a few rides and a splash park for the younger members of your group to enjoy!

15. Go on an underwater adventure at the Georgia Aquarium

Just like its zoo, Atlanta’s aquarium is one of the best in the world. One of the best features is its floor-to-ceiling tank that houses a whale shark and stingrays, along with several schools of fish. Other exhibits include jellyfish, penguins, and a moving walkway that transports aquarium-goers under a tunnel aquarium with fish swimming on all sides.

Pro tip: There are several shows available for an additional price. The most popular option is the dolphin show, which many say is a must-see.

16. Play around at the Chick-fil-A College Football Hall of Fame

The College Football Hall of Fame contains a whopping 30,000 square feet of wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling exhibits, information, fun facts, and replays of the best moments in college football history. 

Pro tip: Football fans of all ages love the playing field where you can test your football skills and try kicking a field goal on the 45-yard line.

Bucket List Foods and Restaurants in Atlanta

No trip to the South would be complete without a food bucket list. Here are five foods you have to try when you’re in Atlanta.

17. Feast on Atlanta-style BBQ at Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q

Though Texans and Kansasites both claim “Q” as their specialty, BBQ is known throughout the south, and Atlanta is no exception. Numerous locations throughout Atlanta offer up delicious feasts. Try Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q for mouth-watering brisket and Heirloom Market for Korean-fusion BBQ.

18. Sip a Frosted Orange at The Varsity

The Varsity has been an Atlanta staple since 1928, and it’s a fan favorite of all Atlantians. They’re most well-known for their mouthwatering burgers, hotdogs, peach hand pies, and their “frosted orange.” 

The milkshake is crafted by blending vanilla ice cream with The Varsity’s orange drink, and it’s a must-try.

19. Sit down for a southern-style breakfast at Home Grown

Make sure you’re hungry when you head over to Home Grown for breakfast. Everything they serve is amazing, but the most popular item on the list is their Comfy Chicken Biscuits.

This humongous plate is made by slicing a fresh, fluffy biscuit in half, placing a juicy piece of hot fried chicken on top, then ladle a generous portion of pork sausage gravy all over the top. 

20. Have some soul food for lunch at The Busy Bee Cafe

The Busy Bee Cafe has been satisfying Atlantians with its mouthwatering fried chicken since 1947, and it’s well worth a stop. In addition to fried chicken, you can order soul food like collard greens, mac and cheese, and yams.

Pro tip: While there, check out the pictures of all the stars and politicians that have eaten at the cafe. Bonus points if you can find the picture of President Obama!

21. Go on a food tour at Ponce City Market

Ponce City Market is a food hall and boutique marketplace you have to see. It’s located in an old Sears, Roebuck and Co. warehouse, and you’ll want to plan a couple of hours to wander its length and breadth.

You can find all types of delicious cuisine here from Indian food and vegan specialties to fan-favorite burgers and craft pizza.

Explore Atlanta

No matter how much time you have to spend in Atlanta, we know you’ll enjoy every minute of it. You may not get to everything on this list, but that’s okay! The important thing is to choose activities you know that you and your family will love. Do that, and you’re sure to create memories to last a lifetime.

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