Photograph by Andrew Thomas Lee
Atlanta, the epicenter of the Civil War and the Civil Rights movement, has become an increasingly popular destination since hosting the 1996 Summer Olympics. The city boasts the booming Buckhead shopping and financial district, and the Georgia Aquarium, which houses more than 100,000 animals. From April 17 to 19, the SweetWater 420 music festival in the 21-acre Centennial Olympic Park features Snoop Dogg, 311, and Thievery Corporation. The city’s pace is relaxed—ride-sharing services and MARTA make getting around easy—but we recommend advance reservations and tickets for top attractions.
Delta Air Lines flies nonstop to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport from John Wayne Airport.
See: At The King Center east of downtown, visitors get a vivid sense of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights struggle. Tour the MLK National Historic Site, which includes exhibits about the man and the movement, his birth home, burial site, and the nearby Ebenezer Baptist Church (free). CNN’s global headquarters offers guided 50-minute walking tours that often include views of programs in progress ($12 to $16). Drink in the history of Coca-Cola during a multimedia tour that includes a bottling plant and tastings of more than 100 of the company’s beverages (free to $16).
Taste: At Heirloom Market BBQ, fused Southern and Korean barbecue becomes “Seoul” food, where kimchi cole slaw and sweet-and-sour tofu coexist with Texas brisket chili, collard greens, and classic mac ’n’ cheese ($8 to $29). At Buckhead’s Umi, Chef Fuyuhiko Ito crafts combinations of sushi, sashimi, and tempura, served a la carte or omakase style ($75 and up), all of which has Atlantans gushing. Even the green tea souffle is famous. Chef Ford Fry has built a local restaurant empire, but his St. Cecilia is tops for fresh pasta and inventive seafood dishes ($7 to $39), including this razor clam-and-apple dish.
Relax: The St. Regis Atlanta ($350 to $6,000) is renown for its butler service, afternoon tea, and layers of luxury—fireplaces, an art collection, and chef Gerry Klaskala’s new Atlas restaurant. The Mandarin Oriental ($455 to $950) offers private yoga, hair and makeup services, and personal training. Dark wood and chandeliers radiate luxury at the 510-room Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead ($249 and up), with amenities such as marble baths and mahogany floors, plus a fitness center and pool. Downtown’s all-suite Twelve Centennial Park ($150 to $450) offers full kitchens.