While Atlanta may experience the occasional storm from December through January, the city is blessed with a moderate winter climate and plenty of year-round sunshine. And because you can avoid the heat and humidity of the busy summer season, winter is an excellent time to explore the best of Georgia’s capital—a vibrant Southern gem with a storied past.
Start your sight-seeing journey at Atlanta’s History Center, a 33-acre complex that showcases the region’s history, from plantation life in the antebellum South to the impact of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. Then head to Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park, where you can walk in the footsteps of the civil rights hero. Other must-see historical attractions include the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, an immersive look at the movement in the U.S. and across the world; Centennial Olympic Park, home to the iconic Fountain of Rings made up of 251 water jets; and Oakland Cemetery, where the 70,000 graves include those of 7,000 Confederate soldiers.
Traveling with pint-size explorers? Add the Georgia Aquarium—home to more than 100,000 animals, including whale sharks swimming in a six-million-gallon tank—to your itinerary. And spend a few hours at the two-story World of Coca-Cola, a museum dedicated to the adored drink, or the Center for Puppetry Arts, a rare collection of the eponymous dolls from Europe, Asia, the Americas and Africa (there’s even an entire collection dedicated to Jim Henson’s work). The Zoo Atlanta, one of only three in the nation to United States to house giant pandas, as well as lions, zebras and other wild creatures, is also a family favorite. Or take in panoramic vistas of the city from a heated gondola on the SkyView Atlanta, a Ferris wheel that spins nearly 20 stories over Centennial Park. It’s particularly lovely during the holiday season, when twinkling lights pepper the metropolis.
For Sports Fans
Make sure to check out the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, a fan first, world-class stadium where you can catch a game, a concert, or even join a group or individual tour of this amazing venue. The College Football Hall of Fame is also a great option for die-hard sports fans.
Landmarks and Live Music
When night falls, check the schedule at the ornate Fox Theatre. Built in 1929, it’s one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks. Or opt to spend the evening listening to live music at Blind Willie’s, Atlanta’s oldest blues club; Northside Tavern, a laid-back dive bar; or Eddie’s Attic, a stage where the likes of John Mayer, Sarah Bareilles and Sheryl Crow have entertained crowds.
The Food Scene
Atlanta’s thriving culinary scene beckons foodies of all stripes. Try the Busy Bee Cafe or K&K Soul Food to feast on fried chicken with all the fixings (collard greens, cornbread dressing and fried okra), country fried steak and other Southern staples. Or if tasty barbecue is your forte, go to Fat Matt’s for rib or chopped pork sandwiches or Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q for brisket, pulled pork, and St. Louis spareribs. The city is also a hub for chefs from across the world, meaning you can get everything from top-notch sushi to killer Ethiopian. Standouts include My Abuelas Food (Puerto Rican), Talat Market (Thai) and BoccaLupo (Italian).
When you’re ready to take the edge off, Atlanta’s bars are ready to wet your whistle. For upscale concoctions, snag a table at 12 Cocktail Bar, located on the Roof at Ponce City Market (note: the holiday cocktails are divine), or Jojo’s Beloved, a disco-inspired lounge serving neon-hued sippers. Meanwhile, refreshing ales, IPAs, stouts and sours flow freely from taps at the city’s many breweries and brewpubs. Atlanta Brewing Company, Best End Brewing Company and Hippin Hops Brewery, Inc. are all worth ordering pints at.