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In the shadow of downtown, this bucolic expanse is a constant reminder of the city's history. Dating from the 1850s, the cemetery was the final destination for all Atlantans until 1884, when private burial grounds began appearing throughout the city. The oldest section is near the main entrance, where legendary golfer Bobby Jones and author Margaret Mitchell are interred, although locating Mitchell's plain headstone can be a challenge. A brochure from the cemetery office will help you find famous graves and interesting sections. Tours are offered March through October.
A few blocks to the east of downtown, the Sweet Auburn neighborhood is home to the birthplace of America's most influential Civil Rights leader. Operated by the National Park Service, this historic site contains Dr. King's boyhood home, his tomb and the Ebenezer Baptist Church where Dr. King and his father were both pastors. The district was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1977. This collective of historic monuments invokes poignant memories of Martin Luther King Jr., and the indelible mark that he has left on the American Civil Rights Movement. This historic site is home to many other monuments like King Center, the Ebenezer Baptist Church, the Prince Hall and a statue of the world-revered Mahatma Gandhi. The Visitor Center of the site shelters an insightful museum which sheds light on the legacy of Dr. King.
The most expansive and popular of Atlanta's city parks were originally laid out for the Cotton States and International Exposition of 1895, and it now attracts more than 2 million visitors annually. Dog owners, sun-seekers and sports enthusiasts flock to the Piedmont Park to enjoy the fair weather, largely unaware that this was the spot of the Battle of Peachtree Creek during the Civil War. Its picturesque locales also offer a romantic ambience. The 189-acre (76.48-hectare) facility is home to the Atlanta Botanical Gardens and scenic Lake Clara Meer, and plays host to many of Atlanta's favorite concerts and festivals.
Showcasing ancient Egyptian art, this 45,000-square foot (4180-square meter) museum is a brilliant addition to Atlanta's cultural landscape. Affiliated with Emory University, the museum's permanent collection of over 15,000 objects spans a historical stretch of nearly 9000 years, from the prehistoric cultures of the 7th Century BCE to the 20th Century. The museum also sponsors many special exhibitions, lectures, films, and workshops. Visit Cafe Antico for daily gourmet lunches in a dramatic setting.
Atlanta History Center is a great spot for history buffs. This comprehensive museum complex was founded in 1926 and chronicles the region's history which includes sections on the Civil War, Civil Rights movement, Southern folk crafts, Atlanta's expansion and much more. Spread across 33 acres (13.5 hectares), it consists of the Atlanta History Museum, Swan House, Tullie Smith Farm (Smith Family Farm), Margaret Mitchell House, Centennial Olympic Games Museum, Kenan Research Center and six beautiful gardens. It has various programs, festivals and events going on throughout the year. Considered to be among the biggest history museums in the country, each space is unique and distinct, giving a glimpse of an era bygone and stories to enthrall everyone. The Margaret Mitchell House is a hub for authors and amateur writers as it hosts yearly creative writing programs to keep the legacy of the celebrated writer, whose novel Gone with the Wind, is among the most loved books. Don't miss this center when in Atlanta.
The Jimmy Carter Library & Museum sits on 35 landscaped acres just east of downtown where the Virginia-Highlands meet Inman Park. The complex consists of five interconnected pavilions that house the offices of the former President, research and foundation facilities, and the Jimmy Carter Library and Museum, which includes thousands of papers and mementos from the Carter administration. The landscaped gardens feature a lake, as well as more than 400 plants and 80 varieties of roses, including the coral Rosalynn Carter rose.
The Atlanta Botanical Garden is one of the largest spectacles of plant life in the Southeast. Sprawling over 15 acres (six hectares), this natural oasis was established in 1976 and is located within stumbling distance of the famous Piedmont Park. It is home to the Fuqua Conservatory and Japanese gardens, both rich in globe-spanning flora. Follow a walking trail, great for couples, and admire exotic rose plantations and carnivorous specimens. In addition, guided tours and seasonal shows guarantee an entertaining botany lesson.
A rolling oasis nestled in the heart of downtown Atlanta, this lush park is interspersed with sprawling rock gardens. Built to enhance the infrastructure for the 1996 Summer Olympics, this park is fringed by a tapestry of buildings significant to the city, like the CNN Center, Philips Arena, and the Georgia World Congress Center. The nearly 500,000 commemorative bricks that make up its main walkway were part of fundraising efforts for the Games. During scorching Atlanta summers, children frolic in the ground-level Olympic Rings, which periodically shoot streams of water through their seven rings. One of the most promising features of the park is the fascinating 'Fountain of Rings', a technology-controlled fountain complete with music, light towers and a splash pad; not only is the fountain is a hive of fun and frolic, but it is also a great architectural feat. The park is also home to several other water features and is a massive locus for live music in the city's downtown. Bearing stunning semblances of natural wonders and an iconic Olympic legacy, Centennial Olympic Park is a site that Atlanta holds close to its heart.
This National Historic Landmark was built in 1929 as a Shrine temple, but through most of its storied history, it has served as Atlanta's premier theatrical venue. The Fox Theater is a marvel of Middle Eastern Revival architecture that spans a full city block, it is one of the largest theatres built in America during the golden age of the movies. Today, the theatre maintains a steady schedule of Broadway shows, operas, symphonic performances and rock concerts. Tours are available, but the best way to experience the Fox Theatre is through the night in the town.
Just east of Atlanta, Stone Mountain Park is a 3200-acre (1300-hectare) park centres on the world's largest exposed granite mountain. Skylift gondolas whisk visitors 825 feet (251 meters) to the top, where commanding views of the Georgia countryside await them. The north face's bas-relief memorial to Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson is one of the world's largest. An antebellum plantation, an antique auto museum and a petting zoo are all located within the park. Playing host to myriad activities such as camping, dining, and lodging, this park bears wooden mountain slopes bearing recherche Georgia oak, natural pools as well as delightful, verdant foliage. During the summer, there are evening laser light shows on the mountain, whereas the Great Barn and Geyser Towers are other attractions in the park. Some of the major trails coursing through the park include the Cherokee Trail, Walk-Up Trail, Nature Garden Trail, and Songbird Habitat Trail.
The Georgia Aquarium opened in 2005 as one of the largest aquariums in the world. Located in downtown Atlanta, it is undoubtedly a breathtaking experience for all its visitors. A generous endowment from Bernard Marcus, the co-founder of Home Depot, made this dynamic aquarium possible. It showcases exotic sea creatures such as giant groupers, beluga whales and whale sharks. With 500 species, you will see something new and different no matter when you visit. One can opt for sleepovers with friends and enjoy a night-time experience of the aquarium. In addition, it also offers an expansive educational program for students of all ages and several interactive animal experiences.
Just minutes from downtown Atlanta in historic Grant Park, the exciting Zoo Atlanta features the Southeast's most impressive collection of wildlife from around the globe. Legend says that the zoo got its start when the owners of a traveling animal show went bankrupt and suddenly fled town. Today, popular exhibits include daily elephant demonstrations, giraffe feedings, and the acquired Chinese pandas. Various spots within the zoo make for wonderful locations to host private celebrations.