If you only have one day in Atlanta, this itinerary will give you a little bit of everything — art, trees, tourist attractions, Southern cuisine, and skyline views. Although Atlanta is a driving town, it’s possible to reach all of these destinations via a combination of MARTA transit, rideshares, and walking. The MARTA can be taken directly from the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport to the Midtown Station to begin your day.
First things first, dig into regional eats at Empire State South in Midtown, which serves contemporary Southern-inspired cuisine in a modern, upscale setting. Think fried chicken biscuit with pimento cheese, egg, and bacon marmalade.
After breakfast, make your way to Midtown’s High Museum to spend the morning browsing the collection in its all-white Richard Meier- and Renzo Piano-designed surroundings. Check the website for current exhibitions and other happenings.
From the High, make your way to the Atlanta Botanical Garden for lunch at its Longleaf restaurant. If you choose to walk to the garden, it’s a pleasant 20-minute journey past mansion after mansion through the historic Ansley Park neighborhood. The restaurant’s dining room has floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the garden, and there’s also a rooftop terrace. Or you can grab a sandwich from Quick Café and eat your meal outdoors among the flowers and foliage.
After lunch, browse the various indoor and outdoor garden spaces at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. Each season brings a new exhibition to the gardens, so check the website for new happenings. No matter the season, be sure to take a turn on the Kendeda Canopy Walk, a suspension bridge that guides you through a small wooded area.
Make your way Downtown to spend the rest of the afternoon at the Georgia Aquarium, the World of Coca-Cola, or the National Center for Civil and Human Rights — whichever museum most interests you. All three sites occupy the same 22-acre Pemberton Place complex, so it’s possible to tour more than one if you have the time. It’s best to reserve tickets online ahead of time for each.
Grab a rideshare to the industrial-chic West Midtown area (aka Westside) for dinner at one of the neighborhood’s trendy restaurants. A few options are Miller Union for Southern-inspired farm-to-table fare, Cooks and Soldiers for Spanish tapas, or O-Ku for sushi.
Whether you eat dinner at O-Ku or not, check out its rooftop bar for a drink and a fantastic view of the Midtown skyline. After that, if you’re up for some friendly competition and music, head to The Painted Duck, a swanky bar and vast game room with duckpin bowling, shuffleboard, knuckleball, horseshoes, and more.