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15 Things Tourists Should Never Do in Atlanta

Picture of Jacy Topps
Updated: 16 March 2018
Filled with great museums, civil rights’ history, critically acclaimed restaurants and a proud summer Olympic host, Atlanta is a city primed for tourism. We take pride in our beautiful neighborhoods and Southern hospitality, but there are some dos and don’ts when visiting the city that’s “too busy to hate.” Here are 15 tips to help tourists navigate this amazing Southern metropolis.

Don’t make fun of our accents

Every region of the country has an accent, but you shouldn’t try to imitate them. If you don’t understand what an Atlanta local has said, politely ask them to repeat it. Their own dialect and the South is no different. Yes, we know Hollywood thinks they have mastered the Atlanta accent, but you shouldn’t.

We don’t call it “Hotlanta” and neither should you

We get, it’s really hot here, but our weather is one of our selling points. People flock to Atlanta because our summer generally starts in April. It’s not the worst mistake to make, but to people who live here, you’re just stating the obvious.

Don’t stare at the locals in Little Five Points

Filled with boutiques, bars and restaurants, the Little Five Points area in the city gives new meaning to individuality. Blue Mohawks, spiked jewelry, ripped tights, facial piercings and copious amounts of tattoos are just a few trends you’re likely to see in the area.

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Little Five Points in Atlanta | Pawel Loj

Please, don’t put down the Falcons

So you don’t have to become a fan of the team just because you’re visiting, but under no circumstance do you ever remind a loyal Falcon’s fan about their almost Superbowl win.

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Falcons football game at the stadium | James Emery

Don’t Ask Atlantans why their city shuts down when it snows

We even get a little annoyed with the chaos ourselves, but we definitely don’t like it when Northerners give their two cents. It’s not really the snow that frightens the city; it’s the ice. Hopefully the city is working on acquiring more salt trucks to tackle that climate change thing that’s affecting every region in the country.

We don’t eat soul food everyday, and neither should you

Yes, it’s true. You can find the best collard greens, fried chicken, BBQ, macaroni and cheese and other Southern cuisine in Atlanta. But the city boats other world-class cuisine including Thai, Vietnamese, Korean, Italian and French.

Know which Peachtree Street you want

There are 71 streets in Atlanta with a variant of “Peachtree” in their name. Peachtree Street begins at the financial district of Five Points, runs through Midtown up to Buckhead where it veers to the right and becomes Peachtree Road. Once it goes outside the city limits, it passes through the Brookhaven neighborhood, eventually entering Chamblee where it splits and you have Peachtree Road and Peachtree Industrial Boulevard.

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Peachtree sign in midtown Atlanta | Mark McElroy

Know how to order your hash browns at the Waffle House

Established in Atlanta, locals sometimes enjoy breakfast or a late-night bite after the club at the Waffle House. It’s open 24 hours a day and obviously has amazing waffles. But they’re famous for their hash browns. Be prepared to answer when your server asks how you want them – scattered, chunked, covered or smothered.

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Waffle House restaurant in Atlanta | Louise Gill

Don’t think you can walk everywhere

Unfortunately, Atlanta is not a walkable city. There are a few neighborhoods that connect, like Midtown and Old Fourth Ward thanks to the Atlanta Beltline, but Uber and Lyft will your best friends in the city. Marta, our public transit, can be great depending on your destination. But always map out your destination before hopping on Marta.

Don’t eat at national chain restaurants

Everyone loves the cheddar biscuits at Red Lobster or the blooming onion at Outback, but did you travel all the way to Atlanta to eat the same things you can have in your own hometown? Atlanta has a one-of-a-kind, eclectic dining scene that you shouldn’t miss out on. Check out the great restaurants, pubs and bistros in the Virginia Highland area of Atlanta.

Don’t miss a walk on the Atlanta Beltline

Transforming the city, the Atlanta Beltline is an urban project connecting 45 city neighborhoods. A system of rails, trails and greenspace, the project boasts street art, installations, restaurants with patios, trails for bike riding and dog walking and it even has a skateboard half-pipe.

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Street art on the Atlanta Beltline | TimothyJ

Don’t question our rainbow intersection at 10th and Piedmont

Home to over a quarter of a million LGBTQ residents, Atlanta seeks to be inclusive. The intersection at 10th and Piedmont has been a popular area for LGBTQ locals for decades. Each year for the PRIDE festival, the City of Atlanta painted the intersection rainbow to symbolize support. In 2017, the rainbow intersection was made permanent.

Somewhere over the 🌈 #DiscoverATL | #📷: @christopherbw

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Order a Pepsi at your own risk

Established in Atlanta, locals are extremely proud of the Coca-Cola Company’s roots. Created by Georgia native John Pemberton and bought out by another local businessman and former Atlanta mayor, Asa Griggs Candler, just about every establishment carries the carbonated soft drink. There’s even a museum dedicated to the beverage in Atlanta. Not to worry if you prefer a Pepsi, though; Atlanta will still show you that Southern hospitality they’re so famous for.

Don’t Skip the High Museum

The leading art museum in the Southeast, the High Museum of Art is not to be missed by tourists. Featuring African art, American art, European art, folk and contemporary art and photography, the museum includes a permanent collection that is extraordinary. The museum also features rotating exhibitions from world-renowned artists including Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol and Picasso.

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High Museum in Atlanta

Don’t miss out on the local microbrews

We all have our favorite beer, but it never hurts to try something new. Atlanta has a several local breweries that visitors will fall in love with. Most of the breweries offer a tour of their facility. But if tourist schedule is booked, make sure to pop into a pub or bar and try Sweetwater, Atlanta’s most known microbrew. Torched Hop, Wild Heaven Beer, Monday Night Brewery and Terrapin.