- Richard Tulis
Atlanta, being the Southeastern mecca that it is, has several intriguing museums conveniently located throughout the city. Their focuses ranging from Southern history to contemporary, college division athletics, they cater to many different special interests. Some of them have been around since 1926 – others are brand new addenda to the city, just a few years old. Make sure to embrace the multiple walking tours and electrifying visuals of these top seven museum attractions in Atlanta, Georgia.
World of Coca-Cola
Perfect for either first time visitors to Atlanta or lifelong natives without the gusto to find parking downtown, the World of Coca-Cola, or simply ‘Coke,’ is situated a stone’s throw from the Georgia Aquarium (see below). The Wonka-esque attraction showcases the dexterity and versatility of the world’s favorite soft drink – and one of Georgia’s all-time most successful businesses. Sample flavors, win prizes, and experience interactive videos, all in a 100% certified environmentally friendly building.
World of Coca-Cola, 121 Baker Street, Atlanta, GA, USA, + 1 404 676 5151
Atlanta History Center
This historical bastion boasts award-winning exhibitions straight from the heart of charming Buckhead. Offering all-inclusive tickets, the museum delivers full tours of the Margaret Mitchell House – home to antebellum icon Gone With the Wind – among several other venues (1928 Swan House, 1860s Smith Family Farm). The museum has had plenty of time to grow since its 1926 charter, and it serves as a year-round host to both adults and youth. Its Buckhead campus in-house exhibitions gleam with military history, decorative visual artistry, and enriching information at every turn.
Atlanta History Center, 130 West Paces Ferry Road, Atlanta,GA, USA, + 1 404 814 4000
Not even ten years old yet, the second largest aquarium in the world has a reputation that precedes itself. Whale sharks, beluga whales, bottle-nose dolphins, manta rays, and river otters line the transparent glass walls. The halls are packed full of guests every day from open to close; the visual reward from a quick stroll through one of its many exhibits is clearly enough to keep business booming. Looking for a thrill? Georgia Aquarium’s live petting tank allows guests to stroke the backs of manta rays and even small sharks!
Georgia Aquarium, 225 Baker Street, Atlanta, GA, USA, + 1 404 581 4000
Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site
Less of a typical museum and more of a monumental shrine to one of history’s greatest leaders and icons of peace, the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site breathes a bit of awe into sightseers. After orientation at the visitor center, a ranger will take guests through Dr. King’s original birth home on Auburn Avenue; a few other tours (such as that of Dr. King’s Ebenezer Church) are also offered, but are self-guided. We recommend ensuring early arrival, as the lines back up quickly and tours can sometimes take several hours to become available.
Fernbank Museum of Natural History
For a more animated experience – but one filled to the brim with stark factual information – visit Fernbank, in the beautiful, green, Druid Hills-Decatur neighborhood of Atlanta. Here you’ll see pterodactyls, bobcats, and other wild beasts leaping off the walls, frozen in mid-motion, realistically modeled and fitted with taxonomic plaques. One of the most amazing parts of Fernbank is its IMAX® theatre (purchase tickets online ahead of time), the largest film format around. The Fernbank IMAX® screen stretches five stories high and 72 feet wide, offers surround sound, and runs in tandem with cocktails on Friday nights all summer.
Fernbank Museum of Natural History, 767 Clifton Road, Atlanta, GA, USA, + 1 404 929 6300
College Football Hall of Fame
One of Atlanta’s newest and sleekest attractions, the College Football Hall of Fame merges the historical workings of the game with the technical aspects of helmet design and training equipment technology. Take a stroll through the helmet design exhibit and find your favorite school – or stop by the museum’s skill zone and drill a couple of field goals yourself! With plenty of high-energy videos and interactive elements of immersion, this new hot-spot is perfect for college football fans of any age.
College Football Hall of Fame, 250 Marietta Street, Atlanta, GA, USA, + 1 404 880 4800
The High Museum of Art
Its walls are adorned with some of the most innovative, contemporary, and experimental pieces in the nation. Its edifice is the prized craftsmanship of award-winning architectural leaders Richard Meier and Renzo Piano. The High Museum has perhaps the most to offer visually of any Atlanta museum. Located on Peachtree Street in vibrant Midtown, the museum is able to cater to a multitude of crowds – the rate at which its exhibits rotate never seems to slow, making it much more than a one-stop experience. Experience vanguard artistry and outstanding diversity at the pinnacle of Southeastern art museums.
High Museum of Art, 1280 Peachtree Street, Atlanta, GA, USA, + 1 404 733 4400
By Richard Isaac Tulis