Things to do in Atlanta

Buildings in Atlanta

The Big Peach is beckoning. Immerse yourself in Southern culture by visiting some famous Atlanta buildings.

Say hello to Atlanta, better known as Hotlanta, Dogwood City, or The Big Peach. You haven’t lived until you’ve enjoyed a piping-hot slice of peach pie, a tower of chicken and waffles, or a plate of fried green tomatoes from one of Atlanta's renowned restaurants.

Once you’ve had your fill of things to do in Atlanta, a vibrant city awaits. Its buildings soar above parks, playgrounds, and recreational spaces, creating a visually appealing skyline that draws you in and makes it so you never want to leave.

Before you catch a flight or hop in a cab, join us on a journey through some of the most famous buildings in Atlanta.

1. Georgia Aquarium

No, you’re not imagining things. The facade of the Georgia Aquarium looks like a boat hull, giving you a whimsical preview of what you’ll find inside. Designed by PGAV Architects, the aquarium opened in 2005, bringing hundreds of species and 8 million gallons of water all under one roof.

Now you can see bottlenose dolphins, African penguins, beluga whales, and more without sailing the high seas or setting foot near an ocean.

You might be wondering what all the fuss is about. After all, isn’t every aquarium pretty much the same? We promise that the Georgia Aquarium is anything but ordinary. Murals, special effects, lights, and audiovisual media come together to transport you under the sea and away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Atlanta.

Once you’re inside, feel free to explore the seven zones in any order. After all, there’s no law that says you have to start your journey at Sea Lion Theater and end it at Dolphin Coast.

Cheer on the penguins as they march through their habitat, count the stripes on a cichlid, or relax as you enjoy the slow-motion acrobatics of the colorful clownfish anemone.

Photographer: Matt Helbig

2. Fox Theatre

If you’re looking for a Hollywood vibe without going all the way to California, add Midtown Atlanta’s Fox Theatre to your itinerary. Originally used as a movie palace, the theater has welcomed some of the biggest names in entertainment, from Elvis Presley and Ray Charles to R.E.M. and Alan Jackson.

Patrons also flock to the “Fabulous Fox” to see touring productions of Funny Girl, Aladdin, and other Broadway favorites.

As you approach Peachtree Street, listen closely for the sounds of Mighty Mo, a pipe organ purchased in 1929. Mo has a mind-blowing 3,622 pipes, so there’s a good chance you’ll hear at least a few notes.

Before you settle in for a show, grab a snack, and see if you can find one of the many spirits said to wander the halls of this historic building. So far, they’ve all been friendly.

If the thought of catching a show with a spirit spooks you, check out the unique architectural details instead. Fox Theatre has domes, minarets, and parapets, making it feel as if you’re on vacation in Egypt or Morocco.

A network of sparkling lights and crystals transforms a ho-hum ceiling into a desert sky worthy of a magazine cover.

3. High Museum of Art

What do you get when you cross a giant cube with several wedges resembling the pie pieces from Trivial Pursuit? The High Museum of Art, of course!

By day, the white building stands out in stark contrast against the brick and stained glass of the nearby First Presbyterian Church of Atlanta. At night, the museum glows from within, becoming a beacon for weary workers making their way home via Peachtree Station.

Be on the lookout for portraits of Revolutionary War heroes, Neoclassical busts sculpted from the finest marble, and decorative items made from unconventional materials.

Don’t miss out on Green Chicken, a fiberglass sculpture that's the chicken version of a rocking horse. Artist Jaime Hayon introduced the rocking element to give the chicken a sense of movement.

You can’t hop on and take a ride, but you can enjoy the pop of lime green against the white background of the exhibit.

4. Fernbank Museum of Natural History

Embrace your inner child with a visit to one of Atlanta’s museums, the Fernbank Museum of Natural History. The historic structure isn’t just for children — its exhibits tend to evoke a sense of wonder and excitement in visitors of all ages.

That sense of wonder starts with the exterior, where it appears as if the building is growing straight out of the forest. The design team consulted with ecologists to create an outdoor experience that protects the surrounding landscape instead of damaging it.

Thanks to this thoughtful approach, the Fernbank Museum of Natural History serves as an oasis for Atlanta residents and visitors alike. Before you step inside, center yourself with a walk along the stream or gaze at one of the pods nestled high in the trees.

Once you make it indoors, explore the World of Shells, experiment with hands-on exhibits, or get up close and personal with a towering dinosaur skeleton. Star Gallery takes you on an out-of-this-world journey through the space-time continuum, making it the perfect place to wrap up a busy day.

5. Oakland Cemetery

Oakland Cemetery isn’t exactly a building, but it’s well worth a visit, especially if you’re craving a bit of solitude. Established in 1850, the cemetery now serves as a public park, ensuring that everyone can enjoy the land.

If you’re a history buff, stop by the Confederate Burial Grounds or make your way through Greenhouse Valley to see an old barn and steam plant.

No trip to Oakland Cemetery would be complete without a stop at Bell Tower Ridge, home to the Visitor Center and Museum Store. While you’re there, search through burial records to see if you can uncover a connection to your past.

Photographer: Alla Kemelmakher

6. College Football Hall of Fame

Score big with a stop at the College Football Hall of Fame, a marvel of iconic architecture that just happens to house an indoor playing field and a variety of interactive experiences.

The entrance looks exactly like a football, making it feel as if you’re running toward the end zone instead of entering just another building.

Inside, the design team used acoustic panels to achieve the look of a football stadium without all the noise. You probably won’t hear any roaring, but you may hear the excited chattering of other visitors as they take in the augmented-reality displays and college football artifacts.

7. Zoo Atlanta

Take a walk on the wild side at Zoo Atlanta, which blends wide-open spaces with exciting animal exhibits and eye-catching architecture. In 2015, city officials decided to close down Grant Park Cyclorama, the home of a larger-than-life painting of an 1854 Civil War battle.

Zoo Atlanta rescued the building and repurposed it as an event space with spectacular views of the giraffes, African elephants, zebras, and other animals living in its African Savanna habitat.

Savanna Hall features a Federal-style facade, evoking memories of the White House and Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello estate. After you admire the building, be sure to listen for the mighty roar of the African lion, enjoy the antics of the giant otter, and laugh along with the comical kookaburra.

8. Mercedes-Benz Stadium

If you combined the Louvre with the Sydney Opera House, you’d end up with a building that looks a little something like Mercedes-Benz Stadium. One of the tallest buildings in the area, this architectural gem has 83,000 seats and a game-changing retractable roof.

Don’t worry about getting rained out. The roof closes in about 8 minutes, turning an outdoor stadium into an indoor venue at the touch of a button.

Not a football fan? You’re in luck. Mercedes-Benz Stadium is also home to Atlanta United, the city’s professional soccer club. If sports just aren’t your thing, the stadium also plays host to some of today’s most popular musicians.

Rock, bop, or sway to the beat as you take in a performance by Zach Bryan, Luke Combs, or other big acts in music.

Photographer: Nate

9. Atlanta History Center

Step back in time at the Atlanta History Center, a 33-acre complex dedicated to preserving the nation’s collective memory. Rotating exhibits highlight some of the most important events in Atlanta's history, from the Civil War to the fight for equality during the Jim Crow era.

The complex is also home to several historic Atlanta buildings, including Swan House, Wood Cabin, and Smith Farm.

If you need a bit of fresh air, take a stroll through one of the nine gardens on the property. Swan House Gardens has a European feel, while Swan Woods has a tree canopy that wouldn’t look out of place in a Lord of the Rings reboot. Visit on a Saturday to catch a glimpse of heritage breed animals making the trek across the Atlanta History Center campus.

10. Center for Civil and Human Rights

The National Center for Civil and Human Rights exists to protect the dignity of all humans. With that mission in mind, architect Philip Freelon designed a building that mimics the shape of two cupped hands. These hands highlight the fragility of the human condition while also inspiring hope in all who see them.

The outside of the building features glittering tiles in multiple skin tones, highlighting the diversity that makes life interesting.

Inside the museum, you’ll take a journey through the American civil rights movement, starting with an entire floor dedicated to the story of Martin Luther King, Jr. The second floor has its displays arranged by year, letting you learn about each event as it happened.

Finish your tour at Spark of Conviction: The Global Civil Rights Movement to learn more about what you can do to protect the civil rights of your fellow Americans.

11. Piedmont Park

Move over, Central Park. There’s a new urban oasis in town. Designed by the Olmsted Brothers, Piedmont Park features winding walkways, sparkling lakes, and plenty of green space. It also has several dog parks, making it the perfect place to meet new pooches (and their owners).

We wouldn’t blame you if you just wanted to wander around and soak up the sunshine, but then you’d miss out on all the fun Piedmont Park has to offer. During the summer, locals flock to the pool and splash pad. If you’re athletically inclined, head to the Active Oval. It has a running track, two volleyball courts, and other features designed specifically for fitness enthusiasts.

Mayor’s Grove Playground has sensory-friendly equipment, making it the perfect place for kids of all ages and abilities. Curious kiddos will also love Noguchi Playscape, a sculpture garden designed to expose young visitors to different shapes, colors, and textures. Make a day of it by stopping at Green Market to pick up fresh bread, homemade jam, or other tasty treats.

Photographer: Kyle Sudu

12. Krog Street Market

Why go to one restaurant when you could visit a plethora of market stalls on the same property? Make your culinary dreams come true at Krog Street Market. The food hall has everything from fried chicken to sushi, giving you the freedom to try some of Atlanta’s most delectable dishes.

With so many options available, there’s no need to argue about where to go for dinner. Just grab what you like and meet up in the living room to relax and discuss your day.

Krog Street Market sits on the site of the former Atlanta Stove Works, a factory used to make cast-iron stoves and sheet metal. If you close your eyes and listen to the low hum of the crowd, you can almost feel the heat that used to radiate from the foundry equipment.

13. SkyView Atlanta

Put aside your fear of heights and climb aboard some true landmarks in Atlanta, such as the SkyView Ferris wheel. Soaring 20 stories into the air, the big wheel offers breathtaking views of Atlanta’s downtown skyline. Upgrade your experience with tickets for the VIP gondola, which has a glass floor and seats fit for royalty.

If you’re looking for a little romance, visit late in the evening, when the lights of iconic Atlanta buildings twinkle brightly in the inky sky. Daytime visits are best if you want to see Centennial Olympic Park.

Speaking of heights, our show Corteo uses music, lights, and thrilling acrobatics to blur the line between reality and fantasy. From the moment the first note rings out, our performers pull out all the stops to surprise and delight audience members. Go ahead — try not to gasp as you watch the clown descend from the sky. We dare you.

Photographer: Koushalya Karthikeyan

14. Delta Flight Museum

Like CNN, Coca-Cola, and other major corporations, Delta Air Lines calls Atlanta home. That’s great for aviation enthusiasts who’ve always wanted to visit an aircraft hangar from the 1940s.

Delta Flight Museum is home to some of its most famous planes, including the Delta crop duster, the Spirit of Delta, and Ship 41, a lovingly restored DC-3 that ended up in Puerto Rico after Delta Air Lines stopped using it for commercial flights.

We love the clever use of airplane parts to bring the whole design together. Instead of using traditional columns at the entrance, the design team decided to repurpose landing gear from decommissioned planes. Inside, one of the rooms has a jet engine built right into the wall.

The exhibits even use baggage carts to display artifacts. Before you leave, see how well you’d fare as a pilot by trying one of several flight simulators on the premises.

Explore the Buildings of Atlanta

Whether you’re visiting for the weekend or you call the Big Peach home, you can’t beat the beauty of these Atlanta buildings and parks. From the Atlanta History Center to the glamorous Fox Theatre, there really is something for everyone in this city. We hope you admire the creativity and innovation that went into creating these notable landmarks as much as we do.

Atlanta just wouldn’t be the same without these buildings, some designed from scratch and others repurposed to preserve the past while moving the city forward.

While you’re in town, enjoy one of our heart-pounding shows in Atlanta. Every performance takes you on an emotional journey, combining joyful, lighthearted movements with dramatic acrobatics to keep you spellbound. We can’t wait to welcome you into our exciting world.

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