Things to do in Atlanta

Iconic Atlanta: A Journey Through Historic Landmarks

Get ready for adventure as you visit some of the top Atlanta landmarks. There's plenty of excitement for all ages to enjoy.

Atlanta, the sultry, hot, and thriving capital of Georgia, appeals to our love of history. Founded in 1837, its roots are deep, an entwinement of beauty, significant happenings, culture, secrets, and scandal.

Visiting one of the historical sites is one of the most intriguing and enlightening things you can do in Atlanta. Each one pays homage to a notable event woven through the fabric of this exceptional locale.

How can we not adore a city where charming locals have a reverent outlook on the past, a passion for the present, and a commitment to future advancement?

It also happens to be the site of Cirque du Soleil ECHO, our inspiring performance. There’s no doubt Atlanta is a place worth living in and visiting. Let’s take a journey through the city via its assemblage of historic Atlanta's iconic landmarks and places.

1. Centennial Olympic Park

Compared to many historic sites throughout Atlanta, Centennial Olympic Park is one of the newer spots to earn the status, and rightfully so.

This massive 22-acre park was built for the 1996 Summer Olympics but today serves as a gorgeous green space that’s the site of events throughout the year.

Aimlessly wander through the Magnolia Tribute Garden, reflect at the Quilt of Nations, and take in the views of the water features. Centennial Park is open daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Photographer: Luis Negron

2. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was an admired figure, a revolutionary icon committed to the belief in equality and the power of making a positive impact.

One of the most well-known parks in Atlanta, Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park, is less of a park in the traditional sense. It's more of a tribute to his legacy and the civil rights movement.

It’s where to go when you want to look back at the very beginning of his life, honor the physical end of it, and reflect on everything he accomplished in between.

The beautiful park is the site of his birth home, Ebenezer Baptist Church, where he preached throughout much of the 1960s, and his and his wife's final resting place.

Visitors can pay their respects and learn more about his life from Monday through Saturday.

3. Krog Street Tunnel

We embrace the edgy and creative, and that’s exactly what you can do as you make your way through the Krog Street Tunnel.

Linking the neighborhoods of Inman Park and Cabbagetown, it’s a fascinating space where street art is welcomed and appreciated.

Onlookers gaze upon its intricacies, vibrant colors, and spray-painted overlapping images and declarations, while also using it as an opportunity for selfies.

Dating back to 1912, the tunnel is an ever-changing, multi-artist masterpiece that you can drive through. Or, you can use one of the walkways on either side to get a closer look at the graffiti.

Photographer: Michael Denning

4. The Vortex

You can’t miss the Little 5 Points neighborhood location of The Vortex — literally and figuratively. The entrance to the eatery is a 20-foot-high, open-mouthed “Laughing Skull” with eyes reminiscent of Billy the Puppet’s cheeks from Saw fame. It’s wild and weird, just the way we like it.

Another location of The Vortex — sans the skull — is in Midtown. Giant photographic skull aside, both locations serve up delicious bar food in an edgy, fun atmosphere.

The Vortex is 21-plus/adults-only, so the children will have to stay at home if you’re opting to dine there. But, they offer delivery and take-out services, so kids can enjoy their juicy burgers without stepping foot in the establishments.

Each spot is open seven days a week.

5. SkyView Atlanta

Drone images, airplane rides, and helicopter tours aren’t the only ways you can get phenomenal views of Atlanta. SkyView Atlanta, the 200-foot Ferris wheel that opened to the public in 2013, consists of 42 gondolas, two of which are wheelchair accessible.

Standard gondola rides don’t require reservations, but you’re going to need one if you want the VIP gondola experience. Rides last between seven to 12 minutes, giving you plenty of time to take in panoramic views. Climate-controlled interiors keep you from sweating profusely during hot summers.

6. Georgia Capitol Museum

The gold-domed roof and grand stature of the Georgia Capitol Museum make this a highly recognizable building in Atlanta.

Architects Willoughby Edbrooke and Franklin Burnham designed the National Historic Landmark, which was finished on June 15, 1889, and it’s been Georgia’s seat of government ever since. Free self-guided and guided tours are available, the latter requiring advance reservations.

Free tours are also available for the museum in the Georgia State Capitol. On weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., visitors can view artifacts and exhibits while learning more about the rich American history.

Photographer: Mehmet Suat Gunerli

7. Mercedes-Benz Stadium

Soccer and football fans — you need to put Mercedes-Benz Stadium on your must-see list. Similar to how our performers challenge their bodies as part of their craft, the Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United FC members make their mark on their home base's field.

The Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, which opened in August 2017, offers individual, group, and school tours. Group tours consist of 15-plus individuals and require putting in a request, while individual public tour tickets are accessible online.

Treat yourself to the full experience with a general admission tour.

8. Ponce City Market

Put on your stretchy pants, and whip out your wallet to head over to Ponce City Market in Atlanta. Did we mention the amusement park on the roof?

Ponce City Market is in what was once a Sears, Roebuck & Co warehouse distribution center and retail store in 1925, which then turned into the City Hall East city offices in 1991.

Fast forward to 2010, when Jamestown bought the building, and the journey of Ponce City Market began. In 2012, Dancing Goats Coffee Shop became the first tenant to open its doors. We love a good coffee story but adore coffee even more.

Today, Ponce City Market is a property brimming with stores, apartments, offices, restaurants, and more.

Its food hall features a diverse selection reflective of Atlanta itself. Some dishes include Iranian food, vegan food, cake, pizza, Korean cuisine, Chinese food, and burgers — selections that appeal to every craving you have.

It’s a must-visit before catching the Cirque du Soleil ECHO performance when you can’t yet decide what you want to eat; you just know you want it to be good.

The Roof, open every day, is a dream when you desire varied activities in a single selfie-worthy location with a boardwalk, rides, food, games, events, classes, and activities.

You don’t even have to go to Alaska if you want to hang out in an igloo. Check out the Nine Mile Station, which — for a limited time — has heated, decorated igloos in which you can sit and grab a meal.

For an extra cost, you can slip on some skates and spin around in circles while ice skating. And yes, reservations are required.

Photographer: emma valerio

9. Michael C. Carlos Museum

Located on the Emory University campus and open seven days a week, the Michael C. Carlos Museum has a vast collection of ancient art from around the world.

Art aficionados and newbies can explore works from the United States and Africa to Europe and Asia. Exhibitions change periodically, so check their schedule for up-to-date information.

10. Stone Mountain Park

Want to feel connected with nature and in awe of breathtaking beauty? Visit Stone Mountain Park, a recreational area consisting of 3,200 acres, including a 363-acre lake.

Its pièce de résistance is the mountain itself, towering more than 1,600 feet, making it the world’s biggest known piece of exposed granite.

There are activities and attractions for everyone there, making it easy to get worn out by the end of the day. Two golf courses, a Dinosaur Explore attraction, and a scenic train ride are only some of the activities that keep everyone engaged.

There are even buildings dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries, acquired from their original locations across Georgia and restored.

Get a little adrenaline rush by hopping on Summit Skyride, a high-speed Swiss cable car. It brings you up 825 feet to Stone Mountain. Get ready to take in all the views, and envelop yourself in this thrilling experience.

11. Center for Puppetry Arts

We’re all familiar with certain puppets who have captured our hearts over the years — Kermit the Frog, Elmo, and Lamb Chop, to name a few. However, puppetry dates back thousands of years, an art form that the Center for Puppetry Arts recognizes in a multitude of ways.

Originally opened in Midtown Atlanta, the museum is decked out in a vibrant green diamond pattern and features artistic performances, exhibitions, events, and workshops that even adult visitors can enjoy while giving a gentle hug to their inner child.

Although the museum opened in 1978, it has expanded to offer online programs. Explore the museum in person while you’re in Atlanta, but hop onto their website whenever you want to revisit your experience and see what offerings they have from wherever you are in the world.

Get your puppet education from Tuesday through Sunday, and you don’t even have to pay for parking.

12. Krog Street Market

The Krog Street Market, set in a 1920s warehouse in Inman Park, is technically a food hall and market, but that oversimplifies the high-quality food journey that awaits you.

It’s yet another Atlanta food and beverage gastro experience worthy of visiting before our show. There's no shortage of food options inspired by cuisines across the globe.

Dig into garlic naan, guacamole, a thick sandwich, a cheesy slice of pizza, salad, fried chicken, falafel, or one of the other options.

Have a sweet tooth? We get it. Snag a donut, pastry, cotton candy, chocolate, and ice cream. Wine, beer, and cocktails are also available.

Hours vary by restaurant, so check out the options that interest you. That way, you're prepared for your impending food coma.

13. Delta Flight Museum

Your trip to the Delta Flight Museum concludes when you’ve reached your destination at the original 1940s Delta Air Lines aircraft hangars and the corresponding plaza.

While Delta Air Lines is a major focus of the museum, it’s also a chance to explore aviation history as a whole. Pack your bags and learn more about the airline industry through programs, exhibits, and events while viewing artifacts that will inspire you to take to the skies.

Private and public tours are available for a more in-depth approach to the encounter.

Photographer: Robert Stearns

14. Atlanta BeltLine

The Atlanta BeltLine has been a massive undertaking. Consisting of 22 miles of a once-active rail line, the multi-use trail provides an opportunity to put on your sneakers or climb on a bike and make your way through several areas of Atlanta.

It takes you to the doorstep of some of the best spots in the city and brings you face-to-face with thought-provoking creative works that you’ll see along the way. If you didn’t get a chance to enjoy the pieces as long as you would have preferred, explore the online art gallery that features the incredible work.

Want a guide to lead the way? Register for walking tours and bike tours, especially if you need added inspiration to get outdoors. There’s also a Run Club every Thursday evening. Peruse the Atlanta BeltLine calendar, where there are classes, writing exhibitions, kids' playdates, Zumba, Yoga, history walks, and so much more almost every day of the week.

Click around the interactive map to discover details about access points, trails, parks, and art installations that are part of the BeltLine.

15. Jimmy Carter Presidential Library & Museum

Atlanta is home to the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library & Museum, a must-visit for political aficionados and fans of the 39th President of the United States. Construction on the project started in October of 1984, approximately four months after Cirque du Soleil was founded. Atlanta architectural firm Jova/Daniels/Busby, along with Honolulu architects Lawton, Umemura & Yamamoto, designed the library.

Completed in 1986, the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library & Museum, which is approximately 69,750 square feet on 30 acres of park space, has since grown to contain millions of pieces of great historical significance. Many areas, including the museum store, a full-scale replica of the Oval Office from the Carter administration, and exhibits in the gallery, are open to the public. It’s open Monday through Saturday, but if you don’t get to see everything you want, take a virtual tour online.

Gear Up for an Exciting Historical Experience in Atlanta

Every one of our performances, including ECHO in Atlanta, opens its doors with the intention of uplifting fans, capturing hearts, and boosting spirits. We aim to create an experience of joy that lasts far beyond when everyone goes home for the day, along with the feeling that dreams really are possible.

Every single one of the historical Atlanta landmarks on this list came to be because one or more people defied expectations and made it happen, even when others likely told them it was fruitless.

Are your dreams weird? Maybe. But we’re proof that dreamers are exceptional and possibilities are endless. We love a good impossible-turned-possible narrative.

Seek your inspiration at one of the many historical Atlanta landmarks across the city. While you’re at it, come experience our Atlanta shows for yourself. We look forward to seeing your beautiful face in the audience.

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