Things to do in Atlanta

Unconventional Atlanta: A Guide to the City's Most Unique Experiences

It's time for big fun in the Big A! Have the time of your life with these unique things to do in the great city of Atlanta.

Every visit down south has to have at least a little time set aside for some delicious cooking. But once you’ve had your fill of fried chicken and pimento cheese-stuffed deviled eggs, it’s time to explore your surroundings from another angle.

This list of unique things to do in Atlanta bypasses the normal tour stops in favor of fun, quirky, and downright spine-chilling adventures. These fan favorites will leave you breathless in anticipation of what comes next.

1. Take A Tour of the Atlanta BeltLine's Art Installations

The heart of Atlanta is encircled by a 22-mile multiuse trail called the Atlanta BeltLine. While the primary purpose of this corridor is transit, the city’s most creative minds have given it another function as a public art exhibit.

Touring the art on the Atlanta BeltLine gives you insight into the voices and experiences of hundreds of contributors, including visual artists, musicians, and performers.

Use interactive maps to locate the installations you want to see most. Learn more about the people behind the work before you hit the trails. From a mural of the late rapper Takeoff to 33 scattered stainless-steel leaf sculptures, the art forms here are as plentiful as they are varied.

2. Visit The Doll's Head Trail at Constitution Lakes Park

In a city of incredible history and culture, there are also unique experiences Atlanta locals don’t always put on sightseeing lists. The Doll’s Head Trail at Constitution Lakes Park is one such experience. This hidden gem in Atlanta is part hike and part public art in progress.

Traverse over paved and unpaved trails, bridges across marshy lakes, and the swampy curves of the wetlands. You’ll see tons of wildlife and a collection of discarded children’s toys thoughtfully gathered and placed to create a collective triumph of originality and spirit.

True, the dirty dolls’ heads and broken bottles with handwritten messages scribbled on tiles might initially seem eerie. But, much like this off-the-beaten-path experience, we embrace and celebrate the bizarre — see our performers for further proof.

The trail is left cleaner, thanks to the efforts of the artists involved, and anyone who hikes here can take part in the trail’s stewardship.

Plus, with those tiny plastic faces peering at you from breaks in the foliage, you’ll never feel like you’re out there alone.

Photographer: Jamaal Hutchinson

3. Explore the CDC Museum

Most people know the CDC as a leading science-based and data-driven organization that helps promote public health. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the voice of the CDC helped us figure out how to properly wash our hands and keep sneezes to ourselves.

Everything the CDC does and has discovered has been rolled into one package and is now on deck as one of the most unique things to do in Atlanta, GA.

At the David J. Sencer CDC Museum, you can tour CDC Headquarters in Atlanta, and you’ll get an up-close look at exhibits explaining the history of the CDC, how the organization contributed to the elimination of polio, and what’s being done about modern-day concerns, such as obesity and Ebola.

Others dig deeper into hot-button topics, such as the lingering presence of segregation and health issues post-9/11. With diverse exhibits, the museum creates a well-rounded, holistic view of the current state and future of public health.

4. Attend a Performance at The Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse

This unique Atlanta experience brings the words of The Bard all the way from the United Kingdom to a cozy location on Peachtree Street. The Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse is a professional theater with its own cafe, meaning you can eat, drink, and be merry.

Take in productions of classic works, such as Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and Shakespear’s Romeo and Juliet and The Merchant of Venice, while digesting dishes off the preshow menu, including period-inspired delicacies, such as shepherd’s pie, Cornish pasties, and a sausage sandwich.

There’s a bar, too, in case you want a vodka and tonic or a large jar of mead (we’re just guessing) at intermission. On top of performances, the Atlanta Shakespeare Co. is heavily focused on community outreach and education.

If you’re in town at the right time or call Atlanta home, you can enroll in a workshop or take advantage of college internships and apprenticeships that could help you live out your own dream of becoming a bastion of the arts — just like ol’ William.

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5. Discover the Wonders of the Fernbank Science Center After Dark

Once a month, the Fernbank Science Center hosts an after-hours get-together that gives adults access to a full range of museum exhibits.

Oh, and there’s also live music, a full bar, and tapas to fuel your explorations. It’s Fernbank After Dark, and it’s a must-include item on every list of unique things to do in Atlanta.

Every second Friday of the month, Fernbank opens its doors to couples, friend groups, and science aficionados who want to learn while laughing and enjoying one of the best happy hours in the Big Peach.

Themes, such as Cocktails & Candy Canes, tie into seasonal happenings, so you can enjoy a peppermint martini while you get to know a room full of mammoths and mastodons.

6. Experience the Trap Music Scene With a Visit to the Trap Music Museum

One of the most unique experiences in Atlanta draws on a subgenre of music that began in the South before spreading into the mainstream.

The Trap Music Museum is an interactive look at the rise of trap music. It includes fascinating exhibits dedicated to the people who originated the style and space for emerging artists to make their mark.

This is no ordinary museum, either. Every exhibit is more like an art installation, with vignettes set up to acknowledge the places music was made — sometimes in spots as commonplace as a garage — and how often trap artists were caught up in the legal system.

Interestingly, the Trap Music Museum also has its own escape room. You can learn about the trap and try to evade your own imprisonment before the timer runs out.

7. Relax at Jeju Sauna, a Traditional Korean Bathhouse

While you’re in Atlanta, experiences such as a day at Jeju Sauna will help you grasp just how diverse the city truly is. Jeju is based on long-standing Korean bathhouse traditions.

Instead of paying for each service you’re interested in, you’ll pay a single admission fee that gives you access to everything from saunas and steam rooms to hydrotherapy spa pools and a fitness center.

The experience is an intoxicating blend of new and old. Bricked and tiled walls and ceilings alternate between neutral coloring and scenic murals.

Purified air dispensers enrich the environment with oxygen, and the entire facility is shoe-free. Guests wear watch keys that correspond to their lockers and track extra purchases, such as focused spa services and snacks.

Jeju Sauna is open 24/7, 365 days a year — yes, even on holidays. Because there’s no reservation system in place, the facility is always first come, first served. Just show up, and get ready to sink into total relaxation.

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8. Enjoy a Movie Night at Starlight Drive-In Theatre

Starlight Drive-In Theatre near East Atlanta was built in 1949, but the style is all 1920s art deco. Over the decades, the theater has grown from a single-screen enterprise to a massive, multiscreen complex that does a brilliant job of balancing vintage charm and modern amenities.

Come for a double-feature, and you'll see the latest releases from Tinseltown shown on state-of-the-art video paired with clean and crisp audio — all you need is a working FM radio.

On the weekend, the drive-in transforms into a flea market where you can buy trinkets for your home or an outfit to wear the next time you come to one of our shows.

9. Sip Cocktails at Atlanta's Secret Speakeasies

This is one of the most nostalgic experiences in Atlanta. There's a smattering of speakeasy-style bars and lounges across the city.

Some such as 12 Cocktail Bar, are so dedicated to the concept that they don’t even have menus. Just tell the bartenders what you like, and they’ll whip up something that’ll excite your taste buds.

For another option, head over to Himitsu. The bar's name means “secret” in Japanese, so it makes sense that it's so exclusive there isn’t even a website or phone number to call for information. Instead, you’ll need to email the powers that be at hello@puraibeto.com, using the subject line “LOVE.”

If there’s availability, you’ll receive a response with a code for entry. You can also try dining at Umi next door and asking your server for an in, but there are no guarantees — and that’s what makes it so spine-tinglingly fun!

10. Take a Graffiti Workshop With Local Street Artists

Public street art is part of the fabric of Atlanta’s culture, and now you can take a class that’ll teach you how to add to the colorful tapestry lining the city’s streets and tunnels.

Graffiti Class ATL merges classic art school techniques with urban canvases, encouraging participants to finally put their personal tag on sites chosen by head artist and teacher Malcolm Turpin.

It’s more than a class, though — it’s an immersive, authentic Atlanta art experience that sees eager groups working under attractions, such as the John Lewis Freedom Parkway bridge, while street musicians create a soundtrack around them and walkers and joggers whiz by.

Tickets include all supplies and a location of Turpin’s choice, and there’s not a poor option in the bunch.

11. Explore the Wren's Nest House Museum

The Wren’s Nest is a twice-exceptional attraction. Not only was the farmhouse created by Muse’s Clothing founder George Muse, but it was also the home of author Joel Chandler Harris, who wrote the Uncle Remus tales and worked as an editor for the Atlanta Constitution.

Later renovations gave the home a Victorian Queen Anne look — think lots of gables and dormers plus plenty of decorative wood accents. Now, the historic home is a museum dedicated to preserving traditional storytelling and facilitating creativity among the next generation of writers.

There’s an open house every Saturday with tours on the half-hour, or you can make an appointment for a private tour during the week.

The on-site amphitheater is a cornucopia of entertainment, too. There are often concerts and other special events on the docket, as well as private get-togethers, such as weddings.

12. Participate in an Immersive Escape Room Experience

If you’ve been thinking about testing your mettle, it’s time to book an immersive experience at one of these particularly cool spots in Atlanta. Escape rooms have grown in popularity over the last few years, and really, what’s not to love?

It’s adrenaline-boosting fun with a side of puzzle-solving. This is a stellar option for a date night, bachelor or bachelorette party, or even a team-building exercise for colleagues in town for a convention.

Breakout Games offers a variety of escape rooms in Atlanta, all with a different theme. Book yourself an island escape, mastermind a museum heist, or see what might happen if you were on a runaway train and needed to leap off, action star-style, ASAP.

The Escape Game Atlanta takes a different approach, incorporating multiple rooms into each game. You get unlimited hints, too, which will come in handy when you’re trying to navigate a prison break or find your inheritance inside a gold rush-era cabin.

Head out to Covington, a little over half an hour’s drive from central Atlanta, and you’ll find The Clock Tower Escape Room. Here, the rooms get their themes from pop culture, including escape challenges inspired by The Vampire Diaries and Stranger Things.

Both shows were filmed in and around Covington, so you may even run across a Demogorgon or werewolf lurking in the shadows.

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13. Go for a Ghost Tour in Atlanta's Historic Neighborhoods

A ghost tour is one of the spookiest — if not one of the coolest — things to do in Atlanta, especially if your belief in the paranormal is supersized. There’s a lot of history in this town, and the older a place is, the more opportunities there are for a good ol’ haunting.

The suburban town of Lawrenceville is the second oldest city in the greater Atlanta area, but rumor has it that turn-of-the-century renovations woke up sleeping spirits. Ghost tours in Lawrenceville include a 90-minute walk around key points, such as the old jail, vintage storefronts, and the historic courthouse square.

All the while, your guide shares tales of paranormal happenings that took place where you now stand. Atlanta Ghosts takes participants on a spooky 1-mile jaunt around the Midtown District, where hundreds of years of history have made conditions ripe for paranormal experiences.

Prepare for goosebumps as you listen to chilling tales about tragic fires, sketchy doctors, and the spirits they left behind.

14. Visit the Krog Street Tunnel for an Impromptu Art Gallery

One of the coolest things in Atlanta for art lovers is the fact that not all masterpieces are confined within the four walls of a proper gallery.

Visit the Krog Street Tunnel, wedged between Cabbagetown and Inman Park, and suddenly you’re surrounded by a collage of bright colors, words, and captivating images created by local artists. It’s an explosion of expression, and it’s absolutely free of charge.

Pro tip: You’ll want to take your time, so forget about driving through. You can park nearby and explore the tunnel on foot, or book a bike tour that includes the Krog Tunnel on its itinerary. Before you leave, swing into Krog Street Market to refuel for your next adventure.

Photographer: Michael Denning

15. Take a Quirky Atlanta History Tour on The Peachtree Trolley

Toot toot! Swing yourself up onto The Peachtree Trolley, and get to know Atlanta and its many green spaces, courtesy of a 90-minute, fully narrated tour.

Tours take off from the downtown area near Centennial Olympic Park and continue on past must-see sites, such as Mercedes Benz Stadium, the Atlanta BeltLine, MLK National Park, the Georgia Aquarium, Fox Theatre, and Oakland Cemetery.

Your guide will spill secrets about each place you pass, so you’ll get the skinny on the Big Peach as you’re safely perched inside the trolley.

Discover the Uniqueness of Atlanta Today

From visiting historic homes to hiking around doll heads, there’s no end to the list of unique things to do in Atlanta. Every unforgettable experience is designed to help you tick another box off your bucket list. With every sip of a speakeasy cocktail or photo of a graffitied wall, you’re creating another memory.

Let the memory-making continue with seats for one of our performances. Our shows in Atlanta help carry out our mission to bring thought-provoking, moving, and edgy productions to people who love out-of-this-world performances. Grab your tickets today and get ready to dream out loud, with our cast members as your guide.

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