I could gush about Atlanta all day, as it is my hometown and former stomping ground. When asked to compile a list of things to do in Atlanta for HOW Design Live attendees, I excitedly began to list off all the things to see and do. Atlanta has a lot to offer in terms of a rich culture, a turbulent history, delicious dining, and a hopping social scene. I initially jotted down more than 50 places, then whittled it down to 42, and then condensed even more to 34. If you have any questions about the places below or you are looking for something specific, feel free to comment on here and I will get back to you.
And for those who don’t know about HOW Design Live, it is THE conference for graphic designers. The conference exponentially grows bigger and better year after year. After viewing this year’s schedule, I came to the conclusion that the HOW Design Live experience will surpass previous years, which is staggering considering last year’s brilliance and energy. As the largest gathering of creative professionals and designers, the conference provides designers with the optimal networking opportunities with the best and brightest speakers, industry-leading companies and peers. Check out Instragram photos from last year’s HOW Design Live to get a preview for this upcoming event.
Without further ado, here is my comprehensive list of recommended attractions to explore during your free time at HOW Design Live. Browse below for dining, drinks, museums and trails.
34 Things to do in Atlanta
Learn more about one of the world’s most recognizable brands, Coca-Cola, in its birthplace. It features a dynamic multimedia experience and an in-depth look at pop culture through Coca-Cola design and branding.
This is one of my personal favorite attractions. View Beluga Whales, Whale Sharks, Sea Otters and more at the Georgia Aquarium. It also features this visually stunning acrylic tunnel that makes you feel like you are deep-sea scuba diving.
This is a must-see attraction for college football enthusiasts. Only a year old, this state-of-the-art hall of fame highlights historic noteworthy events in college football with artifacts and multimedia exhibits.
Catch a broadway play at the historic Fox Theatre! A local favorite, the Fox Theatre is a National Historic Register and a landmark for the city.
Originally built for the 1996 Olympic Games, Turner Field has been the home for the Atlanta Braves since 1997. Consequently, this is also the last season that the Atlanta Braves will play at Turner Field as they are moving to a different stadium for the 2017 season.
Stone Mountain is exactly how it is sounds – a stone mountain. As a place of significant historical events, it has been transformed into a family-fun center that encourages recreation while it teaches Georgia history. Some of the attractions include the world’s largest laser show, a SkyHike where you walk through the tree tops, camping, and geyser towers.
I threw this one in because it’s fun and a non-typical, quirky adventure. Check out the Jim Henderson Collection as well as the Global Collection, which explores puppetry from all around the world.
Culture and History
A living memorial to the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr, the King Center houses public exhibitions on the Civil Rights Movement and the lives of Dr. and Mrs. Martin Luther King, Jr. The currently available exhibitions include: The Rosa Parks Room, The Gandhi Room, The Nobel Prize for Peace, The Freedom Hall. You may find out more about the King Center and exhibitions here.
One of my favorite spots for seeing local, national and international fine art pieces. The High’s exhibition list for May includes: works from the contemporary photographer, Vik Muniz; rare notebooks created by Jean-Michel Basquiat; I See a Story: The Art of Eric Carle (personally excited about this one. He illustrated and designed childhood books including The Very Hungry Caterpillar.) Find more exhibitions here.
This complex features an encompassing study of Atlanta history. It showcases experiences from the Civil War era to the 1996 Olympics and features Folk Art of the South. And for the literary-minded, this complex contains the apartment where Margaret Mitchell wrote Gone with the Wind. The Swan House, one of the famous houses in the complex, was featured in The Hunger Games movies as President Snow’s residence. Find out more about the center here.
Fernbank Museum of Natural History:
One of the highlights of our annual Dinosaur Birthday Bash is the opportunity to see a Giganotosaurus skull up close! #dino #dinos #dinosaurs #naturalhistory A photo posted by fernbankmuseum (@fernbankmuseum) on
Huge dinosaur statues and limestone tiles embedded with fossil fuels line the floor at the Fernbank museum. Explore scientific phenomena and the natural history of Georgia at this museum.
The Ponce City Market is one of the newest hot spots in Atlanta. A renovated Sears, Roebuck & Co building turned into a modern shopping center delight. This is a great place to browse local shops and eateries, all at your convenience. And it’s right off the Beltline, a path that travels throughout the city to various attractions.
Located at the beautiful Inman parks, Krog Street Market is the perfect place to immerse yourself in southern culture. Browse shops and various dining establishments in the historic neighborhood.
Located at the top of Westin Hotel, the Sun Dial is the highest rotating restaurant on the western hemisphere — at a mind spinning 723 feet high. Enjoy their delicious menu while gazing at a 360-degree panoramic view of the city. Or skip the meal for the liquid diet at their also-rotating bar.
Home of the famous, gourmet burgers. With two locations, one in Five Points and the other in Midtown (which also offers stand-up comedy), this burger joint is a must for those who enjoy experimentation with their patties.
A popular bbq joint in the metro area, Fox Bros BBQ is a top choice for experiencing Georgia BBQ.
A delicious pizzeria that is BYOB and has community-style eating. Sit down on a wooden picnic-style table and rub shoulders with other pizza lovers.
Situated in East Atlanta, Argosy offers inspired southern food and cocktails.
Locals’ Favorite Watering Holes
Sisters Louisa’s Church of the Living Room and Ping Pong Emporium – super fun featuring ping pong tournaments on Monday nights and Tarot Card readings on Tuesdays!
Ormsby – try the Teddy Graham shot – tastes exactly like the cinnamon Teddy Grahams! This bar also includes the favorite bar room games of pool and bocce ball.
Porter Beer Bar – my go to bar to discover libations from all over the world. Warning: their list is extensive. It might take you a few minutes to decide on what to drink.
The Wrecking Bar – my fellow Atliens have said this is one of their top favorite places to take guests. I, personally, haven’t been as it was under restoration when I lived in Atlanta.
Brick Store Pub – another personal favorite for beer selection. With a jaw-dropping list of beers and drinks, you’ll have a great time experimenting. Their food is not too shabby either.
Glenn Hotel and Sky Lounge – enjoy the beautiful skyline view while enjoying a yummy cocktail.
Bookhouse Pub – Enjoy a casual night of drinking at this local watering hole.It’s a low-key place perfect for grabbing beers and talking among your group.
Barcelona Wine Bar – they also offer tapas if you want something to nibble on while you recreationally drink wine.
Highland Tap – located in the beautiful Highlands neighborhood, this bar is a prize hideaway for local residents.
Prohibition – This Buckhead speakeasy will make you feel like you are a fun-seeking rebel living in the prohibition era.
The Sound Table – This Old Fourth Ward speakeasy provides you with some dancy-beats and powerful elixirs. It’s a perfect gathering place to socialize and dance the night away.
Metalsome at 10 High – Every Monday, Saturday, and Friday night, 10 High hosts Metalsome. It’s where you can jump on stage and karaoke along to your favorite songs with a live band. This place is always packed with an enthusiastic, fun crowd. 10 High is located directly under the Dark Horse Tavern in Virginia Highlands.
Here is a list of favorite places to jog or hike while exploring the city.
Bonus: Living Walls, A Homage to Atlanta’s Street Art
This website maps out all the beautiful murals and grafitti in the city of Atlanta. I highly recommend hopping on the website and scavenging around Atlanta, looking for great typography designs and street art. Some of Atlanta’s street art has been featured in the book, Culture + Typography,