Our downtown tourist attractions are kitschy, but if you skip them, you’re doing yourself a disservice.
First, head to Centennial Olympic Park to snap photos at the Fountain of Rings and the five Quilt statues. Across the park at World of Coca-Cola, pay homage to the city’s homegrown soda by visiting the massive vault where the recipe is kept, hugging the polar bear mascot, and sampling various Coke products from around the world (skip the Beverly—trust us). You’ll leave with your own souvenir glass Coke bottle.
Next door at the Georgia Aquarium, the largest aquarium on this side of the planet, you can wave to the whale sharks and beluga whales, crawl through a transparent tunnel for an up-close look at the African penguins, or giggle at sea otter antics. If you’re seeking a more profound experience, sit at the lunch counter at the nearby Center for Civil and Human Rights (more on that here).
On the opposite end of the park sits the CNN Center, where you can tour the headquarters of Ted Turner’s 24-hour news channel. (No, Anderson Cooper doesn’t work here—most of the big anchors are New York-based. But HLN is still filmed here at home.) Don’t miss the gift shop, which features Cartoon Network and Adult Swim goods alongside the CNN merch. A few blocks away is the College Football Hall of Fame, where you can light up the helmet of your alma mater on a massive wall as soon as you walk in—provided you went to one of the more than 760 represented.
Hungry? The Waffle House on Andrew Young International Boulevard can get pretty crowded, but nothing quite says “Atlanta” like smothered and covered hash browns. End the day by riding the SkyView Ferris wheel at dusk.