Friday, January 22, 2010

Atlanta Activities

Atlanta is the capital of Georgia and the 8th largest metro area in the US. It's home to Coca-Cola, CNN, and Delta Airlines. Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is the world's busiest, although the majority of the passengers are in transit.

For tourists, Atlanta offers myriad options that touch art, pop culture, industry, entertainment, history, and sports. I visited here in 2001 and saw all of the major attractions at that time. I revisited some of them, but was put off by the 2010 prices, so am afraid that there's not much to talk about here.


The main attractions are downtown, all within walking distance of each other. The CNN Tour is $13 and can be interesting to see how difficult is to put together so many news broadcasts around the globe.

The World of Coca-Cola is $15 and gives a detailed history of the world's most popular soft drink. I'd been in 2001 so skipped it this time, but Sharpy's tells me that it gives you a sense of why it is such a commercial juggernaut. Below is a statue of John Pemberton, inventor of Coca-Cola, located just outside the main entrance.

The Georgia Aquarium is nearby, but at $27 is far more than I would pay to see fish. Here's a picture out front.

The High Museum of Art is located near the Marta Arts Center station and is $18. It takes 3-4 hours to see the whole thing, which I didn't have time for, so I took a picture of a big horse sculpture out front.

As an aside, living in Japan has completely destroyed my ability to judge the proper price for things in the States. After 13 years in a country with nearly no inflation, it's hard for me to understand how something that was $6 in 2001 is now $15. At some point, travel and tourism has become rather expensive in my mind, especially for families.

Fortunately, there are some free activities in the city that are worth visiting. First is the Martin Luther King National Historical Site, which provides a detailed explanation of the life of the leader of the civil rights movement. Run by the National Parks Service, the site contains his birthplace, the church where he was a pastor, his tomb, and an exhibition that illustrates just how much King and his followers had to endure in their fight for equality. In my mind, the best thing to see in the city.

The wagon that held King's coffin

Ebenezer Baptist Church next to the visitor's center

Atlanta hosted the 1996 Olympics, which was the 100th anniversary of the founding of the modern games. The Centennial Olympic Park commemorates the event. Located in the center of downtown, it is a good area to rest in between the other attractions. There's nothing extraordinary about the place, but it's worth walking through - few cities have a park this large in their downtown core.

Picture of Westin Peachtree from Centennial Olympic Park

Statue of Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympics

The State Capitol is not that far from downtown and is worth visiting for political or history junkies. The gold dome is visible from various points in the city and gives you a strong sense of southern history from the Civil War onward.

Finally, if you are visiting Atlanta, you should pick up a multi-day pass for MARTA, the rail system. The system requires that you have a Breeze ticket or card, which you tap on the gates to get in and out. The ticket costs 50 cents and come with the 1-day to 4-day passes. The card costs $5 and comes with the 7-day pass. Given that a normal ride is $2, the two-day pass at $9 is well worth it, and the 7-day pass at $15 is a bargain. Train service is good enough in the downtown core, although in the evenings you may be waiting for 15 minutes if you are coming from the suburbs.

Atlanta is definitely a great destination for tourists of all types. Of course, sports road trippers have 4 major league teams to choose from, as well as nearby minor league teams and several college programs as well. All-in-all, a city not to be missed.

Sunset over the Georgia Dome



1 comment:

  1. Sean - Thanks for the stories and photos. I like that you mix sports and other tourist things. The best to you on your trip with the storms in the SE.