By Gabby Revel
Set amidst the green rolling hills of Georgia, Atlanta is a vibrant cultural and economic hub. Home to the United State’s third largest concentration of Fortune 500 companies, Atlanta is the global headquarters for UPS and Coca-Cola. The television and film industries contribute significant revenue to the region. For example, Tyler Perry Studios is headquartered in Atlanta and popular show “The Walking Dead” is filmed in and around the city.
A Storied Past
Visitors are also intrigued by Atlanta’s history. Originally inhabited by the Creek and Cherokee Indians, the region’s first European settlers arrived in 1822. In 1836, the region was designated as the starting point for the Western and Atlantic Railroad. A settlement followed. Named Atlanta in 1842, the town was incorporated in 1847.
The legendary burning of Atlanta during the Civil War led to a gradual rebuilding. Because Atlanta already had rail transportation, it quickly outpaced Savannah and became Georgia’s largest city. Henry W. Grady and other visionaries courted investors, promoting the idea that Atlanta was a modern city and less reliant on an agricultural economy.
The Atlanta History Center is a showcase of Civil War, Southern folk art and African-American artifacts and historical documents in a pristine 32-acre garden setting. The Historic West End, located southwest of downtown Atlanta, is a historic district dating back to the 1830s featuring restored Victorian cottages and period homes. The Margaret Mitchell House and Museum is the Tudor Revival mansion where the author penned “Gone With the Wind.” Tours, a museum and souvenir shop round out the activities. The Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic site explores Dr. King’s life and achievements.
Atlanta is home to a host of places for family fun. The Georgia Aquarium is the world’s largest, and features beluga whales, penguins, whale sharks and animals from around the globe. Six Flags Over Georgia is a theme park offering over 40 rides and adventures. The Zoo Atlanta in Grant Park is home to over 200 animals from the Asian forests and African plains. The World of Coca-Cola gives tourists a glimpse into the making and bottling of the world-famous drink. The Chattahoochee River is a great place to canoe or take a leisurely stroll. Piedmont Park and the Atlanta Botanical Garden sit side-by-side, giving visitors a reason to sit and enjoy the view.
Atlanta shops have something for everyone. Art galleries, antique stores, outlet centers and boutiques sit in Atlanta’s neighborhoods. In Decatur, find New York in Atlanta at DressCodes. Shoppers find the unusual at the museum-like Mingei World Arts. Music is what it’s all about at Decatur CD, where shoppers find thousands of CDs, books and vinyl.
Atlanta is home to fine restaurants, from upscale to budget-friendly. To experience true Southern cuisine, check out the Atlanta Grill, Farmhouse Restaurant and Highland Bakery. For steak and seafood, visit Chops Lobster Bar, Bentley’s Steakhouse and the Aqua Blue Restaurant.
There’s a nightlife spot for every taste in Atlanta. Visitors relax and unwind or dance all night in one of Atlanta’s after dark venues. The Hard Rock Café features delicious food and a rock music museum. Agatha’s—A Taste of Mystery is comedy murder mystery theater at its finest.