24 Hours in Atlanta

24 Hours in Atlanta

Atlanta is many things. It’s a hub of history and culture; the birthplace of Martin Luther King, Jr. and home to first-class museums. It’s also a favourite with foodies, who come to sample Southern fare or seek out famous names from the world of gastronomy. And for a sprawling city, it’s surprisingly green; with acres of lush parks and gardens earning it the nickname ‘City in the Forest’. It goes without saying that you can pack plenty in when visiting the unofficial capital of the South. But if you’re not sure where to start, here’s how we’d spend 24 hours in Atlanta.



We hope you arrive hungry, because a Southern breakfast is not to be missed. For an authentic start to the day, head to The Silver Skillet, a retro diner which has been serving classics like biscuits (savoury buttermilk scones) and grits (corn-based porridge) since 1956. Another popular breakfast spot is R. Thomas’ Deluxe Grill, which was one of the first restaurants in the city to offer vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options (great if you need a place that caters to a variety of dietary requirements).


Mid to Late Morning

With a full belly, it’s time to get your fill of art, culture and history. Atlanta has some excellent museums, like the High Museum of Art; a brilliant-white building housing a permanent collection of 17,000 works. A ten-minute drive from the High, learn more about the legacy of Atlanta’s most famous son at the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Park, which covers several sites related to the civil rights leader’s life and work. You can tour the home where Dr. King was born; visit the Ebenezer Baptist Church where he was pastor; and see the final resting place of Dr. King and his wife Coretta. Travelling with children? Visit the Centennial Olympic Park area (Atlanta hosted the 1996 Olympics) to find the family-friendly Children’s Museum, the Georgia Aquarium and the Fountain of Rings, where little ones can cool off on a hot day.


Lunch to Late Afternoon

Located inside the historic former headquarters of Sears (the American department store chain), Ponce City Market is a complex of shops, offices and accommodation, but it’s best known for its food hall. More than 30 vendors vie for attention from the hungry traveller, serving everything from Iranian street food and French pastries to seasonal salads and fried chicken. After lunch, walk or bike along the Atlanta BeltLine; a 22-mile, paved trail that circles the city’s neighbourhoods and parks. It’s scheduled to be complete by 2030, but many sections are already open, including the Eastside Trail. Follow it north from the Ponce City Market to reach Atlanta Botanical Garden; a 30-acre urban oasis where you can while away an hour or two of your 24 hours in Atlanta among the plants and flowers. Meanwhile, Art on the Atlanta BeltLine is the largest temporary art exhibit in the USA, with murals, sculptures, music performances and pop-up events to discover as you stroll or cycle by. To pick up sophisticated souvenirs or a snack to see you through until dinner, we recommend the Krog District, a historic neighbourhood that has been redeveloped into a hipster haven of shops and food outlets. Big names like Patagonia and Brewdog sit alongside independent boutiques and artisan eateries, right next to the Eastside Trail. Looking for vintage clothing and vinyl? Visit Little Five Points (a five-minute drive from the Krog District); a vibrant, bohemian neighbourhood of thrift shops and record stores.


Early Evening

Until recently, breweries in the state of Georgia weren’t allowed to sell beer on site. Since the law changed in 2017, tap rooms and brewery bars have sprung up across the city, so if you like to start your evening with something hoppy, Atlanta should make you happy. Popular spots include Orpheus Brewing on the edge of the vast Piedmont Park (perfect for a cold beer after a walk in more than 200 acres of greenspace) and Monday Night Brewing, which has locations across the city (including one right on the BeltLine). If you have some competitive energy to expel (or youngsters to entertain), head back to Ponce City Market, where the rooftop Skyline Park has amusements reminiscent of a seaside pier. From mini golf to a three-storey slide, there’s lots to enjoy, plus unbeatable views of Atlanta from up high. It’s worth noting that the rooftop is adults only after 5pm on Fridays and Saturdays.



Spoilt for choice is an understatement when it comes to dinnertime in Atlanta. From homely Southern staples to cutting-edge cuisine, there is a venue and a menu for every taste. It’s impossible to list all the places we think you should try, but if you’re all about the experience and not just the eating, you can’t go wrong with a table at Gunshow. Bright lights, loud music and an open kitchen create a raucous atmosphere; chef-owner Kevin Gillespie has even said, ‘It’s more like going to a concert than a restaurant.’ The food is a bold take on tapas, with dishes wheeled around on carts then presented at the table for you to peruse. A rolling bar cart also roams the restaurant, so you can chat cocktails with the bartender as they mix and pour. It’s fun, frenetic and the food is fantastic. Walk-ins are welcome, but book ahead to avoid disappointment.


After dinner

If your 24 hours in Atlanta is continuing into the night, there’s so much more to discover after dark in this city. For some good old-fashioned fun, try adults-only roller skating at Cascade Fun Center; go tenpin bowling at The Painted Pin (complete with cocktails); or catch a movie at the Starlight Drive-In, which has been open since 1949 and shows double features for only $10 per person.