Though it’s home to one of the world’s busiest airports and a population that has swelled to more than five million, Atlanta remains one of the Southeast’s best spots for scenic recreation. Residents can often be spotted strolling through the city’s 185 acres of botanical gardens, hiking trails, and oaks at Piedmont Park or fishing for trout on the lush banks of the Chattahoochee River.
Anchored by Peachtree Street, the city's Midtown district boasts an arts scene that has thrived in recent years but maintains its ties to history. Opened in 1929, the Fox Theatre shows off all the excesses of that era in its imposing Egyptian architecture and custom-made organ. Tours of the theater take place on Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. North of the Fox on Peachtree Street, the High Museum of Art spotlights more than 12,000 pieces of art that range from Renaissance paintings to photographs from the civil-rights era.
Children young and old will find a more hands-on experience at the Georgia Aquarium, located downtown at Centennial Olympic Park. With more than 100,000 animals and eight million gallons of fresh and marine water, the aquarium is considered the largest in the world. Exhibits spotlight the wildlife off Georgia’s coast, and touch pools allow visitors to get up-close and personal with stingrays and horseshoe crabs.
Next door to the aquarium, the World of Coca-Cola celebrates Coke in the city of its birth. Atlanta pharmacist John Pemberton invented and sold the soda as an antidote for headaches and hangovers in 1886, but it has since become one of America’s most beloved soft drinks. The experiential museum not only boasts a functioning bottle line, which churns out a glass bottle of Coke for each visitor, but also more than 1,000 exclusive artifacts, from old-timey coke bottles to a delivery truck that followed a route in Argentina in 1939.
If you’re impressed with the costumed polar bear at the World of Coca-Cola, head to the Atlanta Zoo across town to check out the real thing. African elephants and giant pandas prowl across the zoo’s grounds, which are situated in scenic Grant Park. Back in Midtown, inanimate creatures make their home at the Center for Puppetry Arts, which regularly hosts performances and informational workshops.