Things to Do in Georgia
The historic Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site commemorates the life, work, and legacy of the Civil Rights leader. The center takes up several blocks, which include King’s boyhood home and the Ebenezer Baptist Church, where both King’s father and grandfather served as ministers.
Before you begin your stroll around the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site, stop by the visitors center for a map and brochure of area sites and exhibits. Inside the visitor center is a museum that chronicles the American Civil Rights movement, and Dr King’s role in it. You can also visit the two-story house where Dr. King was born.
Across from the visitors center, the King Center for Non-Violent Social Change has more information on Dr. King's life and work, and a few of his personal effects, including his Nobel Peace Prize. His gravesite, between the church and center, is surrounded by a long reflecting pool and can be viewed anytime.
The Historic District of Savannah is considered the heart of the city and corresponds to the area that defined Savannah prior to the American Civil War. It’s the largest National Historic Landmark District in the United States, attracting millions of visitors on an annual basis. Savannah’s Historic District encompasses more than 20 city squares laid out in a distinctive grid pattern. General James E. Oglethorpe, founder of the British Colony of Georgia, laid out the original plan back in 1733. Today, much of the original plan remains visible through its divisions, also called wards, squares and trustee lots. The Historic District showcases 18th and 19th century architecture styles like Georgian, Gothic and Greek Revival, and is home to a number of important buildings and complexes. Here, visitors will find museums, churches, mansions, famous forts and monuments dating back to the Revolutionary and Civil War periods. It’s also the birthplace of Juliette Gordon Low.
Celebrating the world’s most popular soft drink, the World of Coca-Cola showcases all things Coke. The museum is an absolute must-see for every visitor to Atlanta. The highlight of the visit is sampling Coke products from around the world. But there are also Andy Warhol pieces to view, a 4-D film to catch, company history to learn, and what seems like 20 billion promotional materials to behold.
The World of Coca-Cola is divided up into two levels, called “The Hub.” On the lower level, a short film introduces visitors to the magic behind a bottle of Coke. After watching the film, visitors can browse a number of attractions, including the Milestones of Refreshment exhibit, which traces the history of Coke.
The second level is where visitors will be completely immersed in the world of Coca-Cola. At the Secret Formula 4-D Theater, you can watch a film about an eccentric scientist on a quest to uncover the mysterious secret formula for Coke.
River Street Savannah is not only a picturesque place to walk or jog along the river, but is also a hub of activity in downtown Savannah. Known for dreamy views of the river, its tree-lined promenade, and its strip of shops and restaurants, visitors to Savannah come here to get a sense of what Savannah has to offer. Whether it be a ferry boat ride along the winding Savannah River, a concert in the park, or just to sample some of the many local Savannah restaurants boasting delicious southern fare, the River Street is where you head if you want the authentic Savannah experience.
The Center for Civil and Human Rights is a cultural center in downtown Atlanta that seeks to connect the American Civil Rights Movement to today’s Global Human Rights Movements. Their purpose is to create a safe space for visitors to explore the fundamental rights of all human beings. The Center's goal is to inspire and empower visitors to join the ongoing dialogue about human rights in their own communities.
The Center has both permanent and temporary exhibitions on different topics relating to civil and human rights. Exhibitions explore the history of the civil rights movement in the US during the 1950s and 1960s. Others focus on Martin Luther King, Jr.'s life and work in the fight for equal rights. Some exhibitions focus more on present-day issues of human rights and how certain groups are depicted in the media. These exhibits aim to help visitors gain a deeper understanding of human rights and how they affect the lives of every person.
Since the early 1700's, Savannah City Market has been the commercial and social center of historic downtown Savannah. Known locally as the “art and soul” of Savannah, the moniker is a nod toward the numerous artist’s galleries, boutiques, and restaurants that make the City Market the social and commercial center of Savannah that it is today. A destination for dining, entertainment, art, and shopping in downtown Savannah, the vibrant City Market is still on the original site of used by farmers and traders since the city’s founding in the 18th century. Adjacent to Ellis Square, come here to sight-see, to window shop, dine, or simply watch life’s passing parade - the Savannah City Market is a highlight to any trip to Savannah.
The Cathedral of St John the Baptist, a Roman Catholic establishment, is the mother church of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Savannah. The colonial charter of the city originally prohibited Roman Catholics from settling here for fear they would be more loyal to the Spanish authorities, but after the American Revolution, the prohibition on Roman Catholics began to fade.
French Catholic immigrants escaping slave rebellions in Haiti established Savannah’s first parish just before the end of the 18th century. As the number of Catholics continued to increase in Savannah, a second church was dedicated in 1839 and construction on the new Cathedral of St John the Baptist began in 1873. It was completed in 1896 as the spires were added.
Although the cathedral was almost entirely destroyed by a fire in 1898, it was painstakingly rebuilt and rededicated in 1900, when it also received new murals and decorations.
The Atlanta CNN Center is the headquarters of the cable-TV news service. A visit here will give you a behind-the-scenes glance at the 24-hour news organization in high-tech action, including a visit to production areas not accessible to the general public.
Your first stop at the Atlanta CNN Center is in the lobby, where you can have a videotape made of yourself while reading news stories from a CNN anchor desk. Next, you’ll learn about the history of CNN through interactive kiosks and CNN memorabilia. In the special-effects studio, see how global news is produced via modern technology. The highlight of the a visit to the Atlanta CNN Center is watching the action of the main CNN newsroom from a glass-walled observation tower. You’ll see writers composing new scripts, camera operators positioning cameras, and maybe even a live broadcast.
More Things to Do in Georgia
Founded based on a need for space for former circus animals, Zoo Atlanta has been a mainstay attraction in Atlanta since 1889. Today, it houses more than 1,500 animals and has the largest number of gorillas and orangutans of any zoo in the United States. Additionally, Zoo Atlanta is one of only four in the U.S. that houses giant pandas.
The 40-acre zoo features seven exhibits, including the popular Ford African Rain Forest and the giant pandas exhibit with its two inhabitants, a male and a female, both on loan from China. Children love the petting zoo, where they can interact with sheep, goats and pigs.
A quintessential field trip experience for Atlanta students, the Fernbank Museum of Natural History allows children the opportunity to explore the planet and its people with both hands-on and hands-off exhibits. These explore everything from modern, foreign world cultures to prehistoric earth, and the Fernbank NatureQuest exhibit is by far the most popular. This interactive experience allows children to explore various ecosystems around the world, while the A Walk Through Time in Georgia exhibit walks through the state's natural history in the context of the development of the planet.
In addition to exhibits, Fernbank also has an impressive IMAX theater with a five-story-high, 72-foot-wide screen, making it the largest movie screen in Atlanta. While most of the films shown are educational, Fernbank does sometimes host special events and programming in the theater.
The College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta honors the greatest players throughout the history of college football. Their stories and achievements are commemorated here in a one-of-a-kind experience. Visitors can learn about exceptional players and the records they broke by exploring the exhibitions in the Hall of Fame. Permanent, etched-glass representations of each Hall of Fame player are on display. There are also 10 augmented reality displays where visitors can view images and video of players and coaches from their favorite school.
More than 750 helmets representing each college football team are on display, as well as larger than life images from 11 conference champions that are updated each season. Visitors can also see historical game-worn uniforms. Other exhibitions explore the dedication, passion, and sacrifice that goes into being a college football player.
An ambitious “rails-to-trails” project, the Atlanta Beltline transforms the city’s trash-collecting tracks into more than 22 miles of footpaths for bikers, runners and pedestrians. The Beltline, a work in progress, merges the city's parks and green spaces, connects neighborhoods to each other and makes public transit more accessible. The Beltline shows off the very best parts of Atlanta.
The popular Eastside Trail and the Historic Fourth Ward Park are two projects, among many others, that have been completed. A planned streetcar is in the works, an addition that will connect the furthest reaches of the Beltline to more popular, central attractions in Atlanta. Some of the other highlights include 33 miles of multi-use trails, 1,300 acres of parks, more public art and historic preservation efforts.
Named after a governor and made famous by its live oaks, dripping Spanish moss, and Confederate Memorial Statue, Forsyth Park is the green hub of historic downtown Savannah. A 30-acre park, this expansive stretch of greenery is home to outdoors enthusiasts, Victorian-era mansions, and architectural treasures like Hodgson Hall and the Lucy Armstrong Mansion. Enjoyed by all who visit, Forsyth Park is for anyone who wants to see post-card worthy Savannah at its finest.
Made famous by both the book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, (and the Clint Eastwood-directed film of the same name), Bonaventure Cemetery, is an iconic cemetery positioned on a bluff overlooking the Wilmington River. With its live oaks, dramatic lawn sculptures, and dripping Spanish moss, the Bonaventure Cemetery has a distinctly eerie yet beautiful air to it, and thus makes for one of the best attractions in all of Savannah. Quintessentially Southern Gothic, a stroll through this cemetery is one of hot summer dreams, and on this stroll you’ll come across graves of ex-military generals, the poet Conrad Aiken, the Academy Award-winning lyricist Johnny Mercer, and Georgia’s first governor.
The 1996 Summer Olympic Games live on at Atlanta's Centennial Olympic Park, a 21-acre site that remains one of the city’s premiere public park spaces. The park's main icon—and one of Georgia’s most photographed landmarks—would be the Fountain of Rings, an interactive play area that uses computer-controlled lights and jets of water to display the Olympic Rings. The fountain water show is synchronized to music, and in the warmest months, kids—and even adults—run through the jets to cool off.
Also noteworthy are the park's stone paths, comprised of inscribed, dedicated bricks that line the walkways. The bricks, bought by Atlanta and Georgia natives, as well as by people all over the world, even helped fund the games in 1996. The city hosts an online brick-locator tool to help people find their own bricks or those of friends and family. The dedicated ones make up a significant portion of the nearly 800,000 bricks used to build the park.
It is hard not to love historic Inman Park. Often called Atlanta’s oldest neighborhood, it was established in 1890 and named after Samuel Inman, a prominent Atlanta businessman in the late 1800s. The picturesque area features several parks with abundant green spaces, wide lawns, stately Victorian-era homes and a plethora of independent boutiques and restaurants. Winding, narrow streets make strolling through the neighborhood an appealing option, and on any given day, residents enjoy tea and lemonade on sweeping front porches flanked by azalea bushes, giving the area a charming, homey feel.
Inman Park is a celebration of historic Atlanta residential architecture from the 19th and early 20th centuries, and in addition to Victorian-style mansions, influences range from Romanesque to Queen Anne. The neighborhood is comprised of two parts–the Inman Park historic district and the Inman Park-Moreland Historic District.
The focal point of the Atlanta skyline is the stately gold dome of the Georgia State Capitol. Lady Freedom, a statue holding a sword and a lantern, stands atop the Capitol building; she has captured the attention of everyone who passes by since 1889. The design of the building draws from the neoclassical style, similar to that of the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C. Inside the building, Victorian and Florentine Renaissance influence is evident in the artistic motifs, while the site has been designated a National Historic Landmark.
The Capitol is the main operating building for Georgia’s state government. It houses the offices of the state governor, lieutenant governor and secretary of state, and is also the site where the General Assembly gathers. The fourth floor holds an educational museum and a visitors' center.
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