Trying to explore Atlanta in 24 hours might seem like an impossible task. But while Atlanta definitely deserves more than a day, there are a lot of amazing things to do and delicious foods to try even in such a short time frame.
This post is not the ultimate guide to Atlanta and definitely not written in stone. It is simply my way of making one day in a completely new city count. If you love hearty Southern food, reading Gone with the Wind (and dreaming about Rhett Butler), and having drinks at a rotating bar with the view of the city, this 24-hour guide to Atlanta is for you!
24 Hours in Atlanta Guide
8.00 a.m. Early Breakfast at Atlanta Breakfast Club
Start your day with hearty Southern breakfast. Waking up early is a small sacrifice you need to make in order to cover a lot in one day. Besides, walking the empty streets of otherwise busy Atlanta is very refreshing. Atlanta Breakfast Club has a good selection of Southern-style breakfast items like fried chicken with waffles or shrimp and grits, as well as more traditional options like pancakes, omelets and French toast.
Atlanta Breakfast Club – 249 Ivan Allen Jr Blvd NW
9.20 a.m. CNN Studio Tour
From Atlanta Breakfast Club walk 13 minutes to CNN center. You will be passing through Centennial Olympic park which was built for 1996 Summer Olympics. The World Headquarters of CNN tour gives you an opportunity to look behind the scenes and learn how the news are made. The guide explains every little detail from the way green screen works to how anchors use teleprompter. You can even peek inside a studio while the anchor is reading news.
Tip: reserve your tickets online at least 24 hours in advance to make sure you have a spot on the earliest tour.
CNN Studio Tours – 190 Marietta St NW, Atlanta.
11.00 a.m. Quick Stop at Fox Theatre and the Georgian Terrace
After the CNN tour take a walk around the town. Make a quick stop on the way to see Fox Theatre, a former movie palace that is now a performing arts venue. The walk from CNN studio to the theatre will take you 30 minutes.
Fox Theatre – 660 Peachtree St NE, Atlanta.
Across the street from Fox Theatre is located the Georgian Terrace, a hotel you cannot miss if you are a fan of “Gone with the Wind” and Clark Gable in particular.
The premier of the movie happened in Atlanta in 1939. All of the stars including the director and Clark Gable stayed at the Georgian Terrace (with Vivien Leigh as the only exception). The pre-premier party was also held at the hotel. Other notable guests of the hotel include Walt Disney, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Elvis Presley.
The Georgian Terrace – 659 Peachtree St NE, Atlanta.
11.30 a.m. Margaret Mitchell House Tour
To continue exploring “Gone with the Wind” sites walk 12 minutes from the Georgian Terrace to the Margaret Mitchell house on Peachtree Street, where she wrote her Pulitzer-Prize winning book. If you read “Gone with the Wind”, you will love this place. If you didn’t, I recommend exploring the house anyways.
The tour gives you a sneak peek into a life of a woman fighting for her rights and standing her ground. Margaret Mitchell is such an inspiration, you will run straight to the book shop after the tour. This was, hands down, my favorite thing to do in Atlanta.
If you want to learn more about the life of Margaret Mitchell, what led her to writing the bestseller novel, and how she reacted to the premier of the movie, Stephanie Craig of History Fangirl talks to Jessica van Landuyt about all these and more in her history podcast episode “The Birthplace of ‘Gone with the Wind'”. Give it a listen!
Tip: Monday to Saturday tours begin every half an hour starting at 10.30 AM. On Sundays, tours begin at 12.30 PM. Make sure to arrive 5-10 minutes earlier to get your tickets. Online reservation is not available.
Margaret Mitchell House – 979 Crescent Avenue NE, Atlanta.
13.00 p.m. Southern-Style Lunch at South City Kitchen
Finding great local food in a new city can be difficult, especially if you have only one day. There’s simply no room for mistake. South City Kitchen, located only 8 minutes’ walk away from Margaret Mitchell House, was recommended to me by a friend who lives in Atlanta. And boy, did the restaurant exceed my expectations! Southern cuisine at its best with an elaborate spin. I highly recommend their fried green tomatoes as appetizer. A dish, that is commonly ruined by excess fat, was pure perfection here. For the main, try catfish Reuben or pulled pork sandwich.
South City Kitchen – 1144 Crescent Avenue NE, Atlanta.
15.30 p.m. Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site
Take public transport or Uber to get to Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site. It consists of several buildings that can easily take you half a day to explore. The site includes MLK Jr. boyhood home, Ebenezer Baptist Church where he was baptized and served as pastor and a tomb where MLK Jr. and his wife Coretta Scott King are buried. The visitor center has a museum dedicated to American civil rights movement and the path of Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site – 449 Auburn Avenue, NE, Atlanta.
Cost: free of charge
7.00 p.m. Drinks with a View of Atlanta at Sun Dial
Walk 30 minutes from MLK Jr. National Historic Site to Westin Peachtree Plaza. You have three options here: visit the observatory for 360° spectacular panorama of the city, have a dinner at Sun Dial restaurant, or have drinks at Sun Dial revolving bar. Both the restaurant and the bar are located on the same level as the observatory and have wonderful views.
The glass elevators take you to 73rd level in 85 seconds. The elevator to the observatory is not the same as the elevators that take you to hotel rooms. It is a bit tricky to find, so ask for help if you are lost. In front of the elevator, a friendly staff member will ask you whether you are going to observatory or the bar. Even if you are not planning to eat and drink at Sun Dial, say you are going to the bar and they will let you in free of charge. Otherwise, the cost of observatory visit is $8.
Sun Dial bar offers good cocktails and light snacks, slightly overpriced, but revolving bar is one of a kind experience.
Sun Dial – 210 Peachtree St NW, Atlanta (inside Westin Peachtree Plaza).
Here your busy, but productive day in Atlanta comes to an end. If you have more than one day, consider visiting World of Coca-Cola, Georgia Aquarium, High Museum of Art, Jimmy Carter Library, or Piedmont Park.
If you had only 24 hours in Atlanta what is the one thing you wouldn’t want to miss?
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