Get high in Atlanta: great high-elevation spots for a summer chill

Atlanta is a high city: with an average elevation of 1,050 feet, Atlanta is the highest major city east of the Mississippi River. Climb higher and change your perspective this summer from a high-elevation place in metro Atlanta. With summer's heat on the rise, catch cool breezes from a high mountain summit, or savor soaring views from climate-controlled indoor heights.

Stone Mountain Park

Towering 825 feet above the surrounding area, Stone Mountain's bald, curved dome rises high above Atlanta's rolling terrain. If you're up for a workout, hike the one-mile Walk-Up Trail to the Stone Mountain summit to see stunning Atlanta skyline views. (If you're not up for the hike, a cable car offers easier access and scenic, smooth rise to the top.)

At 1,686 feet above sea level, Stone Mountain is one of metro Atlanta's highest spots – and offers some of the city's best scenic views. When to go? Hike early morning to beat midday summer heat and see golden sunrise views of the city. (The Walk-Up Trail is usually open dawn to dusk, but check official park info to confirm the trail's hours.)

Westin Peachtree Plaza

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At 723 feet tall, the Westin Peachtree Plaza is Atlanta's fifth-tallest building. While it's not Atlanta's tallest building, it's one of the tallest with easy access to its high floors. The 73-floor hotel is also one of Atlanta's most architecturally unique with an iconic, cylindrical shape.

The Sun Dial Restaurant, Bar and View top the hotel with a three-level dining, observation and bar complex. Order brunch, cocktails, lunch or dinner at the Sun Dial's revolving-floor restaurant (floor 71) and bar (floor 73) to enjoy a fantastic city view over dinner or drinks. Or visit the Sun Dial View (floor 72), an observation deck that offers 360-degree panoramas and great camera-worthy views. You'll love the journey, too: the building's glass elevator offers a dramatic lift to the top.

Panola Mountain State Park

It's not Atlanta's highest mountain, but Panola Mountain is one of Atlanta's high spots that's incredibly unique. Explore Panola Mountain's ecologically-rich summit on an exclusive guided tour at this Georgia State Park southeast of Atlanta. The mountain summit is covered with rare and fragile plants, and it's off-limits to the public unless you're on a guided group hike. Reserve a spot on a guided moonlight hike to explore the mountain under sunset's golden hues and watch the moon rise over a small lake.

SkyView Atlanta

SkyView Atlanta delivers a unique Atlanta view in the comfort of climate-controlled gondolas. Ride in one of the giant Ferris wheel's roomy, enclosed gondolas to catch downtown Atlanta views from heights reaching 200 feet. A ride on the SkyView rises smoothly around several revolutions, offering great views of downtown Atlanta and Centennial Olympic Park, especially at sunset.

Kennesaw Mountain

At 1,808 feet, Kennesaw Mountain is metro Atlanta's highest-elevation point. Once the site of a major Civil War battle, the mountain is now a hub for hiking, cycling and outdoor adventure north of Atlanta. Hike (or on weekdays, drive) to Kennesaw Mountain's summit to spot views of the Atlanta skyline and Stone Mountain to the southeast. To the north, you'll see the hazy, rolling summits of the southern Appalachian Mountains on the distant horizon.

High Museum of Art

The High is high, in more than just the name: the High Museum of Art is located on one of Atlanta's highest non-mountain elevations. Inside, the museum offers an eclectic collection of classic and contemporary art and architecture. The museum also features traveling exhibitions, like Los Trompos, a collection of giant, woven spinning tops (free and open to the public, through Nov. 29).

When to go? While this high destination is visit-worthy on any day, visit the High Museum of Art Friday nights after 4 p.m. for half-off admission.

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