- Adam Kincaid For the AJC
Looking for some of the underrated things to do in Atlanta?
There are a bevy of options for those who have paid one too many visits to the Georgia Aquarium, World of Coke or the standard tourist go-to Piedmont Park.
Here are a few:
Walk the path of a Civil Rights icon
Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site
One great place to start would be learning the history of Atlanta, a fractured, fire-burnt affair marked by moments of human triumph.
We have Martin Luther King Jr.'s national historic site, a national park forever memorializing the iconic leader's childhood home, church and final resting place; each preserved as a testament to not just King himself, but the entire civil rights movement of the 1960's and the power of civil disobedience.
Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site, John Wesley Dobbs Ave., Atlanta. Use GPS coordinates instead of a street address. (GPS 33°45'32.43"N, 84°22'24.00"W), 404-331-5190 ext. 5046. https://www.nps.gov/malu/index.htm
Explore the life and times of the only president to hail from Georgia
Jimmy Carter Presidential Library
441 Freedom Parkway, Atlanta. 404-865-7100, https://www.jimmycarterlibrary.gov/information
Or stroll through the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and contemplate Georgia's homegrown president — the 39th —and consider how his legacy has actually been more impacted by his global humanitarian efforts than by his term as president.
9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 4:45 p.m. Sunday. Last admission taken at 4:15 all days. Admission: Adult: $8; seniors, military and students with ID: $6; kids under 16: free.
Visit one of Atlanta’s most renowned cemeteries
1173 Cascade Circle SW, Atlanta. 404-753-6276.
There is beauty in the macabre, too, in the lives of another era at Oakland Cemetery. Or at the Memorial to the Six Million, a holocaust memorial in Greenwood Cemetery which exists to serve as the grave site that mourners and descendants can visit in the absence of a proper resting place for so many who died in that era. The cemetery is also the resting place of Chick-fil-A founder S. Truett Cathy and singer/songwriter Hank Ballard.
Get an inside look at life above Atlanta
Delta History Museum
1060 Delta Blvd B-914, Atlanta.404-715-7886
Sitting at the nexus of most southeastern travel routes remains Atlanta's claim to fame — Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, which has long been the busiest airport in the world. The airport is the home to Delta Airlines. The travel giants just opened their Delta History Museum to the public; it was once for employees only. Visitors can see for themselves artifacts from the history of flight, learn about the importance of Atlanta in global trade and take the wheel of a flight simulation.
Explore vintage kid entertainment
Atlanta Center for Puppetry Arts
Mondays, closed. Tues. through Fri. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sat. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sun. 12-5 p.m. Ages 2 and up (museum entry only) $10.50; guided tour $14.50; puppet shows and create-a-puppet workshop prices vary. 1404 Spring St. NW, Atlanta. www.puppet.org
If history isn't for you, perhaps Muppets are. At the Center for Puppetry Arts, the Jim Henson exhibit showcases the famous puppeteer's largest collection in America. There's Kermit, and Ms. Piggy, even a full-sized Big Bird, among the informative installations outlining Henson's mastery of the craft.
Get a good laugh
And nothing is cheerier— Muppets excluded — than a comedy show.
The city has several places to see (and participate in) improv; at The Improv, Dad's Garage, Whole World Theater and Village Theater (amongst others). Professionals can be seen working usually at The Punchline. Then there's the secret comedy show at Smith's Olde Bar.
If none of the underrated history or laughs above quite whet the whistle, maybe you need a change of pace.
Explore food outside the Perimeter
As the city has evolved into something far more sprawling and neighborhood-centric than it once was, Atlanta offers things worth doing beyond the great wall at I-285.
In Decatur, a lively craft beer culture exists thanks to Brick Store Pub and Twain's Brewpub, while in Roswell, Canton Street is a fun place to spend a Friday night thanks to open container laws that allow for drinking in the streets.
Lastly, you can always spin the wheel of chance on Buford Highway.
Who knows, you might be the one to bring the next underrated Atlanta to-do, by finding it tucked in one of the many international strip malls offering all manner of global food and shopping along the road.