16 of Atlanta's most underrated places

  • Adam Kincaid
  • For the AJC
May 03, 2017

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

Eggs have long been gifted to Commanders in Chief but this intricately crated ostrich egg is one of the more folksy items ever gifted to former President Jimmy Carter. Photo: Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum

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

Benjamin Hirsch, a Holocaust survivor and the Atlanta architect who designed the Holocaust Memorial at Greenwood Cemetery (in background), stands near the memorial which was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2008. The memorial features six large white poles with gas flames on top, which represent the six million Jews killed by the Nazi regime during WWII. Rich Addicks / AJC

Greenwood Cemetery

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

061214 ATLANTA: The Douglas DC-3 Ship 41 (from left to right), a Northeast Airlines Stinson SR-8E Reliant built in 1936, and a restored 1931 Curtiss-Wright 6B Sedan that celebrates the Travel Air that flew Delta's first passengers on June 17, 1929 are on display at the Delta Flight Museum on Thursday, June 12, 2014, in Atlanta. The iconic DC-3's spreed, range and passenger capacity made the airlines profitable. Ship 41 is the only remaining Delta passenger DC-3. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM Photo: Curtis Compton

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 ImprovDad's GarageWhole 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. 

Olivia Burger- Pimento cheese, arugula, green tomato relish and bacon -- is served with Pale Ale at Twain's Brewpub in Decatur. (Beckystein.com) Photo: Becky Stein

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.