Atlanta Area Museums and Attractions

Ren Davis, October 2006

Editor's Note: We publish below an abridged version of a list that Local Arrangements Committee member Ren Davis prepared for the information and guidance of annual meeting attendees who wish to sample the many attractions that Atlanta offers. The complete list, with details of opening hours, entry fees, and so on, will appear in the annual meeting special that will be published with the December 2006 issue of Perspectives. The distances indicated in parentheses are approximate from the Atlanta Hilton Hotel. Some of the attractions are free while an entry fee is charged for others. The Local Arrangements Committee has arranged tours to several of these sites.

In Town

1. APEX Museum. 135 Auburn Ave. (6 blocks). www.apexmuseum.org. Exhibits in this museum trace Atlanta's rich African-American heritage.

2. Atlanta Cyclorama. 800 Cherokee Ave. (3 miles). The cyclorama depicts the apex of the July 22, 1864, "Battle of Atlanta" fought in the vicinity of the present-day Inman Park neighborhood and the Carter Presidential Center. MARTA: Five Points Station and Bus #97.

3. The Atlanta History Center. 130 West Paces Ferry Rd. (6 miles). www.atlhist.org. Home of permanent and temporary exhibits, as well as a library and archives. The campus also includes the Tullie Smith farm complex (c. 1840s), the elegant Swan House (1928), and several acres of garden trails. MARTA: Lenox Station and Bus #23. All AHA annual meeting registrants are offered free admission with their badges. A shuttle bus will run from the Hilton to the Center on Saturday, January 6.

4. Auburn Avenue Research Library. 101 Auburn Ave. (5 blocks). www.afplweb.com/aarl. Part of the City of Atlanta-Fulton County library system, it houses important archival collections and records related to the region's African American heritage. MARTA: Peachtree Center Station.

5. Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta Monetary Museum. 1000 Peachtree St. (2 miles). www.frbatlanta.org. Learn about the Federal Reserve System and trace the evolution of currency from ancient times to the present day through fascinating exhibits. MARTA: 10th Street Station.

6. The Fernbank Museum of Natural History. 767 Clifton Rd. (4 miles). www.fernbank.edu. Take a walk through time in Georgia. MARTA: North Avenue Station and Bus #2 Ponce de Leon.

7. Fernbank Science Center. 156 Heaton Park Dr. (4 miles). http://fsc.fernbank.edu. Features science exhibits, astronomical observatory with the Southeast's largest public telescope, the region's largest planetarium, and trails through 65-acre Fernbank Forest. MARTA: same as Fernbank Museum.

8. High Museum of Art. 1280 Peachtree St. (3.5 miles). www.high.org. The High is noted for its extensive collections of 19th- and 20th-century American art; its expanding collection of African American art, and rich collections of modern art and photography. In fall 2006, the museum will open a three-year traveling exhibition of works from the Louvre. MARTA: Arts Center Station.

9. Historic Oakland Cemetery. 248 Oakland Ave. (2 miles). www.oaklandcemetery.com. Atlanta's oldest burial ground, established in 1850, and a classic example of the 19th-century "rural garden" cemetery movement. It is the final resting place for many of the city's notable figures like author Margaret Mitchell and golfer Robert T. "Bobby" Jones. MARTA: King Memorial Station.

10. Jimmy Carter Library and Museum. 441 Freedom Pkwy. (3 miles). www.jimmycarterlibrary.org. Exhibits trace the path of the 39th president from his childhood years in Plains, Georgia, to the White House. The museum and adjacent Carter Center are surrounded by tranquil gardens. MARTA: Five Points Station and Bus #16. AHA event site and LAC tour site. AHA annual meeting registrants receive 50 percent discount on museum admission with their badges.

11. Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site. 450 Auburn Ave. (1 mile). www.nps.gov/malu. Trace the life of King and his leadership of the civil rights movement through personal artifacts and powerful exhibits in the Visitor Center. MARTA: King Memorial Station or Five Points Station and Bus #3. LAC tour site.

12. The Michael C. Carlos Museum of Art at Emory University. 571 South Kilgo Cir. (6 miles). www.carlos.emory.edu. The Carlos is renowned for its Egyptian art and artifacts, as well as extensive collections of Nubian, Near Eastern, sub-Saharan, Greek, Roman, and ancient American art. MARTA: Lindbergh Station and Bus #6.

13. The William Bremen Jewish Heritage Museum. 1440 Spring St. (3 miles). www.thebreman.org. The museum features two permanent exhibits: "Creating Community: Jews in Atlanta," telling the story of tensions between assimilation versus isolation; and "Absence of Humanity: The Holocaust Years," designed by a child-survivor of the Holocaust, Ben Hirsch. MARTA: Arts Center Station.

For the Family

14. Center for Puppetry Arts. 1404 Spring St. (3.5 miles). www.puppet.org. Home to the nation's largest permanent collection of puppets, the center features museum exhibits, workshops, and a full schedule of puppetry performances for all ages. Hours: 9–5, Tues.–Sat.; 11–5, Sun. $12. Information and performance schedule: 404-873-3391. MARTA: Arts Center Station.

15. CNN: Cable News Network. One CNN Center (1 mile). www.cnn.com/tour/atlanta. The first 24-hour-a-day cable network news channel, CNN pioneered the way news, entertainment, and information was transmitted around the world. The CNN studio offers tours. MARTA: Dome/GWCC/Philips Arena/CNN Station.

16. The Georgia Aquarium. 225 Baker St. (8 blocks). www.georgiaaquarium.org. The world's largest aquarium, it has exhibits of sea life from the Georgia Coast, freshwater rivers, and the planet's oceans. MARTA: Dome//GWCC/Philips Arena/CNN or Peachtree Center Stations. Advance reservations strongly recommended.

17. Georgia State Capitol and Museum. 206 Washington St. (1 mile). www.sos.state.ga.us. Modeled after the U.S. Capitol, the neoclassical building was completed in 1889. It houses an eclectic array of historical artifacts from Georgia's colorful history. MARTA: Georgia State Station. LAC tour site.

18. Imagine It! Children's Museum of Alanta. 275 Centennial Olympic Park Dr. (5 blocks). www.imagineit-cma.org. A delightful destination just for kids eight years old and under, the museum features interactive exhibits, galleries, play areas, games, and group activities. MARTA: Peachtree Center or Civic Center Stations.

19. Wren's Nest. 1050 Ralph David Abernathy Blvd. (3.5 miles). www.cr.nps.gov/nr/travel/Atlanta/har.htm. This quaint cottage was purchased in 1881 by writer Joel Chandler Harris who dubbed it "the Wren's Nest." MARTA: West End Station and Bus #71.

20. World of Coca-Cola Museum. 55 Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. (1 mile). www.woccatlanta.com. Located next to Underground Atlanta, museum exhibits trace the history of the world's favorite soft drink from its Atlanta beginnings to the present day. MARTA: Five Points Station.

21. Zoo Atlanta. 800 Cherokee Ave. (3 miles). www.zooatlanta.org. From the Ford African Rainforest and the Asian Forest, to the Orkin Children's Zoo and the perennially popular panda exhibit, Zoo Atlanta is a popular destination for visitors of all ages. The zoo is in the heart of historic Grant Park, Atlanta's playground for more than a century. MARTA: Five Points Station and Bus #97.

Green Space and Gardens

22. The Atlanta Botanical Garden and Piedmont Park. 1345 Piedmont Ave. (3 miles). www.atlantabotanicalgarden.org. Located within historic 187-acre, Olmsted Brothers-designed, Piedmont Park (www.piedmontpark.org), the Garden offers more than 30 acres of landscaped gardens, woodlands, and indoor exhibit spaces to explore. MARTA: Midtown Station, or Arts Center Station and Bus #36.

Suburbs and Beyond

23. Booth Western Art Museum. 501 Museum Dr., Cartersville. (40 miles north). www.boothmuseum.org. Possibly the most comprehensive collection of historic and contemporary Western art in the nation, the museum also features extensive exhibits of Civil War art and a collection of presidential memorabilia from all 43 presidents. No public transportation.

24. Dahlonega Gold Museum State Historic Site. 1 Public Square, Dahlonega (60 miles north). www.gastateparks.org. Located in Georgia's oldest existing courthouse (c. 1836), this area was the site of the nation's first "gold rush" in the 1820s, and focal point for the tragic removal of the Cherokee on the infamous "Trail of Tears" a decade later. No public transportation.

25. Etowah Indian Mounds State Historic Site. 813 Indian Mounds Rd., Cartersville (42 miles north). www.gastateparks.org/info/etowah. For more than 500 years (c. 1000–1550 ACE), this site along the Etowah River was a thriving social, religious, and trading center for natives of the Mississippian culture. Explore exhibits and view artifacts in the museum, then stroll among the preserved earthen mounds and along the river banks. No public transportation.

26. Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park and Museum. 905 Kennesaw Mountain Dr., Kennesaw (25 miles north). www.nps.gov/kemo. Site of June 1864 attack by Gen. W. T. Sherman's federal armies against Confederate General Joseph Johnston's forces. The site is among the last vestiges of wilderness in the metro Atlanta area (3,000 acres). The museum offers exhibits about the battle, while roads and trails lead to significant sites. No public transportation.

27. Little White House State Historic Site. 401 Little White Rd., Warm Springs (90 miles southwest). www.gastateparks.org/info/littlewhite. This simple, white frame cottage was built in 1932 by Franklin D. Roosevelt as his home while in Warm Springs receiving therapy for polio. He died here on April 12, 1945, and the house has been preserved as it was on that day. No public transportation.
28. Ocmulgee National Monument. 1207 Emery Hwy., Macon (90 miles south). www.nps.gov/ocmu. As with Etowah, Mississippian mound-builders of a millennium ago erected the large mounds and excavated the earth lodge that visitors may explore today. No public transportation.

More Information:

  • Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau: 404-521-6600/1-800-ATLANTA; www.atlanta.net
  • Georgia Department of Industry, Trade, and Tourism: www.georgia.org
  • Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA): 404-848-5000; www.itsmarta.com

—Ren Davis is coauthor, with Helen Davis, of a popular walking guide to the city of Atlanta (Atlanta Walks, 2003) as well as a guide for hikers and bikers to Georgia's natural and human history. He is a member of the Local Arrangements Committee.