One Day in Atlanta: The Best Things To Do

Check out these things to do on an Atlanta day trip

If you’re looking for a fun and exciting city to explore, look no further than Atlanta! There is so much to see and do in this vibrant Southern city.

Whether you’re a history buff or into sports or pop culture, Atlanta has something for everyone. In one day, you can explore the city’s rich history and culture, or take in the natural beauty of the area. Here is our guide on how to spend one day in Atlanta.

Plan your ideal one-day Atlanta itinerary with this FREE printable travel planner.

view of the downtown Atlanta, Georgia, skyline with cars on the freeway
There are a ton of amazing things to do with one day in Atlanta.

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What is the history of Atlanta?

Atlanta was founded in 1837 as a railroad terminus. It quickly grew into a major commercial and transportation center, and by the early 20th century had become one of the South’s most important cities.

Atlanta played a key role in both the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement, and today is home to a diverse population and vibrant culture.

It became the capital of Georgia in 1877.

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What should I see on my one day in Atlanta?

There are so many things to see and do in Atlanta in one day, it can be hard to know where to start! Atlanta is a city with something for everyone, so be sure to explore all that it has to offer!

Don’t forget to pack a day bag for yourself. Check out our day trip essentials packing list so you don’t forget anything you need.

Featured attractions in Atlanta

There are many things to see during one day in Atlanta

Here are some of the most popular things to do in Atlanta. If it’s your first visit, these ideas are a great place to start.

Georgia Aquarium 

Without a doubt, if you’re trying to see Atlanta in a day, that day must include a visit to the Georgia Aquarium.

Georgia Aquarium is the largest aquarium in the United States, and it showcases hundreds (thousands?) of amazing sea creatures.

If you’re traveling with children they’ll love seeing the amazing whale shark, beluga whales and more. They even have some great interactive exhibits.

Ocean Voyager (designed to house the whale sharks) holds more than 6 million gallons of water and is one of the largest single aquatic exhibits in the world.

If you want to save money on entrance to multiple Atlanta attractions, be sure to check out the Atlanta CityPASS. You can save a lot of money on top Atlanta attractions including Georgia Aquarium.

mockup image of a free printable travel planner

Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Park

You definitely should make plans to visit Martin Luther King, Jr National Historic Park on your one-day trip to Atlanta.

The park consists of several buildings including Dr.King’s birth home (which is open for ranger-led tours) as well as Ebenezer Baptist Church. The park also includes the BEHOLD monument, the Martin Luther King, Jr. “I Have a Dream” World Peace Rose Garden, First Station No. 6, and the King Center, which includes the final resting place of Martin Luther King, Jr. 

And, of course, you won’t want to miss stopping at the Visitor Center. It will help you get oriented to the park and you can ask any questions you might have about how to join a tour or which sites are open during your visit. 

If you like guided walking tours, you should check out this Martin Luther King Historic District Walking Tour. It includes entrance to several important sites and you can cancel for free up to 24 hours ahead.

More things to do during your Atlanta day trip

World of Coca-Cola

An absolute Atlanta must-do, the World of Coca-Cola is a museum in Atlanta dedicated to the history and advertising of Coca-Cola. The museum is located in downtown’s Centennial Olympic Park District.

The main attraction for many visitors will be tasting samples that are available in different flavors.

If it’s there, make sure to try the soda called Beverly. Better yet, get everyone traveling with you to try it first!

World of Coca-Cola is just steps from the Georgia Aquarium and very near Centennial Olympic Park.

If you’re planning to visit World of Coca-Cola (among other sites) in Atlanta, you might want to check out the Atlanta CityPASS. It includes entry to World of Coca-Cola, Georgia Aquarium and  Zoo Atlanta plus your choice of TWO MORE attractions.

Zoo Atlanta

Alerting all Panda lovers! A visit to Zoo Atlanta is a must for your Atlanta day trip itinerary. They have pandas. I personally don’t need any more info than that.

Of course, Zoo Atlanta has more than just pandas. In fact, it’s a really great zoo, one of the best I’ve ever visited. 5 stars. Highly recommend.

Zoo Atlanta also keeps up a pretty full schedule of presentations and feedings so that guests can learn more about the animals.

Zoo Atlanta admission is included in the Atlanta CityPASS along with the World of Coca-Cola and Georgia Aquarium. Check it out here.

Centennial Olympic Park

Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta, Georgia
Don’t leave Centennial Olympic Park off your Atlanta one-day itinerary.

Centennial Olympic Park is an amazing 22-acre green space in the middle of downtown Atlanta that was built for the 1996 Summer Olympics. The park is home to several attractions including the famous Fountain of Rings.

Centennial Olympic Park is open to the public seven days a week.

High Museum of Art

Art lovers will want to pay a visit to the High Museum of Art. The High is one of the most significant museums of art in the U.S. and houses an impressive permanent collection of more than 18,000 pieces.

The High often features special exhibitions in collaboration with major museums, such as their noted Louvre Atlanta collaboration with the Louvre in Paris.

Margaret Mitchell House

Visit the home of Gone With the Wind author Margaret Mitchell. Part of Atlanta History Center Midtown, Margaret Mitchell House offers guests the opportunity to learn more about the author of one of the most influential works of Southern American literature and how her only books shaped popular views (right or wrong) of the South, the Civil War and slavery.

If you’re interested in reading more Southern lit, check out our list of great books about the South.

Georgia State Capitol Building

capitol building with gold dome in Atlanta, Georgia

In addition to being the largest city in Georgia, Atlanta is also the state capital. 

The state capitol building is open to the public during the week. It’s a pretty impressive building, so stop by if you can. 

I wouldn’t necessarily make a special point of going there if it’s out of your way, but if you’re in the area and it’s open, I recommend it. 

Tour Truist Park

Baseball lovers will be happy to know that Truist Park, home of the 2021 world champion Atlanta Braves operates guided tours year round.

If you’ve never taken a guided tour of a Major League Baseball park, I highly recommend it. It’s a lot of fun to get a peak behind the scenes of a major sports complex.

Top Atlanta tours and activities 

Final thoughts on how to see Atlanta in one day

These are just a few of the ways to spend one day in Atlanta. Atlanta is full of great history and has so many things to explore and enjoy.

The best way to spend a day in Atlanta is just by being curious. Stay open-minded, ask questions and be ready for any adventure that comes your way!

If you’ve ever wanted to visit this vibrant city, then now is the perfect time with so many new attractions opening up all over town. 

Need more help planning your trip? Check out our list of the essential travel planning resources. 

More articles to help you plan your visit to Georgia

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one day in Atlanta. The very best ways to see Atlanta in a day.

One Day in Atlanta: The Best Things To Do

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