Atlanta is a city rich in history but modern in its development and industry. It has a population of just under 500,000 with more than five million people living in the metropolitan area. It is also the ninth largest metropolitan area in the United States The city is rich in culture and was at the center of the civil rights movement. It is the capital of the state of Georgia, and was home to the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games. It has the world's busiest airport and arguably some of the country's worst traffic, but the residents are recognized for their friendly and welcoming nature and the city is lush with green trees and wonderful parks.
Atlanta is a humid subtropical climate with four different seasons and consistent rain year around. The summers are famously hot and humid and the winters are cool. Summer highs reach into the 90s and there are, on average, 48 freezing days a year. Ice storms are common and treacherous during the winter months.
Centennial Olympic Park, Atlanta, Georgia
There are some great places to visit in Atlanta, but one of the most impressive is the Georgia Aquarium. It has on display a whale shark, which is the largest fish in the ocean. It's also the only whale shark in captivity in North America. Other popular sights in Atlanta include the World of Coca-Cola, the CNN Center and Studio Tour, the Fernbank Museum of Natural History, the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site, and the Atlanta History Center. Some of the best parks in the city are the Centennial Olympic Park and Piedmont Park. Also consider visiting Zoo Atlanta, which is very impressive, particularly if you're traveling with children.
As a tourist, you'll find most of the attractions in the downtown area including the state capitol, city hall, the CNN Center, the Georgia Aquarium and the New World of Coca-Cola. The Midtown area is popular for its nightlife and is also home to Georgia Tech University. Buckhead also has a vibrant nightlife with many bars and restaurants. East Atlanta has some eclectic residential neighborhoods and South Atlanta has the Atlanta Braves and the airport. West Atlanta includes neighborhoods such as Vine City, Bankhead, Historic West End, Collier Heights and the Upper Westside. Decatur is just a few miles from downtown Atlanta and is a residential town with several pedestrian friendly areas.
There are all types of performing arts in Atlanta. The Atlanta Ballet is the oldest professional dance company in America. Other options are the Atlanta Opera and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. Sport teams in the city include the Atlanta Braves (baseball), the Atlanta Falcons (football), The Atlanta Hawks (basketball), the Atlanta Thrashers (hockey), the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (college), and the Atlanta Beat (women's soccer).
Food and Dining
There is know shortage of restaurants in Atlanta and in recent years many celebrity chefs have opened restaurants in the area. You can find any type of food, from southern style diners to top rated international restaurants offering sushi, Indian, or even Ethiopian food.
As with most southern cities, there are also many fast food chains around. Atlanta is actually the home to several famous chains such as Waffle House, Chick-Fil-A, Zaxby's, Moe's Southwest Grill, and Arbys.
The city sprawls out from it's downtown area and has limited public transportation so a car is absolutely essential to explore the city in any level of detail. If you plan to spend the majority of your time in the downtown area then you can walk many places. Public transit has improved in recent years as well.
The city is served by the MARTA system which includes both a rapid rail and bus system. It travels through Atlanta, Fulton and Dekalb counties. The rail network has four color coded lines including the Red, Gold, Blue and Green lines. The Red and Gold lines run north and south and the Blue and Green lines run east to west. Five Points Station is at the center. The trains run from 5 am until 1 am on weekdays and from 5 am until 12:30 am on weekends and holidays. The frequency is every 12 minutes during peak times and every 20 minutes at night and on weekends.
There are several popular bus routes. 110 (or "The Peach) goes along Peachtree Street from Downtown to Buckhead. 36 connects Virginia Highland and Midtown Station. 16 connects Five Points Station with the Carter Center, Virginia Highland and the northeastern parts of the city. 2 connects North Avenue Station and travels east. 12 leaves from Midtown Station and goes west along 10th street past Georgia Tech. 6 travels from Inman Park Station to Lindbergh Station.