No doubt you’re aware that the place you call home is a hotbed for happy-go-lucky visitors. Everyone wants in on the Atlanta action. So, why not see what the buzz is about and take to the city with them? Take a weekend, or two, to explore the famous sites and discover what puts the sizzle in Hotlanta. You just may find it’s not the heat, after all. Here’s our brief list of what to do first.
HIGH MUSEUM OF ART
Forget about that famous museum in Paris. With a gem like the High Museum of Art in your backyard, you have a world of culture right before your eyes. As part of the Woodruff Arts Center, the High’s beautiful exterior architecture quietly complements the astonishing works of art inside. Throughout the year, visiting collections are on display at the museum, chronicling either complete works of an artist or single prints. Currently, items from the Louvre, Monet’s Water Lilies, Richard Misrach on the Beach, and Evolution – Prints by David C. Driskell are showing. Permanent collections include over 11,000 pieces, including modern and contemporary art; European, African and folk pieces; photography and much more. Open Tuesday–Sunday; closed major holidays. Tickets are $18 for adults and $11 for ages 6-17; the first Saturday of every month is free for Fulton County residents. High.org
CNN STUDIO TOUR
If you’ve ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes in a newsroom, an Inside CNN Studio Tour is just what you need. Explore the history of the news network, learn how various events shape up for coverage, and get a glimpse of the Headline News studio and control room. When finished, commemorate your visit by having your photo taken behind the news desk. Early birds can catch a portion of a live broadcast of “Morning Express with Robin Meade.” On the Morning Express Tour, you’ll get a firsthand look at the fast-paced world of TV journalism; a continental breakfast is included. Open 363 days a year; tickets are $10-13. Cnn.com/tour
If you don’t have little ones, you probably haven’t been to the zoo in a while, but Zoo Atlanta isn’t just for kids. Animal lovers of all ages can appreciate the variety of exotic birds, reptiles, amphibians, and more. As for the mammals, there are over 40 different species represented here, including red and giant pandas, giraffes, kangaroos, lemurs and rhinos. For an up-close experience, don’t leave without stopping by the petting zoo. If nature is your thing, there also are plenty plants in full bloom. In the Georgia Backyard Wildlife Habitat, you will find a garden of picturesque horticulture that’s indigenous to the state and southeastern United States. Tall ironweed, Virginia bluebells, American silverbell and red buckeye are just a few of the varieties represented. Open 363 days a year; all tickets are under $20. Zooatlanta.org
If you haven’t visited the Georgia Aquarium yet, you’re missing out. As the world’s largest aquarium, there are over eight million gallons of water here. Sea life is divided into 60 exhibits and is awe-inspiring — possibly the next best thing to snorkeling or scuba diving. On your visit, be sure to watch a feeding of the beluga whales; stop by the display of the preserved giant squid; and walk beneath the arched tank of multiple species of fish and mammals, including hammerhead shark and sawfish. While most exhibits are encased in glass (for obvious reasons), others are more hands-on, letting you pet sea creatures or participate in interactive sessions. The Titanic Aquatic exhibit recreates a portion of the ship’s haunting existence. Nearly 200 recovered artifacts, vivid images and captivating presentations engage visitors in the legacy of the ill-fated liner. However, what truly makes the aquarium unique are its contributions to research and aquatic animal conservation. It’s also the only aquarium that doubles as a veterinary teaching hospital. Open 365 days a year; general admission is $27 for adults and $19.50 for kids. Several ticket packages are offered, including Atlanta Braves, Six Flags and Atlanta Botanical Garden combos. Georgiaaquarium.org
WORLD OF COCA-COLA
Because we live in the birthplace of the world’s favorite soft drink, it is hard to call yourself a true Atlantan until you visit the World of Coca-Cola. If you haven’t been since its relocation to Pemberton Place, the new facility is definitely a reason to stop by. Explore the World on your own or participate in a guided tour, complete with a 3-D movie experience in moving seats and exhibits detailing the brand’s 400 other products. As you make your rounds, taste more than 60 Coke varieties from around the globe, view commissioned works of art and hug the 7-ft. Coca-Cola polar bear. Open 362 days a year; tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for children. Worldofcoca-cola.com
For steep discounts on tickets, consider buying the Atlanta CityPass ($69), a booklet permitting access into six of Atlanta’s most famous attractions, including the Georgia Aquarium, World of Coca-Cola and Zoo Atlanta. Visit Citypass.com or call (888) 330-5008 for more information.