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5 Hidden Attractions in Atlanta

flickr / CC BY/Shawn Taylor
By AAA Travel Editors
December 20, 2019
Atlanta, one of the most buzzed-about cities in the South, impresses with a range of fun things to do, so why not take a detour toward some hidden attractions in Atlanta—many less crowded and far more unique? From rare Civil War artifacts to bodily mysteries and mysterious places to go, you’ll learn more about this intriguing destination once you head off the beaten path.
Courtesy of Atlanta History Center

Atlanta History Center

130 W. Paces Ferry Rd. N.W.
(404) 814-4000
Once far more obscure, this 49-foot, multilayered panoramic painting moved in 2019 to the Atlanta History Center, where you can reserve a ticket to experience the rare visual spectacle. Built circa 1889 in Milwaukee, the cyclorama features the 1864 Battle of Atlanta with 360-degrees of detail and even life-size mannequins (notably a figurine of actor Clark Gable as a corpse, added in the 1930s). Restored to show the original and historically accurate Union victory, the artwork is at the core of the new building, which explores Civil War mythology.
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CDC/David J. Sencer CDC Museum

1600 Clifton Rd. N.E.
(404) 639-0830
With any deadly outbreak, the Center for Disease Control gets on the ground and works to manage public health. It’s no wonder there’s a particular image of the agency in pop culture—one that’s explored within the unique museum on-site. Educational exhibits include research into mystery diseases and biological warfare, medical discoveries and artifacts, and multimedia installations about the agency’s impact. (Note: Because the museum is within a secure area, security will check government-issued photo ID or passports and do a brief search of vehicles upon entry.)
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flickr / CC BY/Heather Kennedy

Center for Puppetry Arts

1404 Spring St. N.W.
(404) 873-3391
No other institution focused on puppetry is as big as this one in Atlanta, which features a large collection of rare and delightfully nostalgic puppets, a popular educational center and a performance troupe. However, you’ll want to go for the unique things to see, numbering 4,000 pieces in the collection, some donated from the family of puppeteer and “Muppets” creator Jim Henson. Before you go, there’s still one more thing to do: Use a phone or camera to document the center’s “tiny door,” a painted miniature door that’s part of an art project—#TinyDoorsATL—adding “tiny wonder in big places.” Think of them as little secret Atlanta attractions scattered across the city.
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flickr / CC BY/Shawn Taylor

Doll's Head Loop at Constitution Lakes Park

1305 S. River Industrial Blvd. S.E.
(404) 285-3756
Best from April to September, this trail within Constitution Lakes Park, only about 5 miles from downtown, was inspired by local resident Joel Slaton who started displaying “found art” along the 1.5-mile loop. This urban preserve-turned-art installation features everything from, yes, doll parts to old bricks—the latter not so surprising since there used to be a brickyard on the grounds. After strolling past scenic wetlands and lakes to washed-up rubble that’s been turned into folk art, visitors are encouraged to create their own family-friendly contribution using what they’ve found.
Wikimedia Commons / CC BY SA/Carsonmc

Westview Cemetery

1680 Westview Dr. S.W.
(404) 755-6611
This peaceful place to go is not as visited as Oakland Cemetery, the final resting place of the city’s glitterati in the heart of downtown, though it’s still convenient if you take public transit (15 minutes from West Lake Marta) and does contain the grave of Coca-Cola co-founder Asa G. Candler. The architecture and interesting historical details are what to explore. The original gate is one of the oldest standing structures in the city. The cemetery is also the site of an eye-catching, cathedral-like mausoleum and chapel called Westview Abbey, said to be the largest of its kind under one roof. Not all of the 582 acres of Westview Cemetery are developed, but it’s one of the largest cemeteries in the Southeast, with a portion of it having been the site of the Civil War Battle of Ezra Church.

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