5 Hidden Attractions in Atlanta
Updated: October 31, 2023
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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.
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.Read More
CDC/David J. Sencer CDC Museum
1600 Clifton Rd. N.E.
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.)Read More
flickr / CC BY/Heather Kennedy
Center for Puppetry Arts
1404 Spring St. N.W.
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.Read More
flickr / CC BY/Shawn Taylor
Doll's Head Loop at Constitution Lakes Park
1305 S. River Industrial Blvd. S.E.
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
1680 Westview Dr. S.W.
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. However, 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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Sherry is an experienced #AAAEditor and former journalist who enjoys writing informative travel articles and reviews. Her commitment to making meaningful connections with people and places fuels her work for AAA. Sherry's favorite activities range from skiing to backpacking abroad and taking ghost tours.