Atlanta has one of the busiest airports in the world. If you like flying as much as I do at some point you will have a long layover in this stunning city. Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport has a shuttle and other economical ways to get from the airport to Centennial Olympic Park, where the main attractions are located. My favorite way to get there is by subway, it only takes around half an hour and costs $3 each way. If you are more concerned about time you can always get an Uber. I have selected a list of what to do in Atlanta around Centennial Olympic Park for your next long layover.
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What to do in Atlanta around Centennial Olympic Park during a long layover
The World of Coca Cola
Who does not like Coca Cola? This World of Coca Cola showcases the history of the Coca Cola company and at the end you can try as many soda flavors from around the world as you wish! Honestly you can do the museum in 1 or 2 hours but we recommend you to take as long as possible so you can enjoy all the unique soda flavors. We normally recommend to go straight to the tasting section, try a few and then start your walk around the museum.
National Center for Civil Rights
The National Center for Civil Rights is the perfect place to learn more about the civil and human rights movement in the United States and across the world. It focuses on the achievements from both the civil and human rights movements, with artifacts, photos and art pieces. Walking through the powerful exhibits is an important reminder of the basic human rights that need to be protected for all. To fully experience the center, give yourself at least 90 minutes to make it through.
Take a ride on the 20 story tall ferris wheel with a beautiful scenic view of downtown Atlanta around Centennial Olympic Park. During the 15 minute ride aboard a gondola on the Skyview Atlanta keep an eye out for Kennesaw Mountain and the Mercedes Benz Stadium in the distance. You go around full circle four times, so no need to rush your viewing the first time around.
For those of you who love marine and salt water animals, this is the perfect destination for you. The Georgia Aquarium houses more than a hundred thousand animals, with over 700 species. Its largest tank holds 6.3 million gallons of water, the largest indoor aquatic habitat in the world and the largest aquarium in the United States. It is also the only institution outside of Asia that has white sharks.
The aquarium takes between 2 to 4 hours to see, depending on how long you spend in each section. I recommend you to go to all the shows, especially the AT&T dolphin celebration. If you want to see the shows, show up at least 20 minutes in advance to make sure you have a seat. Otherwise, if they are at capacity the will not let you in.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Birth Home
Most people do not know that Martin Luther King’s birth house is open for guided tours. It is a free tour but you have to go to the visitor center to sign up for it. The tour is an hour long so plan accordingly. We recommend to go early in the morning. When we went we showed up at 11 a.m. and the only tour available was the last one at 4 p.m., and we got the last 2 tickets, so head there first. Nearby you can also visit the Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, were MLK was pastor, and the Historic Fire house, the first fire house that allowed black men serve as fireman in the city. To visit all these historic places and go on the tour, you should give yourself between 2 to 3 hours.
The CNN Center is the main headquarters and main newsroom and studios for several of CNN’s news channel. This 50 minute guided tour takes you through the building and provides a behind the scenes look of what you see on tv.
It is amazing how much of Atlanta you can see in just a 12 hour layover. If you have a shorter layover, pick two or three of the most interesting sounding attractions to get a good highlight of what Atlanta has to offer.