When planning your trip to Atlanta, don't miss Midtown, a centrally located neighborhood between downtown and Buckhead that is a hub of hotels, museums, restaurants, performing arts venues and other top attractions. Accessible via I-75/85 (also called the Downtown Connector) as well as the North, Midtown and Arts Center MARTA stations, the neighborhood is intersected by the city's iconic Peachtree Street.
While you could easily spend your entire Atlanta trip exploring Midtown, we've compiled a list of the top 10 things to make sure you do during your visit.
Stroll Through Piedmont Park
Covering nearly 200 acres in the heart of midtown, Piedmont Park is Atlanta's version of Central Park and is one of the city's biggest green spaces. With a weekend farmers’ market, tennis courts, public swimming pool, off-leash dog park, sports fields, playgrounds and miles of paved and unpaved paths for running and cycling, the park truly has something for everyone. Bring a picnic and soak up views of the Midtown skyline, cool off on a hot summer day at the splash pad or check the park’s website for an up-to-date listing of festivals, concerts and other public events being held there, like the annual Dogwood Festival in spring.
Tour the Historic Fox Theatre
Originally conceived as a home for the Atlanta Shriners, this historic movie theater in Midtown, built in the moorish style, was saved from demolition in the mid-1970s and transformed into a modern multi-performance venue. The theater hosts over 250 performances each year, including touring Broadway shows like "Hamilton," live performances from popular musicians (Prince's last show was here) and the Atlanta Ballet's annual holiday tradition, "The Nutcracker."
Book a tour to get a behind-the-scenes look at the Fabulous Fox's history, unique decor and notable performances. Tours take place Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays and tickets go on sale two weeks prior to the tour date. The theater is a block from the North Avenue MARTA station.
Visit the High Museum of Art
The Southeast's leading art museum, the High Museum of Art is located on the Woodruff Arts Center Campus in Midtown at the intersection of 16th and Peachtree Streets. The 15,000 works in its permanent collection range from European paintings to African-American art and 19th and 20th century decorative art to interactive outdoor exhibits.
Pro tip: Visit on the second Sunday of each month between noon and 5 p.m., when admission is free and the entire family can see the museum, enjoy art-making activities and live performances for free. While there are two parking decks and street parking available, the Arts Center MARTA station on the red and gold lines drops you off right across the street from the museum.
Explore Puppets From Across the Globe
Located in Midtown at the corner of 18th and Spring Streets, the Center for Puppetry Arts is the largest American non-profit organization solely dedicated to the art of puppet theater. The collection includes an exhibit dedicated to Jim Henson and iconic puppets like Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog and The Global Collection, which celebrates puppetry traditions from around the world. The museum also hosts regular performances, workshops and events for all ages and has ample parking for visits, but is also a short walk from the Arts Center MARTA station.
Eat Chili Hot Dogs at The Varsity
At this Atlanta institution, which opened on North Avenue in 1928 and is considered the world's largest drive-in, the answer to "What'll ya have?" is the Combo #1, two chili dogs with mustard on steamed buns. The franks come with a side of fries or onion rings and a medium drink. We recommend the popular Frosted Varsity Orange shake. Don't skip the fried pies, made from scratch daily.
Soak in Nature's Beauty at the Atlanta Botanical Garden
The property includes 30 acres of outdoor gardens, the largest collection of species of orchids in the United States, an award-winning children's garden, an edible garden with chef demonstrations, a one-of-a-kind Canopy Walk through Storza Woods and permanent art installations.
Don't miss special events like a summer concert series with artists like the Indigo Girls and Old Crow Medicine Show, the magical holiday light displays, children's summer camps and the spook-tacular "Scarecrows in the Garden" around Halloween.
Listen to the Grammy Award-Winning Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
Part of the Woodruff Arts Center campus, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (ASO) is known for its world-renowned chorus and its 28 Grammy awards. While concerts include a season-long classical series with favorites from orchestral giants Beethoven and Tchaikovsky as well as more contemporary selections, the ASO's 150 annual events also feature a range of music ranging from pop to R&B to country, and offer something for music lovers of all ages. Expect shows with popular musicians like Vanessa Williams and Ben Folds, movie nights featuring classic films like "Casablanca," holiday tunes and family-friendly events for young listeners.
Catch a Show at the Alliance Theatre
Also located within the Woodruff Arts Center complex, this Tony-award winning regional theater has been the launching point of several Broadway hits, including "The Color Purple "(based on Alice Walker's novel by the same name), Elton John and Tim Rice's "Aida" and Alfred Uhry’s "The Last Night of Ballyhoo" as well as the world premieres of "Sister Act: The Musical" and "The Prom." The theater also hosts family-oriented programming, summer camps and acting workshops for all ages.
Eat at Empire State South
Located just a few blocks from Piedmont Park, Empire State South is the perfect spot to relax and dine on upscale Southern food after a long day of touring Midtown. The restaurant from Top Chef Masters alum and James Beard award-winning chef Hugh Acheson, excels at simple, seasonal Southern fare, including the can't miss In Jars: Southern-style spreads served with toast and pickles. if the weather is nice, sit outside on the patio and enjoy a cocktail or a glass of wine (the restaurant excels at both) while playing a round of bocce.
Visit the Rootop Bar at the Southeast's Largest Whole Foods
The new Midtown flagship isn't just your regular old Whole Foods. The brand's 500th location — a 70,000 square-foot, multi-level store — has all the usual amenities, as well as four different fast-casual eateries spread across four floors, a full-service Allegro coffee an espresso bar and a selection of 100 beers and over 1,000 wines, many from local producers. Soak up skyline views on the store's rooftop bar, which features small bites, a selection of beer and wine, stadium seating and games like cornhole and jumbo Jenga.