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Crossroad to the Southeast
By: James Richardson

The crossroad of the southeastern United States is one of the largest cities in the country. Even though most visitors are in Atlanta, Georgia for a business trip or convention, or maybe they are making a stopover at the busy Hartsfield International Airport, there are reasons to visit Atlanta just for the sake of visiting.

Atlanta is filled with notable attractions: Underground Atlanta and the Coca-Cola Museum, Stone Mountain, Georgia Capitol; home of Martin Luther King, Jr. and his church Ebenezer Baptist; and home of Margaret Mitchell, who wrote Gone With the Wind. And Atlanta’s major facts: General William Sherman burned Atlanta to the ground during the Civil War, because of its strategic position in the South; host of the 1996 Summer Olympic Games; home of the baseball's Atlanta Braves, football's Atlanta Falcons, and basketball's Atlanta Hawks. Atlanta has a metropolitan population of 3.5 million people, and is growing rapidly, also due to its location and accessibility by rail, air, and the interstate highway system.

Whether your visit is for business or pleasure, there will be many opportunities for outdoor recreation, shopping, museum tours, dining, and most anything else you are to do in Atlanta. Getting around in Atlanta is easier than you might think. If you do not care to drive on the busy city streets, MARTA (Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority) system has an East-West line and a North-South line that make connections with the MARTA bus system. That is the most cost-efficient method of transportation in the city, particularly if you purchase a pass for several days. However, passes must be ordered in advance.

Midtown attractions

The downtown area is the center of most of the attractions. Many attractions are situated near the Midtown area. For instance, there is the Margaret Mitchell House, Underground Atlanta, the Coca Cola Museum, the Georgia Dome, Piedmont Park with the Botanical Gardens, which the largest park within the city limits. There are also the Atlanta Civic Center and the CNN (Cable News Network) headquarters.

Underground Atlanta is located in the heart of the downtown area and covers six city blocks. In the early days of Atlanta, the railroads played a more important part in the transportation picture than it does today. Many tracks were utilized then. Later in the city's history, as the tracks remained, the city built up around and over them. When the need for the tracks in this area ceased, the idea of a development arose. Hence, the birth of Underground Atlanta.

Within Underground Atlanta are over one hundred specialty shops, several restaurants, and, of course, a MARTA station. Just outside of this underground marketplace is the World of Coca-Cola, the soft drink that changed the world. The museum traces the colorful history of Coke through memorabilia, exhibits, and classic exhibits.

Only the Bible has sold more copies than the book Gone With the Wind. Its author, Margaret Mitchell, lived in Atlanta and was living in an apartment near midtown while she was writing the book. The restored Margaret Mitchell House contains exhibits on the book, the movie, and the life of its author.

Stone Mountain

Stone Mountain is located sixteen miles east of Atlanta. It contains the largest piece of exposed granite in the world. On the stone itself is the large carving of Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee, and Ulysses S. Grant. One of the highlights of Stone Mountain is the sky lift that takes riders to the top of the mountain offering a spectacular view of the countryside. A nighttime laser show is projected on the north side of the granite face during the months of April through September and once a week through October.

A railroad train ride around the base of Stone Mountain, a riverboat cruise in the lake, a golf course, and an antebellum plantation are other attractions for visitors. There is also a 400-site campground at Stone Mountain. The antebellum plantation contains nineteen authentically restored buildings of the area. A new acquisition to the plantation and yet undeveloped is the T. R. R. Cobb House. Built in the 1830's and moved from its original site in Athens, Georgia, the house is representative of post-colonial architecture.

Ebenezer Baptist Church

Auburn Avenue is within the heart of the African-American community in Atlanta. Appropriately, at the center of this community are Ebenezer Baptist Church and the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. Ebenezer is the church the senior Reverend King began and which Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. co-pastored while making history in this country's quest for civil rights. A museum, visitor center and Dr. King's gravesite are also on the grounds of Ebenezer Baptist Church.

Other attractions

Six Flags Over Georgia is located just west of Atlanta. Museums covering every topic from science and technology (SciTech) to Jimmy Carter with stops in between (Federal Reserve Bank Monetary Museum, High Museum of Art, Folk Art, and Photography, the Fernbank Museum of Natural History, and Atlanta's History Center.)

The Atlanta Cyclorama is a "moving experience." That is the way it is advertised. It is actually a huge circular painting of the Civil War Battle of Atlanta. Viewers of the painting sit in an auditorium while the nine thousand pound 358 feet by 42 feet painting revolves around the admirers.

Atlanta is a very large city but there are a multitude of things to do that would fill several days. No matter what your likes are, chances are Atlanta will have something for you. So the next time your itinerary takes you through Atlanta, plan to stop for a few days and enjoy the sights.


Atlanta Convention & Visitor Bureau

Cobb County Convention & Visitor Bureau

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