Atlanta at Dusk
James Randklev  /  Corbis
Atlanta at Dusk
By
Special to msnbc.com
updated 5/30/2006 12:34:03 PM ET 2006-05-30T16:34:03

“A-Town,”  “ATL, Georgia,” “The New York of the South,” “The Los Angeles of the South” – whatever you call it there’s no question that Atlanta is one of the most popular cities in the world to do business. With a wide range of attractions, restaurants and entertainment options set among the dogwoods and azaleas, it’s also a great place to take a day off. With the following 24-hour itinerary, you should be able to get a good taste of what “The Big Peach,” as it’s also called, is all about.

8 a.m. - 9 a.m.
Start the day at one of Atlanta’s favorite breakfast haunts, the Flying Biscuit Café . Biscuits are definitely a Southern thing, and at the Flying Biscuit they’re a big, fluffy, golden-crowned Southern thing. They come out of the kitchen stuffed with eggs, cheese and turkey-sage sausage. Or they’re accompanied by black bean cakes with tomatillo salsa, sour cream, feta cheese, and raw onion spears. Or they come as-is and ready for a smear of spicy apple butter.

9 a.m.-11:30 a.m.
Head to the city’s historic Sweet Auburn neighborhood, where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was born, and where several blocks have been set aside as the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site . Start at the National Park Service Visitor Center and sign up for the tour of Dr. King’s Birth Home, a lovely two-story Victorian where you can learn about the early years of America’s foremost civil rights leader. Next to the visitor center you’ll see Ebenezer Baptist Church, where King served as co-pastor with his father, where he spoke so eloquently of the non-violent path to social change, and where his funeral was held after he was murdered. Then walk to The King Center , a living memorial to the man and the site of his crypt. From the King Center it’s a short walk to King’s birth home and other points of interest.

A MORNING ALTERNATIVE
Get a sense of everyday life in the antebellum South at the Atlanta History Center , where you can wander the grounds of a re-created, 1840s-era farm, complete with log cabin and barn, corncrib, smokehouse, blacksmith shop, and guides in period costume. The History Center also has one of the world’s largest and most complete exhibits on the Civil War, plus an exhibit showing the history of the Atlanta from the 1830s to the present, an exhibit tracing changes in the South through changes in Southern folk art, and an exhibit dedicated to golf and one of Atlanta’s favorite golfers, Grand Slam winner Bobby Jones.

Noon-1:30 p.m.
Have lunch at Canoe , situated on a peaceful bank of the Chattahoochee River, at a ford which the Union Army crossed in its campaign to seize Atlanta. Standouts on the menu include the sage-roasted pheasant, the seared Georgia trout, and the slow-roasted Carolina rabbit. At once rustic and swanky, the dining room has touches like wrought-iron kudzu vines, river-stone floors, and a vaulted cherrywood ceiling. Everywhere you turn, there are handsome, genuine canoes.

1:30 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Head downtown and visit the CNN Center for a behind-the-TV-screens look at the inner workings of the world’s premiere 24-hour news network. The 50-minute tour passes through a special effects studio, where you learn how on-screen graphics are done, see why weather people never seem to look directly at the maps they’re pointing at, and discover exactly what the teleprompter is all about.

The tour also peers into actual newsrooms, control rooms and broadcast studios where live newscasts originate – you might see one in progress. The highlight for many visitors comes when they get to produce a mock newscast of their own, manning an anchor desk and control room set aside for the purpose. After the tour, step over to neighboring Centennial Olympic Park, where the 1996 Summer Olympics were held. Now it’s a community gathering spot with music, performance and other programming throughout the year. On hot days young Atlantans frolic in the Fountain of Rings, a colorfully-lighted, computer-controlled water sculpture with 251 jets of water shooting up to 35 feet in the air.

AN AFTERNOON ALTERNATIVE
Visit “the world’s largest aquarium,” as the Georgia Aquarium is known. Created largely through a $250 million donation from the founder of Home Depot, the aquarium is itself a sort of big box store of marine life. With 8 million gallons of tank space, it stocks between 100,000 and 120,000 sea creatures representing more than 500 species. Among the big draws are five beluga whales and two whale sharks. At the interactive stations you can run your fingers across the bumpy ridges of a starfish or the smooth hide of a stingray.

5:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.
Sit down at the white-table-clothed table you reserved at Bacchanalia , the place for fine dining in Atlanta. The four-course prix-fixe menu changes all the time, but might feature an entree like poached chicken with summer truffles or wood grilled beef tenderloin.  The blue crab fritters with avocado, Thai pepper and citrus are a favorite starter. For desert something such as a warm Valrhona chocolate cake with a molten chocolate core might present itself. It’s all delightfully Southern.

7 p.m. - 10 p.m.
Catch a show at either the Fox Theater , a vintage 1920s Egyptian-Moorish movie palace, or at the RialtoCenter for the Performing Arts , part of Georgia State University.The Rialto hosts international jazz, world music and dance, as well as performances by the School of Music, and the Atlanta Film Festival. The Fox is home of the Atlanta Ballet and the Atlanta Opera, but it also gets headliners like Widespread Panic, Cheryl Crow and Jerry Seinfeld. Sometimes high culture and pop culture share the stage, as when Elvis Costello recently played with Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.

AN EVENING ALTERNATIVE
Catch a game. A-Town’s got baseball with the Braves at Turner Field, football with the Falcons at the Georgia Dome, hoops with the Hawks at Philips Arena, soccer with the Silverbacks at DeKalb Memorial Stadium, plus hockey with the Thrashers and arena football with the Georgia Force , both at Philips Arena.

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Late Night
Groove to the beats at Tongue and Groove , an upscale dance club and cocktail bar dripping with elegance and charm. As you might expect, T&G has a tongue-and-groove dance floor, but if you don’t dress your best the doorman will leave you standing outside on the concrete sidewalk. From T&G you can strike out to a number of other clubs in the trendy Buckhead neighborhood, ATL, Georgia’s party central.

Pauline Frommer is the creator of the new Pauline Frommer Guidebooks which will be debuting in bookstores this July.

Flying Biscuit Café: Two locations: Midtown at 101 Piedmont Ave (404/874-88887) or in Candler Park at 1001 Piedmont Ave (404/687-8888); daily 7 a.m. - 10 p.m.; http://www.flyingbiscuit.com/

Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site: Birth home at 501 Auburn Ave; daily 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. (to 6 p.m. in summer);
http://www.nps.gov/malu/pphtml/planyourvisit.html

The King Center: 449 Auburn Avenue, NE; 404/526-8923; daily 9 a.m. -5 p.m. (to 6 p.m. in summer) www.thekingcenter.org

Atlanta History Center: 130 West Paces Ferry Rd., NW; 404/814-4000; Mon-Sat 10 a.m. - 5:30 p.m., Sun noon-5:30 p.m.; www.atlhist.org

Canoe: 4199 Paces Ferry Rd; 770/432-2663; Mon-Fri 11:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. and 5:30-10:30 p.m,. Sun 10:30 a.m - 2:30 p.m. and 5:30-9:30 p.m.; http://www.canoeatl.com/canoe_content.htm

CNN Center: One CNN Center; 404/827-2300; Mon-Fri 9:00 a.m. - 5 p.m.; $12 adults, $11 seniors;  www.cnn.com/studiotour

Centennial Olympic Park: http://www.centennialpark.com/

Georgia Aquarium: 225 Baker St; 404/581-4000; $22.75 adults, $9.50 seniors; daily 8 a.m. - 6 p.m.; http://www.georgiaaquarium.org/

Bacchanalia: 1198 Howell Mill Rd. ; tel. 404/365-0410

Fox Theater: 660 Peachtree St; 404/817-8700; http://www.foxtheatre.org/

RialtoCenter for the Performing Arts: 80 Forsyth St., NW; 404/651-4727; http://www.rialtocenter.org/

Braves: http://www.atlantabraves.com/

Falcons: http://www.atlantafalcons.com/

Hawks: http://www.nba.com/hawks

Silverbacks: http://www.atlantasilverbacks.com/

Thrashers: http://www.atlantathrashers.com/

Georgia Force: http://www.georgiaforce.com/

Tongue and Groove: 3055 Peachtree Road; 404/261-2325; 9 p.m. - 2:30 a.m.; average cover $10; http://www.tongueandgrooveonline.com/

Pauline Frommer is the creator of the new Pauline Frommer Guidebooks which will be debuting in bookstores this July.

© 2013 MSNBC Interactive.  Reprints

Photos: Hot town rising

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  1. Capital of the South

    Atlanta was chosen as the state capital in 1868 and served as the headquarters of the Reconstruction administration. (Joseph Sohm / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Atlanta-ic ocean

    A whale shark swims in the Ocean Quest exhibit at the Georgia Aquarium, the world's largest. (Barry Williams / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. 'Until justice rolls down like waters'

    The tomb of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., is reflected in the pool surrounding it. The Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site -- which includes King's birthplace, grave and the Ebenezer Baptist Church -- draws visitors from around the world. (John Bazemore / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. CNN city

    Pedestrians enter CNN Center, headquarters of the cable-news network. (Ric Feld / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Horse with no name

    A visitor looks at Deborah Butterfield's piece "untitled" in the High Museum of Art. (Ric Feld / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Sweet Georgia brown

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  7. Home of the Braves

    The Atlanta Braves take the field against the New York Mets. (Matthew Stockman / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Eats shoots and stays

    Yang Yang, a male giant panda, munches on a piece of bamboo in his habitat at Zoo Atlanta. (Ric Feld / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. It rose again

    Atlanta at dusk. (James Randklev / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
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