W.a. Harewood  /  Gamma Press file
Visitors walking through the tunnel in the Ocaen Voyager exhibit at the Georgia Aquarium. The largest Aquarium in the world is located in downtown Atlanta, and is a gift to the residents of the state of Georgia from Billi and Burnie Marcus.
updated 5/30/2006 12:34:03 PM ET 2006-05-30T16:34:03

People used to say Atlanta was a great place to live but you wouldn't want to visit. Not anymore. In fact, because of traffic and some other major pains in this city, some say just the opposite -- give me a weekend in Atlanta and let me live elsewhere. To each their own.

A lot has happened since Atlanta's humble beginnings as a railroad depot, and the city is rich in historic attractions -- Civil War sites, landmarks of the civil rights movement, and monuments to the businesses that have energized the city's development (such as World of Coca-Cola). And all those elements that make Atlanta a great place to live make the city a terrific place to visit, too. You can take a stroll through a world-class botanical garden, picnic in a scenic park, raft down a river, visit a major art museum, splash through the Olympic ring fountains, take in an enchanting puppet show, and much more.

MARTA stops near attractions are listed where applicable. If you need bus route information, call tel. 404/848-4711.

TOURS WORTH A LOOK

The Atlanta Preservation Center, a private, nonprofit organization headquartered at 537 Peachtree St. (tel. 404/688-3350), offers a variety of 1- to 2-hour guided walking tours of the city. Cost of each tour is $10 for adults, $5 for seniors, students, and children. Tours of the Fox Theatre District are given year-round; the remaining tours are offered as noted. Call or visit www.preserveatlanta.com for days, hours, and tour departure points.

During the Fox Theatre District Tour, you'll explore this restored 1920s Moorish movie palace in depth. The theater's auditorium resembles the courtyard of a Cairo mosque, and the architecture and interior were influenced by the discoveries at King Tut's tomb. This tour is subject to change due to special events or matinee performances.

Grant Park, the centerpiece of a revitalized neighborhood, became a favorite spot because of its beautiful lake, numerous springs, and amusement area. It's now home to the Atlanta Cyclorama and Zoo Atlanta. The Grant Park Tour uses the park as the setting for a walk through Atlanta's history, from antebellum times (you'll see the Grant Mansion and Confederate fortifications) through the Victorian era to the present day.

The Historic Downtown Tour (Mar-Nov) is an architectural survey of Atlanta's downtown, from Victorian buildings to modern high-rises. You'll learn about the architects, the businesspeople, and the prominent families who created the city's early commercial center. The tour includes peeks at historic interiors.

The Inman Park Tour (Mar-Nov) visits Atlanta's first trolley suburb, where you'll see preserved and restored Victorian mansions (exterior views only). Highlights include the homes of Coca-Cola magnates Asa Candler and Ernest Woodruff.

The Sweet Auburn/MLK District Tour (Mar-Nov) focuses on the area that 20th-century African-American entrepreneurs developed into a prosperous commercial hub. You'll also visit the church where Martin Luther King, Jr., preached, and discover landmarks of the Civil Rights Movement.

Walking Miss Daisy's Druid Hills (Mar-Oct) explores the neighborhood that was the setting for the play and film Driving Miss Daisy. The gracious parklike area was laid out by noted landscapist Frederick Law Olmsted and contains many architecturally important homes.

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The Ansley Park Tour (Mar-Nov) explores one of Atlanta's first garden suburbs (today a charming Midtown neighborhood), partly designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. Its broad lawns, majestic trees, parks, and beautiful houses make for a lovely tour. It's easy to get lost in Ansley Park, so if you want to explore the area, this tour is a good idea.

The following tours are not regularly scheduled, but can be arranged:

The Birth of Atlanta/Historic Underground Tour (Mar-Nov) explores the historic Underground complex, the state Capitol, City Hall, the Fulton County Courthouse, and three inner-city churches with pre-Civil War roots.

The Historic Midtown Tour (Mar-Oct) explores the many faces of the booming Midtown area, from its bungalows and skyscrapers to its restaurants and churches.

For more on what to see and do in Atlanta, visit our complete guide online at www.frommers.com/destinations/atlanta.

Frommer’s is America’s bestselling travel guide series. Visit Frommers.com to find great deals, get information on over 3,500 destinations, and book your trip. © 2006 Wiley Publishing, Inc. Republication or redistribution of Frommer's content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Wiley.

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

    Visitors enter the "World of Coca-Cola," a museum dedicated to the ubiquitous beverage. (Ric Feld / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  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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