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Visiting Atlanta is like visiting an oversized small town; glittering skyscrapers, super highways and sprawling suburbs belie a magnetic Southern charm that’s hard to resist.
The Georgian state capital is an American success story, a mesh of cultures among an enticing mix of tree-lined neighbourhoods. It’s home to world-class attractions, booming businesses, leading sports teams (with glitzy modern stadiums), cute panda cubs and herds of zombies (on screen at least). Atlanta was also pivotal to America’s modern history and gave birth to the Civil Rights Movement.
You can splurge on designer gear, fine dining and swanky hotels in upmarket Buckhead. Or you can hang with the skinny-jeaned crowd in Little Five Points. While Five Points refers to downtown Atlanta, its mini-branded spin-off is a hub for the city’s alternative scene, packing in indie bookstores, vintage clothing boutiques, offbeat theatre and bold murals.
Back in Downtown, hop aboard the Atlanta streetcar to see the big sights. In the running for the hottest attraction in town, the fabulous Georgia Aquarium claims to house more creatures than any other aquarium, but if you start counting, you may be there for some time.
Right next door, a close contender for the sightseeing crown is the World of Coca-Cola, a perennial favourite with sugar junkies, where you can subject your tooth enamel to over 100 different drinks. And be sure to make a stop at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site along Auburn Avenue.
Looking for a little action? The Eastside Trail in the revitalised Atlanta Beltline railway corridor is a hit with cyclists, rollerbladers and walkers. It passes by art installations, green spaces and Ponce City Market, a renovated landmark building that’s now chicster-hipster heaven with its trendy food hall, local designers and must-have apartments. Hot on its heels is Krog Street Market, with jewellery, craft ale and funky eateries in a 1920s warehouse.
Meanwhile, if you want to snap a selfie with those cuddly panda cubs, head on down to Zoo Atlanta. As for the zombies, hitch a ride on a tour of The Walking Dead locations – just don’t get lost in the herd.