With its moderate climate, scenic position in the Appalachian Mountain foothills, and extensive history and culture, the iconic city of Atlanta, Georgia makes for a picturesque destination. Besides popular attractions such as the Six Flags Over Georgia amusement park and the Georgia Aquarium, the city also features numerous lesser-known sites that are just as exciting. Situated in proximity to most Atlanta vacation rentals are beautiful parks and trails, as well as unique museums, unusual shopping venues, and unforgettable culinary delights. Without further ado, here are the best hidden gems in the city of Atlanta.
1. Cascade Springs Nature Preserve
It’s almost unbelievable that an oasis as beautiful as Cascade Springs Nature Preserve lies in the midst of southwestern Atlanta. This lovely natural area has a cascading multi-level waterfall, rushing streams, and springs of water so sweet that it used to be bottled and sold. Trails take you through lush forested hills where you can observe deer, creek fish, turtles, and many species of birds. Along the way, watch for a historic moss-covered springhouse made out of stones and mortar, and earthworks and trenches dug by Civil War troops.
2. Margaret Mitchell House and Museum
The Margaret Mitchell House and Museum in Midtown Atlanta commemorates the author of the famous novel and film Gone With the Wind. Margaret Mitchell, whose real name was Peggy Marsh, lived in this house while she wrote the novel in an apartment she nicknamed The Dump. Exhibitions at the museum highlight the life of Margaret Mitchell and her career as a writer, the making of the iconic film classic, and the premier of the movie in Atlanta. Guided tours take you through Mitchell’s apartment and the other museum displays.
3. The Junkman’s Daughter
The Junkman’s Daughter is an immense one-of-a-kind novelty store near vacation rentals in the Little Five Points area of central Atlanta. Founded by a genuine daughter of a junkman who required a location to sell the items accumulated by her father’s business, the store rapidly expanded to include its present unbelievably eclectic selection of merchandise. The venue offers clothing, toys, artwork, collectibles, and memorabilia. A flamboyantly painted mural surrounds the outside of the building, and within are bizarre touches such as a staircase fashioned to resemble a high-heeled shoe that leads to the footwear section.
4. Atlanta Botanical Garden Canopy Walk
Hidden within the Atlanta Botanical Garden, which lies within Piedmont Park in the Midtown area of Atlanta, is the Kendeda Canopy Walk. This unique 40-foot-high pathway takes you on a 600-foot-long trail through the treetops of a poplar, hickory, and oak forest. Don’t miss exploring the rest of the Botanical Garden, which features a Japanese garden, a rose garden, and an orchid center. A special garden for children has a painting wall, a balsa wood construction area, a tree house, and climbing areas. In the tropical conservatory, observe animals such as turtles, tortoises, geckoes, and songbirds.
5. The Worlds of Puppetry Museum
The Center for Puppetry Arts Worlds of Puppetry Museum is in Midtown Atlanta. One of the few museums devoted to puppetry in the world, its exhibits include a collection of Jim Hanson’s famous puppets such as Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy as well as further collections of puppets from around the world. Guided tours take you through the galleries and for a behind-the-scenes look at a puppet-building workshop. Museum programs demonstrate the art of puppetry to kids of all ages.
6. Rhodes Hall
Rhodes Hall, which sits on Peachtree Street in the center of Atlanta, is a 9000-square foot Romanesque Revival mansion built to resemble Rhineland castles that furniture magnate Amos Rhodes observed while traveling in Europe in the late 19th century. The magnificent building features a carved mahogany staircase, exquisite stained glass windows, parquet floors, murals, and mosaics. Today the mansion is a fascinating house museum and open for self-guided and guided tours.
7. Mary Mac’s Tea Room
Located at the corner of Myrtle Street and Ponce de Leon Avenue in downtown Atlanta, historic Mary Mac’s Tea Room is the place to go if you want to sample some good old fashioned southern cuisine. The restaurant opened in 1945 as a means for its founder Mary McKenzie to make a living in the difficult post-war era and was designated a tea room because women generally did not own restaurants in mid-20th century Atlanta. Nowadays, the restaurant continues to serve traditional southern favorites such as fried chicken, turnip greens, black-eyed peas, fried okra, and sweet potato souffle.
8. Centennial Olympic Games Museum
The family-friendly Centennial Olympic Games Museum hides within the Atlanta History Center in the Buckhead district north of downtown. The museum features displays with collections of past Olympic medals and torches, and offers a history of the Olympic Games from their beginnings in ancient Greece. Kiosks spaced throughout the museum test your knowledge of Olympic events. In the Sports Lab upstairs, test your prowess in rowing, cycling, running, and the long jump, and compare the results to those of Olympic champions.
9. The BeltLine
Formerly a railway corridor around the city of Atlanta, the BeltLine has been converted into a 22-mile all-purpose trail for walking and cycling. Some trails are better developed than others, but put together they form a comprehensive pathway that takes you through multiple parks and green spaces. Whether your vacation rental is in the northern, southern, western, or eastern region of Atlanta, you can undoubtedly find a lovely portion of the BeltLine near you.
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