Atlanta United defender Franco Escobar (2) moves the ball past New York City Red Bulls players during the first half of a MLS game on Sunday, July 7, 2019, in Atlanta. Branden Camp/SPECIAL

Atlanta in 2020: 20 things to do to kick off the ’20s

As a new year and a new decade begins, take the opportunity to visit some new spots, enjoy new experiences or revisit favorite attractions in and around Atlanta. Here’s a list of great options to get you started.

NCAA’s Final Four

After seven short years, the NCAA Men’s Final Four tournament is back in Atlanta for 2020 with the semi-final game on April 4 and the national championship on April 6. Attending a Final Four game can make an epic memory to kick off the decade. But even without a ticket to the big game, the Final Four weekend promises other associated events, such as their Fan Fest and the free Capital One JamFest concert, featuring Taylor Swift. Events will be held at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the Georgia World Congress Center and the State Farm Arena.

April 3-6. Tickets start at $187. Mercedes-Benz Stadium (for semi-final and final games), 1 AMB Drive NW, Atlanta. 470-341-5000. ncaa.com/final-four.

Atlanta sports

For that matter, aim to see any sporting event in 2020. Mercedes-Benz Stadium and SunTrust Park, both barely 3 years old, are rather impressive sights for first-time visitors, so that’s reason enough to make the outing. The Gateway Center @ College Park, the newest venue to the Atlanta sports scene, is also worth a gander. The WNBA’s Atlanta Dream will play their 2020 season at the new arena. But overall, it’s also an electrifying experience to soak up the Atlanta sport fandom — from the Braves to the Hawks and particularly the Atlanta United craze (the 2018 MLS Cup Champions begin their season in late February).

Mercedes-Benz Stadium, 1 AMB Drive NW, Atlanta. 470-341-5000, mercedesbenzstadium.com; SunTrust Park, 755 Battery Ave. SE, Atlanta. 404-577-9100, mlb.com/braves; The Gateway Center, 2330 Convention Center Concourse, College Park. arenagatewaycenter.com.

October 3, 2019 Atlanta - Atlanta Braves center fielder Ronald Acuna Jr. hits two run home run in 9th inning during Game 1 of best-of-five National League Division Series at SunTrust Park on Thursday, October 3, 2019. St. Louis Cardinals won 7-6 over the Atlanta Braves. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)
Photo: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

The Fox Theatre

You’ve likely attended a play, concert or live production at the world-famous Fox Theatre, but have you ever seen a movie at the Fox? After all, before its short stint as a Shriners temple, the venue started as a movie theater in 1929. So, it’s only fitting you see a reel in honor of the theater’s original function. Check the Fox website for occasional film screenings, such as their Coca-Cola Summer Film Festival.

Fox Theatre, 660 Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta. 404 -881-2100, foxtheatre.org.

Regal Atlantic Station 4DX

Looking for a new way to watch movies in 2020? Atlantic Station’s Regal theater can now play select showings in 4DX, an immersive, multisensory viewing experience. Moviegoers will be able to experience effects such as wind and chair vibrations, which synchronize throughout an entire feature-length film. The cinema is currently screening “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” in 4DX.

Regal Atlantic Station, 261 19th St. NW, Suite 1250, Atlanta. 844-462-7342, regmovies.com.

MORE ON AJC.COM: Best places around Atlanta to keep your New Year’s resolutions

MARTA’s Atlanta Streetcar

Hard to believe, but it has been nearly five years since the Atlanta Streetcar began operation. So, if you still haven’t boarded the streetcar, put it in your 2020 plans. The current path operates from Centennial Olympic Park to the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site. And with recently announced expansion plans, the streetcar will soon be on the move to new places, such as the Beltline and Atlanta University Center.

Current route starts at Peachtree Center Station and includes 11 stops toward Woodruff Park. 404-848-5000, itsmarta.com.

AJC Peachtree Road Race

The annual tradition — now in its 51st year — draws runners from all over the globe, helping to cement its title as the “world’s largest 10K.” So why not make this the year to participate in this internationally treasured event? (Note: Registration for the 2020 AJC Peachtree Road Race will open on March 15, 2020). But even if you decide not to run/walk the race, you can still take part in the spectacle by finding a spot along the Peachtree Road course to cheer on the 60,000 participants.

July 4. The race starts in Buckhead near Lenox Square Mall and ends in Piedmont Park. 404-231-9064, atlantatrackclub.org/peachtree.

Atlanta Movie Tours

Dubbed the “Hollywood of the South,” several blockbuster movies and acclaimed television shows are filmed right here in the city. By now, you’ve likely even stumbled across a few filming sets unknowingly. But if all those cryptic yellow filming signs only make you more curious about Atlanta’s movie scene, then perhaps 2020 should be the year you finally checked out a movie tour. Atlanta Movie Tours is a great opportunity to tour the filming locations for movies and shows such as “Black Panther,” “Walking Dead,” “Baby Driver” and more.

Atlanta Movie Tours, 327 Nelson St. SW, Atlanta. 855-255-3456, atlantamovietours.com.

Movie Castings

Want a deeper look behind the lens of Atlanta’s filming scene — and want to get paid for it, too? If so, be sure to keep an eye out for casting calls in 2020. Follow the social media pages for casting agencies like Central Casting Georgia, which are always on the lookout for extras/background actors (Also, read how to get cast as an extra in Atlanta).

Central Casting Georgia, 235 Peachtree St. NE, Suite 217, Atlanta; 404- 920-8011, centralcasting.com.

Summerhill Atlanta

The newly redeveloped mixed-use district will certainly be abuzz in 2020 as more restaurants plan to open in the first quarter, joining an already impressive group of new local restaurant concepts. This year, make plans to visit its retail center, where foodies can find everything from Sicilian-style pizza to Instagrammable doughnuts. And among the most notable 2020 Summerhill openings is Little Bear, the first brick-and-mortar restaurant from acclaimed pop-up chef Jarrett Stieber.

Summerhill Atlanta, Georgia Avenue, summerhillatl.com.

Pop-up restaurants and A Mano

Speaking of pop-ups chefs and restaurants, this growing trend will likely carry on into 2020, so take advantage of all the out-of-the-box culinary fun while you still can. A Mano, an Italian restaurant in the Old Fourth Ward, routinely invites outside chefs to host pop-up dinners in their venue. That’s where you can likely catch pop-up chef Seung Hee Lee, known for her exciting Korean flavor fusions.

A Mano, 587 Ralph McGill Blvd. NE, Atlanta. 404-549-7727, amanoatl.com.

The Beltline and beyond

Each new year usually brings those same-old resolutions — one of which is often to get more active. An outdoor walk can be one of the easiest and most rewarding physical activities, and Atlanta has plenty of beautiful options to put foot to pavement, trail or green space. Make this the year to explore everything from hiking trails to the city’s recreational parks. And beginning Jan. 2, 2020, the Beltline (in partnership with the Atlanta Track Club) will host new free weekly group run/walks for their Run.Walk.Go program.

Check website for run/walk group times and directions to each trail head entrance. beltline.org.

The sun casts a long shadow as a man jogs along the Atlanta Beltline near the Old Fourth Ward neighborhood. ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM
Photo: For the AJC

Emory Continuing Education courses

Did any of your 2020 resolutions involve self-betterment? The Emory Continuing Education center offers a wide selection of courses to help with your goals. Find everything from career-based pursuits, such as learning HTML or email marketing strategy, to personal enrichment interests, such as wine tastings and learning how to paint with acrylics.

Emory Continuing Education, 2635 Century Parkway NE, Suite 300, Atlanta. 404-727-6000. ece.emory.edu .

Centennial Olympic Park and neighboring attractions

It’s true, sometimes, we locals tend to take things for granted and that means rarely — or (gasp) never — taking advantage of our most popular tourist attractions. If this sounds like you, then consider adding Centennial Olympic Park and the surrounding attractions to your 2020 list. Find a concentration of tourist favorites here, including the Georgia Aquarium, the World of Coca-Cola, the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, CNN Studios, the Chick-fil-A College Football Hall of Fame and the SkyView Ferris wheel. (Note: the Atlanta CityPass is a cost-friendly way to see multiple attractions for less).

Centennial Olympic Park, 265 Park Ave. W NW, Atlanta. 404-223-4000. gwcca.org. Visit the attraction websites for venue hours, addresses and pricing.

High Museum of Art

In the same vein, a visit to the High Museum is another activity to mark on your year ’20 list, especially if you’ve haven’t visited in some time. In addition to its permanent collection and often Instagram-famous temporary exhibits (like their current Virgil Abloh: “Figures of Speech” exhibit), the High also hosts programming such as their jazz and HIGH Frequency nights, where the museum comes alive with music and cocktails.

High Museum of Art, 1280 Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta. 404-733-4400. high.org.

“The Shade” by August Rodin is one of the most notable works on display on the campus at the High Museum of Art. STAFF PHOTO
Photo: For the AJC

Oakland Cemetery

It’s more than just a historic graveyard, and if you’ve never been, then perhaps it’s time to discover why. Recognized for its deep history and celebrity grave sites, the popular attraction hosts several tours, including their October Spirit of Oakland Halloween tours, which routinely sell out as early as July. But you don’t have to wait until fall for an ideal time to visit. On Feb. 29, the cemetery hosts its annual Daffodil Day, a free event celebrating the flower’s seasonal return in the cemetery.

Oakland Cemetery, 248 Oakland Ave. SE, Atlanta. 404-688-2107, oaklandcemetery.com.

Overview of Oakland Cemetery.
Photo: For the AJC

Atlanta Festivals

Each year you tell yourself you’re going to go to … (insert: DogwoodMusic MidtownSweetWater 420AJC Decatur Book Festival, etc.). Don’t let another year go by with missed opportunities and unfulfilled plans. Make 2020 the year to maximize your weekends with some festival fun.

Visit the individual festival websites for festival dates addresses and pricing. dogwood.orgmusicmidtown.comsweetwater420fest.comdecaturbookfestival.com.

Leon Bridges, Walk The Moon, Cold War Kids, and more at Music Midtown
Photo: Tad Lemire/ B98.5

Staycation

As you plan more opportunities to add excitement to your year, also consider planning more opportunities for self-care. And a staycation can be an easy and affordable option for a mental health getaway. You can indulge in a spa-luxury combo at properties like the St. Regis Atlanta and the Waldorf Astoria Buckhead or aim for lively, trendier escapes like the Moxy in midtown and Hotel Clermont.

St Regis, 88 W. Paces Ferry Road NW, Atlanta. 404-563-7900, stregisatlanta.com; Waldorf Astoria Buckhead, 3376 Peachtree Road NE, Atlanta. 404-995-7500, waatl.com; Moxy Atlanta, 48 13th St. NE, Atlanta. 404-249-9446, acmoxymidtown.com; Hotel Clermont, 789 Ponce de Leon Ave. NE Atlanta. 470-207-5646, hotelclermont.com.

The Unforgettable Atlanta package at the Waldorf Astoria Atlanta Buckhead is ideal for people with limited time but want the opportunity to relax. Contributed by Waldorf Astoria Atlanta Buckhead
Photo: For the AJC

2020 Olympic Trials Marathon

As the 2020 Tokyo Olympics approach, it’s only natural to reflect on Atlanta’s time as host to the big games. But Atlanta will actually have the chance to relive some of that excitement as the city plays host to the U.S. Olympic marathon trials. The race will take place Feb. 29 (yes, it’s a leap year) and include the nation’s best marathoners. Arranged by the Atlanta Track Club and the USA Track & Field organization, spectators are directed along Peachtree for the best viewing locations of the course.

12:03 p.m. (men’s start time) and 12:13 p.m. (women’s start time) Feb. 29. Centennial Olympic Park, 265 Park Ave. W. NW, Atlanta. atlanta2020trials.com.

Support local at iVillage @ MLK and more

Consider making a New Year’s resolution to support more local vendors. With new businesses sprouting up around the city, there’s increasing evidence that the push to support small business is taking hold. The iVillage @ MLK is one such initiative dedicated to offering affordable retail spaces for new entrepreneurs in underserved communities. Located just outside the Hamilton E. Holmes MARTA station, the newly opened shipping container village already hosts a few new businesses with plans to place more tenants soon.

iVillage @ MLK, 2489 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Atlanta. investatlanta.com.

Your polling place

Georgians will have a packed ballot this election year with two Senate seats, several House seats, the 2020 presidential elections and many local races up for a vote this year. Visit the State of Georgia’s My Voter Page to register to vote, check your voter status, view sample ballots and more.

Visit www.mvp.sos.ga.gov for more details.

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