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Fun Atlanta places hidden in plain sight

The coolest things to do aren’t always the easiest to find.

With Atlanta being home to numerous sports venues, music halls and an abundant nightlife, the city’s real gems are sometimes found hidden in plain sight. From Magic City to the Fox Theatre, Atlanta has countless staples that are just as diverse and world renowned as our city. But if you’re looking for something fresh to do that isn’t exactly floating the mainstream, we’ve compiled a list of six of the best hidden gems throughout the Big Peach that allow you to explore a different side of Atlanta.

The Eddie’s Attic Open-Mic & Shootout

Started in 1994 by venue namesake Eddie Owen and entering its 50th season, the bi-annual Eddie’s Attic Open Mic Shootout in downtown Decatur highlights the region’s best acoustic musicians. Though the Shootout may be considered the diamond, the hidden gem is the Attic’s weekly Monday night Open Mic competition, which is hosted by Atlanta musician Brian Revels. The event features as many as 20 up-and-coming musicians performing two original songs for a chance to “win the night.” The victor earns a slot in the next Shootout. Previous winners of the Shootout, which is hosted by Grocery on Home Founder Matt Arnett, include John Mayer, Jennifer Nettles, Tyler Childers and Marshall Ruffin.

Monday Night Open Mic:

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7:30 p.m. show, 7 p.m. doors every Monday. $5-$6.25.

50th Bi-Annual Open Mic Shootout:

7:30 p.m. show, 7 p.m. doors June 22. $20-$25. Eddie’s Attic, 515 N. McDonough St., Decatur. 404-377-4976, eddiesattic.com.

Atlanta Fed’s Monetary Museum

The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, one of the 12 Federal Reserve Banks of the United States, hosts a Monetary Museum that features an exhibit of historical artifacts, like rare coins and currency, while also telling the story of money and the turbulent history of banking in America. The museum includes a view of the bank’s automated vault and cash processing areas, where millions of dollars are counted, sorted or shredded daily. Attendees also get a glimpse into the bank’s automated vault and see the robotic transports that do the heavy lifting. Individuals or groups of fewer than 10 people may participate in self-guided tours that do not need to be scheduled. For groups of 10-30 people, free group guided tours may be scheduled by appointment only. Group tours are offered at 9:30 a.m., 11 a.m., and 1 p.m. Monday-Friday.

9 a.m.- 4 p.m. Monday-Friday. Free. Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, 1000 Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta. 404-498-8500, www.frbatlanta.org.

Historic Fourth Ward Skatepark

Nestled in the corner of Old Fourth Ward, just a stone’s throw from Inman Park, the Historic Fourth Ward Skatepark opened in 2011 as the first official skate park in the city of Atlanta. Legendary skateboarder Tony Hawk attended the grand opening ceremony after his foundation contributed $25,000 to the park’s construction. Not to be confused with Historic Fourth Ward Park, the skate park was designed with input from the local skating community and accommodates a range of skill levels. In you’re not one for extreme sports, the park also has a playground and an athletic field.

6 a.m.-11 p.m. daily. Free. 830 Willoughby Way, Atlanta. 404-546-6813, beltline.org/parks/historic-fourth-ward-skate-park/.

Starlight Drive-in & Flea Market

If you’re looking to get some quality time with that special someone, or if you just want to catch a flick, the Starlight Drive-In Theatre may be your move with its four screens and digital projection system. Seven nights a week, movie fans can enjoy double-features with sound broadcast right to their car stereo. On weekends, the Starlight hosts a flea market with more than 300 vendors. The flea market is open 6 a.m.-3 p.m.every Saturday and Sunday. Admission is 50 cents and parking is free.

Daily show times are posted to the website. $9; ages 5-9 $1. 2000 Moreland Ave. SE, Atlanta. 404-627-5786, starlightdrivein.com.

Fernbank Forest

The 65-acre old growth forest located in the heart of Atlanta is known as the largest urban Piedmont forest in the United States. It allows for an escape to nature with its abundance of forestry and wildlife such as river otters, woodpeckers and salamanders. Fernbank Forest has more than two miles of wandering paths beneath ancient trees, some of which tower 16 stories high. The Forest is accessible through Fernbank Museum of Natural History with its preservation being a direct result of Fernbank’s founder, Emily Harrison, who originally led the charge in the late 1800s to preserve 65 acres of forest amid neighborhood development and city expansion. Today, Fernbank Museum’s mission includes an ongoing commitment to Fernbank Forest, which was purchased by the Trustees of Fernbank to preserve and protect it for future generations.

10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. $18-$20, members free. 767 Clifton Road NE, Atlanta. 404-929-6300, fernbankmuseum.org.

Aurora Theatre

Under the artistic leadership of co-founders and Artistic Directors Anthony Rodriguez and Ann-Carol Pence, Aurora Theatre is now in its 23rd season. Even though it’s the largest arts organization in Gwinnett County and the fastest-growing professional theater in Georgia, this “hidden gem” produces a wide range of work, from big Broadway plays and musicals to thought-provoking contemporary theater. Aurora Theatre serves over 80,000 visitors annually through one of its 850 events across the theatre’s two stages. In addition to being home to Georgia’s only professional Spanish-language theater, Teatro Aurora, the Aurora Theatre is also planning to expand with a new multi-million dollar arts complex to be completed in 2020, which will host one of the largest live performing arts stages in the state.

$10-$50. 128 E. Pike St., Lawrenceville. 678-226-6222, auroratheatre.com.

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