Some (somewhat) hidden gems to explore in metro Atlanta

10 (somewhat) hidden gems to explore in metro Atlanta

Atlanta’s sprawling metro area is chock-full of quirky nooks and crannies to check out. 

Whether you’re a born and bred Atlantan or a recent transplant, odds are there are still some hidden gems throughout the city for you to explore.

From the great outdoors to art and architecture, here are 10 (somewhat) hidden gems throughout the metro area to add to your Atlanta bucket list.

» RELATED: 8 Atlanta apartments housed in former industrial buildings

The Millennium Gate Museum pays tribute to the best of classical design and to the civic spirit of Atlanta, where much of the city's early architecture arose during the Classical Revival of the early 19th century. Contributed by Millennium Gate Museum

Millennium Gate Museum

395 17th St NW, Atlanta

Atlanta’s own version of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, the Millennium Gate sits at the intersection of State Street and 17th Street. The landmark serves as a remembrance for Atlantans who have died in tragedies throughout the city’s history, according to previous reporting from the AJC. The plaques include: the Siege of Atlanta (1864), the Winecoff Hotel fire (1946), the Orly plane crash (1962) and the plane crash on Mount Kenya (2003).

The 82-foot-tall monument was designed by architects Rodney Mims Cook Jr. and Hugh Petter and opened in July 2008. It also features an expansive museum about Georgia’s history. The museum is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday. More information is available here.

» RELATED: Millennium Gate Museum offers quiet spot to learn about state

One of "found art" pieces and also first clue to lead to Doll's Head Trail at Constitution Lakes Park near the intersection of South River Industrial Boulevard Road and Moreland Avenue on Friday, July 29, 2014. It's called Doll's Head Trail because of many "found art" pieces created with trash, many of it doll heads, that is left over after the South River floods. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Doll’s Head Trail
3445 Almand Rd SE, Atlanta

Officially, this area is known as Constitution Lakes Park. Situated just off Moreland, near East Atlanta and Gresham Park, it’s more commonly called “Doll’s Head Trail.” That’s because the grounds are dotted with found objects, including, as the name suggests, some dolls. The items come from pieces found in the park or carried in by the river. The project got its start in 2010 when Joel Slaton began visiting the park.

He started sprucing up the area and leaving behind some creations. Slaton and other volunteers maintain the site and enforce sound of the ground rules: art must be family friendly and free of jagged-edges.

» RELATED: Found art trail in south Atlanta park turns trash into treasure

Swan House at Atlanta History Center
130 West Paces Ferry Rd NW, Atlanta

The Swan House sits on the grounds of the Atlanta History Center. Notably, it has appeared in movies, including the 2013 movie “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.” But its history goes back much further than that. A classical mansion, it was constructed in 1928 and designed by architect Philip Trammell Shutze. At the end of the jazz age, the home was occupied by Edward and Emily Inman, who often used it to entertain.

You can either explore the home on a self-guided tour or attend the guided tour that takes place at 4 p.m. daily.

More information is available here.

The Sandy Springs' East Palisades Chattahoochee River Trail is ITP and is accessible via trail heads at Whitewater or Indian Trail. The more than 3 miles of eastern bank hiking trails include high-elevations, mill ruins and a bamboo forest.
Photo: Jenni Girtman/

Bamboo forest on the East Palisades Trail
1425 Indian Trail NW, Sandy Springs

If you’re looking to explore the great outdoors without going outside the Perimeter, you can explore the bamboo forest that sits along the Chattahoochee River. The site features more than 3 miles of hiking trails, mill ruins and scenic views of the river. 

The bamboo forest can be a bit hard to navigate to, so be sure to follow signs or use your phone’s GPS (signal permitting) to help guide you there.

Current exterior of Rhodes House CREDIT: Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation
Photo: Ga. Trust for Historic Pres.

Rhodes Hall
1516 Peachtree St NW, Atlanta

Situated along Atlanta’s bustling Peachtree Street, Rhodes Hall was originally built in 1904 using granite from Stone Mountain. The Romanesque Revival style mansion features painted glass windows and a carved mahogany staircase, according to the hall’s website. “Rhodes Hall is an outstanding survivor of Peachtree Street’s heyday as Atlanta’s premiere residential thoroughfare,” a post to the website reads.

Today, the property is the headquarters of The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation. Sometimes called the “caste on Peachtree,” it is also home to weddings and events. The property is open for historical tours from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Saturdays. 

More information is available here.

Lauri Stallings, founder and choreographer of glo, at Goodson Yard at the Goat Farm Arts Center on Friday, August 8, 2014. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

The Goat Farm Arts Center
1200 Foster St NW, Atlanta

This may be a now former hidden gem of the city, although it still deserves a nod for its place in Atlanta’s scene over the years. The Goat Farm has historically served as a performing arts center and safe haven of sorts for the city’s artists and creatives. The sprawling 12 acre site on the west side is home to 19th century industrial buildings. The space has been known for the Glo dance company performances that have taken place there. It was also home to scenes in “The Hunger Games” and “The Walking Dead.”

Now, the property is undergoing major changes. A developer is currently working on a two-year and $250 million transformation that will bring a hotel, restaurant and apartments to the property.

The first door created by Tiny Doors ATL was installed at the Krog Street Tunnel. Each door is "individual to itself" but also of a piece with its location, says co-director Karen Anderson. This fits in well with the wild west concrete canvas of the tunnel where the murals, graffiti and other types of public art have made it a must-see place in Atlanta. photo by Jill Vejnoska
Photo: Jill Vejnoska/Jill Vejnoska

Tiny Doors ATL
692 Ponce De Leon Ave NE, Atlanta
The public art project, Tiny Doors ATL, got its start when the first door popped up at the Krog Street Tunnel. Over the years, artist Karen Anderson Singer has expanded the 7-inch high displays in various locations, including along the Beltline and Historic Fourth Ward Skatepark. 

“The numbered doors around Atlanta are always free to visit and accessible to people of all ages,” according to a post on the project’s website.

When deciding where to install the displays, the folks at Tiny Doors ATL put emphasis on places that are pedestrian friendly.

If you want to go on a tiny door tour, here’s more information on where to find them.

Oakland Cemetery. Jenni Girtman / Atlanta Event Photography
Photo: HANDOUT/(Jenni Girtman / Atlanta/(Jenni Girtman / Atlanta Event P

Oakland Cemetery
248 Oakland Ave SE, Atlanta
and Westview Cemetery
1680 Westview Dr SW, Atlanta

Both Oakland and Westview Cemetery offer a glimpse into the city’s past and also have great views of the city. Oakland Cemetery is the city’s third-largest public green space and is the final resting spot for many famous Georgians, including Margaret Mitchell, Bobby Jones and Maynard Jackson. The cemetery regularly holds a variety of tours, art shows and various other events. More information is available here.

On the west side, Westview Cemetery is the largest civilian cemetery in the region. The privately-owned property is nearly 600 acres of land. It’s the final resting place for a number of notable Atlantans, from businessmen like Asa Candler and Robert Woodruff to notable civil rights icons like Donald L. Hollowell and Evelyn Lowery. More information is available here.

Atlanta's Smith's Olde Bar Saturday. (Akili-Casundria Ramsess/Special to the AJC)
Photo: Akili-Casundria Ramsess/

1 a.m. secret show at Smith's Olde Bar
1578 Piedmont Ave NE, Atlanta

You may have been to Smith’s for a brew or a music show, but for the late night crowd, there’s a 1 a.m. “secret” comedy show every single Saturday. The secret is not the show itself, but the lineup, which regularly features both local and traveling comedians who are passing through town.

Former guests have included folks like Marc Maron and Pete Holmes. The show is free to attend. More information can be found on its Facebook page.

The two-headed calf is shown in a display case on the 4th floor of the Capitol Museum Thursday afternoon in Atlanta, Ga., January 31, 2013. Although designed to celebrate the natural resources of Georgia, the museum occasionally displayed oddities such as these. The calf was born in Palmetto in 1987. For many young students who tour the Capitol, seeing the two-headed calf is the highlight of the tour. Tracie Murray of the Capitol Museum has received several notes from children thanking her for showing them the two-headed calf. JASON GETZ / JGETZ@AJC.COM
Photo: Jason Getz / AJC/

Two-headed cow at the State Capitol Museum
206 Washington St SW, Atlanta

If you grew up in Atlanta, you likely saw the two-headed cow on a school trip to the State Capitol. According to previous reporting from the AJC, it is displayed on the building’s 4th floor in the Capitol Museum. 

The calf was born in Palmetto in 1987. For many young students who tour the Capitol, seeing the two-headed calf is the highlight of the tour. 

The Capitol is open for both guided and self-guided tours about the building and state history. More information is available here.

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