9 things to see, eat and do when your parents visit Atlanta

Atlanta is the city of sprawl. Even if you limit it to the actual city, inside the perimeter, there can be an overwhelming number of things to do. Especially if you're new in town— say, for example, if your parents are visiting for the first time.

You want to show them around, but you have a limited amount of time. You need to hit the highlights.

But don't worry: We've rounded up nine surefire successes to introduce mom and dad to the city's array of arts, culture, eateries and recreation.

(After you have them hooked, you can hand them our ultimate bucket list for those exploring Atlanta longer than a weekend.)


In “Hunger Games – Catching Fire,” Katniss and Peeta learn this the hard way: “The odds are never in our favor.” This is part of the set where the second movie in the series was filmed. (Kathy Witt/MCT)

icon to expand image

Take a Fox Theatre Tour: Wind your way through an important landmark in Atlanta history, one of the country's handful of not-for-profit theaters, with this 60-minute circuit. You'll visit 10 locations within the building and dozens of special mementos including Mighty Mo', which, according to the Fox is the largest working organ in the world. You'll also see the original furniture of the Men's Lounge, chosen by the wife of movie mogul William Fox.

The Atlanta Movie Tours provide a blockbuster showing of Atlanta's premiere filming locations. You'll visit both well-known Atlanta attractions and little-known landmarks aboard a luxury coach, gleaning significant Y'allywood backstory and secrets in the process. One of the company's most popular tours is The Big Zombie Tour, Part 1, focusing on "The Walking Dead" filming locations such as the CDC and the Jackson Street Bridge. Most tours are three hours and  average around $65 per ticket.

People watch at Little Five Points, where the intersection of Moreland and Euclid Avenues is a hub of too many different things to list. While you watch the bustle, for example, you can chow down on one of the best burgers in America at The Vortex, peruse the wares at Junkman's Daughter or Criminal Records, or grab a drink at The Porter Beer Bar or Wrecking Bar Brewpub.

Eat and drink

An outside shot of the Polaris restaurant atop the Hyatt Regency in Atlanta.

icon to expand image

Savor the view at a rotating restaurant, where you can enjoy delicious eats and hand-crafted drinks — with spectacular views of the city. Visit the (currently not rotating as of Sept., 2018) Sun Dial Restaurant, atop Westin Peachtree Plaza, or try Polaris, spinning above Hyatt Regency Atlanta, with an iconic blue dome that was a city staple in the 1960s and '70s.

RELATED: Restaurants and bars to eat and drink at in downtown Atlanta

During the Peachtree Food Toursowner John Hannula tells stories about Midtown's Civil War history, the making and decay of the area's mansions and Atlanta's rebirth. He'll leave you with tips and commentary on over 60 restaurants in Midtown, as well as guide you through an historic hotel and one of the city's oldest churches. Plus: You'll visit four or five of Midtown's culinary delights. Public tours are held on weekends and last four hours. $100 includes four or five gastro stops, with alcohol at most of them.

Devour a treat from King of Pops, whose fruity foods are what dreams are made of. They're like Popsicles, only better. Chocolate sea salt finds favor among the crowds, but other sinful flavors abound like fresh peach and tangerine basil. Try one from their signature carts at a local festival, food truck park or farmers market, or head over to their shop in Inman Park for a peek at how the magic is made.


June 22, 2017 Atlanta: Kenny Brown walks by the pooling water from rain reflected the colorful facade of the College Football Hall of Fame at 250 Marietta St NW, in downtown Atlanta on Thursday, June 22, 2017.  JOHN SPINK/JSPINK@AJC.COM.


icon to expand image


Stroll around Centennial Olympic Park: Explore Atlanta's legacy as host of the 1996 Summer Olympic Games at this 21-acre park in the heart of downtown. When you're in the park you're surrounded by great attractions, described below.

If you want to make a weekend of it for the family, some of the city's biggest tourist attractions (the World of Coca-Cola, the Georgia Aquarium and the College Football Hall of Fame) are nearby. Whatever you do, don't leave without taking a spin on SkyView, a ferris wheel towering 20 stories above the park.

Explore the BeltlineOnce only a dream in the mind of Ryan Gravel, the Beltline is now a growing network of public parks, multi-use trails and peripheral businesses. It's often undersold as a walking path or a transportation initiative, but it grows – lives and breathes – as a piece of the community.

With Bicycle Tours Atlanta you can: Explore new Intown neighborhoods, soak up Atlanta's Civil War and civil rights history, and hit the highlights of the city's art scene. Though best known for the Heart of the City Tour, Bicycle Tours of Atlanta offers multiple ways to ride through town. Bicycle tours are designed for those that lead an active lifestyle. Prices start at $59 per person. Bike rental, helmet rental, water and snacks are included with the price.