Published May 06, 2018
Atlanta is a boomtown of business, a mecca of music and the focus of film and television producers who are flocking to the metro region. In Atlanta, group favorites abound — the World of Coca-Cola, the Georgia Aquarium and the College Football Hall of Fame — but hidden gems are also plentiful.
When visiting, most groups will spend time in the city and at major attractions, but “it’s always fun to try some of the other areas, try to get them off the beaten path,” said Randi Greene, Atlanta Metro Region tourism project manager for the Georgia Department of Economic Development.
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Ponce City Market is a newish attraction in an old building. The mixed-reuse development is housed in the sprawling 1925 Sears, Roebuck & Co. building. Groups can spend hours exploring the market’s 2 million square feet filled with stores and boutiques and a gourmet food hall with craft cocktails, an Italian market and a cookie dough counter. Visitors can take the freight elevator to The Roof where they’ll find a beer garden, a bar and Skyline Park, a carnival-themed rooftop attraction. Skyline Park has its own bar, skee ball, ring toss games, miniature golf, a slide and a “heege tower” ride, where guests use a rope to hoist their seat to the top and then slowly fall back down the tower.
The High Museum of Art will customize tours for groups. Staff at the museum, which has more than 14,000 pieces in its permanent collection, can arrange to have docents lead “curated” and behind-the-scenes group tours that focus on architecture, black history, African-American art — nearly anything a group may be interested in.
The Center for Puppetry Arts is a one-of-a-kind experience. It’s both a performance art center and an active museum. Groups can explore puppetry from around the world in the Global Collection; see the Jim Henson exhibit, which includes the bulk of the Henson family’s collection; take in a performance; or take a create-a-puppet workshop.
This April marked the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. The Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site offers total immersion into King’s life and legacy, including his birth home, the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church and the King Center, where visitors learn about his leadership of the civil rights movement and his assassination. At the center, guests can also visit the recently renovated iconic reflecting pool, where King and his wife are entombed side by side in a white crypt.
At the Center for Civil and Human Rights, visitors can explore the civil rights movement at interactive exhibits. Guests can sit at a lunch counter display and hear people yelling at them or whispering racial slurs in their headphones as the chairs buck beneath them, or walk through a re-enactment of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The center also explores global human rights, and in addition to guided tours, groups can arrange for diversity and inclusion training programs.