From my experience, there are two levels of need-to-know information about Atlanta, tourist level and local level. The tourist level draw of Atlanta is exciting, and I highly recommend experiencing some of these attractions instead of acting like a local that’s too cool for these activities. You’re not a local, and you’re not too cool to see a whale shark.

Tourist Level Activities:

Georgia Aquarium

This aquarium is home to a whale shark. Due to its sheer size, people love to see and talk about the whale shark. It’s huge, so go see it. If for some reason you go to Atlanta and don’t see the whale shark you can easily pretend to have seen it by saying this, “Yeah we saw the whale shark! That thing is huge!”

Coke!

The World of Coca-Cola

Atlanta is home to Coke headquarters, and as such the company has created a mini-museum/theme park for visitors to enjoy. Remarkably, there’s actually enough stimuli and interactivity in The World of Coca-Cola to keep almost any visitor occupied for a couple hours. Like the aquarium, this is a great bet for families.

The CNN Center Lobby

CNN Center

CNN is headquartered in Atlanta and the CNN Center tour is a lot of fun, especially for the aspiring journalist. I’m not usually one for tours (and will label one “lame” if it merits it), but the CNN Center tour gets right into the guts of the 24-hour news operation. Complete with live look-ins at Headline News and CNN.SI, the CNN Center is a worthwhile place to spend half a day.

Underground Atlanta

The city’s original streets, now underground! Atlanta has been built up over these streets, so now it’s a mall. Underground isn’t Atlanta’s best shopping district, but the novelty of being underground is worth a visit at the very least.

Local Level Activities:

Sweetwater Brewery

Atlanta’s signature local brew, Sweetwater beers have recently started showing up in cities all over the country. Wednesday and Friday evenings the brewery hosts tours that amount to a happy hour (or two). For a low price visitors get drink tickets and a nice Sweetwater pint glass. The perfect start to a night out in the ATL?

Welcome to Virginia Highland!

Virginia Highland

Acclaimed for shopping, dining, and nightlife, the Highland’s area boasts one of Atlanta’s best bar scenes. Whether you’re looking for live music, good food, greasy food, cheap beer, or attractive people to make feel uncomfortable with your altogether too forward comments, the Highland’s area has a bar for you. Without the flash and higher prices of the more famous Buckhead area, the Virginia Highland is what Buckhead was ten years ago, and that’s a good thing.

UF Basketball Hero Al Horford

Sports

Currently Atlanta’s sports teams aren’t very good, but that doesn’t mean there’s not a reason to enjoy them. The NBA’s Hawks boast a young team that includes former Gator Al Horford. The NFL’s Falcons play in the Georgia Dome which is Gator football’s goal destination every year because it hosts the annual SEC championship game. The Falcons have a young team highlighted by an explosive running game. Atlanta’s favorite team, the Braves, are managed by Bobby Cox, who has been ejected from more baseball games than any manager in history! And finally, most Atlantans don’t even know that the city is home to a National Hockey League franchise. The Atlanta Thrashers have one of the most exciting players in the league on their roster, but don’t ask a local who Ilya Kovalchuk is, you’re likely to get a blank stare.