Guide to a weekend in ATLANTA, Georgia

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Atlanta is a vibrant and sprawling city with not one, but three skylines! Home to CNN, Coca-Cola and Chick-fil-A, the city has the third largest concentration of Fortune 500 companies in the US after NYC and Houston. Whether you’re flying South for the winter or you are visiting Atlanta for one of its numerous spring time festivals – during our recent visit with #JetBlue we complied a list of some cool places to experience in the city…

Porsche Experience Center

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The Baxter on display at the Porsche Experience Center in Atlanta. (Photo by: Nikita Sampath)

If you can afford to buy yourself some time here, I’d say do it! I didn’t think being driven around in a drifting Porsche was my thing but it totally was! The Porsche Experience Center (#PECATL) has a specially designed track that you can test drive any of the Porsche models on. Alternately, a trained Drive Coach can give you the experience of drifting in the low-friction ‘turntable’ or drive you off-road in a Cayenne. The off-road belt gives you clear views of the sky and the occasional aircraft flying above. You have to live it to get what I mean.

Atlanta Botanical Gardens

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The Fuqua Conservatory, a tropical green house at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens.(Photo by: Nikita Sampath/StreetTrotter)

The Atlanta Botanical Gardens in Midtown Atlanta offers a quiet getaway from the hubbub of the city. Don’t miss the house of orchids, the tropical species of frogs (they were my favorite) and the Earth Goddess – a 20-foot-tall living sculpture  made of thousands of tiny plants. The gardens also have a children’s play area with a frog pond and an edible garden! You can’t pick and eat from the garden but can choose to dine at the Longleaf Restaurant with a rooftop terrace overlooking the garden and the Atlanta skyline beyond.

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The Earth Goddess at Atlanta Botanical Gardens is lit up at night. (Photo by: Nikita Sampath/StreetTrotter)

Skyline Park

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The Skyline Park atop Ponce City Market has something for everyone. (Photo by: Nikita Sampath/StreetTrotter)

The Atlanta Skyline Park is an outdoor recreational area on top of Ponce City Market. The park offers games, golf and great views of two of the city’s three skylines. I would recommend this spot for families and groups who have varied activity interests –  split up to go shopping, golfing or sliding and then meet up later for dinner at 9 Mile Station. The restaurant offers indoor and outdoor seating and an extensive beverage list. Try the Squash Galette or share the Mixed Grill platter – they’re delicious.

World of Coca-Cola

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The World of Coca-Cola in downtown Atlanta. (Photo by: Nikita Sampath/StreetTrotter)

Located in Pemberton Place in downtown Atlanta, the World of Coca-Cola will briefly make you forget just how much sugar goes into every can of Coke (it’s 39 grams.) Check out their live bottling plant and sample Coco-Cola beverages from all continents of the planet. The 6-minute movie they (almost forcefully) make you watch at the start of your museum tour will surely have you grabbing for a pack of tissues. I tried hard to resist, I did.

Center for Civil and Human Rights

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A map showing press freedom across the globe at the Center for Civil and Human Rights; red is considered not free, orange semi-free and yellow free.(Photo by: Nikita Sampath/StreetTrotter)

The Center for Civil and Human Rights is among the best museums in all of Atlanta. Right across from the World of Coca-Cola, the museum has apparently seen a spike in visitors since November 8th 2016. Walking through the space is an emotional journey; level one guides you through the American Civil Rights Movement while the upstairs has information on current human rights violations around the world. Definitely pay this one a visit.

Michael C. Carlos Museum

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Artifacts from Central America on display at the Michael C. Carlos museum at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by: Nikita Sampath/StreetTrotter)

My favorite part about the Michael C. Carlos Museum on the Emory University campus were the artifacts from Central America. While Greek and Roman art are more commonplace (for museum-hoppers like me,) learning more about Mayan and Aztec crafts opened a new door from history. Don’t miss the mummies on display at this museum if you’ve never seen one before.

Episcopal Church and Rev. Martin Luther King’s Home

Walk through the birth-home of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., one of history’s greatest leaders in the Sweet Auburn neighborhood of Atlanta.

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The birth home of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.(Photo by: Nikita Sampath/StreetTrotter)

Nearby is the Ebenezer Baptist Church where MLK and his father preached. Recorded audio of sermons in King’s own voice is played for visitors to experience.  A short walk down from the church lies the final resting place of both Martin Luther and Coretta Scott King.

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Inside the Ebenezer Baptist Church where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his father preached. (Photo by: Nikita Sampath/StreetTrotter)

Arabia Mountain Park

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Diamorpha in the Arabia Mountain Heritage Area in DeKalb County, Georgia. (Photo by: Nikita Sampath/StreetTrotter)

The Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area has some really beautiful natural landscapes. The Stone Mountain in Stone Mountain City in DeKalb County is a large quartz rock that is 5 miles in radius at the bottom. In the rocky mountains of the heritage area, one can find tiny red Diamorpha that bloom from February to April every year. For the rest of the year the plant stays dormant in the form of dry sticks. Fun fact – the inch-high red plant is pollinate by ants and not bees.

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Diamorpha in the Arabia Mountain Heritage Area in DeKalb County, Georgia. (Photo by: Nikita Sampath/StreetTrotter)

Monastery of the Holy Spirit

The sprawling Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, Georgia is a place for relaxing and reflecting. You can choose to just tour the premises and buy some delicious fruit and nut biscotti from the bakery, or retreat with the monks on designated weekends. The Abbey Church at the monastery, including the stained glass windows, were built and made over 15 years by the resident monks themselves.

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The Abbey Church built by the monks of The Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, Georgia. (Photo by: Nikita Sampath/StreetTrotter)

Honey Creek Woodlands, a natural burial ground operated by the monastery, is part of the Arabia Mountain Heritage area and is open to believers of all faiths.

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A model of a monk’s cabin at The Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, Georgia. (Photo by: Nikita Sampath/StreetTrotter)

About the Author/Photographer: Nikita Sampath is an award-winning multimedia journalist who grew up speaking four languages in India. She tells stories of everyday people living on the sidelines. She loves food, travel and culture. She has a personal blog, a reporting blog and likes to be followed on Instagram