Disclaimer: “Central Atlanta” is just a name we made up for the area on the west-ish side of downtown that includes many of the city’s most famous attractions, including stadiums, arenas, museums, parks and more. It’s just west of the high-rise, office-centric area known as “Peachtree Center”.
At the center of the area is Centennial Olympic Park. It’s one of the more prominent bits of leftover infrastructure from the 1996 Summer Olympics. It’s a nice chunk of green space in an otherwise very concrete neighborhood.
On the north and west sides of the park you’ll find a collection of museums and one of the world’s largest aquariums. The Georgia Aquarium contains over 11 million gallons of water filled with aquatic life from all over the world. If you’re a fan of finned fauna, it’s a must-visit kind of place.
Given Atlanta’s role in 20th century America, it makes sense that the National Center for Civil and Human Rights is located here. Lots of interesting exhibits and educational programming about the history of the country’s civil rights movement. For some much less serious history, the World of Coca-Cola museum is also on the north side of Centennial Park. Lots of Coke-related history and an opportunity for a selfie with the Coca- Cola polar bear. (Sounds like it could be fun, but we’d have a hard time justifying the $17-$21 admission fee for a museum devoted to a particular brand of soda pop.)
Located just west of the park is the College Football Hall of Fame. We have to admit that we didn’t know about this one, but it certainly makes sense that the “Capital of the South” is the home to a museum about one of the region’s biggest cultural institutions.
Much of the west side of the neighborhood is consumed by the Georgia World Congress Center – a fancy name for Atlanta’s vast convention center. Hardly a day goes by without multiple events being conducted in the center’s 1.5 million square feet of exhibit space.
South of the convention center you’ll find the city’s two biggest professional sports facilities: the Mercedes-Benz Stadium and State Farm Arena. The big indoor stadium (which replaced the big indoor Georgia Dome that was located next door) is the home of the Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United FC. The arena hosts the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks, plus many more events.