How to spend a weekend in Atlanta

By Sabrina Chow, MPH’23 in Environmental Health-Epidemiology

Welcome to Atlanta, the city in the forest! After doing your campus visit at Rollins, you may be asking yourself, how can I best spend the rest of my time in Atlanta while I’m here? There are number of fun activities all around the greater Atlanta area that you can enjoy with family and friends and learn more about the city you may be spending the next two years at!

On and Near Campus

Lullwater Preserve

If you are bored sitting in your hotel, why not take a walk and explore Lullwater Preserve, Emory’s own nature preserve. The 154-acre preserve contains the home of Emory University’s president and includes a lake, 210-foot suspension bridge and miles of walking and hiking trails.

Michael C. Carlos Museum

Located on the main quadrangle of Emory’s campus, the Michael C. Carlos Museum holds the largest ancient arts collection in the Southeast, with pieces from ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, the Near East, Africa, and the ancient Americas.

The David J. Sencer CDC Museum

Named after the longest serving director of the CDC, the David J. Sencer Museum takes you back in time to explore the CDC’s rich history and heritage and the role that the institution has played in prevention-based public health. The museum is free and open to the public.

*Please Note: Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the David J. Sencer CDC Museum may not be open. Please check the website for the most up-to-date information on opening hours


Like I had mentioned earlier, Atlanta is nicknamed “the city in the forest” due to the large abundance of trees all around the city, compared to most major cities in the United States. Fun fact, a number of metro Atlanta cities and nonprofit organizations developed the One Million Trees Initiative, pledging to plant and conserve one million trees across the metro Atlanta area by 2030.

There are a multitude of nature-related activities that are both inside and outside of the city for you to enjoy at any time of the year.

Some activities include:

Going for a stroll or hike in a nearby forest, nature preserve, or state park

There are number of places to hike or take a quaint walk around Atlanta. Some of my top recommendations are:
– Sweetwater Creek State Park (the closest state park to Atlanta)
– Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield
– Basically anywhere in North Georgia (there are also a number of things to do in North Georgia depending on the season including: watching fall foliage, apple picking, going through corn mazes, sunflower picking, etc.)

Visiting the Atlanta Botanical Garden

The Atlanta Botanical Garden spans 30-acres in the heart of Atlanta and includes an award-winning Children’s Garden and the foremost collection of orchids in the United States. There are a number of events that happen at the Botanical Garden depending on the time of the year

Fernback Museum of Natural History

Do you like dinosaurs? Or just interested in natural history? The Fernback Museum of Natural History is a great place to learn more about the largest dinosaurs in history and explore interactive exhibits both indoors and outdoors

City Life


Inspired by Ryan Gravel’s master’s thesis in 1999, the BeltLine is a 22-mile multi-trail loop that connects the city through greenspaces, trails, and parks. Currently still under construction, the overarching goal of the BeltLine is to connect the entire city of Atlanta. There is access to many restaurants, live entertainment, and bars for all to enjoy.

Georgia Aquarium

Whale shark! Need I say more. Come explore hundreds of species and thousands of animals among the seven major galleries at the Georgia Aquarium. It is largest aquarium in the United States and the third largest in the world.

World of Coca-Cola

Situated in the same plaza as the Georgia Aquarium, treat your taste buds and brains to the history of the Coca-Cola company. Journey through the history and creation of what we know as Coca-Cola today and taste test all the drinks that the company has to offer

Ponce City Market

Located right on the BeltLine, Ponce City Market was created in a converted historic Sears building and contains a multitude of food options, shops, and living spaces. If you are looking for even more food options, about a mile down the road from Ponce on the BeltLine is Krog Street Market, another one of many food halls in the city.

Cultural Explorations

National Center for Civil and Human Rights

With Atlanta known as the “cradle of the Civil Rights Movement” in the United States, take some time at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights to learn more about the history of the city and the role it played in the civil rights movement in the United States and around the world.

The Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park

Dedicate to Martin Luther King Jr., the park covers 35 acres and includes a number of sites in the city relating to the life, work, and legacy that Martin Luther King Jr. had on the city of Atlanta, the civil rights movement, and history.

Quirky Atlanta

Tiny Doors Atlanta

Scattered all across the city of Atlanta, you may stumble across a number of tiny doors, that symbolize bringing big wonder into tiny spaces in Atlanta. There are at least 20 tiny doors all across the city, with more always being installed. Whether you want to find them yourself or look on the website to find them all, looking for the doors is an easy way to explore Atlanta.

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