10 Most Popular Landmarks in Atlanta

Atlanta is known for its busy airport and its role as one of the Deep South’s major cities. There are also many popular and well-known landmarks in the fast-growing metro area. Here are my top 10.

Stone Mountain – The large mass of granite located about 15 miles east of downtown Atlanta is probably the area’s most popular landmark. It’s hard to miss the 1,686 feet rounded rock that is often referred to in many reference books as “the largest exposed piece of granite in the world.” Its most well-known feature is the bas-relief carving of three Civil War figures: Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and Jefferson Davis. Stone Mountain Park draws many visitors to the area for its trails, riverboat, nightly laser show, cable car, and other facilities. This natural landmark is one of the most popular landmarks in Atlanta.

Martin Luther King, Jr., National Historic Site – The final resting place of one of Atlanta’s most famous native sons, Martin Luther King, Jr, the world famous Civil Rights leader, has become a popular landmark since its inception. The King Center, King gravesite, boyhood home, and Ebenezer Baptist Church all encompass the historic site that was established in 1980. The King Center was started by his widow, Coretta Scott King, who is now buried beside him. Tourists from all over the world make their pilgrimage to the King Historic Site helping to make it one of the most popular landmarks in Atlanta.

Tech Tower at Georgia Tech – This campus and Atlanta landmark symbolizes Georgia Tech’s place in Atlanta’s history and culture. Built in 1888, the Tech Tower is the college’s administration building and main focal point of the campus. The Victorian-styled building has the word “Tech” erected on all four sides of the central tower. These letters are visible all across campus and from other nearby vantage points. Stealing the letter “T” from the tower has long been a campus prank and tradition. The Tech Tower is another one of Atlanta’s most popular landmarks.

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The Varsity – The Varsity Restaurant has long been associated with Georgia Tech football games. This well-known Atlanta landmark is popular for its hot dogs, onion rings, drive-in service, and colorful staff. The Varsity began in 1928 as the Yellow Jacket and was renamed when it moved to its present location on North Avenue. The Varsity is so popular that when I-75/85 (Downtown Connector) was widened in the late 70’s, the highway department made sure to squeeze in the additional lanes without affecting the restaurant.

Westin Peachtree Plaza – The Westin Peachtree Plaza Hotel quickly became a recognizable landmark when it was built in 1976. One of the tallest hotels in the world, the 723 feet skyscraper is known for its cylindrical shape and reflective glass. Designed by Georgia Tech architect John Portman, the Peachtree Plaza is similar to the Renaissance Center in Detroit which was also designed by Portman. Despite other taller skyscrapers in Atlanta, it still strikes a imposing pose on the skyline and is a popular Atlanta landmark.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport – To many people, Atlanta and the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport are one and the same. Many people have traveled through Hartsfield-Jackson on their way to other destinations and the airport may have been all that they’ve seen of Atlanta. The sprawling complex on the southside of Atlanta is one of the busiest airports in the world. With hundreds of daily flights and thousands of passengers, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is one Atlanta landmark that almost every air traveler in the southeast knows.

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The Big Chicken – Located on U.S. 41 (Cobb Parkway) in Marietta, the Big Chicken has become synonymous with kitschy landmarks in the Atlanta area. Erected in 1963, adjacent to a restaurant, the 56-foot tall structure now sits next to a KFC franchise location. Long used as a landmark for giving directions to travelers in the area, the Big Chicken is a favorite landmark for Atlantans and has become even well-known in popular culture.

Underground Atlanta – Underground Atlanta is a popular shopping and entertainment area in downtown Atlanta near the Five Points MARTA station. The underground area was created when the buildings, built alongside the railroad tracks, moved their main floors to the second floors in the early 1900’s thus creating a basement level on the first floor. This area became “the underground” during Prohibition. In the 1960s and ’70s the area became center of nightlife for downtown. The area faded in the late ’70s but was redeveloped in the late ’80s as a shopping mall and entertainment destination. Today, Underground Atlanta is still one of Atlanta’s popular landmarks.

Georgia State Capitol – The gold dome of the Georgia State Capitol can be seen from a distance when approaching downtown Atlanta from the south. With a design reminiscent of the U.S. Capitol, the Georgia State Capitol is a beautiful building that is topped by gold leaf mined in Dahlonega, Georgia, the site of the state’s gold rush. Its role as the seat of state government and its gleaming dome help to make it a popular landmark in Atlanta.

Six Flags Over Georgia – Years before Disney World claimed the mantle as the ultimate theme park destination; Six Flags Over Georgia was one of the most popular theme park in the Southeast. It opened in 1967 and is still a favorite family destination. Six Flags is located off I-20 just west of Atlanta and continues to be a popular landmark in Atlanta.

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Turner Field – Atlanta’s baseball park is located right near the junction of its major freeways giving it a prominent place alongside the cities most traveled highways. It is named for one of Atlanta’s most colorful citizens, Ted Turner. Turner Field evokes the ambiance of the baseball parks from the bygone eras of baseball. Built adjacent to the former site of the Atlanta Stadium, Turner Field’s location and its home to the Atlanta Braves makes it one of the most popular landmarks in Atlanta.