Need some more timeout? Take a wider view of Atlanta.

Photo credit: Gene Phillips

Need some more timeout? Take a wider view of Atlanta.
Photo credit: Gene Phillips

Want more from Atlanta than ONA panels, workshops, job fairs and whisky tastings?

This year’s conference puts attendees at the center of Atlanta’s bustling downtown. Check out a few of this southern city’s favored gems.

Atlanta Zoo


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Photo credit: Kevin C. Rose

Hours: 9:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. Monday thru Friday, hours extended until 6:30 p.m. on the weekends.

Cost: $22 for Adults (12+), $17 for Children (3-11) or College Students.

Location: 800 Cherokee Ave SE, 30308

Distance from ONA 13: Catch a 33-minute bus ride on the No. 32 from Civic Station.

Going through panda withdrawal? The Atlanta Zoo also has a panda cam! But while you’re in town, go see the pandas in person. The Zoo has been around since the 1890s and is home to a plethora of mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians. The zoo is also known for its leadership in gorilla research.

The King Center

Center Hours: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. every day

Location: 449 Auburn Avenue, 30312

Distance from ONA 13: It’s a 25-minute walk. Or catch a 17-minute bus ride on the No. 3 (On the corner of Peachtree Street NE and John W. Dobbs Avenue), and the 99 (On the corner of Piedmont Avenue NE and John W. Dobbs Ave).

The center was established by Mrs. Coretta Scott King in 1968 to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. It’s an internationally visited memorial site and also a non-profit organization committed to being a “living memorial filled with all the vitality” of Dr. King. The center includes the Ebenezer Baptist Church, a Freedom Hall exhibition and Dr. and Mrs. King’s crypt. You can also see the Eternal Flame, a lit chalice symbolizing Dr. King’s dream of a “Beloved Community.” Most of the center is self-guided.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Historic Site, located in the Sweet Auburn Historic District, is open as of this morning. The site is managed by the U.S. National Parks Service and was recently closed due to the government shutdown. This visit to King’s birth home includes a guided tour, call and make reservations in advance.

A walk in the park

It’s a 10-min walk to  Woodruff Park, where there’s an open-air reading room (which means carts stocked with books, magazines and newspapers) in partnership with the Fulton County Library.


Piedmont Park, one of the largest city parks. Piedmont is a 30-minute walk from the ONA hotel. It includes playgrounds for children and various sports courts. There are also pedestrian, bike and rollerblade trails.

If you want to extend your stroll, go to the Southeast corner of Piedmont, and follow the Atlanta Beltline Eastside Trail, a 2.25-mile trail.

Photo credit: Kevin C. Rose

Atlanta Botanical Garden
Photo credit: Kevin C. Rose

It’s a 20-min walk to the Atlanta Botanical Garden with 15 acres of outdoors gardens. It also houses the Fuqua Conservatory which is home to rare and endangered plants.

If you have an extra day after the conference, take a trip to Stone Mountain Park, one of Georgia’s most visited places. The 3,300-acre park boasts outdoor activities and theme attractions, which includes an 1870s Southern town, a 4-D theater, a skylift, a museum, a scenic railroad and an Antebellum Plantation.

Feeling Artistic?

High Museum of Art

Hours: Closed Mondays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday thru Saturday, open until 8 p.m. on Thursdays, Noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays.

Cost: $19.50 for Adults, $12.00 for Children (6-17), $16.50 for Students.

Take a break from journalism? Photo credit: James Duckworth

Take a break from journalism?
Photo credit: James Duckworth

Location: 1280 Peachtree St NE, 30309

Distance from ONA 13: It’s a 19-minute bus ride on the 110  or a 17-minute ride on the MARTA gold or red line.

Atlanta’s High Museum of Art has a large permanent collection ranging from Renaissance to African folk art. Current exhibitions include The Art of Jerry Pinkney, paintings from the imagination of Nellie Mae Rowe and others. After 4 p.m. on “Thirsty Thursdays” the tickets are half price and include wine and free tours.

If you’re more into the alternative art style, try a visit to the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center or The Goat Farm Art Center. The Elevate Atlanta art festival is also in season.

Atlanta is home to the largest puppet museum. At the Center for Puppetry Arts, you can catch a range of children to adult performances and take a walk through the museum of puppetry, which hosts puppets from Nigeria, Mali, China, Germany and The Muppet Show.

Nerd Out

If you’re looking for some more intellectual activities you should head over to the house of Gone With the Wind’s author Margaret Mitchell.

If you have a hankering for history, you can always visit the Fernbank Museum of Natural History. Although the government has hit the restart button, the National Archives and Records Southeast Region will be closed Oct. 17. But they might open while you’re still in town, so call ahead.

Politics wonks might want to take a tour of the Georgia State Capitol or the Governor’s Mansion.


Video: Five things to do in Atlanta 

While ONA 2013 takes over the Marriott Marquis, make sure to take some time to step outside and enjoy downtown Atlanta and all it has to offer. From Centennial Olympic Park to Coca-Cola World, there are many things to see while in Atlanta.

Looking for a quicker break?

Check out this guide to local tourist spots.