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You've spent the last 48 hours sitting around a handful of hotels, you're bored out of your mind, there are no panels that are of interest to you, and you don't have room to drag home any more stuff from the dealer rooms.  Instead of continuing to sit around pickling your liver, attempting to pick up somebody for happy sexy funtime, or being a complete glutton, you could actually venture out into Atlanta and see some of the sights.  If you're willing to walk, drive a few miles, or ride MARTA, you have a lot of options of things to explore.  


Within Walking Distance 

Let's be honest, do you really want to give up your parking space?  It probably was difficult to find in the first place, and the chances of finding another one near your hotel are pretty slim.  You might as well put your legs to use and walk. It's good for you.  The following are within a couple miles of the D*C host hotels, so you shouldn't end up stranded somewhere with a charley horse, unable to limp your way back. 


Centennial Olympic Park

If you just need to get out, stretch your legs, and enjoy some green space in the middle of the concrete jungle, this might be your best option.  If you're incredibly out of shape and/or lazy, this also might be your best option.  Depending on which of the hotels you're staying in, the park is 3-5 blocks west of your hotel.  The easiest way to find it is to just start walking west down Baker Street.  When you reach the huge lawn, you know you're there.  The city is known for putting on various festivals and the like in the park, so you might wander down there to find something unexpected going on.


World of Coca-Cola

Across Baker Steet from Centennial Olympic Park is home to two of Atlanta's most well known attractions.  Closest to your hotel is the new World of Coca-Cola.  This is truly the ultimate museum showing the history, production of, advertising, and kitsch that Coca-Cola has had in it's history.  A crowd favorite is the tasting room where you're turned loose to try various Coke products from around the world.  PLEASE be kind enough not to reuse your cups.  Think of it as double dipping with a spigot.  We're all going to get Con Crud as it is, we don't need to spread it to everyone who visits World of Coke.


Georgia Aquarium

Situated directly next to the World of Coca-Cola, it might be wise to combine the two into one afternoon.  The Georgia Aquarium tends to be a bit pricey, so you're not going to want to just pop in there for a half hour and call it good.  It also tends to be incredibly busy, so if you can buy your tickets online prior to walking over, it will save you a lot of frustration when you get over there and find out it's full.  Review their rules before you go over there with your fishing gear.


Inside CNN Atlanta

Conveniently on the other side of Centennial Olympic Park, the CNN center is hard to miss.  Cross the lawn and cross Marietta Street, it's that simple. If you have ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes at CNN, this is for you.  If you've ever wanted to scope out the newscasters on CNN, this is also for you.  If you have a current restraining order for stalking any of the newscasters, this isn't for you.  Please keep in mind that security at CNN is tight.  If you think that the Con is strict about weaponry, you aren't going to enjoy seeing what happens if you show up fully armed at CNN.  For the love of all things holy, leave your sharp objects at the hotel.  You can find out more information at CNN's Tour Page.


Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site

If you're interested in the Civil Rights Era, you can't do better than visit the Sweet Auburn district of downtown.  This is where Martin Luther King Jr. was born, raised, and lived.  Much of the area has been restored to the condition it was back in the '50s and '60s.  Please keep in mind that they still use Ebenezer Baptist Church for actual church services.  If you're planning on visiting that particular location, please dress appropriately and act respectfully to those who are there for worship services.  The National Park Service webpage has hours and further information.  Please keep in mind that you may need to consult a map.  This particular park is on the other side of the Connector, so you will have to plan your walking route carefully.


Underground Atlanta

Imagine a mall of sorts, on top of and underneath a giant overpass.  Voila.  Underground has a rich history, including poor city planning, bootlegging, and the occasional riot.  It's can be a unique look at original buildings and fittings from prior to the 1920s.  Underground has a lot of various shops, restaurants, and a half dozen nightclubs, if you're into that kind of thing.  Some people swear by it, some people swear to avoid it.  Either way, it's a change from shopping in the dealer rooms.  Walk south on Peachtree Street until you reach Alabama Street.  


City Segway Tours 

Want to tour Atlanta, but don't actually want to walk?  Want to attempt to ride a Segway?  Are you actually interested in the history of Atlanta?  City Segway Tours might be your best bet.  At $70 a head, it's a bit of an investment.  If you weigh more than 260 pounds, are under 12 years old, or happen to be pregnant, it's also completely out.


Philips Arena

Home to the Atlanta Hawks, Thrashers, a lot of concerts and other various events, it's located directly south of the CNN center.  Check their website to see what events will be going on during Dragon*Con.  Keep in mind that you may be dealing with a lot of people from these kinds of events, even if you don't attend them.


Georgia Dome

Similar to Philips Arena, the Georgia Dome is home to the Atlanta Falcons as well as host to various college football games, and other similar sporting events.  If you're into sports, this is what you have to look forward at the Dome this year.  The Dome is fairly easy to spot.  It's south of Philips Arena, and it's pretty obvious which building it is.


Fox Theater

For the more culturally minded, the Fabulous Fox is a great option for things to do.  Depending on their schedule, you may be able to see a Broadway quality musical, a concert, a ballet, or even a film.  The Fox is located north, on Peachtree Street.  It's easy to spot from north facing rooms at the Marriott.


High Museum 

If you enjoy staring at modern art and wondering what the hell, then I highly suggest visiting the High Museum.  Their permanent collection is mostly modern art, but they do get interesting collections of all genres of art.   This is going to be an extra long walk up Peachtree Street, a couple of miles, in fact.  Wear comfortable shoes for walking and standing.  


Further Out But Still Close

While technically these options are still only a few miles away from your hotel, they are going to be somewhat of a problem to walk to easily.  This also means that you're less likely to find them clogged with other bored Con-goers.  If you brought kids with you, some of these options probably will be a huge hit with them.


Turner Field

Braves fans, I'm sorry.  2010's schedule is showing Dragon*Con  being over a weekend where the Braves are playing an away game.  If you come in early for Con, you can catch a Mets game.  Turner Field is unfortunately placed on the other side of the connector, and just south of the I-20 mess.  If you do decide to go visit Turner Field, I highly recommend leaving early, so you don't have extra pressure placed on you to get there on time.


Zoo Atlanta

Near Turner Field, you'll find our Zoo.   This would hands down be the best option if you brought small kids with you to D*C.  While they do have restaurants and snack shacks throughout the zoo, you may want to time your visit so that you eat somewhere else before or after you go there, as prices can be a bit inflated.  


Atlanta Botanical Gardens

Sometimes you need to get in tune with nature, and vast expanses of nothing but grass just isn't going to cut it.  In that situation, visiting the Botanical Garden is a great idea.  Due to the construction on some of the midtown streets and bridges, study their directions to get there carefully.  If you see signs for the Gardens or for Piedmont Park, follow them.  Parking has been an issue in and around that area, so keep that in mind if you are driving.


Atlantic Station 

Do you have an IKEA in your town?  No?  Visit IKEA.  It's an experience in and of itself.  While there are other shops and housing in the Atlantic Station development, let's be honest:  we all go there for IKEA.  Even if you don't buy anything but simply browse, it's generally pretty enjoyable.  If you are crammed into a hotel room with six other people, now is your opportunity to buy cheap furniture/cheap mattresses to haul back to the hotel to sleep on.  It's better than the floor?  Keep in mind that you will probably want to buy a bunch of stuff for your house/apartment/dorm room, and you have to figure out how to transport it.  Due to the location of the IKEA being back towards the back of the development, you will be able to browse the other businesses in the area and decide what interests you.


Center for Puppetry Arts

If you love puppets (platonically, please... anything else and we don't want to hear about it) you may want to visit the Center.  While they do have a regular museum, they do also host performances of all types.  This isn't just for kids.


Little Five Points

Little Five is a unique neighborhood that has a bit of a bohemian/hippie/stoner/unfortunately overrun by hipsters feeling to it.  If you feel the need to go find a "water pipe", this is your bet, dude.  Traffic can be a bit of a mess, especially if there's anything out of the ordinary going on.  It's mostly good for retail therapy, otherwise there's not that much in the area of note.


Jimmy Carter Library and Museum

Fans of the 39th president will probably enjoy visiting the Carter Museum.


Fernbank Museum of Natural History

OMG!  DINOSAURS!   Fernbank is a bit of a jaunt through the east side of Atlanta.  Due to it being that far from the Con, it may be wise to take an entire day for it.  Your inner ten year old will thank you.


Do You Intend to Spend ANY Time at Con?

The following attractions are technically in Atlanta, but unless you brought a car, are forking out $ for a taxi, are riding MARTA, or are combining these forms of transport, there's probably no way that you can visit.  Traffic being what it is, you may discover that what seems like a quick and easy jaunt up to Buckhead can turn into a multiple-hour nightmare.  You have been warned.


Atlanta History Center

Located up off West Paces Ferry Road and Piedmont Road, the Center is right in the middle of Buckhead.  For those who are interested in the history of the area, this is a full day's worth of exhibits.  Again, considering traffic patterns, it's wise to consider this one as taking up an entire day.  As the center also involves full sized restored homes and their grounds, this is definitely something for those who enjoy walking.  If you're more of a sedate type, this might not be for you.


Chastain Park Ampitheater/Classic Chastain

Chastain Park Ampitheater is home to the annual "Classic Chastain" concert series.  They actually do have some good acts, if you're into things that aren't current pop type stuff.  Prices tend to be reasonable.  Due to it being outdoors in the late summer, take bug spray, or you will be eaten alive.  Check their website about the particular act you are going to see, as they have different rules about what food/drinks you can bring in with you.


Shopping Like You Won the Lottery

Buckhead is notorious for high end shopping, such as that found at Lenox Square Mall.  If you like to spend a lot on a little, or enjoy browsing and wishing that lottery ticket you purchased would pay out, than here's a great way to kill an afternoon. The California Pizza Kitchen is a serious highlight of the mall.  Sitting around eating very good pizza while discussing how there's no way on earth you'd pay that much for anything you've seen in that mall is a great way to end your visit.



Atlanta does really have something for everyone, at a variety of costs.  You are not obliged to hang out at the Convention, just because you bought a membership.  Get out and see the city, you might find out it's more interesting than you ever thought.  Just remember to not be an idiot, and have some street smarts.  At the least, take a few friends with you.  It's not like we're in Detroit, but Atlanta is a major city with major city problems.  Enjoy your visit, but don't end up a statistic.

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