Atlanta Attractions for Families

Discover the city’s rich Black history

If you are looking for a great city to visit, Atlanta should be on your list. Atlanta is best known for its relevance in the Civil Rights Movement, as well as the rich contributions and important role it continues to play in Black arts, education and culture. Black families visiting Atlanta should add a few of these notable attractions to their itinerary during family travel excursions.


Onteria West is a wife, mother, healthcare management professional and digital content creator. She enjoys creating content for her blog, Our West Nest, that resonates with women and families all over the world. Much of her work focuses on the experiences of Black women as wives, mothers and leaders in the corporate career realm. Onteria resides just outside of Atlanta with her husband and their 2-year-old son. You can learn more about Onteria and review her content on www.ourwestnest.com and connect with her via social media on any of the below social media accounts.


CIVIL RIGHTS AND

HISTORIC PLACES

The Childhood Home of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. & Ebenezer Baptist Church

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., one of the most notable African American and civil rights leaders in history, called Atlanta home. As his birthplace, and the city where he handled many affairs during the Civil Rights Movement, Atlanta celebrates Dr. King for his accomplishments and contributions to not only the city, but also to the world. The city is home to Ebenezer Baptist Church and MLK’s preserved childhood home. The Martin Luthur King, Jr. National Historical Park includes both attractions which are great places for Black families to visit. They provide adults and children a view of the Civil Rights Movement through the lens of Atlanta and build a sense of pride in Black heritage.

A Christian Baptist Church, Ebenezer was founded in 1886. Known as MLK’s childhood church, his father became assistant to Rev. A.D. Williams in 1927, not long after Ebenezer was built. Dr. King began co-pastoring the church in 1960 with his father. Ebenezer Baptist Church was the cornerstone for many activities during the Civil Rights Movement.

Ebenezer Baptist Church

A Christian Baptist Church, Ebenezer was founded in 1886. Known as MLK’s childhood church, his father became assistant to Rev. A.D. Williams in 1927, not long after Ebenezer was built. Dr. King began co-pastoring the church in 1960 with his father. Ebenezer Baptist Church was the cornerstone for many activities during the Civil Rights Movement.

The Childhood Home of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 

The childhood home of MLK is located on Auburn Avenue, in the Sweet Auburn Historic District. Sweet Auburn, a well-known Black community in Atlanta, was a safe haven for Blacks as a result of early 20th century Jim Crow laws that enforced racial segregation. Though not provided with equal opportunities, Black men and women in Sweet Auburn established themselves as entrepreneurs, civic leaders and professionals who built an affluent and prosperous community to call their own. Sweet Auburn was a vibrant, prosperous area for Blacks in Atlanta during the 1920s, allowing them to socialize, spend time engaging in the arts, provide education and economic empowerment to their community and mobilize efforts towards civil rights through social organizations. Sweet Auburn is still a favorite place of mine in the city, as it continues to maintain itself as an epicenter of Black-owned businesses, Black culture, and hosts one of my favorite annual summer festivals — The Sweet Auburn Festival.

INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER EDUCATION & MUSEUMS

Atlanta University Center Consortium (AUC)

Black communities stress the importance of education to the youth, which is deeply tied to many of the opportunities our ancestors did not have as a direct result of systematic racism. Any Black family visiting Atlanta has to visit the Atlanta University Center Consortium (better known as the AUC). It is the largest consortium of historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in the world! Located in historic Southwest Atlanta, the AUC comprises four named institutions of higher learning including Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, Morehouse School of Medicine and Spelman College, where I attended. Attracting students from all over the world, this consortium of Black post-secondary educational institutions provides opportunities in education that span the liberal arts, sciences and math. One of the most notable things about the consortium is that it allows students the opportunity to cross register. That means a student can attend one institution, yet still take courses at any of the others! This allows for an even broader and deeper learning experience. As a first-year student at Spelman, one of my favorite and most memorable moments was attending Olive Branch. It’s a long standing tradition where all first-year students from each of the consortium institutions come together for a ceremony and celebration to kick off the new academic year. That’s not a tradition or an experience that you’ll easily find. 

Visiting the AUC is a wonderful opportunity for Black youth to not just visit a cluster of HBCUs located in close proximity to each other, but also to get a glimpse of the life that goes along with obtaining education amongst their Black peers. They can experience “a day in the life”, by attending classes, visiting with professors and students, and even having a coveted meal in the cafeteria. They also get to see the bond that can be created with fellow students through Greek life if they join a sorority or fraternity. Most importantly, I can’t forget to mention the most heavily anticipated end of the week celebration known as Market Friday. Market Fridays take place each and every Friday at Spelman College’s lower level of Manley Hall and they are the epitome of college student engagement. It’s a time for students to connect, shop with vendors, enjoy good food, dance to music, and just have fun!

Clark Atlanta University

Clark Atlanta University is a private, coeducational university founded in 1865. With 38 different programs of study, this university is the perfect place for Black youth, as well as others, to visit for inspiration for higher education.

Morehouse College & Morehouse School of Medicine

Morehouse College, the largest men’s liberal arts college in the US, was founded in 1867. Several notable Black civil rights leaders, such as Dr. King, Julian Bond, Spike Lee and Samuel L. Jackson, are alumni of the college. Morehouse is also known as one of two Black institutions to develop students into Rhodes Scholars.

Morehouse School of Medicine, which was originally a part of Morehouse College, became independent in 1981. Morehouse School of Medicine’s social mission is dedicated to improving the health and well-being of individuals and communities and recently received a $40 million grant from the government to assist in addressing the mortality and morbidity amongst African Americans related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Spelman College

Spelman College, a private liberal arts women’s college, was founded on April 11, 1881. The college is known for having the highest number of Black women who excel in the sciences, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Notable Black women who call Spelman their alma mater include Alice Walker, Marian Wright Edelman, Stacey Abrams and Keshia Knight Pulliam.

Hammonds House Museum

Located in Atlanta’s Historic West End, the Hammonds House is a restored Victorian home turned museum for African American fine art. The home is named for Dr. Otis Thrash Hammonds, a notable Atlanta physician who was dedicated to the arts. While you’re on the west side, add time into your schedule to have the family visit this historic landmark.

SHOPS & RESTAURANTS

The Swag Shop

There are so many great places to visit, but since I’ve taken you on an excursion to the Sweet Auburn district and Atlanta’s west side, let’s talk about two of my favorite places in those parts. Take the guys for a great experience at The SWAG shop. Owned by well-known artist, actor, and activist Michael Render (Killer Mike). SWAG is an acronym for “shave, wash and groom”. The barbershop is known for its artistic take on male self-care. The SWAG Shop is located on Atlanta’s historic Edgewood Avenue in Sweet Auburn.

Paschal’s Restaurant & Bar

Located in Castleberry Hill, Paschal’s is a historic restaurant in Atlanta. It’s one of my favorite restaurants and really the first place I had a nice sit down meal in my college years. It’s been noted to have been a common meeting location for popular entertainers and who’s who of Atlanta across the decades. Paschal’s is known for its delectable soul food entrees, Sunday brunch buffet, and even their accommodations for private dining to host any events!  There are too many other excellent Black-owned restaurants for me to name that I love, but you can check out several others.

This list of places for Black families to visit while in Atlanta just scratches the surface, but will give you a couple days worth of attractions to see great people, places and things. There are so many Black-owned entities and businesses flourishing in the city that serve as an inspiration to Black people both young and old. Atlanta is an amazing city full of history, art, education and culture contributed to by many African American men and women and has so much to offer to all who visit.

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