Atlanta History Center
The Atlanta History Center in Buckhead, north of downtown, encompasses an interesting museum, two historic houses and six gardens. While the exhibitions explore everything from Southern folk culture to Atlanta’s growth into a cosmopolitan city, the museum is best known for its huge collection of Civil War relics.
History buffs will want to spend an entire day exploring the permanent exhibits and several temporary displays. Start at the Shaping Traditions exhibit, which traces folk culture from antiquity to today through pottery, quilting, woodwork and weaving. The Turning Point exhibit has 1,500 artifacts from both sides of the Civil War. Finish at the Metropolitan Frontiers exhibit, which details Atlanta’s rise to a commercial capital.
Spend an hour or so touring the two historic homes on the 33-acre (13-hectare) campus. The history center also has a midtown campus, where the Margaret Mitchell House is located.
The Swan House is a classical-style mansion restored to its original condition. Wander through this luxurious home to experience upper-class life in the 1920s and ’30s. The living quarters, butler’s pantry, library, kitchen and surrounding gardens are all open to the public.
The Tullie Smith house, built in the 1840s, was one of few houses in Atlanta to survive the Civil War. It was moved to the Buckhead campus in the 1970s. Explore the detached kitchen, a nearby blacksmith’s shop and slave’s cabin to see what life was like in pre-Civil War America.
Spend some time taking a leisurely stroll through the gardens that surround the museum’s buildings. There are native plants, vegetable patches, exotic flowers and lavish colonial-style gardens to admire.
The Atlanta History Center, including tours of the three historic homes, is open every day except most national holidays and Christmas Eve. A general admission pass includes access to everything at the center, as well as the Margaret Mitchell House and Museum.
There’s free parking on the grounds, but this can fill up quickly on weekends. Consider catching a train or bus from downtown.