Things to do in Atlanta during the Sweet 16


The Kentucky men’s basketball team huddles before the game against Davidson College in the first round of the NCAA tournament on Thursday, March 15, 2018, in Boise, Idaho. Kentucky defeated Davidson 78-73. Photo by Arden Barnes | Staff

Emily Baehner

The UK’s men’s basketball team is making a journey to the Sweet 16, and for many Wildcat fans, this means a trip to Atlanta. Already in Georgia’s capital and wondering how to spend the hours until tipoff? Here are some of the top things to do during the weekend getaway.

Located in the Centennial Park district, the World of Coca-Cola is one of the most recognizable Atlanta attractions. Visitors can get a behind-the-scenes look at the bottling process, walk through The Loft to learn about the company’s 125 year history and taste more than 100 international and domestic beverages.

“You get to learn all about the history of Coca-Cola, the process of it being made, and get to try all different kinds,” said Megan Wilkins, a freshman communication and interstrategic communication double major. “There’s nothing like it anywhere else in the world.”

The Georgia Aquarium is another frequent stop for visitors. Home to more than 100,000 animals of several thousand species, this is one of the largest aquariums in the world. With exhibits corresponding to specific aquatic environments, some of the most popular include dolphins, manta rays, whale sharks, beluga whales and sea lions.

The Centennial Olympic Park is must-see attraction itself. The park has several fountains, the SkyView Atlanta Ferris wheel and other features built for the 1996 Olympic Games.

“I grew up playing in this park, and it gives anyone a great taste of city life,” freshman and Georgia native Madison Boyd said.

Atlanta seemingly intertwines nature and city skylines, with over 343 parks, gardens and public spaces. BeltLine and Piedmont Park are two of the most prevalent.

BeltLine has four open trails, with two more being constructed, seven parks, an urban farm and the largest temporary public art exhibition in the southern U.S.

Piedmont Park features walking paths, picnic areas, a fishing lake, tennis courts and a view of the city.

“There’s a really cool feeling about being in this awesome, green space only to look up and see the beautiful Atlanta skyline,” said Anna von Schmeling, a junior intestrategic communications major from the Atlanta Metro area.

For an experience that combines food, retail and entertainment, look no further than the Ponce City Market. An adaptive reuse project in the Sears Roebuck & Co. building, it features shops, restaurants and food stalls, offices and apartments. Skyline Park sits on the roof of Ponce City Market and is filled with carnival style games, putt-putt and other boardwalk-type attractions. The PCM Central Food Hall houses a mix of restaurants that offer everything from local Georgia flavors, to Indian street food and cold press juices.

If that food isn’t enough, stop by The Varsity. The original location of this six-location restaurant chain, The Varsity Atlanta is a vintage dining experience, iconic in this city. At two city blocks large and fitting 800 diners, it is the world largest drive-in.

The Roadtrippers app says this almost 90-year-old diner makes “two miles of hot dogs, a ton of onions, 2,500 pounds of potatoes, 5,000 fried pies and 300 gallons of chili daily.”

In a city with so much to do, the uniqueness of the citizens matches that of the city’s attractions. Julia Harold, a senior interstrategic communications major, said that the different mix of people gives the city a southern flair but the diversity of a big city.

“Everywhere you look you’ll meet a smiling face, and chances are you’ll come back from Atlanta with lots of new friends,” von Schmeling said.