1. Visit the National Parks on one of five free days – FREE!

America’s National Park System opens up its exhibits for free on five days in 2020. You can visit any of our country’s National Parks for free, including places in and around Atlanta, like the Ocmulgee Mounds National Historic Park near Macon and the Freedom Riders National Monument in Anniston, Alabama. And, of course, the King National Historic Site is always free to visitors, but if you want to get a full sense of the area, then we highly recommend the King Historic District Tour (also rated by Conde Nast as one of the top ways to experience Atlanta).

2. Get inspired with Oprah

Oprah’s going on tour with Oprah’s 2020 Vision: Your Life in Focus, her first national tour in five years. She’s picked just nine cities — and Atlanta is one of them — to inspire, celebrate, and motivate her legions of fans in their wellness and weight-loss journey. This sure to be sold-out event is certainly going to be one of the best things to do in Atlanta in 2020, especially since she will be appearing alongside the amazing Dwayne Johnson. She describes the events as a “day-long party” to share lessons about her own wellness journey, as well as bring in speakers to discuss their wellness vision. Partnering with Weight Watchers Reimagined, this should be a home-run for fans of Oprah and those seeking to jump-start their 2020 goals.

3. Explore Atlanta’s historic cemeteries – FREE!

2020 is a great year to explore Atlanta’s historic Victorian cemeteries, as there has been a recent resurgence in interest and funding for these beautiful places. In the Victorian times, cemeteries were also public parks, meant to be a place for locals to gather, chat, picnic, and commune with the dead. Oakland (est. 1850) is Atlanta’s oldest public cemetery but other great choices are the Decatur City Cemetery (est. 1823), Westview Cemetery (est. 1884), and South-view Cemetery (est. 1886). All four are peaceful and beautiful places with walking trails, stunning mausoleums, and many important Atlanta leaders and citizens buried within their walls. And, for a unique perspective on Oakland Cemetery, join Atlanta Food Walks on their Grant Park Past & Future Food Walk, which includes tastes at nearby restaurants and a food-focused tour of Oakland.

4. Be amazed at the Atlanta Science Festival – FREE!

The Atlanta Science Festival is the city’s first festival focused entirely on celebrating science and getting kids and adults excited about learning. The month-long celebration includes escape labs, superhero science nights, exhibits at Fernbank and Georgia Tech, and book talks and meet and greets. The Festival culminates in a science expo with over a hundred interactive exhibits, demos, and science booths. Most events at this incredible science-celebration are completely free so check out their schedule and make sure you save some time in March to delve into the mysterious, magical world of science.

5. Eat the city with an experience or festival

Of course, you can eat at restaurants, but it’s so much more fun to explore lots and lots of different restaurants at one time. There are so many ways to do this. Try an Atlanta Food Walk which is an all-inclusive experience with tastings at many different restaurants including the history of the area in just 3 hours. Or, opt for a themed festival like the Atlanta Grilled Cheese Festival in April or the 10th annual Ice Cream Festival in July 2020. If you want it all and have a bigger budget, buy tickets to Taste of Atlanta or the Atlanta Food and Wine Festival which includes many classes, tasting tents, and other events.

6. Jump back in time!

The Georgia Renaissance Festival is celebrating its 35th anniversary in 2020 and is sure to have special events. There is something for everyone at RenFest with medieval-style playgrounds, petting zoos, jousting events, and adult-themed shows. Even if you hate cosplay and renaissance events, the food alone is worth a trip with enormous turkey legs, funnel cakes, fried everything, potatoes on a stick, roasted corn, and much more.

7. Explore rich African American history and culture

Atlanta has been America’s black mecca for over a century with significant impact from many African American figures such as Martin Luther King Jr., W.E.B. DuBois, John Lewis, Coretta Scott King, and many others. Delve into this history with many of Atlanta’s amazing tours and museums, including the King Historic District Tour, the Apex Museum, the King Center, the Atlanta History Center, and the National Center for Civil and Human Rights.

8. Jam out at the epic Shaky Knees or Shaky Boots

Atlanta’s famous 3-day music festival, Shaky Knees, is definitely one of the best things to do in Atlanta in 2019. Headliners include the Black Keys, Smashing Pumpkins, and the Strokes. But, there’s also plenty of other great bands performing including the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Joan Jett, and StereoLab. If you prefer country over indie rock, then buy tickets to Shaky Boots, held the weekend after Shaky Knees. Brandy Carlisle and Dierks Bentley headline but there are other great musicians including Alison Krauss, Tanya Tucker, and Dwight Yoakam.

9. Get your history on at Hamilton

The award-winning Broadway show is back in Atlanta at the Fox Theatre. Since this is the second time it’s in the city, ticket sales haven’t been as intense as last time and it’s still possible to get somewhat reasonably-priced tickets to this amazing production. This is a must do for any history buff or Broadway lover and, to make it even more special, splurge on tickets to the Marquee Club where you can indulge in all-inclusive food and drinks. Even if you don’t purchase Marquee Club tickets, we always recommend pre-purchasing your parking through the Fox because it is usually significantly cheaper than purchasing parking at an open parking lot.

10. Go wild at Imagine Festival 2020

The Imagine Festival is an electronic dance and music festival, named one of the top 20 festivals by Fest300. In 2019, the festival immersed fans into a massive aquatic wonderland with sea creatures, mermaids, art installations, a huge wading pool, and multiple band stages. And, make sure you eat at the many delicious food vendors on site. Held at the Atlanta Motor Speedway, join almost 100,000 attendees either with day passes or camping on site.

11. Geek out at Atlanta’s numerous Cons

Move over LA, Atlanta has become home to some of the most important conventions in the country for movie, comics, and television fans. DragonCon brings in almost 80,000 guests each Labor Day weekend to Downtown Atlanta with incredible costumes, panels, and fun. Don’t miss the annual DragonCon parade, a fan favorite for locals and visitors. But DragonCon isn’t Atlanta’s only Con; there’s also Atlanta ComicCon in July; Anime Weekend Atlanta in October; and MomoCon in the spring. Plus, there are also niche Cons, focused on a specific show or theme. Check out 221BCon focused entirely on Sherlock Holmes who lived at 221B Baker Street, or Furry Weekend Atlanta which focuses on anthropomorphic fandom (or people who like to wear furry animal costumes). There really is a Con for everyone in Atlanta.

12. Talk politics at Manuel’s Tavern

2020 is a big political year with a Presidential election, a Senate election with long-time Senator Johnny Isakson retiring, and several Congressional seats up for grabs. So, if you want to deep dive into politics, head over to Manuel’s Tavern which is Atlanta’s most famous political bar. The former owner, Manuel Maloof, created the tavern specifically to focus on conversation, going so far as to ban live music or a jukebox. The bar is a required stop for Democratic candidates and Jimmy Carter announced his 1970 gubernatorial bid at Manuel’s. It is still the place in the city to talk politics so expect it to be packed in 2020. If you want to get a virtual view of Manuel’s, check out the website, Unpacking Manuel’s Tavern, which details all of the historical artifacts at the tavern.

13. Celebrate the Centennial of the 19th Amendment at the Atlanta History Center

2020 is the centennial celebration of the 19th amendment, ending decades of the women’s suffrage movement and granting women the right to vote. The Atlanta History Center is celebrating this monumental achievement with a temporary exhibit opening on January 31, 2020. The exhibit will document how women gained the right to vote and showcase important Atlanta suffragists, such as Emily Inman, owner of the Swan House at the Atlanta History Center.

14. Celebrate the NCAA Men’s Final Four (FREE!)

Don’t worry about winning your bracket this year. You’ll win by getting seats at the NCAA Men’s Final Four held in Atlanta at the Mercedes Benz Stadium. Semifinals will be held on April 4th and the championship will be held on April 6th. The city has not hosted the Final Four since 2013. This will be the first time that the games will be held at the newly constructed Mercedes Benz Stadium.

If you don’t want to pay for the actual game tickets, Atlanta will be hosting numerous FREE basketball-themed events during that weekend.

15. Go beyond the Beltline – FREE!

The Beltline is Atlanta’s most famous walking path but there are so many other incredible walking locations in the city that are much, much less crowded. Try the Freedom Trail that connects the King Historic Site with the Carter Center and includes the beautiful Freedom Park. Or, opt for the beautiful Silver Comet Trail, the creepy dolls at Constitution Lakes Park, or the newly created South Peachtree Creek Trail.

16. Sway to unique music at the Atlanta Symphony

The Atlanta Symphony always has wonderful shows and 2020 looks to be no exception. You could sway to the sweet sounds of Tony Bennett backed up by the Atlanta Symphony. Or, enjoy Star Wars – Return of the Jedi with the entire soundtrack played by the orchestra. That’s in addition to Beethoven and Mozart concertos, the Symphony’s Music for the Young program, and much more.

17. Head back to the 1920s with Porgy and Bess

America’s most famous opera is Porgy and Bess, a love story set in Depression-era 1920s, filled with stunning jazz music and glorious vocals, including the iconic “Summertime”. Written by the famed composers George and Ira Gershwin, the original cast in the 1930s featured classically trained African American singers in an operatic folk tale set in the South. The opera was — and continues to be — controversial, raising questions about racism, prejudice, poverty, and the stereotyping of African American music. Some black performers like Harry Belafonte refused to play the role of Porgy, while others like Sydney Poitier grew famous from that role. The Atlanta Opera is sure to put on a great performance of this nearly 100-year-old opera.

18. Stop and smell the dragons at Atlanta’s gardens

The Atlanta Botanical Gardens is one of the most creative botanical gardens in the country. Explore giant-sized topiaries including dragons, peacocks, earth goddesses, and camels. It’s beautiful in all seasons, too. Sniff flowers in the spring and summer, jump in orange and red leaves in the fall, and be mesmerized by the beautiful garden lights in the winter.

While the Atlanta Botanical Gardens is our favorite, there are lots of other amazing places to visit Atlanta’s beautiful greenery. Piedmont Park and Stone Mountain also host flower festivals. Or, take a quick day trip and head to Lake Lanier Island or Callaway Gardens.

19. SHARKS!!!!

In late fall 2020, the Georgia Aquarium plans to open its largest expansion, a new shark gallery. Guests will gain a deeper appreciation of the important role that sharks play in the ocean. The saltwater gallery will feature floor-to-ceiling glass windows plus include interactive stations. Seeing the new shark gallery is absolutely going to be one of the best things to do in Atlanta in 2020. So, don’t miss this one.

20. Get into the holiday spirit with the Nutcracker at the Cobb Energy Center

After nearly 20 years performing the Nutcracker at the Fox Theatre, the Atlanta Ballet has moved to the Cobb Energy Center. Expect more shows but a different feel at the Energy Center, but the same beautiful ballet. The Energy Center is now the Atlanta Ballet’s preferred venue for performances.

USA Track & Field announced Monday that it has awarded the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials to the city of Atlanta.

The race will be held on February 29, 2020, and the top three male and female finishers who meet the Olympic A standard will represent the United States at the 2020 summer Olympics in Tokyo. The fourth-place runners in each race will be named alternates.

The Atlanta Track Club is the local organizing committee for the event. Its winning bid draws on the city’s legacy as an Olympic host city (the Games were held there in 1996), a vibrant local running community that organizers hope will turn out in force to cheer on athletes, moderate February temperatures with an average high of 60 degrees, and numerous perks for athletes.

“We’ve got 50 plus years of history of putting on running events,” said Rich Kenah, executive director of the Atlanta Track Club. “We were involved in the Olympic marathon in 1996 and the U.S. indoor championships when they were here for almost a decade from the ’90s to the early 2000s. We’ve hosted the 10K championships as part of the Peachtree Road Race quite a few times. We feel we’ve got the right mix of history and understanding what it takes to put on an event such as this.”

Austin, Texas; Chattanooga, Tennessee; and Orlando, Florida; also bid to host the Marathon Trials.

The quadrennial men’s and women’s Olympic Marathon Trials are two of running’s most compelling races. The selection process to represent Team USA is ruthless: It comes down to one marathon on one day. If a top-ranked athlete is injured or sick on trials day? Too bad.

Additionally, the championship-style event is open to any woman who has run a marathon faster than 2:45 or a half marathon faster than 1:13. Men who have run faster than 2:19 and 1:04 are eligible to compete. At the 2016 trials, in Los Angeles, 246 women and 211 men, many with full-time jobs outside of running, were qualified to compete, giving sub-elite runners a day in the sun.

The proposed Atlanta trials course, which includes three seven-mile loops and a fourth loop that is five miles, is described by organizers as having a similar elevation profile to Central Park, which runners regard as hilly. Spectators in some spots will be able to see competitors go by six times without moving.

Atlanta’s plan focuses on walkability for athletes and spectators, with the start/finish line 100 meters from the host hotel. It also draws on the popularity of running in Atlanta, even if it’s not widely known as a hotbed outside the city.
“One big piece of our bid is making sure that the entire running community embraces the trials in this running weekend that we propose,” Kenah said. “That will include us engaging youth running clubs, youth track and field clubs, high schools, colleges in the area.” He points out that the Atlanta Track Club is the second-largest running organization in the country, behind only New York Road Runners.

The Atlanta Track Club has proposed a three-way revenue-sharing agreement with USATF and the athletes. And it has promised to pay for the travel and accommodation expenses of all qualifiers. In the past, qualifiers were separated into “A” and “B” qualifiers, with female “A” qualifiers having run faster than 2:37 and male “A” qualifiers faster than 2:15. Only “A” qualifiers had their expenses paid.

“It is important for us to make sure that everyone who qualifies for the event has that equal opportunity to secure that spot on the team for the Games,” Kenah said. “We don’t believe you have that equal opportunity if you are treating A-qualified athletes differently than B-qualified athletes.

“In all Olympic sports, we have seen the middle class athlete disappear. You have the haves, and the have nots,” he continued. “We want to celebrate the story line of the haves, but we don’t want everyone to forget about the B qualified athletes, the have nots. Because every Olympic cycle, there seems to be one of those stories, where someone put in the work quietly, carefully, with little to no support from any partner or sponsor. They find themselves in the mix with a realistic chance to make the Olympic team.”

It’s “critically important,” Kenah said, to ensure that developing athletes stay in the sport long enough for them to develop their full potential.

Many athletes criticized the 2016 marathon trials in Los Angeles for inadequate water on the course and slow medical response for runners who struggled in the heat. They also found the event lacked the sense of excitement and crowd support of past trials races. A few “B” qualifiers turned to crowdfunding to help pay for their travel expenses.

From the Olympic Marathon Trials in Los Angeles, Amy Cragg, Desiree Linden, and Shalane Flanagan made Team USA bound for Rio; on the men’s side, Galen Rupp, Meb Keflezighi, and Jared Ward were the marathoners.

Cragg, Linden, Rupp, and Ward are expected to return to race the 2020 trials.

The Atlanta Marathon, a growing community marathon, half marathon, and 5K that in past years was known as the Georgia Marathon and this year had 8,000 finishers between the three races, will be held the day after the trials.

The South known for fun, which is why one of the most popular events are festivals in Atlanta. We’ve got the perfect list of festival fun for your spring and summer, with dates, places and hints about their family-friendliness. Take note of those marked with “365 Favorite!“ as it notates the 10 festivals we love the most!

1. Celebrate Spring at the Georgia Apple Blossom Festival!

Spring is one of the best times of the year to visit the North Georgia Mountains. It’s when blossoms create a snowy blanket on the apple trees. Come celebrate the beginning of spring at the Georgia Apple Blossom Festival in East Ellijay, Georgia. Shop at 50 hand-selected, regional vendors offering food, art, crafts, and more. The Festival is pet-friendly, charges no admission and offers plenty of free fun for the kids too!

2. June Family Fun Month at Beech Mountain

The town of Beech Mountain is a fun getaway for the entire family located at 5,506 feet above sea level in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Here you are free to unplug, unwind, reconnect. Families are encouraged to make their way up to the mountain in June for Family Fun Month. With 30 days of family activities plus discounted lodging specials like buy two nights, get a third night free, it is the perfect time of the year to get up to the mountains and enjoy some quality family time. Arranging visits is easy! Check out the calendar on the more information link, pick your dates, then select your preferred Family Fun Month lodging special and you are ready to go!

3. Experience the Rose Show and Festival in Thomasville, GA

Held in historic Downtown Thomasville April 25-27, 2019, the Rose Show and Festival has been a southwest Georgia tradition since the 1920s. Featuring several flower shows, parades, community events, concerts, and more, the Rose Show and Festival is fun for the whole family. Most events are free!

4. Taste of Alpharetta Will Have Your Mouth Watering

Come to Downtown Alpharetta May 2, 2019 for one of the most delicious festivals of the year. Voted a Top 20 Event by Southeast Tourism Society, the Taste of Alpharetta brings over 50,000 festival goers and foodies to the downtown Alpharetta streets each. Taste dishes from over 60 restaurants for one night only. Arrive hungry so you can try scrumptious samples from locally-owned and chef-driven restaurants. Free admission with food samples ranging from $1 to $4 each. It’s an event the locals never miss!

5. Let the Celebrate Freedom Rodeo Wow You This Spring

Come enjoy the Celebrate Freedom Rodeo in downtown Alpharetta’s Wills Park May 10 & 11, 2019. This fun, family-friendly event will feature the Wild Together Trick Riders made up of the sister team of Shanae and Hannah Ritter. Enjoy festival food, BBQ from award-winning Sam’s BBQ-1 vendors, kids’ activities and more. Gates open at 6pm. Rodeo starts at 8pm and includes bull riding, trick riding, roping and more. Admission: General – $15, Kids age 5-12 – $10, Kids age 4 and under – Free

6. Unleash Your Creativity at the Alpharetta Arts Streetfest

Over 90 artisans will come together at Alpharetta’s Village Green, May 25-27, 2019 for the Alpharetta Arts Streetfest. It is a three-day festival where art enthusiasts will find a plethora of art mediums including mixed media, photography, pottery, jewelry, textiles, wood, metal, glass, paper art and more. Meet the artists and watch many of them bring their craft to life. Grab a local brew or glass of vino from beverage vendors to enjoy as you stroll from booth to booth. Treat yourself to some delicious food at one of the local eateries throughout downtown . Free admission.

7. Bear on the Square Festival, Historic Downtown Dahlonega

Bear on the Square Festival, Historic Downtown Dahlonega Square, April 27-28: The uniquely-named event is always a big draw for crowds to experience an authentic Appalachian Festival. Held in and around Dahlonega’s Historic Public Square, the free celebration features bluegrass and old-time music, a juried Artists Market Place featuring traditional mountain crafts, storytelling, free music workshops and demonstrations, dance team performances, an old-time mountain dance, and more. Visit www.bearonthesquare.org for more information.

This family-friendly event has so much for kids to do that they won’t think to ever utter ‘I’m bored.’ Activities include: building a special project at the Home Depot booth; panning for gold, taking in a blacksmithing demo, learning how to weave a cloth or make a broom, visiting the Pick & Bow jam tent to see how well kids can play music or enjoying the balloon and face-painting booths