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The Best Hidden Gems (And Ways to Kill Time) in Atlanta

Photo Credit: Michael Francis

Despite the hustle and bustle of city life in Atlanta, there are some great undiscovered gems in this town. Below are some great places that might be fun to visit and kill some time the next time you have a chance.

Price: $8 Adults, $6 Students, Seniors, and Children 6-17
Free for Children 5 and under and Emory Students, Staff, and Faculty
Hours: Tues to Fri - 10:00 a.m. - 4 p.m.; Sat - 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.; Sun - 12 p.m. - 5 p.m.

The Carlos Museum may not get as much press as museums and sights in downtown Atlanta, but it makes for a great experience to spend a few hours looking at wonders from all eras and places of the world. The Carlos Museum often plays host to traveling exhibitions, in addition to its collections of art from Asia, ancient Egypt, the Roman Empire, Africa, the ancient Americas, and Europe through the centuries. After browsing through all of the Carlos Museum's treasures, you can also grab a quick bite at one of the eateries within the Emory Village Neighborhood. The Carlos Museum is one of Atlanta's best art museums, and might be the easiest to navigate.

Photo Credit: Michael Francis

Hours: Sunday-Thursday 11 a.m. - 1 a.m.; Fri to Sat -  11 a.m. - 3 a.m.

Hong Kong Harbor has been servicing the Emory, Lindbergh, and Buckhead areas for years. However, the best time to go to this in-town spot is Saturdays for their weekly Dim Sum. You will find yourself wanting to sample every dish brought around by the staff. Go with a friend and you'll find you can easily spend a couple of hours feasting on every delicious plate.

Related: Atlanta's best Chinese spots

Hours: Daily; 8 a.m. - 3 p.m.

Ria's Bluebird Café is one of many places that sits near the historic Oakland Cemetery. It is known more for breakfast dishes than anything else, and has received rave reviews for its dishes since its opening in 2001. They updated their menu in November of 2011, and continue to offer delicious specials on the weekend. Combine a trip here with a stroll through the cemetery to look at some of Atlanta's history at your own pace before the sun goes down.

Hours: 7 a.m. - 10 p.m.
Price: $5 Parking

Sweetwater Park sits about fifteen miles west of downtown Atlanta on I-20. There are facilities available for picnics, as well as numerous trails within the park. The area runs around an old textile mill, which was destroyed during the Civil War, and the ruins are visible from the trails. There are also numerous cliffs and bluffs which provide great views of the forest and creeks running through the park. Lastly, the reservoir within the park is great for fishing, hiking or feeding the ducks. With more than nine miles of trails throughout the park and numerous attractions, it's easy to spend an entire day here.

Price: $8 adults; $7 seniors and students; $5 children
Hours: Tues to Sat - 10 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.

The Wren's Nest is the home of famed Southern author Joel Chandler Harris (1845-1908), known for writing the "Uncle Remus" stories and for the Atlanta Constitution. It is dedicated to the preservation of African-American folklore and literature. They offer storytelling every Saturday at 1 p.m., which is a great way to expose kids to learning about historic preservation and African-American culture. The center also hosts art and music performances, as well as book readings from local writers. Don't miss this gem next time you are in Atlanta.

Michael Francis is a freelance writer studying at Georgia State University. His work can be found at

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