This blog post was updated on July 20, 2021.
When people think about the origin of trends, fashion, and culture, the first places to come to mind are New York and Los Angeles. But an urban movement has been spreading across the South, shifting attitudes and causing a lot of these major cities to shake away their traditional air of superiority. One of the major hubs for this rising popularity is Atlanta. The ATL is home to some of the nation’s best musicians, writers, and artists, and even plays the perfect backdrop for famous TV shows and movies. Here’s a list of some of Atlanta’s most important pop-culture landmarks and why you have to check them out.
The CNN Center
Since its creation in 1980, CNN has played a vital role in shaping media and American culture. It’s one of the nation’s most important news organizations and is a trusted name around the world as well. This past year, it had the second-highest total viewers, second only to Fox News (this past election cycle ended up being its most-watched year in history). Atlanta is CNN’s headquarters, where its enormous center is open to the public for tours. The center features CNN’s largest studio (Studio 7), the world’s largest freestanding escalator, and exciting insight into the confusing and captivating world of broadcast.
The Center for Puppetry Arts
The Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta has grown to include one of the biggest tributes to the late Jim Henson, the creator of The Muppets. The spirit of Kermit and his crew is preserved at the Center for Puppetry Arts, which offers guided tours, shows, and exhibits. The organization itself is the nation’s largest dedicated to puppetry and is constantly redefining theater production. While puppets might not be the first thing you think of when you think of art, the success of the Muppets goes to show that good art comes in all kinds of shapes and forms.
The Walking Dead Tours
One of Atlanta’s most well-known pop culture contributions is its role in the filming of the cult-following show The Walking Dead. Consequently, zombie tours have been popping up all across Atlanta. The tours cover areas based on the seasons, so lovers of everything undead can pick which seasons they liked best and which locations they just don’t want to miss. Experiencing the show’s many locations around Atlanta is something fans would die for (and hopefully, not come back to life after!).
The World of Coca-Cola
If there’s one thing that has shaped global culture — for better or worse — it’s Coca-Cola. A poster child for American capitalism and culture and the king of advertising, Coca-Cola has spread its fuzzy goodness far and wide. The bottles have been featured in art by Andy Warhol, Norman Rockwell, and Haddon Sundblom. Images of Coca-Cola polar bears and Santa Claus have become synonymous with the Christmas spirit, and even the very sight of glass bottles brings feelings of nostalgia. Visitors can check out the World of Coca-Cola building to see the progress and changes the company has experienced. It features soda sampling opportunities, exhibits, and even some contemporary galleries featuring Coca-Cola.
Margaret Mitchel’s Home
Margaret Mitchel is a testament to the fact that if you’re only going to do something once, then you better do it right. Mitchell is known best for the only novel she ever wrote, Gone with the Wind. The book went on to win a number of awards, including a Pulitzer Prize. During her life, she saw the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. The complexity of Southern economics — which largely revolved around slavery — also influenced Mitchel. Mitchel explored all of these themes in the classic book, and it helped change the way African-Americans and women were perceived in literature, TV, and movies. Fans can stop by the famous writer’s home and also partake in guided tours of the building.
Over the last 10 years, Atlanta has received exceptional recognition for its music scene. Notably, this attention has been focused on the genres of hip-hop, rap, and R&B. It’s a city that has given rise to legendary musical acts like Young Jeezy, Ludacris (pictured), and Outkast. One of the most prominent places that fueled this momentum is Patchwerk Studio, which was founded in 1993 by Bob Whitfield of the Atlanta Falcons. The studio has produced recordings for 50 Cent, André 3000, Busta Rhymes, Lil Wayne, and many others. Tours of the studio are only available by private reservation, but you will get to see all the awards and autographs the studio has acquired over the years. Who knows? You might even get lucky and bump into one of these music legends!
The Swan House
For those who loved The Hunger Games, a visit to President Snow’s home might be one of the most exciting things ever. The house is built in the antebellum style that is prevalent in major Southern cities. While the home is known for being featured in The Hunger Games movies, its architecture and decor is stunning simply by itself and gives visitors an idea about the opulent lifestyles of the 1930s Southern elite. If you’re a die-hard fan of the book/movie franchise, private companies offer “victory tours” of the area featuring a lot of the other locations that were used as sets.
Where do you go when you want to connect with Atlanta’s pop culture scene? Let us know in the comments below!