Atlanta’s Best History Tours

Inman Park

The Trolley Barn on Edgewood Avenue

Everyone’s always looking for new things to do in Atlanta, and we’re here to help! We’ve compiled a list of the best guided and self-guided tours in the ATL. We sought out the best tours for families, architecture lovers, sports fans, nature nerds, and first dates. There’s something here for everyone.

Whether you’ve got an hour to kill or a weekend to fill, make the most of the last days of summer and go explore the history of our city.

Guided Tours

Inman Park – Atlanta’s First Planned Suburb Walking Tour | Atlanta Preservation Center

This is one of many guided walking tours offered by Atlanta Preservation Center (APC) each month. APC’s Inman Park tour explores the history of Atlanta’s first planned suburb.

Established in 1889, the Inman Park neighborhood is a celebrated example of community preservation. You’ll walk away able to identify all of the distinctive elements of the Victorian style—from turrets to dentils and everything in between.

Tours meet at the front steps of the King Keith House (889 Edgewood Ave NE) every other Sunday in March through November (see their website for exact dates). If you’re looking for more Atlanta preservation tours, APC also offers walking tours of Grant Park, Historic Downtown, and Druid Hills.

  • Admission: $17.50 for Adults; $10.50 for Children (ages 6-17), Students and Seniors (60+); $12.50 for current APC Members
  • Duration: 90–120 minutes

Atlanta is a dense city which means you can see a lot on your morning run!

Atlanta History + Highlights Tour | City Running Tours

Lace up your Nikes and hit the road—this tour is for folks who want to get their HIIT and history at the same time. On the Atlanta History + Highlights Tour, you’ll run through Atlanta history on this 3.5-mile run through downtown.

See sites from our earliest days as a railroad town, find out what General Sherman didn’t burn down during the Civil War, check out where Coca-Cola was first bottled, take in the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement at birth place of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Ebenezer Baptist Church, then head back to Centennial Olympic Park.

  • Admission: $30
  • Duration: 1 hour

A view of the Womans Building from the Cotton States and International Exposition in 1895. See the spot where it formerly stood on this Piedmont Park tour!

Piedmont Park History Walking Tour | Piedmont Park Conservancy

On this walking tour, guests will discover how the park’s history is interwoven with the greater Atlanta story. Explore the evolution of iconic Piedmont Park from forest to fairgrounds for the Cotton States and International Exposition of 1895 to Atlanta’s premier urban green space. Bring sunblock and a blanket to linger a while after the tour ends.

Tours take place on Saturdays at 11:00am from March–November. Meet at the Green Market and Conservancy information table located at 12th St and Piedmont Ave NE Park entrance.

  • Admission: Free and open to all ages
  • Duration: 60–90 minutes

Martin Luther King, Jr. stands in front of his birthplace at 501 Auburn Avenue.

Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site | U.S. National Parks Service

It’s the most popular tourist destination in the A—the birthplace of Martin Luther King, Jr. Located in the heart of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic District, the site offers free tours daily. Just stop by the information desk inside the Visitor Center or King Center to pick up a timed ticket.

Birth Home Tours are limited to 15 people and are filled on a first-come, first-served basis on the day of the tour. Visit early in the week or Sunday morning and visit early in the day to secure your spot.

Also in the Martin Luther King National Historic District are the Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, Fire Station No. 6, Dr. and Mrs. King’s Tomb, and the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame.

  • Cost of admission: Free and open to all ages
  • Duration: 1 hour

Designed by Philip Shutze for the Inman family, Swan House is a fine example of Jazz Age architecture in Atlanta

Behind the Scenes: Swan House Tour | Atlanta History Center

Fascinated by secret spaces and new places? Ever wondered what’s behind those closed doors? We’ve got the perfect thing to satisfy your inner snoop.

This special tour offers the opportunity to explore rooms not open during regular hours. Peek in basement rooms, explore attics, and see special collections spaces of Phillip Trammel Shutze’s iconic 1928 mansion. Find out what we keep in our closets!

This behind the scenes tour is available every day at 4:00pm.

  • Admission: General Museum Admission + $10:00 tour fee
  • Duration: 45 minutes

Meet up at the ATL Playground for a crash course on Atlanta history.

Atlanta from the Ashes: Downtown History Tour | Downtown Atlanta – Woodruff Park

You may know Woodruff Park, but do you know the man it’s named for? Located in the heart of Downtown, the stories of Robert W. Woodruff Park and its surroundings touch on some of the most influential people and events of Atlanta’s modern history. From the Civil Rights Movement to the birth and growth of the Coca-Cola Company, you’ll hear about the buildings that once stood in and around the Park and major historical events that happened nearby.

This free tour is offered at noon on the 1st Thursday and the 3rd Saturday of each month. The tour begins at the ATL Playground across from the Flatiron building (84 Peachtree St).

  • Admission: Free, but an RSVP is required
  • Duration: 1 hour

Completed in 1898, the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus’s spires have seen a lot. Learn more about the site on this unique tour

Monthly Tours of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus | Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Founded in 1880, with the current church building being completed in 1898, the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is the second-oldest parish in Atlanta. Its nearly 150-year history is intertwined with that of the city.

Tours are offered on the first Sunday of each month following 10:00am Mass. Tours cover the site’s history, architecture, and the challenges faced by the congregation over the years. You can also learn more about the church’s history by visiting the display located on the lower level outside O’Hagen Hall.

  • Admission: Free
  • Duration: 30 minutes

Self-Guided Tours

The Flatiron Building is stop number six on this tour. Learn about Atlanta’s steel-framed skyscraper and others on this architecture-lover’s tour.

Atlanta Historic Downtown Tour | American Institute of Architects, Georgia Chapter

Grab your headphones and get ready to explore. This self-guided audio tour will take you through downtown’s historic districts to look at the eclectic skyscrapers that line the streets. Stops included in the tour demonstrate Atlanta’s growth from the New South Period of the 1890s to the Wall Street Crash of 1929. It’s a must for any architecture nerd in your life.

Self-Guided Civil Rights Tour | Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau

This tour is more of a daylong itinerary than a traditional tour. The Atlanta CVB outlines every moment from where to go for breakfast to which play to catch in the evening. The itinerary outlines historic sites, museums, restaurants, and organizations that all played an active role in the history of Civil Rights in Atlanta.

It’s great for out-of-town guests looking to get a full day’s worth of Atlanta history, or a new way to be a tourist in your own city.

  • Admission: Varies between museums. See website for details.
  • Duration: Go at your own pace

It’s not Georgia’s original capitol, but you know what they say: sixth times’s the charm.

Georgia Capitol Museum | University of Georgia Libraries

We can all use a civics lesson every now and then! The Georgia Capitol Museum offers two self-guided tours that focus on the architecture and history of the Capitol Building itself. Print-outs of the Self-Guided Capitol Tour and Self-Guided Capitol Grounds Tour are available to download, or can be picked up at the information desk in the lobby. You can also download the Georgia Capitol Tour app, which features historic images, videos, and stories about Georgia’s history.

All guests are welcome to visit the Georgia Capitol Museum, located on the fourth floor, during their visit. Admission is free of charge.

  • Admission: Both the self-guided and guided tours of the Capitol are free
  • Duration: Go at your own pace