Looking for things to do over the MLK Weekend in Atlanta? We have some suggestions for you from celebrating the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. to enjoying some time with your family either in town or on a quick weekend getaway .
If you are wondering when is Martin Luther King Day in 2020? It is Monday, January 20, and is a United States Federal holiday, so start planning now. Below are some suggestions on things to do on MLK Day in Atlanta and ways to celebrate this iconic civil rights leader.
We also added some additional options for an MLK Jr. Day of service and a few getaways (my favorite are the MLK ski weekend getaways) if you don’t mind traveling a bit.
What are you up to this MLK Day weekend? Let us know in the comments section.
Visit the MLK Historic Site: The Martin Luther King Historic Site is part of the National Park Service. Kids can pick up a Junior Ranger booklet at the front desk to help guide them through the museum.
Trading cards are available at the desk as well. We pick these up whenever we visit a National Park and have quite a collection now.
If you want to visit the King Center or MLK Birth Home, get there early. Tickets to see Dr. King ‘s home are free, but on a first come, first served basis and MLK weekend is sure to be very busy for both places.
Don’t miss Ebenezer Baptist Church. You can take a self-guided tour of the church, or visit on Sunday for services. And plan to spend some time just walking the streets of MLK’s beloved community.
Eat Around the World: Near the MLK Jr. National Historic Site is the Sweet Auburn Curb Market, the oldest public market in Atlanta. It is in the historic neighborhood, Sweet Auburn, where Martin Luther King Jr. grew up.
At this chic, throw-back market, you’ll find vendors selling local Southern cuisine like Sweet Auburn BBQ, or a favorite of our readers, Grindhouse Burger, but you’ll also find specialty treats from around the world.
My favorite, a Venezuelan street food called an arepa from Arepa Mi, a perfect lunch for MLK weekend or anytime.
Volunteer at a State Park: “Everybody can be great because anybody can serve,” was a quote by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebrate the holiday volunteering at Georgia State Parks.
MLK Jr. Day of Service: In addition to the Georgia State Parks, several organizations are celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day with events for the MLK Day of Service including Oakland Cemetery, Hands On Atlanta, Oglethorpe University, Cascade Business Association and Decatur Service Project.
Learn African American History at Oakland: Oakland Cemetery is one of the best places to learn history in Atlanta. For MLK weekend, take a walking tour and learn about the men and women who shaped Atlanta and the African American experience in Atlanta. Best of all the tour is FREE.
Center for Civil and Human Rights: This is the best civil rights museum of its kind. See how long can you sit at the lunch counter with people jeering in your ear, or stand on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel. MLK Weekend is a perfect time to visit this museum. You’ll leave understanding why it is so important to dedicate a day to understand the Civil Rights struggle in this country, as well as understanding the importance of basic human rights everywhere.
Visit the Atlanta History Center for FREE: The Atlanta History Center is hosting a FREE admission day on Martin Luther King Day, and invites you, your family, your friends, and anyone else you might think of to come celebrate the holiday by exploring the history of the region, plus delving deeper into subjects from Civil War slavery to civil rights movement-sparked integration. There are special exhibits and performances throughout the day. While there, take advantage of walking through the historic houses and let the kids run through the gardens and farm area.
FREE admission includes access to the museum exhibits, living history experiences at the Smith Family Farm and the famous Swan House, and access to the 22 acres of gardens and trails. The Margaret Mitchell House in Midtown is also included in the offer.
See a show for FREE at the Alliance Theatre: Young artists from the Alliance Theatre’s Palefsky Collision Project for teens explore the issues and ideas that challenge their generation to change the world. Students from the summer’s Palefsky Collision Project come back together to explore the themes from their summer performance project, inspired by 1984, through the lens of letters to Dr. King. This staged reading, suitable for all ages, will challenge, inspire, and leave you feeling uplifted about the future! Woodruff Arts Center at 3 pm. Tickets are free, but an RSVP is requested.
Take your younger child (10 and under) to the Children’s Museum: The Children’s Museum of Atlanta has special programming for younger kids with a MLK birthday bash on MLK day. Before you go, check out our post on the Children’s Museum, as well as these other toddler friendly spots in Atlanta.
Get your hoops on! On January 20th the 2nd Annual MLK Day Basketball Tournament is being held at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School. Several of the state’s top teams will square off with start times between 10am and 6:45pm. In addition to witnessing great play on the court, guests will have the opportunity to:
- Bring canned foods to support a canned food drive!
- Meet Charles Person, who was one of the 13 original members of the 1961 Freedom Rides during the Civil Rights Movement
- Hear from renown orator Austin Broughton, who will perform Dr. King’s unforgettable “Mountaintop” speech
- Younger guest can take part in arts and crafts to get them in the spirit of the day
- Listen to Gospel Choir Kevin Styles and Psalms
Martin Luther King Parades in Georgia
If you are looking for free things to do on Martin Luther King Day, a parade is a great answer. Here are a few around the state of Georgia.
Gwinnett County MLK Parade. A parade, food vendors and performances to honor Dr. King’s legacy in Lawrenceville, Ga. The parade kicks off at 11 am. Events end at 3pm.
Martin Luther King Parade in Dublin. Held on Saturday, Jan. 18, this is the second largest MLK parade in Georgia. It steps off at 12 noon. They expect 175 floats!
Savannah MLK Parade. Held on Martin Luther King Day, the Savannah MLK parade kicks off at 10 am. Expect more than 325 parade entrants to entertain and remind us of Dr. King’s legacy.
MLK Day Weekend Getaways
Visit Birmingham, AL: The summer of 1963 was a pivotal time in the Civil Rights movement, and Birmingham. AL was the center of the struggle. Learn what happened that summer with a MLK Day weekend visit to Birmingham, AL.
Visit with the Gullah Geechee of St. Simons: The Gullah Geechee are descendants of the slaves that worked the cotton and rice plantations of the Georgia coast. Visit the St. Simons African American Heritage Center at the Harrington School, or take an African American Heritage tour of the island to celebrate Martin Luther King weekend.
Visit the Tubman Museum. Opened in 1981, and named after Harriet Tubman, the Tubman Museum is the largest museum in the southeast dedicated to African American art and history. The museum is centrally located on Cherry Street in downtown Macon, and I think has one of the coolest pieces of art: a 55-foot long mural that travels through time showing the feats of African Americans. (And if you haven’t seen the movie, Harriet, add that to your weekend plans too! It’s fantastic!)
Learn about the real history of Savannah. To get a true picture of the history of Savannah, you must understand the part slavery and African Americans in general played in the city’s past, as well as the bravery and unbreakable spirit of the Gullah Geechee people. They are the descendants of the African slaves brought to the US from Sierra Leone in Western Africa to work the rice and grain farms on the barrier islands of Georgia and South Carolina.
MLK at Disney World. If you are looking for MLK weekend vacation deals, January is normally a slower month at Walt Disney World . Although the Martin Luther King weekend at Disney World tends to be a bit more crowded than the rest of the month. Note: slower times of the year are when Disney shortens hours and closes rides for refurbishment, so be sure to research the park you would like to visit to ensure you can experience your favorite attractions.
MLK Ski Weekend Getaways
Hit the Slopes: MLK Weekend is a popular time to hit the slopes at Beech Mountain or any of the other North Carolina ski resorts. If you aren’t a skier, you may want to head north to do some snow tubing and just playing in the snow. Of course you can also find snow in Atlanta at places like Stone Mountain.