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 — we’ve got lots of ideas to make this national holiday meaningful for you.
Martin Luther King Day, also known as Civil Rights Day in some states, is held on the third Monday of January around his birthday (which is January 15) every year. In 2022, Martin Luther King Day will be observed on Monday, January 17. It’s 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 one of the most iconic American Civil Rights leaders. We also added some additional options for an MLK Jr. Day of Service, and a few getaways (my favorites 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 most important thing to note in 2022 is that the MLK Historic Site buildings are temporarily closed again this year. Visitors are welcome to park and take a self-guided tour of the campus, though.
The following information about the historic site is from 2020, when the buildings were open.
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 the delicious eats at Metro Deli Soul Food or the yummy gelato at Three Peaches Gelato and Coffee. In addition to the amazing eateries, you’ll also find plenty of produce, meat, and seafood vendors here.
The market is usually open Monday – Saturday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. It will be closed on MLK Day in 2022.
MLK JR. DAY OF SERVICE
“Everybody can be great because anybody can serve,” was a quote by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebrate the holiday by volunteering!
Several organizations are celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day with events for the MLK Day of Service including Hands On Atlanta — which will be hosting a series of events throughout January, both in-person and virtually.
The Decatur Service Project is another great organization that organizes volunteers to help City of Decatur residents/senior homeowners with house maintenance and repair. Their MLK Service Project in 2022 will begin January 15.
Want more MLK Day of Service events? You can find more HERE.
LEARN AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY AT OAKLAND CEMETERY
Oakland Cemetery is one of the best places to learn about history in Atlanta.
Take a 75-minute walking tour and learn about the men and women who shaped Atlanta and the African American experience in Atlanta. The tour explores the lives and accomplishments of outstanding and ordinary African Americans who fought to overcome the effects of slavery and discrimination to help shape the history of Atlanta.
The free tours start outside of the Oakland Bell Tower (at the Visitors Center and Museum Store) at 1:00 PM. Please arrive a few minutes early to check in with the volunteer at the front desk. The tours will be offered on MLK Day in 2022, and then on select dates in February. Spaces are extremely limited, so we recommend reserving your tickets in advance.
CENTER FOR CIVIL AND HUMAN RIGHTS
The Center for Civil and Human Rights 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.
Open on MLK Weekend, including Monday, January 17 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
(FYI: They also host a great event on International Human Rights Day — December 10 — each year.)
VIRTUALLY VISIT THE ATLANTA HISTORY CENTER
After a year of an all-virtual celebration, Atlanta History Center is thrilled to welcome guests again to an in-person Martin Luther King, Jr. experience along with virtual components in 2022.
The Atlanta History Center invites you to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in his hometown of Atlanta through a variety of virtual and in-person educational family activities, including simulations, crafts, and story time, as well as offerings for adults including author talks.
Tickets to Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2022 are free, but required. Please select the desired time slot for either Sunday, January 16 or Monday, January 17. Tickets must be redeemed within 15 minutes of the selected time slot on the day of the event. A small number of walk-up tickets will be available.
We’ll continue to update this article with new information as the event gets closer.
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.
TAKE YOUR YOUNG CHILD (10 AND UNDER) TO THE CHILDREN’S MUSEUM OF ATLANTA
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.
Join Children’s Museum of Atlanta, in collaboration with the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, as they celebrate the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. They will explore his life and legacy on the Stage, at the Science Bar, and in their Art Studio.
FREE ACCESS TO NATIONAL PARKS
One of the ways the country is celebrating MLK Day on Monday, January, 17 is by offering free access to National Parks that otherwise charge a fee.
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.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Parade in Lawrenceville. The United Ebony Society of Gwinnett County, Inc. will host the 19th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration on Monday, January 17, 2022 in Lawrenceville, GA. The parade will begin at Moore Middle School and end at Central Gwinnett High School. 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Martin Luther King Parade in Dublin. No information has yet been released about parade plans in 2022. We’ll keep checking, and update as soon as we know.
Savannah MLK Parade. Savannah’s parade will be back on January 17, 2022 at 10 a.m.!
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 who worked the cotton and rice plantations on 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 it 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 U.S. 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.
Civil Rights Road Trip. Consider a Civil Rights road trip to really immerse yourself and your kids in learning as much as possible about bigotry, discrimination, slavery, and the struggle for civil rights. The official Civil Rights Trail covers 15 states and Washington, DC, but you can plan your road trip to cover just a part of it — starting in Atlanta.
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. (Note: Snow Mountain at Stone Mountain is not happening in 2022 .)
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