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 .
Martin Luther King Day, also known as Civil Rights Day in some states, is held around his birthday — January 15 — every year. When is Martin Luther King Day in 2021? It is Monday, January 18, 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 most important thing to note in 2021 is that due to COVID-19, the MLK Historic Site buildings are temporarily closed 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 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.
The market is open Monday – Saturday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. It will be closed on MLK Day, January 18, 2021.
MLK Day Hike at a State Park
F.D. Roosevelt State Park in Pine Mountain is hosting a celebratory MLK Day hike on Monday, January 18. The hike is a moderate, 3.4 mile trip, geared towards hikers age 10 and up.
Pre-registration is required. Make sure to bring water and a snack.
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.
Unfortunately, the Decatur Service Project had to cancel this year’s event, due to COVID-19.
Learn African American History at Oakland
Oakland Cemetery is one of the best places to learn about history in Atlanta.
Take a walking tour and learn about the men and women who shaped Atlanta and the African American experience in Atlanta. This year, it’s not be offered on MLK Weekend, but it is being offered on Feb. 6, 2021 — so mark your calendar!
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.
Open on MLK Weekend, including Monday, January 18 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
The Atlanta History Center always hosts a free admission day on Martin Luther Kind Day — and this year, they’ll be doing it virtually.
This year, they will be looking back on past celebrations and sharing related resources that can be explored safely from home—including a special Author Talk featuring authors Stephen Kendrick and Paul Kendrick with Atlanta Student Movement leaders Charles Black and Rev. Dr. Otis Moss.
Expanded resources will be available here on January 18.
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 Virtual Alliance Theatre Show
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.
Join nine emerging artists as they reimagine the summer 2020 Palefsky Collision Project in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. and all civil rights activists.
Directed by Patrick McColery in collaboration with Pearl Cleage, Playwright, this special Performance & Talk Back will occur virtually on Monday, January 18, 2021 at 2:30 p.m. The performance will be approximately 45 minutes, and the talk back approximately 30 minutes. Registration is FREE.
Take your Young 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.
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 our Creativity Café.
Their theme this year is Dreams for a Better World. They recognize Dr. King’s lifelong pursuit of justice, freedom, and hope; today, in 2021, we recognize that there is still work to be done and commit ourselves to pursue those same goals.
Learn about Dr. King’s life and his famous “I Have a Dream” speech on stage, then commit to carrying on his legacy through activities in our Creativity Café.
The United Ebony Society is hosting a Drive-Through Donation Event to help those in need. Donate at Moore Middle School on Lawrenceville Highway in Lawrenceville on Saturday, Janauary 16, 2021 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Here’s a list of items they’re looking for to help senior nursing facilities and homeless outreach programs.
FREE Access to National Parks
One of the ways the country is celebrating MLK Day on Monday, January, 18 is by offering free access to National Parks that otherwise charge a fee.
Martin Luther King Parades in Georgia
Note: All area parades have been canceled in 2021 due to COVID-19.
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.
Martin Luther King Parade in Dublin. Dublin’s parade has been canceled in 2021 due to COVID-19. The parade is hoping to return in 2022.
Savannah MLK Parade. Savannah’s parade has been canceled for 2021 due to COVID-19.
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 2021 due to COVID-19.)