Atlanta, an international destination, extends Southern welcome

Learn about Atlanta attractions, restaurants, and nightlife before heading to the joint meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and European Society of Ophthalmology Nov. 8 to 11.

Atlanta, the capital of and most populous city in Georgia, has experienced a transformation from a regional destination to an international stopping point. Recognized as one of the fastest-growing cities among developed nations in the 1990s and 2000s, its metropolitan area alone grew 20.5% from 2000 through 2006. The EPA even has affirmed the city for its eco-friendly policies.

A glimpse of the city's skyline will underscore a blend of high- and mid-rise buildings of modern and postmodern design. The tallest building, the Bank of America Plaza, is the 30th tallest building in the world (1,023 feet) and the tallest in the United States, apart from skyscrapers in Chicago and New York City.

Atlanta, in departing from the Old Southern architectural charm of cities such as Charleston, SC, or New Orleans, represents a more progressive New South in its modern building landscape. Architects for some of its buildings include Michael Graves, Renzo Piano, and Richard Meier. The city's most recognizable hometown architect might be John Portman, who helped construct the atrium hotel, starting with Hyatt Regency Atlanta in 1967 and, later, Peachtree Center, Atlanta Merchandise Mart, and SunTrust Plaza.

Centennial Olympic Park is just the beginning of countless stops to include on a business-trip itinerary. As a sidenote, getting around without a cab is easy with Atlanta's subway system, which is operated by Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) and is the seventh-busiest system in the country. A bus system spanning three counties also is available.

In this hot Southern city, you won't be disappointed if you visit any of the following destinations:

For additional information about tours and shopping, see "Tours and shopping, anyone?".

While in town, you could make a day out of the "Gone with the Wind Experience." Begin by touring the three-story Tudor Revival mansion in Midtown, where author Margaret Mitchell penned the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. The Margaret Mitchell House and Museum provides tours and a museum shop. Continue north to Marietta's Gone with the Wind Movie Museum, which houses the largest private collection of movie mementos.

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