As you prepare for Imaging USA 2013 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta on January 20-22, 2013, consider these great activities around the city for your downtime during the convention. All of these attractions are unique to Atlanta and come highly recommended by the Atlanta Convention and Visitor's Bureau. Plus, there are probably some great photo opportunities at each!
See the largest fish through the largest window in the largest aquarium in the world.
Head to the Georgia Aquarium, where you can see tens of thousands of animals in more than 8 million gallons of water. The world's largest aquarium houses whale sharks, the largest fish in the sea and only whale sharks in an aquarium in North America. Visitors can even get up close and personal with these gentle giants in Georgia Aquarium's swim and dive program. In April 2011, the Aquarium opened AT&T Dolphin Tales, a state-of-the-art dolphin exhibit including dolphin encounters, viewing windows and a dolphin show. www.georgiaaquarium.org
Stroll through the collections of art from around the world without leaving Atlanta.
The High Museum of Art, the premier art museum in the South, is in the midst of a multi-year partnership with The Museum of Modern Art. Through 2013, the partnership will bring many international exhibitions to Atlanta and past exhibitions have included masterpieces by Claude Monet and Leonardo de Vinci. www.high.org
Try a "Coke and a smile."
Born and raised in Atlanta, Coca-Cola is synonymous with the city. Visit the World of Coca-Cola to learn the story of the famous soft drink, now celebrating its 125th year. Go back to the early years of Coke's creation in Atlanta and follow the global brand through the decades. After you've refreshed yourself with more than 60 products from around the world, step out of the museum's front door and into the hub of the tourism district. www.worldofcoca-cola.com
Find out why the greatest American novel was written in "The Dump."
Atlanta is home to the Margaret Mitchell House, featuring the furnished apartment nicknamed "The Dump" by Mitchell and where she wrote "Gone with the Wind." 2011 marks the 75th anniversary of the book as one of the best-selling novels in the world, second only to the Bible. www.margaretmitchellhouse.com
Race the gold shoes for a gold medal.
As host of the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games, Atlanta continues to commemorate the Olympic legacy. Centennial Olympic Park was the world's gathering place during the Games and includes the Fountain of Rings, the world's largest fountain utilizing the Olympic Symbol of five interconnecting rings. In 2006, the Atlanta History Center opened a $10 million wing celebrating the Centennial Olympic Games that includes interactive exhibits allowing visitors to compete against Olympic legends such as Michael Johnson and his gold track shoes. www.centennialpark.com
Be a weatherman and news anchor, all in the same day.
Ride the world's longest freestanding escalator to go behind-the-scenes of the first global news network at the Inside CNN Studio Tour. Learn how to report the weather using a green screen, watch the newsroom floor as stories from around the world unfold and keep your eyes peeled for a Robin Meade or Sanjay Gupta sighting! www.cnn.com/tour
Find out what it takes to earn a Nobel Peace Prize, or two.
Atlanta is one of the only two cities in the world to lay claim to two Nobel Peace Prize winners--Martin Luther King, Jr. and former President Jimmy Carter. See the medals on display and learn about their legacies at the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site and the Carter Library and Museum. Atlanta's history in the Civil Rights Movement will be punctuated in 2013 when the National Center for Civil and Human Rights opens, giving visitors a place to explore struggles for equality throughout history and engage in conversations about the future. www.jimmycarterlibrary.gov
Order a F.O. and a naked dog walking.
Only the folks at the world's largest drive-in will know that you're really asking for a frosted orange drink and a plain hot dog to go. The Varsity was established in Atlanta in 1928. www.thevarsity.com
Take bird watching to a whole new level.
Atlanta is home to not only the NFL Falcons, NBA Hawks and MLB Braves, but also to the NASL Silverbacks and WNBA Dream. Atlanta's sports teams play year-round so travelers can walk out of a museum or attraction and into a game virtually any day of the year.
Watch a three-course meal go full-circle atop the tallest hotel in the Western Hemisphere.
Atop the 73-story Westin Peachtree Plaza, the rotating Sun Dial Restaurant Bar and View offers visitors a first-class meal, scenic glass elevator ride, panoramic view of the city and a walking tour. www.sundialrestaurant.com
Hike the world's largest exposed mass of granite.
Stone Mountain Park is Georgia's most-visited attraction. Get your adventure on by making the 1.3-mile hike to the top of the mountain, where you'll be rewarded with panoramic views of the entire city. www.stonemountainpark.com
Follow the footsteps of the country's civil rights leaders.
In 2004, the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame was unveiled at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site. Using genuine shoes from each of the honorees to create the footsteps, the Walk of Fame inducted 17 inaugural members, including Jimmy Carter, Jesse L. Jackson Sr., Thurgood Marshall, Rosa Parks and Andrew Young. Each year, more foot soldiers are added to the Walk of Fame. There are hundreds of additional spaces designated for future placements of worthy footsteps. www.nps.gov/malu
See puppets that are much more than socks.
The Center for Puppetry Arts, the nation's largest puppetry center, hosts famous puppets and presents both family and adult shows throughout the year. The Center is planning an expansion that will double the museum's current size and will allow for the museum to bring many of its collectibles out of storage. The expansion will also make room for the Jim Henson Wing, scheduled to open in 2012, which will include 500-700 puppets, props, videos and much more. www.puppet.org