22 Actually Cool Things You Can Do in Atlanta This Summer
Now is the time for pools, pop-ups, live music festivals, and rooftop bars in Atlanta.
Don’t let the fact that the solstice is still a full month away fool you—summer has already arrived in Atlanta. Whether you chalk it up to the high 80- and low 90-degree weather that suddenly took over this month or all of the graduations and year-end school events that have been going on over the past few weeks, there’s no doubt that summertime is underway, which means a lot of fun events and activities are on the horizon.
In the coming months Atlantans can look forward to the usual warm-weather shenanigans like enduring long lines at Six Flags, desperately searching for a nearby pool, or visiting one of the city’s best ice cream shops, but that’s not all. There will also be a bunch of major events taking place, from music festivals and pop culture conventions to an epic road race and a brand-new interactive pop-up experience. Ready to make the most out of Summer ‘22? Good. Here’s our guide to 22 actually cool things that you can do in Atlanta right now.
From the Atlanta Summer Beer Festival and the 5th Atlanta Summer Wine Festival to the Alpharetta Brew Moon Fest and the Peachnik Mimosa Festival, there be will several large-scale drinking events for you to attend over the course of this summer, but one way to elevate even your most basic drinking experiences this season is to hit up one of Atlanta’s renowned rooftop bars. Spots like RT60, Suite Food Lounge, and Virtue Cocktail Club are just a few of the great bars where you can go to have a drink, enjoy a much-needed breeze, and take in the city from a completely new vantage point, so if you and your friends go out for drinks this summer, definitely hit a rooftop bar.
The Falcons, the Hawks, the Braves, and Atlanta United are all incredible in their own right, but this summer, you’ll have the opportunity to join the biggest team in Atlanta and help fight food insecurity throughout the city. On July 16, 2022, State Farm and the Atlanta Hawks will be recruiting 5,000 volunteers for the Million Meal Pack, a one-day initiative that consists of six 90-minute meal-packing shifts. Schools, churches, fraternities, and sororities, local businesses, and any individuals ages five and up are welcomed to join the team of volunteers to help prepare meals for local Atlantans in need, and after your shift is over, you are welcomed to stay afterwards for a post-volunteer celebration with games, refreshments, music, and vouchers for a free pair of tickets to one of the Hawks games next season.
Some of the coolest recurring events in the city don’t always fall on the weekend, and Eventide Brewing’s summer song bingo series is a perfect example. From now until July 27, Eventide will host its highly anticipated Song Bingo nights every Wednesday from 7 pm to 9 pm. Each week, there will be a different theme—like TV Theme Songs, Broadway, Road Trip Songs, and Breakup Songs—as well as a different food vendor. Participants who make it through the mid-round challenge will be treated to a free pitcher of beer, and the overall bingo champs will win $15 and ultimate bragging rights.
Get into character for the next wave of pop culture conventions
Over the next handful of months, several of the Southeast’s most popular pop culture conventions will be returning to the A, which means that this summer will yield plenty of opportunities for you to try out your most daring cosplay. At the tail end of May, MomoCon will unite anime, comics, manga, and animation fans for a thrilling, all-ages geek convention, and in June, the Atlanta Comic Convention and Animanga will both return as well. Last but certainly not least, DragonCon will close out a fun convention-filled summer with one of the largest popular culture conventions on Labor Day weekend.
Although Atlanta is fortunate to have Videodrome—a wavy, old school movie rental joint in Virginia Highlands—many of us remember a time when it was the norm to frequent video stores like Blockbuster. That era has gradually faded away over the decades, but thanks to the new Save The Video Store pop-up at The Avenue West Cobb, you can experience that nostalgia once more. The pop-up doubles as a head-to-toe replication of old VHS stores and a full-fledged immersive theatrical experience. Save the Video Store will finish its Atlanta run on June 12, so don’t wait too long to check it out.
Unless this is your first summer in Atlanta, we all know that the weather is only going to get hotter from this point on. Luckily, there are a bunch of public and luxury pools around the city that you can cool off in, like the Piedmont Park Pool or the Atlanta Ocean Wave Pool at Six Flags White Water. In addition to both of those popular wet respites, you can also find a more adult-friendly pool at The W Atlanta Downtown, where you can enjoy a shaded rooftop swim, sip on craft cocktails from a poolside bar, and beat the summertime heat in style.
One of the most important local athletic events that takes place every year is the AJC Peachtree Road Race, and regardless of whether you’ve been competing in qualifying races all year-long or you simply want to get your beach bod back ASAP, the AJC Peachtree Road Race should be on your calendar this summer. The 10-kilometer race is scheduled for the Fourth of July, and both virtual registration and in-person Kilometer Kids Charity Entry registration are still available. Get ready to be in the best shape of your life this summer.
Attend Atlanta’s summer music festivals
The music festival circuit across the United States is in full swing, and thankfully, local music fans of all varieties won’t have to go far to check out some of the best music festivals this summer. First up is one of the largest free music festivals in the country—the 45th Annual Atlanta Jazz Festival. The three-day, Memorial Day weekend event will be held at Piedmont Park and feature performances from artists such as Kathleen Bertrand, the Kenny Barron Quartet, Rhonda Thomas, Warren Wolf & The Pack, Julie Dexter, Naia Izumi, and more. The Miguel and Erykah Badu-led R&B Only Fest will also take place during Memorial Day Weekend on Saturday, May 28 at Lakewood Amphitheater. In June, the Candler Park Music Festival, the Milk & Cookies Festival, and the ASO’s Concerts in the Park series will all return to Atlanta, and in July, the touring Sad Summer Festival will land at the Coca-Cola Roxy on July 16. Lastly, to close out the summer, local music fans can flock to Grant Park for the Summer Shade Festival on Saturday, August 27 and Sunday, August 28.
Over the past couple of years, the Atlanta Streetwear Market has grown into one of the most popular events in the city. The two-day expo returns on Saturday, July 23 and Sunday, July 24, and the interactive event will feature over 100 streetwear vendors from across the country. Step out in your best gear and get ready to have a great time, whether that means discovering your favorite new local streetwear brand or networking with thousands of creatives at the market.
Downtown & Gwinnett
This is not a drill. For the first time in years, UniverSoul Circus is once again delivering incredibly entertaining shows in front of its hometown crowd. If you somehow have never stepped inside of the big top circus or heard the enthusiastic “UniverSouuuuuuuuuuuul” for yourself, then this is your chance. With the current run at the old Turner Field Gray Lot continuing until June 5, UniverSoul is undoubtedly one of the must-attend events in Atlanta at the start of this summer.
Old Fourth Ward
The Illuminarium’s immersive WILD experience helped the new Atlanta attraction make an incredible debut in 2021, and this summer, its latest multisensory spectacle, O’KEEFFE: One Hundred Flowers, will be the main attraction. The Illuminarium’s new immersive experience transports guests to a virtual garden that’s made up of modernist artist Georgia Totto O'Keeffe’s signature painted flowers. Set against the sonic backdrop of a powerful all-female soundtrack, the forthcoming exhibition will allow guests to interact with gorgeous works from O’Keeffe’s best-selling art book Georgia O'Keeffe: One Hundred Flowers in a fun and immersive way.
Many of the High Museum of Art’s most popular spring exhibitions—such as What Is Left Unspoken, Love and Oliver Jeffers: 15 Years of Picturing Books—will still be on display throughout this summer, and in true HIGH fashion, there will be two new exhibitions debuting in the coming weeks as well. Bob Thompson: This House Is Mine, for example, is a touring survey of American artist Bob Thompson’s works that creatively explore art history and figuration, and it will officially open on June 17 and continue until September 11. Additionally, Off the Grid is set to open later this summer on July 1, and the abstract exhibition will feature works from artists such as Sol LeWitt, Agnes Martin, Ad Reinhardt, and Frank Stella in an attempt to highlight the significance of “the grid” in twentieth-century art. Both of the forthcoming exhibitions will be included in general admission to the High, so make sure you pay Atlanta’s favorite art museum a visit this summer.
Enjoy this summer’s most anticipated theatrical productions
You can’t consider yourself a truly cultured Atlantan if you don’t experience everything that the city has to offer, and that applies to Atlanta’s theater scene as well. This spring, there will be plenty of musicals, plays, and improv shows worth attending, including Disney's Frozen and Mean Girls at the Fox Theatre, The Muse Effect and The Sound of Identity at Out Front Theatre, Hairsprayed and Improv Pop! at RoleCall Theater, and C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. Needles to say, there are a lot of incredible theatrical productions taking place this spring, so don’t miss out.
High gas prices are making it kind of difficult to justify a long out-of-state road trip, but thankfully, in-state getaways like LaGrange are perfect for your next summer adventure. As a small town that secretly harbors everything from a water park to spectacular wineries, these hot months present a great opportunity to hit Troup County city and enjoy everything that it has to offer.
Keep the summer fun going after dark by having a late-night game of miniature golf at Puttshack. The entertaining Atlanta attraction is an upscale, tech-infused mini-golf hangout where you can eat, drink, and compete with friends for putt-putt bragging rights. Puttshack is a 21+ affair every day from 8 pm to midnight (and 1 am on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays), so don’t hesitate to squeeze in some late-night practice sessions and a couple of Puttshack’s incredible cocktails.
Virginia Highlands & Sandy Springs
For an arts experience that is sure to get your creative juices flowing this fall, head over to Splatter Studio. Previously housed at Ponce City Market, the innovative space has expanded to locations in Virginia Highlands and Sandy Springs, and regardless of whether you opt to visit the ITP or OTP location, Splatter Studio will welcome you into space where anything—like literally getting splattered with paint—is possible. Each session at Splatter is one hour long, and each participant gets a disposable poncho, a pair of disposable shoe covers, sterilized gloves and goggles, a 16 x 20-inch canvas, and access to splatter paint. Go unleash your creativity and create a wondrous mess this spring.
If bad allergies are inspiring you to marvel at Georgia’s springtime beauty from the indoors, then a private at-home paint-n-sip is exactly what you need. The Paint Factory is a great Black- and woman-owned mobile paint-n-sip company that regularly hosts themed in-person events, and it also offers private at-home paint-n-sips for those looking for a more intimate art experience. That way, you can still find creative ways to express yourself this spring without having to constantly explain that your allergies are just allergies.
Atlanta and its surrounding areas have no shortage of visually striking outdoor recreation areas, and since this lovely warm weather has finally crept in, now is the perfect time to spend more time outside and appreciate Georgia’s natural beauty. You’ll find that some of the most visually striking places in Georgia—from winding hiking trails to breathtaking natural landmarks—look incredible during the spring, so use that as an excuse to get some fresh air and explore the Peach State’s most astonishing outdoor areas.
Six Flags Over Georgia is officially back open, and on weekends and select dates throughout March, April, and May, adrenaline junkies can return to the most thrilling place in the Metro Atlanta area. The park is also offering cool new ticket packages like the 2022 Thrill Seeker Pass, a $69.99 pass that includes access to Six Flags Over Georgia and Six Flags White Water on select dates, general parking, a single-use Skip The Line pass, rewards, and two specialty rate tickets for friends and family. The 2022 Extreme Pass and the 2022 Ultimate Pass include even more discounts and perks, but regardless of whether you want to commit to a season pass or a one-day ticket, you can always still expect to have a great time at Six Flags.
Atlanta has a reputation for having some of the most difficult and well-produced escape rooms in the South, and one of the most exciting ones that you can experience is The Escape Game at The Battery. With captivating games ranging from breaking out of prison to executing a museum heist, The Escape Game boasts several challenges that will test your wits and deductive reasoning skills, and the entertaining Battery attraction’s latest escape game—an underwater challenge set inside of a submarine—is one of its best. Players are tasked with completing “forbidden research” in the submerged laboratory, and while going through the hour-long game, they will experience boundary-pushing sound and lighting design, interactive video, and immersive technology. Give it a shot this spring, and even if you don’t escape the puzzle before time runs out, you’ll at least get a cool submarine photo out of the experience.
With the arrival of a new season, the Atlanta Botanical Garden has transformed once again, and over the next few months, guests will be able to marvel at the beloved attraction’s new art installations. Over the course of the summer, there will be two compelling art-infused nature exhibitions at the garden—Joseph Genova Floral Paintings (on display until July 17) and Origami in the Garden (on display until October 16). Take advantage of this gorgeous summer weather and enjoy a stroll through the garden while checking out one of the Atlanta Botanical Garden’s incredible exhibitions or events.
Book a movie theater all to yourself
One of the coolest pandemic-inspired innovations has been the private screening specials offered by local theaters, and following the grand opening of Silverspot Cinema last year, there’s no better way to get familiar with Atlanta’s newest movie theater. Theater rentals are available at Silverspot Cinema—as well as other great local theaters like Plaza Theatre, Landmark's Midtown Art Cinema, and the Springs Cinema & Taphouse—and renters have the option to watch a flick from their preferred streaming app or Silverspot’s current lineup. This summer, blockbusters like Top Gun: Maverick, Jurassic World Dominion, Thor: Love and Thunder, Elvis, The Black Phone, Nope, and more are hitting the big screen, so book a private screening at Silverspot Cinema for a dynamic, one-of-a-kind viewing experience.