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Atlanta

Margaret Mitchell likely wouldn't recognize modern-day Atlanta, with its sprawling highways and towering skyscrapers (a few of which now dwarf the home where she wrote her famous novel "Gone With the Wind"). But the enterprising spirit that drove the city's recovery after the Civil War, embodied so vividly by Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler, is also what has made Atlanta into the dynamic metropolis it is today.

Visitors to the city will find world-class attractions like the Georgia Aquarium, the High Museum of Art and the Inside CNN studio tour -- and more are on the way. Expected to open over the next few years in Atlanta are the College Football Hall of Fame (relocating from South Bend, Indiana) and the brand-new National Center for Civil and Human Rights.

Despite all these modern developments, Atlanta hasn't left its past behind. Many of its earliest buildings were destroyed when Civil War General Sherman left Atlanta in flames, but the city is still home to a number of historically significant buildings from more recent eras, many of which have been saved from demolition and restored. You can see them throughout Atlanta, from the 1920's-era Fox Theatre to the gracious Victorian mansions of Inman Park. One must-see historical stop is the area of Auburn Avenue surrounding Martin Luther King, Jr.'s childhood home (now a National Historic Park). This thriving African-American neighborhood was a vital nexus of the 1960's Civil Rights Movement.

Atlanta's public transportation system, MARTA, offers rail and bus service around the region, but to reach some of the attractions and restaurants recommended below, you may find it easier to rent a car.

--written by Sarah Schlichter

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