Atlanta’s number one tourist attraction is the inspirational and educational Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site. It encompasses almost 35 acres and contains the home in which Dr. King was born and spent the first twelve years of his life, the King Center, the Ebenezer Baptist Church where he preached, the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame, monuments, landmarks, memorial gardens, the first desegregated firehouse in the American South, Dr. King and his wife’s tomb and a visitor’s center.
It is an intricate site with myriads of important things to see, so some wise planning is essential. Here is how we at BUCKiTDREAM recommend you do the most inspiring Martin Luther King, Jr. tour of Atlanta.
Getting to the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site If you are driving, get to Interstate 20 East or West and take the exit onto Interstate 75/85. From Interstate 75/85 North or South take exit 248C onto Freedom Parkway. At the traffic lights turn right onto Boulevard NE, and make an immediate right turn at the next set of traffic lights onto John Wesley Dobbs Avenue. The Historic Site visitor car park is on the left.
Two MARTA bus routes connect to the site: the #3 route between Martin Luther King Jr. Drive/Auburn Avenue and the MARTA Five Points station, and the #99 route between Boulevard/Monroe Drive and the Midtown and Georgia State stations.
The Atlanta Streetcar provides a direct connection to the site. From downtown take the North line to the Peachtree Center station, exit the station and catch the Atlanta Streetcar at the Peachtree Center stop, located on Peachtree Street near Ellis Street. Take the streetcar to the King Historic District stop.
Suggested Route Around the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site Walk along the Civil Rights Walk of Fame, past the statue of Gandhi, and arrive at the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site Visitor Center. Admission to the center (as with all of the site) is completely free. At the Visitor’s Center, you can learn about everything that you are about to go and explore.
When you exit the Visitor’s Center, take a stroll through the International World Peace Rose Garden on your way to the Ebenezer Baptist Church (Heritage Sanctuary). This splendid church is one of the quintessential iconic relics from American history. Dr. King’s grandfather, Rev. A.D. Williams, served as pastor here, as did his father, Rev. Martin Luther King, Sr. Dr. King, Jr. served as co-pastor here alongside his father from 1960 until his assassination in 1968. The church has been carefully restored to its 1960 – 68-period glory.
On leaving the church, walk east on Auburn and enter the King Center’s outdoor campus. Here you will find the engraved, Georgia marble crypt of Dr. King and his wife, The Eternal Flame monument which represents the continuing fight for world peace, justice and equality for all, Freedom Walkway and the Reflecting Pool.
Just past the Reflecting Pool, you will come to The King Center. The Center is a base for the world-changing teachings of radical, non-violent resistance, which is still very much alive and well and resonating today. Here you will find exhibitions, interesting events and programs, art and creative works from Africa and Georgia, and a large auditorium and theater. It is a very well-organized space and contains lots of inspirational original audio/visual material, as well as written manuscripts by Dr. King.
In order to do the guided tour of Dr. King’s birth home, which we highly recommend, you will need to book your place by registering, on the day, at the King Center. The tours operate on a first come, first served basis, and each tour is for a maximum of 15 people – so stake your claim ASAP.
The King Center is open every day from 9 am – 5 pm (and until 6 pm during the summer months). It is only closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
On your way to the King birth home, you will pass Firehouse No. 6, which was one of the first desegregated firehouses in the American South.
Last, but certainly not least, (at whatever time you managed to book your free reservation) it’s time to visit Dr. King’s Birth Home at 501 Auburn Avenue. Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on January 15, 1929, in this little house, which was the home of his grandparents. He lived here until the age of twelve with his grandparents, parents, siblings, and various other family members. There is an atmosphere in this house that is both inspiring and humbling. You feel an energy that is poignant and very hopeful. It is a fascinating time capsule and a place where genuine, world-changing magic took place. The birth home tour is not to be missed!
So, that is our BUCKiTDREAM suggestion of how to do the most inspiring Martin Luther King, Jr. tour of Atlanta. While you are exploring this wonderful place don’t forget to share your heart-warming experiences on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter and use the hashtag #BUCKiTDREAM.