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26 Unique Things to Do in Marietta, Georgia – By a Local

Fountain in Marietta GA

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It seems like a lifetime ago now, but I used to spend my weekends relaxing on Marietta Square, hiking its trails, and exploring the whimsical shops downtown. Then, I relocated to the other side of Atlanta and found new haunts to enjoy. Going back to Marietta was a fascinating experience. I remember it as it was, but I also got to enjoy it as it is now. In fact, I’m going to tell you 26 things you can see or do on your visit to Marietta, Georgia. 

What is Marietta, Georgia, Known For?

Marietta, Georgia, is the county seat for Cobb County. It’s known for having not one but FIVE National Register Historic Districts! This southern city is a close drive to Atlanta but still manages to maintain a vibrant small-town community feel. It’s also known for The Big Chicken, but that’s a story for later in this article. 

26 Unique Things to Do in Marietta, GA

Glover Machine Works Locomotive -Photo by Crystal Jackson

There’s so much to see and do in Marietta, Georgia, that this is merely a tip of the iceberg. I couldn’t fit in every single attraction in a day, but you could easily plan several local day trips, a weekend getaway, or a whole week’s vacation and never run out of entertainment. Let’s dive in, shall we?

1. Shop Marietta Square

Marietta Square — Photo by Crystal Jackson

I drove directly to Marietta Square on my visit. Parking is free and plentiful in the area, and I was able to snag a space right beside a bookstore. This has always been my favorite part of visiting Marietta. In my pre-child days, I would take my dog with me to the Square. We would walk, window shop, and select a restaurant where we could sit outside and dine. Marietta is incredibly dog friendly. 

These days, I have two children who wanted to accompany me on this trip, so I got to see this charming southern town through their eyes. They enjoyed wandering the Square, peeking in store windows, and even browsing an old-fashioned candy shop. Even though this has a vibrant small community feel to it, the Square is fairly extensive, and you could easily spend hours wandering the shops downtown. 

2. See a Show at Earl and Rachel Smith Strand Theatre

The Strand-Photo by Crystal Jackson

The Strand is a popular theatre right on Marietta Square. It’s been there as long as I can remember. These days, it operates as a theatre for both films and live performances. For instance, it’s offering showings of It’s a Wonderful Life and When Harry Met Sally right now. Comedy shows, cover bands, and even a Yuletide Ball are all featured events. Events are ever-changing, but if you visit Marietta, you’ll want to see what’s playing at The Strand.

3. Hike Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park

By Lonesome Crow — Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

Kennesaw Mountain might be known as a Civil War battlefield, but residents and visitors appreciate it for its hiking trails and views. From the top of the mountain, you can see all the way to the city of Atlanta.

For those who don’t enjoy a challenging hike, you can drive to the top on weekdays or take a trolley to the top on weekends to enjoy the view. 

4. Read in a Cozy Corner in The Reading Attic

The Reading Attic — Photo by Crystal Jackson

It’s hard for me to travel to any town and not immediately sniff out the nearest bookstore. As a lifelong reader, I have a sincere appreciation for bookshops, and independent ones are often the best. I climbed the steep staircase into The Reading Attic in Marietta to find several well-appointed rooms filled with books.

Many years ago, this was a tea shop. I thought it was a beautiful shop then, but it’s even more perfectly appointed as a bookstore. My children immediately found the room with children’s books while I wandered into the romance and fiction section across the way.

If anyone had come across me that day, they might have found me inhaling the scent of books with a beatific smile on my face. My daughter added to her Goosebumps collection while I added another holiday romance to my winter reading list. If you find yourself on Marietta Square, stop in and choose your next read. 

5. Visit the Marietta Cobb Museum of Art

Art enthusiasts will want to check out the American art on display at the Marietta Cobb Museum of Art. This museum focuses on American artists with the theme “Building Community Through Art.” Admission is $8 for adults and $5 for students and seniors.

There is a military discount for admission, and children under six are free to enter. You’ll certainly want to visit here in October when they host Chalktoberfest. It’s a festival that focuses on craft beer, good food, and watching artists create chalk masterpieces all over Marietta Square. 

6. Take a Black Heritage Walking Tour

Marietta GA Welcome center
Marietta Welcome Center — Photo by Crystal Jackson

History fans will want to take a self-guided Black Heritage Walking Tour of downtown Marietta. There are 13 important historical landmarks that educate and celebrate Black History. These sites mark important events from the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement. Marietta is rich in history and museums that highlight it, but you won’t get a full picture of the community’s heritage until you’ve taken this walking tour. 

7. Play at Catch Air

Catch Air, Marietta GA
Catch Air — Photo by Crystal Jackson

How do you get two young children to agree to a day of travel blogging? You offer a bribe, of course! If you’re traveling to Marietta with young children, there are a few places you need to know about for your sanity. Let them run out some energy at my children’s personal favorite play place, Catch Air. It’s undergone a lot of changes in the last few years, but my children offered the following review: “I miss the old Catch Air, but this one is even better!”

Moms rest while kids play — Photo by Crystal Jackson, featuring Crystal Jackson

There are slides, tunnels, trampolines, ball pits, obstacle courses, climbing walls, and more all around this ample play space, and there’s even a section for toddlers to play.

Best of all, there’s Wi-Fi for parents who are happy to enjoy a few minutes of peace while their children play their hearts out in this family-friendly facility. It’s easily one of our favorite stops any time we’re in Marietta.

Plus, it’s conveniently located near Monster Mini Golf, which I’ll tell you about shortly. If you’re not traveling with children, you might have little interest in the child-friendly stops along the route, but as a parent, I am grateful any time I can find easy entertainment for my kids as well as points of interest I’ll enjoy. 

8. Visit the William Root House Museum & Garden

William Root House Museum & Garden — Photo by Crystal Jackson

If you want to explore the oldest house in Marietta, Georgia, you’re in luck. The William Root House Museum and Garden is available for tours. In fact, it’s a fully self-guided tour using touchscreens throughout the grounds.

It was built in 1845 for a merchant and druggist. The Root family owned the home from 1845 to 1886. You can see period antiques, a medicinal garden, and more on your visit.

Plus, if you visit their website, you can see digitally enhanced photos of William and Hannah Root that make it seem like they’re looking right at you. You’ll also find information at the Root House about enslaved individuals who lived and worked there for a complete picture of life at that time in history. 

9. Tour the Marietta History Center

Marietta History Center — Photo by Crystal Jackson

You’ll find the Marietta History Center on Marietta Square. On the third Saturday of every month from 10 am to 4 pm, you can visit for free and enjoy family activities.

Otherwise, admission is $10 for adults and $7 for students and seniors. Members, children, active military, and veterans all qualify for free admission. A guided tour is $10. You can learn all about the history of the area on your visit and even visit the museum store for souvenirs to commemorate the day. 

10. Take a Selfie at the Big Chicken

The Big Chicken — Photo by Crystal Jackson

At the intersection of Cobb Parkway and Roswell Road, you’ll find The Big Chicken. In fact, you can’t miss it. It’s a 56-foot-tall chicken with a moving beak and eyes.

It was built in 1963 for Johnny Reb’s Chick-Chuck-‘N’-Shake, but these days, it’s a Kentucky Fried Chicken location. It was restored in 1993 and renovated again in 2017 to add a voice to the chicken. You won’t just find buckets of chicken inside. You’ll also find a gift shop with souvenirs.

You can’t go to Marietta without at least driving by The Big Chicken, and if you ask for directions, you can be sure that the chicken will be casually mentioned as a landmark along the way to get anywhere in Marietta. 

11. Take a Marietta Food Tour

Let’s be honest — taking kids who only eat chicken nuggets, pizza, and hot dogs to a food tour just might be a waste. However, going on a food tour is one of my favorite things to do when I travel alone or in the company of adults.

If you find yourself in Marietta, consider booking with Marietta Food Tours. You can try the best of the best of local dining while learning about the history and architecture of the area. Best of all, you won’t have to choose between the restaurants. Your tour guides will make sure you sample the best Marietta has to offer. 

12. See a Show at Marietta New Theatre in the Square

Marietta Theatre in the Square — Photo by Crystal Jackson

Marietta’s Theatre in the Square hosts professional theater performances, comedians, musical acts, and more. This intimate theater can seat 220 people and prides itself on community theater with a melanated focus.

It even offers theatrical classes for children and adults. While you’re visiting Marietta, check the schedule to see if you’ll be visiting in time to catch a show at the Theatre in the Square. 

13. Have a Cookie at Gabriel’s Bakery

Gabriel’s — Photo by Crystal Jackson

I wasn’t surprised to see that Gabriel’s is still around, but I was happy to see that my favorite cookie there still featured in the display case.

To make a very long story short, their snickerdoodles once transported me back through time. I took a bite into the cookie, and I was suddenly five years old again, sitting in my kindergarten class with a cookie the size of my hand in one hand and an ice-cold chocolate milk carton in the other.

I’d gone my entire life chasing that exact sensory experience without knowing it. You can stop here for lunch, but I recommend at least grabbing a cookie even if you plan to dine elsewhere. They also have a full selection of other baked goods. 

But the cookies … excuse me, I think I need a minute.

Okay, we can carry on now.

14. Have an Adventure at Andretti Indoor Karting & Games

Andretti Indoor Karting & Games — Photo by Crystal Jackson

My son is an avid fan of all things Mario Kart, so of course we had to stop at Andretti Indoor Karting & Games. This place is enormous! It has child-sized bowling lanes, an expansive arcade, virtual reality options, laser tag, and both child and adult indoor go-karts. My kids both wanted to race. The friendly staff set them up with helmets and gave them a crash course, so to speak, in driving the go-karts. It was a lot of fun for them, and it was fun for me to watch. 

Andretti indoor go-karts— Photo by Crystal Jackson

Afterward, my daughter tried the virtual reality experience and had a snowball fight with a Yeti, and then we all went into the laser tag experience together where they found out that their mom will shoot them with lasers if they don’t make a run for it.

I would rate this stop as fun for all ages. Anyone can enjoy the go-karts, virtual reality, and arcade games, but I would recommend purchasing one of the packages to save a little money on your visit. You’ll find Andretti down by The Big Chicken. 

15. Visit Mountasia Family Fun Center

Mountasia is one of those places that reminds me of being a kid again. It’s a family entertainment center that features a mini golf course, go-karts, and an arcade room. It reminds me of a place in Tennessee I used to go to growing up. While it’s a great place to take kids, it’s just as fun for adults. In fact, this would be a fun and casual date night location in Marietta. 

16. Explore the Marietta Fire Museum

The Marietta Fire Museum is a great place to learn about the history of the Marietta Fire Department. You’ll find exhibits featuring the tools of the trade all the way back to the 1800s.

The museum features a horse-drawn steam-powered pump from 1879, one of the first motorized fire trucks in Georgia, and one of the highest reaching ladders on a fire truck in the northern part of the state.

Admission to the museum is free, and if I hadn’t thoroughly exhausted my children walking all over the city of Marietta, we certainly would have stopped here to have a look around. 

17. Take a Ghost Tour with Ghosts of Marietta

Many years ago, I went on a ghost tour of Marietta. If I remember correctly, it was actually with one of the paranormal groups you’ve likely seen featured on television at some point.

It was long ago, but I remember listening to the recordings long after the tour ended to see if we managed to catch an electronic voice phenomemon, or EVP. Spoiler alert: we did not. However, we did have a great time ghost hunting.

While in Marietta, take a ghost tour with Ghosts of Marietta. It’s not possible to have an area this rich in history without also having a ghost story or two. 

18. Visit the Marietta Gone with the Wind Museum

The Marietta Gone with the Wind Museum used to be located on Marietta Square but has since moved to Historic Brumby Hall. Fans of both the book and movie will want to explore this notable collection of memorabilia. You’ll find some pretty rare items in this museum, including original costumes from the film. I was there years ago in its previous location, and I can assure you that the collection is impressive! 

19. See a Game at Truist Park

Although I visited the city outside of baseball season, I would still recommend a trip to Truist Park if you find yourself in Marietta. It’s surrounded by The Battery, where you’ll find tons of shops and restaurants. However, if you’re fortunate enough to visit during baseball season, you’ll want to get tickets to an Atlanta Braves game during your visit. It’s a local experience you really don’t want to miss!

20. Visit Six Flags White Water/The World of Illumination

At the Six Flags White Water location, which you’ll definitely want to visit in Marietta if it’s in the summer season, you’ll find the World of Illumination, an outdoor, drive-through holiday light display.

If you’re here during the winter season, you’ll want to drive through and marvel at the amazing lights here, but in the summer, you’ll find water slides, wave pools, and more. Either way, you should probably add this destination to your itinerary.

21. Enjoy a Holiday Pop-Up

Hamp & Harry’s Grinch Pop-Up — Photo by Crystal Jackson

I love a good holiday pop-up. If you haven’t been to one yet, Marietta is offering several during the holiday season. Just keep in mind that they will likely change themes each year. During the 2023 holiday season, you can enjoy dinner and a movie at the Home Alone Christmas Pop-Up at Marietta Melt Yard.

You can also sip a Grinch Cocktail at Hamp & Harry’s, or enjoy live music, cocktails, and a Christmas Vacation Theme at The Third Door. Choose to embrace joy with Two Birds Taphouse Candy Cane Forest Elf Pop-Up. While I would have loved to visit every single one of them, my children voted for their current favorite, Home Alone. 

Although this can be fun for children, it’s equally fun for adults and would make a great date night outing or friend meetup. These pop-ups are only available during the holiday season, but they’re definitely worth a stop if you happen to find yourself in Marietta at the holidays. While the themes will eventually end with the end of the season, the nightlife will still be there for you to visit. 

Hamp & Harry’s — Photo by Crystal Jackson

22. See a Show at the Georgia Metropolitan Dance Theatre and The Georgia Ballet

Georgia Metropolitan Dance Theatre — Photo by Crystal Jackson

If you’re in Marietta, consider seeing a show with the Georgia Metropolitan Dance Theatre or the Georgia Ballet. They have shows throughout the year, and you’ll want to check their schedules to see if they coincide with your visit.

There’s so much artistic talent in this community, and you won’t want to miss out on seeing everything Marietta has to offer. Allow yourself to be enchanted with a dance performance during your stay.

23. Relax and Regroup at Glover Park

Glover Park — Photo by Crystal Jackson

Glover Park sits directly in the center of Marietta Square. It has a small stage, a gazebo, a water fountain, a playground, and more. You’ll even find an exact replica of the Liberty Bell. It’s the perfect stop to sit and people watch or to have a picnic lunch. We used this as a place to relax and regroup before finding the next destination on our list. 

24. Play a Round at Monster Mini Golf

Monster Mini Golf — Photo by Crystal Jackson

Conveniently located near Catch Air, you’ll find Monster Mini Golf. We were running out of hours in the day, and I still had to make it through Atlanta traffic to get home and bake cupcakes for my daughter’s class the next day.

Otherwise, we would absolutely have played a round of golf here. Instead, we poked our heads inside to see the glow of arcades and a mini golf course. This monster-themed mini golf location is the perfect rainy-day destination — or just a great place to let your little monsters play. Because we didn’t get to go this time, we’re just using it as an excuse to go there sometime in the future.

25. Have Lunch at Marietta Square Market

If you’ve ever traveled with other people, you already know that it can be hard to pick a place to eat when everyone is craving something different. Marietta Square Market is the perfect lunch destination when this happens.

Inside, you’ll find a bunch of different eateries to choose from. You can take your food to one of the cafeteria-style tables or sit outside on the patio or at the picnic tables in the parking lot. I was salivating at the smell of barbecue, but my children were ready for go-kart racing at the time and rushed me out before I could try some. 

26. Visit the Marietta Diner

The Marietta Diner is an iconic retro dining experience that’s been around since 1995. You have to see it to believe it. It’s neon exterior will draw you in, but once you’re inside, you’ll be trapped by the extensive menu, which will have you salivating over its offerings.

Honestly, the hardest part of any trip to the Marietta Diner isn’t the wait for your food — it’s deciding what you want to eat in the first place. You’ll also want to check out the extensive dessert cases. This is the kind of place that offers a little of anything and everything with a retro backdrop. If nothing else, grab a dessert to go! 

Your Visit to Marietta

Marietta Square — Photo by Crystal Jackson

Honestly, there are only so many hours in the day. Some of these attractions are only a few miles apart, but you’ll want to factor in Marietta traffic between stops.

If I had more time, I could tell you about axe throwing gyms, escape rooms, and the many shops and restaurants you’ll find in the area. Instead, I’ll tell you that any trip can be planned to suit your particular interests. 

The most important part of a trip to Marietta isn’t seeing every single unique thing to do along the way but enjoying whatever it is you do choose to see.

Keep an open mind, and make room for the city to surprise you with destinations you never even planned on. Stay safe out there on your journey, and don’t forget to say a quick hello to the Big Chicken.

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