Movies, books, and songs to capture the essence of Atlanta and get you in the mood for travel
Gone With the Wind (1939)
The screen adaptation of Margaret Mitchell’s epic Civil War novel premiered in Atlanta. The film, which originally ran six hours in length and used some 2,400 extras, introduced to the world the concept of movie blockbuster and was trailblazing for its depiction of controversial subjects like slavery, drunkenness, and the ravages of love.
Driving Miss Daisy (1989)
This Oscar-winning film about race, religion, age, and the politics of friendship, starred the unlikely duo of Jessica Tandy and Morgan Freeman. It was filmed mostly in the Druid Hills neighborhood of Atlanta.
Fried Green Tomatoes (1991)
While much of this Oscar-nominated chick flick—which starred Kathy Bates, Mary-Louise Parker, Mary Stuart Masterson, and Jessica Tandy—was filmed in nearby Juliette, several scenes were filmed in Atlanta, including at Agnes Scott College in Decatur.
American Beauty (1999)
Although this Oscar-winning movie was shot in Los Angeles, screenwriter Alan Ball grew up in nearby Marietta and his overt disdain for suburbia became the hilarious backdrop for the sad, sharp decline of the Burnham family.
Directed by Chris Robinson, better known for overseeing music videos by Jay-Z, Mary J. Blige, and Usher, ATL chronicles the trials of four inner-city Atlanta teens who face the unknown abyss of life after high school. With a killer hip-hop soundtrack and a line-up of fine young actors, this coming of age story unfolds at Cascade, a roller-skating rink that epitomizes the safety net the friends are all about to leave. Winner of four Black Movie Awards, the film is shot throughout Atlanta, including a Waffle House, the Druid Hills Golf Club, and a local shopping center.
Dukes of Hazzard (1979-1985)
This hit show followed cousins Bo and Luke Duke as they sought justice against shady County Commissioner Boss Hogg and his bumbling sheriff, Rosco P. Coltrane. Assisted by their orange 1969 Dodge Charger (“The General Lee”), the Dukes splayed red Georgia clay as they set to do right by the citizens of fictitious Hazzard County. Shot in and around Atlanta.
Uncle Remus; His Songs and His Sayings. The Folk-Lore of the Old Plantation, by Joel Chandler Harris (1880)
Based on African-American oral history, the folktales of Uncle Remus follow the trickster Br’er Rabbit and other characters the author picked up from hearing plantation stories as a child. Harris was a white newspaper journalist whose home, Wren’s Nest, is now a National Historic Site.
Gone With the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell (1936)
Mitchell won the Pulitzer Prize for her epic Civil War novel, which became one of the best-selling books of all time. Written while the journalist convalesced at her home on Peachtree Street (now the Margaret Mitchell House and Museum), the story takes place in Tara, protagonist Scarlett O’Hara’s fictional home, and in war-ravaged Atlanta.
Where Peachtree Meets Sweet Auburn: A Saga of Race and Family, by Gary Pomerantz (1996)
Historical nonfiction that follows the multi-generational history of two eminent Atlanta families—one white, one black—from the Civil War to the 1996 Olympics.
A Man in Full, by Tom Wolfe (1998)
This satirical portrayal from the author of The Bonfire of the Vanities is the sweeping tale of Charlie Croker, an Atlanta football star turned real estate mogul who suffers from a bad case of good old boy machismo. The story plunges into the weedy depths of Atlanta society, race, politics, and culture.
The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr., by Clayborne Carson (1998)
Posthumous biography of the civil rights hero written by Clayborne Carson, renowned Stanford University historian, who effectively pieced together thousands of King’s writings, speeches, and sermons to create this definitive biography.
Indigo Girls, Indigo Girls (1989)
Decatur natives Emily Saliers and Amy Ray began jamming together in elementary school. They both graduated from Emory University and still call Atlanta home. This Grammy-winning, self-titled album launched the duo with such hits as “Closer to Fine.”
Jermaine Dupri Presents Life in 1472, Jermaine Dupri (1998)
Jermaine Dupri grew up in the predominantly African-American Atlanta suburb of College Park. Widely considered for his accomplishments as a producer—from Kris Kross to TLC and Usher—his groovy 1998 solo album proved his talent as a rap artist.
Back for the First Time, Ludacris (2000)
A former Atlanta disc jockey, Ludacris is one of the cultural icons behind the “Dirty South” style of rap. This 2000 album produced the hits “What’s Your Fantasy” and “Southern Hospitality.”
ATLiens, OutKast (1996)
Atlanta natives Antwan Patton (Big Boi) and Andre Benjamin (Dre or Andre 3000) formed OutKast as teenagers in the mid-1990s. The duo is widely considered as one of the most influential hip-hop groups of all time. This 1996 album is packed with singles, like “Elevators (Me & You).”
Out of Time, R.E.M. (1991)
R.E.M. began as a college band while its members, including lead singer Michael Stipe, attended the University of Georgia in nearby Athens. Known for its innovations in alternative rock, R.E.M. released this 1991 album and shot to the top of Billboard charts with hits like “Losing My Religion.”
Some excellent musicians pass through Atlanta and a surprising number feel inspired to write songs. Interestingly, they are often about coming or going, which is in keeping with the city’s history as a transportation hub.
- “85” by YoungBloodZ
- “Atlanta Bound” by Gene Autry
- “Atlanta Song” by David Allan Coe
- “Georgia on My Mind” by Hoagy Carmichael
- “Hot ’Lanta” by Allman Brothers Band
- “I'm On My Way to Atlanta” by Freddie King
- “Midnight Train To Georgia” by Gladys Knight & the Pips
- “Oh Atlanta” by Little Feat
- “Welcome to Atlanta” by Jermaine Dupri
- “Why Georgia” by John Mayer
2016 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest
Show us your best photos of nature, cities, and people from your travels around the world.