Young woman and a Little Girl Celebrating at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day Event

4 ways to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Atlanta

Honor Dr. King's dream with service, self-education, and community solidarity.

On Jan. 15, the country will pause in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. But this isn’t just a day off. It’s an opportunity to reflect and build upon the legacy of an enduring civil rights leader. 

Atlanta offers a unique and meaningful backdrop for celebrating; as the birthplace of Dr. King, there is no shortage of events to commemorate the iconic leader. This guide will help you identify the best way to pay homage to Dr. King, from historical site tours to community events, service opportunities, and workshops.

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Volunteer for a day of service 

What better way to honor the man who dedicated his life to social and racial change than to give back? MLK Day is a federal holiday designated as a National Day of Service, a concept that has grown in participation and impact in recent years. 

Hands-On Atlanta has one of the most expansive day-of-service efforts. The organization’s website features over 100 projects from Jan. 11 – 15, sponsored by 40 nonprofits and schools. Volunteers are needed to support mobile food pantry efforts, forest restoration, youth workshops, and more. You can also volunteer at Dr. King’s alma mater, Morehouse College, or support AmeriCorps day-of-service activities. The AmeriCorps volunteer engagement portal can connect you to numerous projects in your community. Search by zip code and select the MLK Day opportunity that interests you.

Attend an informational summit or historic site tour

Most of us have heard Dr. King’s historic “I Have a Dream” speech. We’ve read the letter he wrote from Birmingham Jail and are knowledgeable about his role in the Montgomery Bus Boycott in support of Rosa Parks. But there’s still much to learn about the man whose resilience and perseverance helped change the nation. MLK Day is the perfect time to deepen your understanding.

Visit Martin Luther King, Jr. Historical Park, where you can take a tour (according to staff levels, so please call ahead) of Ebenezer Baptist, where Dr. King was a congregant and co-pastor, or the historic Fire Station No. 6, which now operates as a museum. MLK Day is also a fee-free day for all National Park Service sites, so you and your family can visit at no cost. 

The National Center for Civil and Human Rights is another resourceful place to visit. The interactive museum offers exhibits showcasing the struggles and triumphs of the civil and human rights movements. You can also register for King Weekend at the Center, which takes place from Jan. 12 to Jan. 15, to see a new exhibit from the Morehouse College Martin Luther King, Jr. Collection or participate in the new Truth on the Rocks program.

Many organizations also host panel discussions, workshops, and community dialogues on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. For instance, the King Center’s Beloved Community Global Summit is a free, two-day virtual event focusing on shifting the global cultural climate. You’ll engage in meaningful conversations and walk away with a commitment to collective responsibility.

Large Crowd Running a 5K Marathon on MLK Day

Run a 5k to promote health and community spirit

Lace up your running shoes and join the MLK Day 5K Drum Run, an annual event combining fitness and celebration. This family-friendly run takes participants through the historic Sweet Auburn district, offering a unique way to pay homage to Dr. King’s contributions, bringing together diverse individuals and communities to celebrate shared values, contribute to a cause, and reinforce a commitment to social justice. The 3.1-mile course will also have a drumline, providing runners with a soundtrack for the experience.

Show your pride at an MLK Day parade

If you want to celebrate with music and dancing, check out one of the MLK Day parades, which are some of the highlights of the festivities in Atlanta. You’ll find everything from resounding drums, high-executing marching bands, and beautiful floats carrying waving patrons. Throughout the region, you can find a parade nearby, including:

  • The community-favorite Gwinnett County MLK Parade starts at 11 a.m. at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center, with a celebration immediately following at the Central Gwinnett High School. Make sure to get there early, as this event typically draws a sizeable crowd. 

In commemorating Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Atlanta, we are not merely observing a historical figure but contributing to history in the making. The city’s rich tapestry of events contributes to the ever-evolving story of unity, justice, and equality. As we prepare to celebrate the day, let us take a collective step forward, not just in remembrance but in the spirit of progress. 

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Dog and owner sitting at an outdoor table

8 most dog-friendly patios in Phoenix

There’s no need for your four-legged BFF to stay home alone.

Phoenix is known for being a dog-friendly town — it’s normal to see pups on leashes milling around Biltmore Fashion Park, Scottsdale Quarter, Kierland Commons, and at a slew of local resorts. But there are even more places you can bring your dog besides these shopping centers, hotel properties, and various dog parks: restaurants with awesome patios.

Some of the most popular restaurants in the Valley with dog-friendly patios include:

O.H.S.O. Brewery

Spent grain from the restaurant’s craft brewing process at the Arcadia location is used to make homemade biscuits, so you and your dog can nibble on the same treat while you kick back on the perfect patio. The locations in Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Paradise Valley all welcome your canines as you enjoy craft brews and great happy hour deals. 

The Sicilian Butcher

This neighborhood restaurant (with locations in Phoenix, Peoria, and Chandler) developed by celebrity chef Joey Maggiore is centered on a build-your-own meatball meal experience with hand-rolled meatballs made daily (what dog can resist?), made-from-scratch pasta, and Sicilian-style charcuterie boards. 

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Birdcall

Birdcall in Phoenix has a great dog-friendly patio where you can enjoy a chicken sandwich or tenders and offers whipped cream pup cups served with a bone-shaped baked peanut butter dog treat. The spacious outdoor patio has misters to keep you cool even during the dog days of summer and a vibrant Instagram-worthy mural. 

Eat Up Drive In

Feel at home while dining at this quaint restaurant, relaxing on its shaded patio with picnic tables large enough to fit the whole family. You can indulge in prime dip sandwiches, braised BBQ short ribs, and mac and cheese; your four-legged friend will drool over their special dog menu of wood-grilled beef patties, chicken breast, steak, and Good Boi Treats from local vendors. 

FEZ

This restaurant and bar exudes contemporary, mid century-modern décor while serving American fare with Moroccan flare. It’s known for award-winning cuisine, and the strongest and biggest martinis downtown, and its location on Central is just steps from Roosevelt Row. 

Postino WineCafé 

There’s no better deal in town than Postino’s early week special: Monday or Tuesday after 8 p.m., get any house bottle of wine plus a board of bruschetta for around $20. And for your pooch, there are endless water bowl refills and plenty of affection. There are five dog-friendly locations throughout the Greater Phoenix region, all occupying trendily restored neighborhood buildings. 

Cibo Pizzeria

Want to pretend you’re in Italy for a few hours? The Neapolitan-style pizza at Cibo will definitely transport your taste buds — and the lush patio experience under the trees and globe lights will make your dog happy, too. Between the ambiance and wine options, you’ll both want to stay a while in this slice of urban respite.  

The Farm Kitchen at The Farm at South Mountain

Soak up some sunny weather on a delicious picnic you don’t have to pack yourself. The Farm Kitchen provides a fresh basket of food, picnic tables, and beautiful scenery for your pup to frolic in. Leashed dogs are welcome to sit with you in the farm’s pecan grove (save room for dessert, as the pecan pie is made from scratch). 

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Woman Strolling Through an Art Gallery

Just 7 interesting facts that show ATL has always been a cultural juggernaut

The South has always had something to say.

Atlanta was recently ranked the most creative city in the U.S., which is no surprise to those who have immersed themselves in the music festivals, art galleries, and creative spaces that dot the city. Yet for all of Atlanta’s recent recognition, there have always been creative firsts and momentous arts moments in the city, spanning decades and genres. We look at a few fun facts that reflect just a portion of the deep arts foundation that helped make Atlanta the cultural juggernaut it is today.

Atlanta had its own Woodstock moments.

On July Fourth weekend in 1969, just two months before Woodstock, the Atlanta International Pop Festival brought iconic performers like Led Zeppelin, Sweetwater, The Staple Singers, Janis Joplin, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Booker T. and the M.G.’s, and more. Unlike the breakdowns that occurred at Woodstock, the event went off without a hitch. According to the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, The Atlanta Journal Constitution’s headline from the event was “Music Fans Stay Orderly Despite Heat, Wine, Drugs.” The following year, the event returned, and Jimi Hendrix even played a version of his iconic “The Star-Spangled Banner” while fireworks illuminated the performance. 

Large Crowd of People Passionately Singing Along at an Outdoor Music Festival

Atlanta is more punk than you might think. 

While Atlanta is perhaps best known for southern rock and hip-hop, other genres have always percolated in the creative scene, though not always to the same fanfare. Sure, the Sex Pistols played their first U.S. show right here in Atlanta in 1978, which is a notable first but hardly the only one. Other local groups — including RuPaul’s entry into the entertainment world via an early ‘80s Atlanta-based punk band — helped shape the cultural scene. Clubs like 688 Spring Street Club ignited a love for the punk spirit, which is carried through with popular Atlanta originals like The Coathangers and The Black Lips. 

Atlanta’s worked hard to earn rap respect.

NPR recently hailed Atlanta as “the center of the rap universe,” but the city wasn’t always given due respect. After all, Andre 3000 of the homegrown duo Outkast first introduced the world to the famous words, “The South’s got something to say” at the 1995 Source Awards, in the midst of the East Coast/West Coast battles when middle America was largely ignored. According to NPR, “In retrospect, the moment is a clear turning point, for the South and for Atlanta in particular … “ 

The Atlanta visual arts scene is led by young people.

Like most big cities, Atlanta boasts a formidable slate of art museums, from clusters of up-and-coming galleries to independent artists-in-residency to long-running institutions like the High Museum of Art. What makes the city different? The High director told ArtNet that over half of the museum’s visitors are under 35, and nearly three-quarters are under 55. The younger generation is helping to reenergize and modernize visual arts experiences throughout the city.

Atlanta doesn’t just create big movies — it puts up big numbers.

Due to a wide array of production infrastructure and film-friendly tax incentives in Georgia, it’s a cost-effective city for large-scale TV and film productions, and many of the most famous, like “Stranger Things” and numerous Marvel movies, are well known to citizens. Less known is the massive scope of the industry. In fact, in 2022 alone, 412 productions were shot in Georgia, bringing approximately $4.4 billion into the region. 

Spike Lee’s start has roots in Atlanta.

Speaking of big things in the movie world, Spike Lee made his first film, “Last Hustle in Brooklyn,” while at Morehouse College, where it was screened at the Atlanta Film Festival. It won a prize of $25. The win encouraged Lee to pursue a career as a filmmaker, and he has since won an Oscar and multiple prestigious awards. How’s that for inspiration to make it big in the city of Atlanta?

One of the hippest art scenes has roots in Prohibition.

Underground Atlanta — originally used for materials storage during the Civil War, reconstruction became a series of speakeasies and juke joints during Prohibition, an entertainment district in the ’60s, a shopping mall from the ‘80s through the 2000s, and is now being reimagined as an indie arts center, showing that Atlanta will always find creative uses for all of its spaces.