This is a busy tour of Atlanta, and while it can be completed in one day, it will be one long day which should be commenced early in the morning, and you will be tired by the end of the night as well as sore from a lot of walking, so wear comfortable shoes. Due to its duration, this tour is not recommended for layovers or brief stops along a road trip. In those cases, staying around one of the areas of Downtown, Midtown, or Buckhead would be your best interest. You may also want to consider the Old South and New South tour as an alternative.
If you plan on consuming alcohol, do not take the chance of driving. Georgia is very strict on drunk driving, possibly more so than most other states.
If you do not already own a Breeze Card for MARTA, your best bet is to purchase a day pass Breeze Ticket for $8 at any MARTA station, which is valid for any train or bus in the metro area.
The Atlanta CityPass would also come in handy as it not only covers admissions for attractions, it saves you time. You can also get discounts in other places throughout the city. The Atlanta CityPass can be purchased for $69 and is valid in the following 6 locations:
Friday or Saturday will be the preferred day to complete this tour, depending on if you want to end the night at a popular nightclub, but keep in mind that the daytime attractions will be more crowded on weekends. Also, some places are not open during certain days of the week, or have different hours. Otherwise, all you need to do is drive or catch a ride to the nearest MARTA Station and go! You may begin at any point of the tour, depending on which neighborhood is closest to you.
Start off the day with a traditional Southern breakfast, consisting of biscuits with gravy, eggs, grits, and a meat item. There are plenty of them nearby wherever you are. If you already in the Midtown area, you may want to eat breakfast at Gladys Knight and Ron Winan's Chicken and Waffles or the Silver Skillet. Another option is breakfast at a Waffle House.
Take the MARTA North-South Line and exit at either the Arts Center Station (N5) or Midtown Station (N4) in Midtown. Nearby attractions include the Atlanta Botanical Garden, which opens at 9 A.M., High Museum of Art, which opens at 10 A.M. Near the Midtown Station on the corner of 10th and Peachtree is the Margaret Mitchell House. The museum is not open until 10 A.M., but it still makes a great photo from the outside. If it is still early, you can start walking through Piedmont Park, which is open from 6 A.M. The closest entrance to the park is on Piedmont Ave. (the western side of the park), either on 14th if you're coming from the Arts Center or 12th if you're walking from Midtown Station. A recommended walk is around Clara Meer pond clockwise and then across the bridge over the middle of the pond where there is a gazebo, then turn right and head south, and exit at Charles Allen Dr. and 10th Street.
On Charles Allen Dr., stand on the South side of the road (opposite from Piedmont Park) and wait for the MARTA #45 Bus bound for Edgewood/Candler Park Station. It is best to look up the schedule of the 45 bus ahead of time, and try to catch it at a specific time, as the route only runs once an hour on weekends. Exit at Virginia-Highlands. This will be a good place to spend some time, not too long, and see some of the shops.
Hop back on the next MARTA #45 Bus, in the same direction, bound for Edgewood/Candler Park Station. After a short ride, exit at the intersection of North Ave and Moreland. From here, it is a short walk south to Little Five Points. You can spend at least an hour here, as there are about 100 shops, cafes, restaurants, and bars. If it is 11 A.M. or after, The Vortex is open. You can stop there and have lunch and make sure you try a beer brewed locally at the Sweetwater Brewery, such at 420 Pale Ale or Georgia Brown Ale.
Hop on the MARTA #6 Bus and continue South to Inman Park/Reynoldstown Station (E3). Alternatively, the station is within 10 minute walking distance down Dekalb Ave. westbound. Take the MARTA Rail East-West Line just one stop to the west and exit at the King Center Station (E2) in the Sweet Auburn. Learn about the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and visit his memorial. Also nearby is Grant Park which is just on the other side of Oakland Cemetery to the south. Grant Park can be reached via MARTA Bus #397. Zoo Atlanta is there, however if you do wish to go there then plan to call it a day afterwards. The Cyclorama can be visited in a shorter length of time.
From the King Center Station, catch the MARTA Rail East-West Line westbound to Five Points Station in Downtown Atlanta. This is where the East-West Line and the North-South Line intersect, and is the largest and busiest MARTA Station in the city. Immediately outside the exit of Five Points Station is Underground Atlanta, a historical district with many shops, restaurants, and bars. Underground is literally what its name suggests.
From Underground start walking up Peachtree Street past the neon Coca-Cola sign, then past Woodruff Park. At Andrew Young International Blvd. turn left, and the Westin Peachtree Plaza, a tall, round building made of glass is right there. Enter and take the glass elevator to the Sun Dial, a revolving restaurant and cocktail bar on top. A recommended drink to have at the bar is a Georgia Peach Martini. Then take the elevator back down and exit, then continue heading left on Andrew Young International, and it will lead you right to Centennial Park. To the left of the park is the CNN Center, and on the far side of the park is The Georgia Aquarium and the World of Coke. Also nearby is the Georgia World Congress Center and the Children's Museum. It may be a little hectic to do all in that area. A stroll through the park is always nice too. If it is summer time, you will likely see children splashing and playing in the fountain of Olympic Rings. If you want to skip Westin Peachree or go there later, you could also take the MARTA Rail East-West Line one stop from Five Points Station to the Dome/GWCC/Philips Arena/CNN Center Station (W1). The exit of the station is right at the entrance of the CNN Center. If you decide to visit Westin Peachtree after the Centennial Park area, you can catch the MARTA North-South Line from nearby Peachtree Center Station (N1).
Now it is in the evening and you want to eat dinner, and maybe have a few drinks and unwind. You are tired from all the walking around so you may want a location that is both a restaurant and a bar. In Atlanta, the sky is the limit for those kind of options. A good recommendation is Shout back in Midtown, a combination of different restaurants serving a variety of cuisines, and has a rooftop bar offering a great view of the city. Shout is located on Peachtree and 14th, nearest to the Arts Center Station, while you're there, you may want to visit some of the nearby attractions that you didn't get to visit earlier. However, most of them close at 5 p.m. If you want to go to Buckhead instead, stay on the North-South Line longer to Buckhead Station (N7). A recommendation for that area is East Andrews Upstairs.
Your tour is complete for the day. If you are staying at a nearby hotel, you can try the same route again the next day and visit some of the activities you did not get a chance to, now that you are more familiar with the area and the train/bus routes.
Most of the areas on this route are tourist areas and have rare occurrences of crime, especially violent crime. However, it is still advisable to take certain precautions such as staying in well-lit areas, not wandering into quiet and dark streets, and avoiding confrontations with people.