Civil Rights Tour in Atlanta

As the birthplace of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the site of many courageous protests, Atlanta holds a special place in civil rights history. It’s also a designated stop on the Civil Rights Trail. If you’re planning to follow the trail or just to spend a weekend learning more about the movement, Falcon Charter Bus would love to help.

We’ve compiled a two-day guide to help you see the Civil Rights Trail landmarks in Atlanta via charter bus. We’ve also thrown in a few extra destinations, including some Black-owned restaurants and bars where you can stop for food or drinks. So gather your religious or school group and get ready to dive into one of the most important parts of Atlanta’s history.

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Day 1

Morning: Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park

The Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park spans several sites, among them Dr. King’s birth home, Ebenezer Baptist Church, and the King Center. Ask your charter bus driver to drop you off so you can take your time exploring all of the sites on foot, and check out the descriptions below to decide what you want to prioritize.

Drop-off location: Irwin Street (GPS 33°45'27.50"N, 84°22'23.74"W)

Where to park your bus: Lot on John Wesley Dobbs Avenue (GPS 33°45'33.01"N, 84°22'22.05"W)

A row of wooden porches

Visitor Center

The perfect place to start your journey, the Visitor Center includes an information desk where you can find out which sites are open and sign up for a time to visit the Martin Luther King Jr. Birth Home. If you have kids with you, take them to the “Children of Courage” exhibit to learn about children’s contributions to the Civil Rights Movement and the movements of today.

Address: 450 Auburn Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30312

Martin Luther King Jr. Birth Home

Step foot inside the house where Dr. King was born and spent the first 12 years of his life for a ranger-led tour your group won’t soon forget. Although the tour is free, it’s on a first-come, first-served basis and only accommodates 15 people at a time, so you’ll need to split up if you’re with an especially large group. You’ll also want to show up early so the rangers don’t run out of time slots.

Address: 501 Auburn Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30312

Ebenezer Baptist Church

Dr. King was baptized inside this church and later served as minister there alongside his father. Upon his death, the church was the site of his funeral. Today, it’s a fully functioning church as well as a priceless historical landmark.

Address: 101 Jackson St NE, Atlanta, GA 30312

Fire Station No. 6

Originally built in 1894, Fire Station No. 6 served the Sweet Auburn neighborhood while Dr. King lived there and wasn’t decommissioned until 1991. Now, the station houses a 1927 fire engine and exhibits about the desegregation of the Atlanta Fire Department.

Address: 39 Boulevard NE, Atlanta, GA 30312

Prince Hall Masonic Temple

The Prince Hall Masonic Temple served as the headquarters of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference during Dr. King’s tenure as president. As a result, many protests and marches of the Civil Rights Movement were planned in this historical building.

Address: 330 Auburn Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30303

The King Center

The serene and beautiful King Center serves as the final resting place for Dr. King and Coretta Scott King. It also contains exhibits on both of their legacies, as well as on Rosa Parks and Mahatma Gandhi.

Address: 449 Auburn Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30312

Martin Luther King Jr. tomb stone

“Behold” Monument

According to sculptor Patrick Morelli, this statue of a man lifting a baby up to the sky is inspired by an ancient African ritual of holding a newborn high and telling them, “Behold the only thing greater than yourself.” Coretta Scott King unveiled the statue in 1990 as a tribute to her husband’s work.

Address: 450 Auburn Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30312

Martin Luther King Jr. "I Have a Dream" World Peace Rose Garden

This garden honors Dr. King with 185 different types of rose (the official flower of the U.S.) arranged in a starburst pattern to reflect the brilliance and excitement of his ideals. If you stand facing the Rose Garden, you can see Dr. and Mrs. King’s tombs. Every year, students from around the world write poems about peace to be displayed among the flowers.

Address: 450 Auburn Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30312

Some pink roses

International Civil Rights Walk of Fame

This walkway contains a series of footprints to honor some of the many brave activists of the civil rights movement, as well as people who continue the work of civil rights today. Your group will literally have the chance to walk in their footsteps as you talk about their legacy.

Address: 449 Auburn Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30312

Lunch: The Busy Bee

Located roughly 15 minutes from the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park, this Black-owned business was founded by Lucy Jackson in 1947 and was listed in the “Green Book” as a safe place for African American people to eat during segregation. Today, it serves classic Southern cuisine like fried chicken, meatloaf, and cubed steak accompanied by baked macaroni and cheese, fried green tomatoes, and candied yams.

The only downside to this Atlanta institution is that it doesn’t have a ton of tables for large groups, so order take-out online (yep, you can do that!) and then have a picnic on the grass at Clark Atlanta University. The campus is right next to the restaurant.

Address: 810 M.L.K. Jr Dr SW, Atlanta, GA 30314

Where to park your bus: The Busy Bee Cafe has a parking lot, but if you’re driving a full-size charter bus rather than a minibus or if the lot fills up, try the parking lot at the nearby Walmart Supercenter.

Afternoon: APEX Museum

Founded in 1978, the APEX Museum is the oldest Black history museum in Atlanta. APEX stands for African American Panoramic Experience, and the museum includes exhibits about the history of African and African American people from 5500 B.C. to today. The current exhibits mix horrific stories of oppression with inspiring stories of liberation and include “Africa: The Untold Story,” “Black Codes in Georgia,” and “Women in STEM.”

Address: 135 Auburn Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30303

Where to park your bus: 141 Auburn Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30303 (costs $10). After the museum, leave your bus here while you walk to dinner.

Evening: Sweet Auburn Seafood

Located walking distance from the museum, Sweet Auburn Seafood has a private dining room for up to 22 people. If your group is larger than that, you can make multiple reservations at different tables. Either way, you can end your night with fresh seafood entrees like Georgia mountain trout, whole red snapper, and Sweet Auburn crab boil. Vegetarians can indulge in the eggplant lasagna before your group heads back to your hotel.

Address: 171 Auburn Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30303 171 Auburn Ave NE, Atlanta, GA

A pot of crab boil

Day 2

Morning: National Center for Civil and Human Rights

No trip to Atlanta is complete without a visit to the National Center for Civil and Human Rights. This sobering yet empowering museum features an exhibit on The American Civil Rights Movement where you literally climb higher through the building as you explore the displays (an elevator is available for those with disabilities).

You’ll also find an exhibit on The Global Human Rights Movement that connects the Civil Rights Movement of the 60s to today’s movements for people of color, the LGBT community, immigrants, people with disabilities, and the economically disadvantaged. The display even includes advice for how you can take action to combat human rights abuses today.

Address: 100 Ivan Allen Jr Blvd NW, Atlanta, GA 30313

Where to park your bus: Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC) Marshalling Yard. Parking here is for school buses and motorcoaches only and costs $25.

A po' boy sandwich

Lunch: Rosie’s Cafe

Another Black-owned restaurant, Rosie’s Cafe serves fresh sandwiches like Rosie’s Big Bacon BLT and a perch po’boy. Vegans can opt for a garden salad with balsamic or raspberry vinaigrette.

As with The Busy Bee, your best option is to order online, pick up your food, and have a picnic–this time in Centennial Olympic Park, originally built for the 1996 Olympics and now the most popular greenspace in downtown Atlanta. Your bus can remain safely in the Marshalling Yard while you wander around downtown.

Address: 48 Northside Dr, Atlanta GA 30313

Afternoon: U.S. Court of Appeals Building and The Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum

Once you finish your lunch, you can walk to or ask your bus to drive by Atlanta’s U.S. Court of Appeals, which is where the judges for the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals (the “Fifth Four”) insisted that Brown vs. Board of Education had to be implemented across the South. Although you can’t go inside, you can discuss the building as you drive past it on your way to The Jimmy Carter Presidential Library.

Address: 56 Forsyth St NW, Atlanta, GA 30303

The front of a courthouse

The Presidential Library is home to two exhibits with ties to the Civil Rights Movement. The Faith exhibit includes photographs of Martin Luther King Sr., and the Day in the Life of a President exhibit shows video of President Carter visiting the Lorraine Motel after Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination.

Address: 441 John Lewis Freedom Pkwy NE, Atlanta, GA 30307

Where to park your charter bus: There is designated bus parking near the museum entrance.

Evening: Twisted Soul Cookhouse & Pours

Headed by Executive Chef Deborah VanTrece, this restaurant honors its name by serving soul food with a twist. Try the hoisin-glazed oxtails with vegetable fried rice or blue-corn-crusted barramundi with pickled mustard seeds. If you’d like a drink, you can choose from a range of speciality cocktails like the Twisted Soul Martini (made with moonshine!) or Miss Berry’s High Tea (sweet tea mixed with rye).

Address: 1133 Huff Rd NW, Atlanta, GA 30318

Where to park your charter bus: 1040 Rice St. NW (paid parking; near Knight Park)

Plan Your Civil Rights Tour of Atlanta

Whether you’re coming from Charleston, New Orleans or even a far-away city like Miami, Falcon Charter Bus would love to take you to Atlanta for your Civil Rights tour. Many of Atlanta’s most important Civil Rights destinations lie very close to one another, making it easy for your charter bus to drop you off so you can walk from one location to another.

When you’re on the bus for a longer time, such as when you’re going from your home city to Atlanta and back, you can watch a Civil Rights-themed film on the flat-screen TV or conduct independent research using the free WiFi. Just let us know which amenities you want when you call to book your trip at 305-359-3962. We’d love to help you experience Atlanta’s difficult yet inspirational history for yourself.

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