If weathering the crowds for the sales isn't your thing, not to worry—we've uncovered plenty of ways to stay busy in the city on this day instead.

By Nneka M. Okona
November 17, 2015
© 2009 Mikel Manitius via Flickr

Instead of a shopping marathon this Black Friday in Atlanta, why not take the opportunity to explore the city through its arts, food, and greenery galore? Whether eating savory Southern fare or wandering around the city's museums, use the free day as a chance to enjoy Atlanta and the many things it has to offer.

1. Visit the Atlanta Botanical Garden

The weather hasn't gotten frigid in Atlanta yet, so stroll past the beautiful flowers and greenery at the city's botanical garden before they hibernate for the winter. Stop at the the Café at Linton's inside for garden-inspired eats like African squash soup and kale salad, or a cup of coffee or hot tea and marvel at the surroundings.

2. Hike Stone Mountain

Just twenty minutes east of Atlanta, Stone Mountain Park is the perfect place for a scenic hike for stunning views, including the Atlanta skyline and the North Georgia mountains. When you get to the bottom, stroll around Crossroads and take in the park's annual Stone Mountain Christmas, which features thousands of lights decorating the buildings, and holiday specialties like freshly made fudge, whipped cream-topped hot chocolate, or apple cider with fresh cinnamon sticks on offer.

3. Feast on Southern Fare at Mary Mac's Tea Room

Mary Mac's in Midtown is the heart and soul of Atlanta as far as Southern food is concerned. From the warm, buttery yeast rolls and cornbread to the tomato pie, proper Southern iced tea and creamy macaroni and cheese, no one will leave with an empty stomach. For newbies, be sure to tell your waiter it's your first visit, and you'll get a complimentary bowl of pot likker.

4. Ice Skating at Centennial Olympic Park

The site of the park built for the 1996 Summer Olympic Games Atlanta hosted, the ice rink at Centennial has become a treasured annual city tradition. It opens at 10 a.m. and closes at 11 p.m. on Black Friday.

5. Museum Hop

Visit the Michael C. Carlos museum to learn more about ancient Egypt, then head to the Fernbank Science Center to dive into the world of dinosaurs, and finally the Atlanta History Center to go back in time in the 1930s-era Swan House, or one of its award-winning exhibitions, such as the one about the evolution of folk arts in the changing South.

6. Dessert and Coffee at Cafe Intermezzo

In this European-style eatery, bar and coffeehouse, guests can enjoy a drink from the bar, a cappuccino, or a slice of their many tantalizing desserts, all made in-house. A full menu, including breakfast all day and sandwiches, pasta, and salads also is available. The ambiance here is undeniable, with low lighting and candles everywhere—and about as far away as you can get from the shopping frenzy happening elsewhere.

Nneka M. Okona lives in Atlanta and writes about the city for Travel + Leisure.