AN AFTERNOON IN: ATLANTA

The Big Peach has more to offer than ever before.

Over the past decade, the metro Atlanta population spiked by nearly a million residents. With that influx of people came a surge in new cultural institutions, dining establishments and recreational spaces that make the city one of the most dynamic in the US. If you happen to find yourself with a free afternoon in the Southern hub, here are five things worth checking out.

NATIONAL CENTER FOR CIVIL AND HUMAN RIGHTS

Part museum, part civil rights organization, The National Center for Civil and Human Rights aims to commemorate and continue the work of the civil rights movement, which saw many of its pivotal moments happen in or near Atlanta. In addition to hosting exhibitions featuring artifacts belonging to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the center also acts as a meeting space for lectures and performances.

LULLWATER PRESERVE

Located within Emory University's campus, the Lullwater Preserve seems a world away from the glass towers of Atlanta's downtown district. The forested grounds are laced with numerous trails, some of which surround Candler Lake (which has its own small waterfall). It's a great spot to go for a run or just take in the tranquil surroundings after a full day in the city center.

PONCE CITY MARKET

Ponce City Market is nestled at the crossroads of some of Atlanta's best neighborhoods. Originally constructed as a retail store and distribution center for Sears in the '20s, its expansive interior houses everything from restaurants to shops while the exterior space sports lounge areas and even an amusement park on the roof.

GEORGIA AQUARIUM

We've all been to a few aquariums, but Atlanta's is genuinely a standout. The Georgia Aquarium is the largest aquarium in the Western hemisphere with over 10 million gallons of water filling its massive tanks. Upon opening in 2005, The Guinness Book of World Records certified that it is also home to more aquatic life than any other aquarium in the world.

EL VIÑEDO LOCAL

Run by chef Bruno Vergara and owner Robert Kaster, El Viñedo Local specializes in South American fare like empanadas, ceviche and arepas. Most of the menu's offerings are perfect grab-and-go options so you can fuel up quickly (without sacrificing on food quality) as you venture around the city.