Union City, Georgia lies in the metropolitan Atlanta region of northern Georgia, just over 9 miles southwest of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
Part of Fulton County, ‘UC’ was incorporated in 1908, making it one of the younger cities in the string that circle the state capital and form suburban Atlanta.
It is known for its quiet neighborhoods that offer a typical Georgia experience. At the same time it is a short distance from the big city attractions of Atlanta, and those that dot the surrounding regions of countryside.
These are the 15 best things to do in and around Union City, Georgia.
1. Delta Flight Museum
For those coming by air, their first stop is likely to be Atlanta’s airport, the world’s busiest since 1998. And while most of us want to get out of the arrivals lounge as quickly as possible, there is a reason to linger here.
On the north side of the airport are two historic hangars dating from the 1940s. They today are the location of the Delta Flight Museum, a permanent space from which Delta Airlines celebrates its one hundred years of industry.
There are vintage posters and a huge range of mementos on display. But they are dwarfed by the 767 Boeing aircraft called the Spirit of Delta which was the companies flagship aircraft for decades.
2. Cochran Mill Park
Boasting a fine position on the banks of the Chattahoochee River, Cochran Mill Park comprises roughly 32 hectares of woodland.
Almost 30 km of multi-use trails wind through them, welcoming everyone from hikers to trail runners, mountain bikers, and horse riders.
There’s something to explore here whatever the time of year, from the three historic mills after which the park is named, to delightful waterfalls.
There’s also an interpretative trail that details some of the history of the land. The park is 15 minutes by road from Union City in the Chattahoochee Hills.
3. Farmers Market
For a sense of the local Union City community, the farmers market is a great place to stop at, and perhaps buy a few items to make up a picnic lunch.
Created by the city council to help reconnect local residents with the agricultural land that surrounds their city, it provides an outlet for small scale farmers to sell direct to shoppers.
You’ll find a huge range of fruits and vegetables on offer, as well as items more interesting to those on holiday, such as artisan soaps and handcrafted pieces of jewellery.
The vendors pitch up at the city’s ball fields on the corner of Dixie Road and Highway 29.
4. Boundary Waters Aquatic Center
Back on the banks of the Chattahoochee, Boundary Waters Aquatic Center is a combination of sports center and children’s water park.
For serious swimmers missing their weekly exercise there is an eight-lane competition pool. There’s also a shallow pool complete with slides and other attractions that has been specially designed for younger visitors.
Located beneath a glasshouse-like frame, you can visit come rain or shine, making it a great alternative to Cochran Mill Park should the weather turn.
The center can be found just 20 minutes north by road from Union City.
5. Sweetwater Creek State Park
Continue north for another five minutes and you’ll reach Sweetwater Creek State Park in Lithia Springs.
It covers more than 3.5 square miles filled with attractive vistas and plenty to enjoy. In addition to the trickling waters of the creek after which it takes its name, the park also contains the dramatic multistory ruins of the New Manchester Manufacturing Company.
This cotton mill was destroyed during the American Civil War as part of the slash and burn tactics of the Unionist north to destroy the southern Confederate states economically.
The women and children that worked there were deported to Kentucky and Indiana as refugees. Artifacts from the era, and those from the Cherokee nation, are on display in the onsite visitor center.
6. APEX Museum
The APEX Museum tells the story of the metropolitan Atlanta region from the perspective of African-Americans, who make up a majority of residents in Union City.
Short for the African-American Panoramic Experience, the museum is a stop on the US Civil Rights Trail.
Located in the historic Sweet Auburn area of Atlanta, it lays out the often-hidden ways in which black Americans have contributed to the country’s success.
Highlighting the role of African-American pioneers to the region, it doesn’t shy away from more difficult parts of America’s past. These include segregation based on race, which lasted right up until 1964 in Georgia and the southern states.
7. Candler Field Museum
If the visit to the Delta Flight Museum gave you the aeronautical bug, the Candler Field Museum is another must-see attraction. Its vintage set up will also be of interest to anyone who enjoys history however.
The aim of this privately-created museum was to demonstrate what Atlanta’s now mammoth airport would have looked and felt like during the 1920s and 1930s when flight was still limited to the extremely rich.
Beyond the vintage check in desk there are also a number of small aircraft. The earliest dates to 1917, while another can be taken out for test flights – alongside an expert pilot of course.
The museum is based at the Peach State Airport, in Williamson, an hour south of Union City.
8. Southern Hollywood Film Tour
Its proximity to the film and television studios of Atlanta means that the region around Union City have long been popular as locations for outdoor scenes in some much-loved cinema and television releases.
And while you could spend hours carefully watching your favorite movies of recent years to try and match them up, you could instead enjoy a pleasurable two hours with the team at Southern Hollywood Film Tours.
Uncovering hidden gems across the southern Atlanta region, the tours are based in Peachtree City, half an hour south of Union City.
Join them, and you’ll be able to see first hand the locations for scenes in Guardians of the Galaxy to The Walking Dead.
9. Historic Banning Mills
In some ways the name of Historic Banning Mills doesn’t do justice to this adrenaline-filled attraction in Newnan, also 30 minutes from Union City.
Though the old mills that form the centerpiece of this landmark are attractive enough, what draws most visitors here is the chance to jump onto the back of a horse, trek through the woody creeks, kayak along streams, and tackle the purpose-built climbing walls.
And that’s before we’ve had time to mention the Screaming Eagle zip line, listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the longest in the world.
But if all that sounds a bit too much, Historic Banning Mills also has a luxurious spa and restaurant.
10. SkyView Atlanta
At only 20 minutes or so to downtown Atlanta, it would be a shame not to visit at least some of the attractions the Georgia state capital has to offer.
In fact, take advantage of SkyView’s stunning panoramas and you can pick out a huge number of them from the comfort of the small gondolas which hold no more than six people and less if you’re in a smaller group.
Sat on the edge of Centennial Olympic Park in the center of the city, this Ferris wheel tops out at a height equivalent to a 20-storey building.
A very special experience at any time of day, it is particularly special as darkness falls, and the city’s monuments are picked out by their lights.
11. Douglas County Museum of History and Art
Head a similar distance northwest rather than northeast and instead of downtown Atlanta you’ll cross the county border and reach the heart of Douglasville.
The county seat of Douglas County, this city is home to another important museum, dedicated to history and art.
The Douglas County Museum of History and Art doesn’t disappoint from the very start, since it can be found in a former courthouse that is a rare example of architecture’s ‘international style’.
Inside, the displays cover every aspect of the county’s history, with information on how European-American settlement first began in the region in the early 1800s leading to historic memorabilia from the early days of Coca-Cola.
12. Six Flags Over Georgia
Less than 15 km further north from Douglasville is one of Georgia’s premier theme parks, Six Flags Over Georgia.
Located on the outskirts of Austell to the west of downtown Atlanta, this theme park has an area of 120 hectares.
At ground level visitors will find a range of age-appropriate activities and attractions, including the three-hectare Hurricane Harbor water park. However, the twisting tracks of 11 rollercoasters rightly dominate the space.
There are several named after DC and Marvel superheroes, such as Superman: Ultimate Flight, which was the first flying coaster created by Bolliger & Mabillard to find its way to the United States.
13. Hampton-Beecher Nature Preserve
Although this nature preserve is considered a single entity, it is actually made up of two separate parks. Lionel Hampton Park is named after a local jazz musician, while Beecher Hills is named for the forested hills it encompasses.
As well as an excellent range of hiking trails, the preserve also contains fortifications and defensive ditches created by Unionist troops during the Battles of Ezra Church and Utoy Creek during the civil war.
Edged for a large part by attractive streams, the preserve lies between Six Flags Over Georgia and downtown Atlanta.
14. National Center for Civil and Human Rights
Its location makes Hampton-Beecher Nature Preserve a great addition to any trip into downtown Atlanta, such as to the National Center for Civil and Human Rights.
This dramatic piece of contemporary architecture aims to remind people of the achievements of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s led by Martin Luther King Jr.
Situated immediately north of Centennial Olympic Park and other attractions including Georgia Aquarium and the World of Coca-Cola, it has three permanent exhibitions.
The first contains a number of personal items owned by King Jr, including drafts of his Letters from Birmingham Jail. This leads to an interactive gallery detailing racial segregation. The last looks at the global fight for human rights.
15. Margaret Mitchell House and Museum
A different slant on the fight for equal rights can be had at the Margaret Mitchell House and Museum in midtown Atlanta.
Built in 1899 in a Tudor Revival style, the architecture of the house is of less interest than one of its former residents – the author of the civil war epic Gone with the Wind.
It was here that Mitchell wrote the majority of her Pulitzer Prize winning novel, which would go on to become the Oscar-winning film staring Cary Grant and Vivien Leigh.
Its contents look at both the author herself, and the themes it raises. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places due to its importance.