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Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park Guide — Hours, Tours, and More

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Amar Hussain
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Amar Hussain

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Amar is an avid traveler and tester of products. He has spent the last 13 years traveling all 7 continents and has put the products to the test on each of them. He has contributed to publications incl...
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Keri Stooksbury

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With years of experience in corporate marketing and as the executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Qatar, Keri is now editor-in-chief at UP, overseeing daily content operations and r...

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Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park is centrally located in Atlanta, Georgia. This historical park is committed to preserving and protecting the places where Dr. King was born and where he lived and worked.

Over 700,000 people worldwide visit annually to explore this park and learn the story of Martin Luther King, Jr. and how he spearheaded the Civil Rights movement. There’s so much to see and do in this historical park and so much history to be immersed in. 

How To Get to Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park

Where Is Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park?

Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park is in the heart of downtown Atlanta. This small park preserves an area of 2 blocks in the Auburn Avenue area. The park spreads over 38 acres, including Dr. King’s childhood home, church, and meaningful places. 

Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park Opening Hours and Seasons

Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park is open year-round from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. The park is closed on New Year’s, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Day. Special programming runs on a regular schedule each day of the week. 

Nearest Airports to Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) is the nearest airport to Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park. It’s just a 15-minute drive to the park from this airport. 

ATL is one of the busiest airports in the world. It offers nonstop service to over 150 domestic and 70 international destinations. Airlines serviced by this airport include well-known airlines such as Air Canada, Alaska, American, Delta, Southwest, United, and Virgin Atlantic.

Bottom Line:

Flying into Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is the perfect way for visitors to maximize their travel time and get close to Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park.

Driving to Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park

For visitors coming from I-75/85, exit 248C will take you to the visitor center. Those coming from I-20 will take exit 59A. The visitor center’s parking area is located on John Wesley Dobbs Avenue.

Taking the Train to Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park

There is no direct train service to Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park, but the park is located around 6 miles from the Amtrak Peachtree Station.

Public Transportation to Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park

There are 2 options for public transportation to Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park, the Atlanta Streetcar, and MARTA Bus Rapid Transit.

The Atlanta Streetcar has 12 stops including stops at Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park. The MARTA public transit system in Atlanta also offers 2 different routes that access the park.

Utilizing the public transportation system is a great, affordable way to reduce the stress of driving to the park and navigating an unfamiliar city.

Getting Around Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park

The best way to get around Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park is on foot. Guests can park near the visitor center and explore the park by walking to the different locations within the park’s boundaries. This park covers a 2-block area, which makes it easy to explore by walking. For help planning your itinerary, the park’s website offers interactive and printable maps.

What To See and Do in Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park

Visiting Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park is a fantastic way to learn about the Civil Rights Movement and the beginning of a significant change in America. History buffs are in for a treat, as this park has many learning opportunities. Don’t be fooled by the small size of Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park; there is so much to see and do during your visit.

Behold Monument

The Behold Monument is a beautiful sight to behold at Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park. This statue is located in front of the modern-day Ebenezer Church. It symbolizes the principles that guided Dr. Marting Luther King, Jr.’s life and works.

This monument was unveiled by Coretta Scott King in January 1990 as a tribute to her late husband. It symbolizes and inspires those who fought and continue to fight for dignity, human rights, and social justice. 

The D.R.E.A.M. Gallery is in an area of the visitor center and offers several exhibits, informational panels, and historical photographs. This gallery shines a spotlight on President Jimmy Carter and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 2 of Georgia’s extraordinary leaders of change.

The D.R.E.A.M. Gallery highlights the bond between Martin Luther King, Jr. and President Carter and their families and tells the story of how the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park came to be. 

Ebenezer Baptist Church

Ebenezer Baptist Church
Image Credit: wyliepoon via Flickr (license)

Ebenezer Baptist Church is just a block from Dr. King’s birth home. This church is where he attended, where he was baptized, and where he pastored.

Martin Luther King, Jr. followed his father and grandfather’s footsteps, as his grandfather pastored the church from 1894 to 1931, and his father pastored there from 1927 to 1975. Dr. King became a co-pastor with his father in 1960 and continued until he died in 1968. 

Visitors can tour the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church today. The church is open daily, and visitors can enter with a ranger who guides them to the sanctuary. There are sermons and music played by different members of the church. Visitors can take photos and reflect on this famous landmark.

Fire Station No. 6

Fire Station No. 6 is open only on weekends and is a great place to tour when visiting Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park. This fire station was a crucial place in the community where Dr. King would spend his free time playing basketball or board games. Fire Station No. 6 was the first integrated fire station in Atlanta and had the first African American fire chief. 

Today, visitors can take a self-guided tour through the fire station and see the original firetrucks and artifacts from earlier times. There is also an informative video that can be viewed on this tour. Volunteer firefighters run this fire station and are eager to answer any questions you may have during your visit. 

The King Center

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, also known as The King Center, was established by his wife, Coretta Scott King, in 1968. This is the official memorial dedicated to the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

This center features exhibits on Martin Luther King, Jr. and other influential individuals. One of the most visited attractions at The King Center is the tomb which is the final resting place of Dr. and Mrs. King. 

Other highlights of The King Center include the reflection pool, eternal flame, and Freedom Hall with exhibits on Gandhi, Coretta Scott King, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Bottom Line:

The King Center should be at the top of your itinerary. There is a wealth of history, photographs, and exhibits to help you to learn more about Dr. King and other key people in the Civil Rights Movement. Visitors may also pay their respects at the grave of Dr. and Mrs. King.

Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park Tours

MLK Birth Home tour
Image Credit: denisbin via Flickr (license)

The main tour offered at Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park is the Birth Home tour. The birth home of Dr. King is one of the highlights of Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park. This home is where Dr. King spent his first 12 years of life.

Today, visitors can participate in tours of his birth home and go directly inside. Tours are led by a park ranger who shares facts and history of Dr. King’s childhood home. 

The birth home tours sell out quickly. There are only 5 tours offered each day, each lasting 30 minutes. Visitors should arrive at the park early to register for a tour. Registration must take place in person on the day of your visit. Securing a spot on these tours is tough, so arriving early is crucial.

Visitor Centers

Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park Visitor Center
Image Credit: mliu92 via Flickr (license)

The Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park Visitor Center is a great starting point for your park adventures. This facility gives a brief orientation of the historic site, offers several exhibits, and has information for signing up for the Birth Home tour. 

The lobby has a beautiful Children of Courage exhibit aimed at the park’s younger visitors. It tells the story of the children during the Civil Rights Movement and has a challenge for them today. 

Another inspiring exhibit featured in the visitor center is called Courage to Lead. This exhibit illustrates the parallels between Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement, and then visitors can join the marchers on the journey up Freedom Road, a walkway inside the visitor center. The Courage to Lead features an exhibit and has the actual funeral carriage used to carry Dr. King’s body and coffin. 

There are 2 films that are shown at the visitor center; one called “New Time, New Voice” documents the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. and highlights iconic moments and people of the Civil Rights Movement. The other film is called “Children of Courage.” This film tells the story of the youth who fought in the Civil Rights Movement and shows footage from protesters. 

World Peace Rose Garden

The “I Have a Dream” World Peace Garden was planted in March 1992 at the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site. This garden, 1 of 5 World Peace Rose Gardens around the world, is filled with 185 different types and colors of roses and is right across from the visitor center. This garden represents Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life and goals of peace and nonviolence. 

Best Times To Visit Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park

No matter what time of year you can visit Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park, you can rest assured that you will have an experience of a lifetime. There are better times than others to visit, depending on the type of experience you wish to have.

Best Time To Visit Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park for Ideal Weather

Weather can play a huge role in a vacation. If you are hoping to plan your trip at a time when the weather is ideal, plan to visit Marting Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park in early May. The temperatures reach a high in the low 80s and lows in the upper 50s. Temperatures are comfortable, and the park usually experiences sunny, clear weather during this time of year. 

Best Time To Visit Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park To Avoid the Crowds

Exploring a park without the stress of crowds is ideal. If you want to plan a trip to Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park to avoid crowds, a November trip is the best option. A November trip offers the best possibility of touring the different highlights of the park at your own pace. 

Best Time To Visit Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park To See the World Peace Rose Garden

World Peace Rose Garden MLK
Image Credit: NPS

The best month to visit is May to see the roses at the World Peace Rose Garden in full glory. The roses are in full bloom and offer wonderful fragrances and vibrant colors. This is a great time to take photos of the roses and stop and reflect on the meaning of this garden. 

Cheapest Time To Visit Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park

The cheapest time to visit Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park is when the park is the least busy. A November trip is the cheapest and the least busy time of the year. Flight and hotel accommodations are at their cheapest in November, which allows for saving hundreds of dollars. 

Annual Events in Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park

Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park offers a variety of programming regularly, such as tours and guided programs. There are also some events that take place on an annual basis. Let’s explore some of the events at Marting Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park each year. 

Annual King Remembrance Wreath-Laying Ceremony

Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park hosts the Annual King Remembrance Wreath-Laying Ceremony each April. The purpose of this event is to remember Dr. King on the anniversary of his assassination. The King Center has special guest speakers, a candlelight service, and a wreath-laying ceremony at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church. 

Legacy Campout

Legacy Campout is an annual event that takes place at Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park each September. The park partners with the Greening Youth Foundation to offer youth ages 11 to 17 an adventure in urban camping.

This event is a way to remember Dr. King’s contributions to making a better world. Campers participate in painting on the lawn, music, games, prizes, and trying delicious foods. 

Where To Stay Near Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park

Due to its location in downtown Atlanta, there is no shortage of places to stay near Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park. While no lodging options exist within the park boundaries, countless possibilities are nearby.

Take a look at the 2 most popular areas near Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park to see if one would work for your vacation needs. 

Downtown Atlanta

Atlanta Georgia
Image Credit: Venti Views via Unsplash

Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park is nestled in the heart of downtown Atlanta, making this the ideal area to stay when visiting. This city is exciting, with lots to see and do and plenty of accommodations and restaurants. 

From high-rise luxury hotels to private rentals and everything in between, Atlanta has no shortage of lodging options. 

The dining scene is an exciting one in this town. Everywhere you look, you can find unique restaurants serving one-of-a-kind culinary creations, elegant gourmet restaurants, local dives, and chain restaurants. Your hardest decision when staying in Atlanta will be narrowing down where you will eat for your meals, as there are many phenomenal restaurants. 

For recreation and entertainment, there are endless possibilities. Not only do guests spend their time at Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park, but there are also art galleries, museums, shopping centers, theaters, and more. This location is excellent for visitors who enjoy arts, culture, and history.

Bottom Line:

Setting up a home base in downtown Atlanta is ideal because of its proximity to Marting Luther King, Jr. National Park and various activities, restaurants, and lodging options.

Buckhead

Buckhead is less than 10 miles from Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park. This is an excellent option for visitors who want shopping opportunities and terrific lodging, dining, and recreation options. 

Buckhead has plenty of options for accommodations — from upscale hotels to Airbnb, the possibilities are endless for lodging.

The dining scene in Buckhead offers a blend of gourmet restaurants serving signature dishes made by top chefs to quaint diners and cafes. No matter what you crave, you can rest assured that you will find a hunger solution in this town.

For entertainment and recreation, many visitors will spend time shopping at Lenox Square, Phipps Plaza, and/or the Buckhead Village District or visiting the Atlanta History Center. This neighborhood can be just as lively as downtown Atlanta, with plenty of bars and lounges for ending a day with a good drink and great company. 

Buckhead is just a hop, skip, and jump from Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park and is an excellent place for a base camp during your vacation to this park.

Where To Eat Near Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park

There are no restaurants within the boundaries of Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park. Still, thanks to its superb location, there are abundant options for dining near the park. From classic American diners to authentic cultural cuisine, and from fine dining to casual dives, there’s no shortage of great places to eat.

Der Biergarten

Der Biergarten
Image Credit: Der Biergarten

Der Biergarten is 2 miles from Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park. This restaurant is open Wednesday through Sunday for dinner and late-night drinks and desserts. The beer garden is a big draw to this restaurant, offering a wide array of German beer. The German food, drinks, and decor transports you right into the heart of Germany.

The menu at Der Biergarten features classic German favorites. Customers rave about the wiener schnitzel, bratwursts, gulash, and saurkraut. For an authentic German experience and a superb selection of beers, you won’t want to miss Der Biergarten when visiting the park.

Metro Diner & Bar

Metro Diner & Bar is a mile from Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park. This locally-owned restaurant is excellent for enjoying American classics 24 hours a day. Not only can you experience amazing fare, but the second floor of this restaurant is for dancing and drinks while the in-house DJ plays incredible jams all night long.

Customers rave about the pancake breakfast, the Metro Melt, and the baby back ribs. The menu features classic American favorites such as biscuits and gravy, hot wings, burgers, onion rings, fresh salads, and a long list of signature burgers.

Metro Diner & Bar is a great place to wrap up a day after exploring Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park. With its specialties for meals and drinks and its lively atmosphere, you can rest assured that you will end the day well at this restaurant.

Thumbs Up Diner

Thumbs Up Diner is adjacent to Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park. This diner makes guests feel like they are returning to the good ol’ days. Thumbs Up Diner serves breakfast and lunch daily and has fantastic customer service. 

This diner serves traditional classics, including breakfast specialties with eggs, pancakes, grits, and waffles, and lunchtime favorites like juicy burgers, fresh French fries, and fried fish.  

Thumbs Up Diner is a short walk from Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park and an incredible place to stop and refuel after a day of exploring. 

Hot Tip:

Visitors may also want to check out The Municipal Market in Sweet Auburn (just half a mile from the park) which features farmers’ market staples, baked goods, and popular eateries.

Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park Facts

1. A New Park

Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park was established in October of 1980. It was a National Historical Site before becoming a national historical park. 

2. Historic Buildings

Most buildings in Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park were built between 1890 and 1920. Several of these buildings, such as Dr. King’s birth home, church, and the local fire station, can be toured today. 

Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park is popular with national and international tourists. Over 700,000 visitors come to this park each year from around the world. 

4. Dr. King’s Inspiration

Dr. King was inspired by many different Civil Rights activists. One key figure in his life was Mahatma Gandhi. Several places in Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park honor Gandhi, such as his statue near the King Center. 

5. International Civil Rights Walk of Fame

The International Civil Rights Walk of Fame was created in 2004. This Walk of Fame is in Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park. It is an outdoor promenade and offers outdoor exhibits that recognize the corneous individuals who fought for equality for all. 

Final Thoughts

With so much to learn and discover, Martin Luther King, Jr. National Park is a fantastic place to immerse yourself. Spending time visiting the places so important to Dr. King gives a glimpse of what life was like during those days.

From tours of historic buildings to viewing the crypt that is his final resting place, and from breathtaking statues to the visitor center, the learning never ends at this park. Book your trip today and discover what brings so many visitors each year from around the world.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does visiting Martin Luther King, Jr. Historical Park cost?

There is no fee for visiting Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park.

How long should I plan to visit Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park?

A thorough Martin Luther King Jr. National Park visit should take 2 to 3 hours. This will allow plenty of time to visit the different landmarks, read the exhibits, and reflect upon the sights.

Is there Wi-Fi available at Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park?

There is complimentary Wi-Fi available at the visitor center. The rest of the park has sufficient cellular service.

What is the weather like at Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park?

The weather varies by season at Marting Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park. Winters are frigid, with temperatures dipping into the low 30s, and summers can be sweltering, with highs in the upper 90s. The park receives an average of 45 to 50 inches of rainfall yearly and less than an inch of snow.

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About Amar Hussain

Amar is an avid traveler and tester of products. He has spent the last 13 years traveling all 7 continents and has put the products to the test on each of them. He has contributed to publications including Forbes, the Huffington Post, and more.

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