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Tours

Tours to entertain, educate, and enlighten the community throughout the year.

Historic Oakland Foundation offers two main types of tours: our guided overview tour and special topic tours. We also offer both guided tours for private groups and schools. If you want to tour the cemetery at your own pace, we have several options for self-guided tours.

Please note: All guided tours scheduled through July 22 are canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Guided Overview Tour

Sights, Symbols, and Stories of Oakland

Saturdays and Sundays Year Round*

Tours begin at the Visitors Center at the Bell Tower.

Discover the history, the period gardens, and the art and architecture that give Oakland its distinctive character. Oakland is an outdoor museum of Atlanta’s history with over 70,000 stories to tell; stories filled with both stunning victories and heart-wrenching tragedies. Join one of our knowledgeable and entertaining guides for a walking tour of the grounds.

Tickets:
Adults: $12
Children (aged 6-17) and Students (with ID): $6
Seniors (65 and older): $6
Historic Oakland Foundation Members: FREE

Special Topic Tours

Saturdays and Sundays Mid-March Through October

Each hour-long tour begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Visitors Center at the Bell Tower.

Want to learn more about a specific topic? Historic Oakland Foundation offers more than twenty special topic tours that explore a range of subjects, from Atlanta’s African American history to Victorian symbolism and beyond.

Tickets:
Adults: $12
Children (aged 6-17) and Students (with ID): $6
Seniors (65 and older): $6
Historic Oakland Foundation Members: FREE
Prices may differ for tours requiring advance ticketing.

See Full List of Special Topic Tours
Art and Architecture of Death

People have sought to honor the memory of departed loved ones since ancient times, but the 19th century ushered in a new era of funerary art. Innovative building materials came available and styles changed to reflect the popular architecture of the day, such as Egyptian and Gothic Revival. New money meant bigger and bolder memorials to reflect the social status and power of prominent families. This tour explores the origin and use of popular Oakland grave markers, including tombs and towering monuments, obelisks and angels, and many magnificent mausoleums. Discover how architectural and design choices made during life created a lasting and eternal legacy for many Oakland residents.

Available to private tour groups any day of the week. To book a private tour, click here.

Black Magnolias

Historically, many African American women worked as maids, child nurses, cooks, and laundresses—all while managing their own households. As educational opportunities became available following the Civil War and emancipation, African American women aspired to occupations beyond domestic service. Many sought jobs as educators and nurses. Others with access to advanced education became lawyers and physicians. With increasing economic stability, more African American women became stay-at-home mothers, focusing their efforts on homemaking and children. Many African American women also considered it their duty to serve their communities and churches, and they did so in both professional and volunteer positions. This guided walking tour moves beyond historical stereotypes to explore the history, lives, and labors of Atlanta’s African American women.

Available to private tour groups any day of the week. To book a private tour, click here.

Dying in the 19th Century

From the log cabin the Cherokee Indians called “medicine house” to the establishment of Atlanta Medical College and medical advances of the Civil War, this tour traces the history of death and disease in 19th century Atlanta. Early Atlanta was considered the frontier. The rough and sometimes violent lifestyle, combined with the humid climate and swampy land, all contributed to illness, injury, and death among the population. Learn about the mystery and science of death and dying during a time when the discovery of germ theory and anesthesia coexisted with the use of leeches, water cures, and medical quackery.

Available to private tour groups any day of the week. To book a private tour, click here.

Epitaphs – The Immortality of Words

How would you like to be remembered? Victorians gave considerable thought to this concept. An epitaph is described as “a statement commemorating or epitomizing a deceased person.” Join us as we explore some of the fascinating epitaphs that grace the monuments of Oakland. Whether brief or rambling, poignant or humorous, all provide insight into the person’s life. It’s certain you’ll walk away with a favorite!

Available to private tour groups any day of the week. To book a private tour, click here.

Fear and Accusation: The Leo Frank Story

This tour begins and ends with a murder. In the early hours of April 27, 1913, the body of 13-year-old Mary Phagan was discovered in the basement of Atlanta’s National Pencil Factory. Leo Frank, the factory superintendent and a Jewish man from New York, was accused of the heinous crime and tried on evidence that was questionable at best. Class tensions, anti-Semitism, and mob violence all played a role in the trial and events that followed, which rank among the most tragic and unforgettable in Atlanta’s history. Learn how several Oakland residents were involved in the infamous event during this thought-provoking tour.

Available to private tour groups any day of the week. To book a private tour, click here.

From Terminus to Terminals: People Who Put Atlanta in Motion

How did a rural railroad crossing known as Terminus evolve into the home of the world’s busiest airport terminals? As far back as the early 1800s, when this area was nothing but forest, Georgia leaders recognized its ideal location as a connecting point to the west and the Piedmont region. From train disasters to bicycle clubs to hot air balloons piloted by daredevil dentists, discover how several Oakland Cemetery residents had a role in Atlanta’s evolution into a major transportation hub.

Available to private tour groups any day of the week. To book a private tour, click here.

History, Mystery, and Mayhem

With more than 70,000 souls interred in its hallowed grounds, it’s no mystery that Oakland Cemetery has its share of the surreal. Hear the stories that defy explanation, from mysterious murders to tragic events that have passed into local legend.

Available to private tour groups any day of the week. To book a private tour, click here.

The Jewish Grounds of Oakland

Oakland Cemetery is home to three Jewish burial sections, including the second old Jewish burial ground in Georgia. This tour examines notable residents, Jewish burial customs, and symbolism found throughout these grounds. Hear stories of adversity and triumph as waves of Jewish immigrants and families arrived in Atlanta, adapted to the culture of Victorian America, and created a vibrant and active community.

Available to private tour groups any day of the week. To book a private tour, click here.

Margaret Mitchell and Gone with the Wind

Scarlett and Rhett, fiddle-dee-dee, and “frankly my dear”—Margaret Mitchell didn’t know how much of an impact she would have on popular culture when her Civil War novel, Gone with the Wind, was published in 1936. The Pulitzer Prize-winning novel sold more than 1 million copies in its first six months of publication, has been published in 40+ languages, and was made into an Oscar-winning epic. This tour visits the gravesites of Margaret Mitchell, her husband John Marsh, Mitchell family members, and pioneers of Atlanta. Meet several real-life residents believed to inspire her novel’s characters, such as madam Belle Watling and Doctor Meade.

Available to private tour groups any day of the week. To book a private tour, click here.

Oakland and the Civil War

Stand at the site where General Hood watched the Battle of Atlanta. Hear the story of the Great Locomotive Chase and Andrew’s Raiders. See the Lion of Atlanta as it lies wounded and dying over unknown soldiers from nearby battlefields and hospitals, and the Confederate Obelisk, at one time the tallest structure in Atlanta. This tour explores the lives of soldiers who fought, civilians who survived, and military leaders who led troops in the nation’s bloodiest conflict. 

Available to private tour groups any day of the week. To book a private tour, click here.

Pioneers of Atlanta

Meet the founding sons and daughters of a town originally known as “Terminus” – farmers, politicians, saloon owners, lawyers, nurses, gunslingers, and entrepreneurs who made up Atlanta’s founding community. Hear stories of accomplishments, failures, civil strife, and cooperation as you wander through the graves of early Atlanta pioneers.

Available to private tour groups any day of the week. To book a private tour, click here.

Victorian Symbolism

The Victorians were obsessed with death. From rules on mourning outfits to post-mortem photography, the Victorians had elaborate rituals and traditions to grieve and process death. This is reflected in the ornamentation and symbols found in cemeteries. From sleeping lambs to pointing hands, each symbol had a different meaning. The Victorians believed that death was an eternal sleep and many symbols reflect the concept of a cemetery as a “sleeping place.” Discover the many botanical, secular, and religious symbols at Oakland and interpret their meaning on this wandering walk through the cemetery.

Available to private tour groups any day of the week. To book a private tour, click here.

We Shall Overcome: African American Stories From Civil War to Civil Rights

“We Shall Overcome” became the anthem of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, but the origin of the song dates back to antebellum days and a spiritual sung by enslaved people, “No More Auction Block for Me.” This tour explores the lives and accomplishments of outstanding and ordinary African Americans who fought to overcome the effects of slavery and discrimination to help shape the history of Atlanta.

Available to private tour groups any day of the week. To book a private tour, click here.

The Women of Oakland

Early Atlanta was a man’s world. The few women among the first citizens were wives of railroad workers and merchants, enslaved women, and others who possessed the essential skills needed in a growing frontier town: cooks, laundresses, seamstresses, and boardinghouse keepers. But the Civil War and the reconstruction of Atlanta into a metropolitan center dramatically altered the image and status of women. This tour challenges the myth of Southern womanhood by uncovering the true social and personal histories of Atlanta’s pioneering women.

Available to private tour groups any day of the week. To book a private tour, click here.

Oakland’s All Stars: Sports Legends of Atlanta

Go team! Atlanta is home to five major sports teams, several powerhouse universities, and diehard fans who celebrate buzzer beaters, photo finishes, home runs, and hole-in-ones. Discover the origins of some of Atlanta’s most beloved sports teams and hear stories of professional athletes, passionate amateurs, team builders, Olympic supporters, and sports fans of every kind. Don’t forget to bring a golf ball for a special visit to the final resting place of Bobby Jones!

Available to private tour groups any day of the week. To book a private tour, click here.

Odd Fellows, Red Men, Masons, and More . . . Fraternal Organizations at Oakland

The Masons, the Woodmen of the World, and the Knights of Pythias—these are just a few of the fraternal organizations found at Oakland Cemetery. Fraternal organizations in the United States were a post-Civil War phenomenon. By the late 1800’s there were literally hundreds of such organizations, with an estimated 1 in 4 adults belonging to one or more. The groups were either religious (or anti), politically, socially, or professionally based. Join us for a fascinating look at these secret organizations, many of which still exist today.

Available to private tour groups any day of the week. To book a private tour, click here.

Oakland’s Boys of Summer Baseball Tour

Imagine looking west beyond the main gates of Oakland to a lush patch of green grass complete with a baseball diamond. Beyond the playing field is a city devastated and still emotionally smoldering from General Sherman’s fires. Red flags hang from the doors of homes housing people with smallpox. It is May 12, 1866 and the city desperately needs something to celebrate. On this day, the Gate City Nine and the Atlanta Baseball Club took to the field to play the first baseball game in Atlanta. Join us for a tour that recaptures the spirit of the day and examines the lives of several of the players taking part in that historic game.

Available to private tour groups any day of the week. To book a private tour, click here.

Oakland’s Music Makers

From spirituals to shape-note singing, Oakland Cemetery’s musical roots are deep and far-reaching. Since Atlanta’s earliest days, the city has long been a magnet for the musically-inclined. This tour spotlights some noted Atlanta musicians buried here and examines how some of the cemetery’s architecture tunes into musical themes.

Available to private tour groups any day of the week. To book a private tour, click here.

Writers in Residence at Oakland

Oakland’s tranquil gardens provide the perfect setting for exploring the lives and works of novelists, poets, and journalists who populated early Atlanta’s literary landscape. Gone with the Wind author Margaret Mitchell, “Poet Laureate of the South” Charles W. Hubner, Civil War Diarist Samuel Pearce Richards, and Pulitzer prize-winning journalists Julia and Julian Harris are among the many writers in residence resting at Oakland Cemetery.

Available to private tour groups any day of the week. To book a private tour, click here.

Tech Tales: Oakland Cemetery and Georgia Tech

White and gold, the Ramblin’ Wreck—do you know the history of Georgia Tech? Learn how a few Atlanta pioneers, Jewish immigrants, and displaced Northerners transformed a humble trade school into a nationally-ranked institute that forever changed Atlanta and the South. Names like Henry Grady, Sam Inman, and Ivan Allen echo how the story of Atlanta is intertwined and reflected in the history of Georgia Tech. Along the way, hear a little about the first glory days of Tech football, the RAT cap tradition and Margaret Mitchell’s match-making advice for Tech students.

Available to private tour groups any day of the week. To book a private tour, click here.

Love Stories of Oakland

Meet a few of Oakland Cemetery’s lovers who expected their love to last beyond their time here on earth. This tour explores Victorian symbols of devotion and reveals poignant epitaphs that speak to enduring and eternal love.

This ticketed program requires reservations. Tickets are available in advance at www.eventbrite.com.

Malts and Vaults of Oakland: Where Beer Meets History

What do a jousting match, a German gymnastics group, the sun god Ra, and a blind tiger have in common? Everyone’s favorite malt beverage—beer—of course! Find out how the sudsy beverage connects these fascinating topics, and delve into Atlanta’s long and vivid history of brewing. After the tour, adults 21+ are invited to enjoy a complimentary tasting of some local brews.

This ticketed program requires reservations. Tickets are available in advance at www.eventbrite.com.

Explore At Your Own Pace or With A Big Group

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