Atlanta
Atlanta

Atlanta

Georgia, United States
The turning point of the Civil War and civil rights has reinvented itself yet again as Hotlanta, home of floor-shaking Dirty South hip-hop, low-country haute cuisine, glam shopping among real housewives and the zombie movie capitol of the world.
Getting Around Atlanta
The easiest way to get around Atlanta is by car. Parking in entertainment, restaurant and hospital zones is limited to 4 hours, as designated by street signs, and is enforced from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (http://www.parkatlanta.org/regulations.html) Atlanta's transit agency, MARTA, operates four lines through the city (http://www.itsmarta.com). MARTA Buses operate from 5 a.m. to 1 a.m. Monday through Friday, and 5 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. on weekends. MARTA Trains operate from 4:45 a.m. to 1 a.m. on weekdays and from 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. on weekends. From 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. trains run every 15 minutes on all lines and every 20 minutes from 7 p.m. until 1 a.m. (http://www.itsmarta.com/hours-of-operations.aspx)
Nearby Airports
  • Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport-ATL
Airport Taxis
  • $50-$60
Things to Do and See in Atlanta
Old Fourth WardVirginia-HighlandDruid HillsEast Atlanta VillageMidtownSweet AuburnLittle Five PointsGrant ParkCabbagetownDowntownBuckhead
Historic trials make creative triumphs sweeter along Old Fourth Ward's "Sweet Auburn" Avenue. Nobel Peace Prize winner Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was born at 501 Auburn Ave., and gave sermons at nearby Old Ebenezer Baptist Church that inspired the nation to end segregation and redefine the American Dream. APEX Museum puts Sweet Auburn's history into global perspective, from its harrowing slave-ship diorama to early Black Atlanta society portraits by NAACP co-founder (and Atlanta University professor) W.E.B Du Bois. A century before The Cosby Show was set in a Brooklyn brownstone, Sweet Auburn was Atlanta's model African American middle-class community. After the 1917 Great Atlanta Fire destroyed almost 2,000 buildings along Old Fourth Ward Boulevard, the community rallied, establishing the public market that's now the Sweet Auburn Curb Market. Today you can witness history in the making at the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Change, and in the revitalized streets of Sweet Auburn National Historic District. The Sweet Auburn Heritage Fest has launched the "Dirty South" sound with megastars such as Outkast, Usher, and Little John, and the old cotton warehouse has been taken over by Studioplex art studios and restaurants. The $50 million renovation of Historic Fourth Ward Park includes the BeltLine rails-to-trails initiative and a new Old Fourth Ward Skatepark designed by skate legend Tony Hawk. For further inspiration, don't miss hog jowls at Kevin Rathbun Steak, Highland Bakery's sweet potato pancakes, and irreverent "spiritual sangria" at Sister Louisa's Church of the Living Room and Ping-Pong Emporium.
You can't stop progress, but it slows down to match a Southern pace of life in Virginia-Highland. Just two miles from Downtown, Virginia-Highland's loose federation of villages was bypassed by freeways and suburban sprawl in the 1960s. But instead of surrendering to smog and genteel decline, Virginia-Highland kick-started historic preservation initiatives and zoning rules to keep overpasses and Highland Avenue pub crawls in check. Rocky Horror shows at deco-fabulous Plaza Theatre are legendary, and shows at Blind Willie's have kept the blues live, local and lowdown for 30 years. Ponce City Market is being creatively repurposed into a gourmet food destination, and donations for tours of historic fire station #19 and its vintage 1925 fire truck underwrite renovation efforts. Renovated and rebranded Vi-Hi is now plotting to redecorate your place, with eccentric Southern antiques from Paris on Ponce emporium and colorful ATL character from Highland Ave. standbys Armour & Co. and Urban Cottage. Foodies can't miss Summerfest for homegrown food and art, or Morningside Farmers Market for certified organic and Georgia-grown eats. Atlantans will take any excuse to swing by Vi-Hi for breakfasts served 24/7 at vintage 1930s Majestic Diner, buffalo wings among fellow sports fans at Taco Mac's, or burgers with bacon jam on YEAH! Burger's patio. Detour for decadent dark chocolate macarons at local artisan chocolatier Cacao on your way to Key Lime Pie spa for Aveda aromatherapy oil massages in a cozy brick-walled bungalow.
Decatur is having a movie moment, when the geek's glasses are finally removed to reveal a regulation hottie. Six miles east of Downtown is not where you'd expect to discover a Hollywood star and Food Channel darling, but Decatur is a shy charmer. The colonnaded courthouse and other Decatur landmarks may look familiar from blockbusters (Stomp the Yard), TV shows (Drop Dead Diva), and zombie movies (Contagion). And Decatur's own Krispy Kreme needs no introduction. But when the donuts are fresh from the oven and the original Krispy Kreme sign flashes the word HOT around midnight, the message couldn't be any clearer. Decatur is booty-calling Atlanta, with decadent mood-lit gastro-pubs like Brick Store and Leon's Full Service. By day, bad boys skate McKoy Park and rebel girls in hoodies add a fresh layer of graffiti to the recently restored Old Decatur Water Works. But there are still plenty of opportunities to geek out around here, with Scrabble marathons at Thinking Man Tavern sandwiched between between Decatur's Book Fest and Wine Fest. Successful Decatur first dates may end awkwardly holding hands inside the IMAX Theater at Fernbank Museum of National History and Science Center in neighboring Druid Hills. This suburb is a more obvious choice for romantic hero, with its preppy Emory College, landscaping by Central Park's Frederick Law Olmstead, and mansions for moguls like Coca-Cola founder Asa Candler. Druid Hills' Center for Disease Control has issued official tips for surviving a zombie apocalypse, but when the end-times come, the smart money's on brainiac Decatur to save the day.
Like the breakthrough acts that grace its stages nightly, East Atlanta Village (EAV) has a comeback story you won't even believe. This neighborhood has been on the hustle for centuries, ever since Flat Shoals Avenue was a native trade route known as Sandtown Trail. The Civil War brought Union encampments to the area, and the bloody battles waged over the strategic munitions hub of Atlanta are re-enacted annually at the local B*ATL history festival. On a single summer's day in 1864, 12,000 soldiers were killed here, including Confederate General Walker and Union General McPherson. Flat Shoals became a key thoroughfare for post-war reconstruction, and a community soon cropped up along the streetcar line three miles east of downtown. Community spirit prevailed in this pioneering integrated neighborhood, which raised donations to build its own library, movie house, and Brownwood Park Community Garden. After a 1980s decline that left the neighborhood half-abandoned, EAV has come roaring back to life. The neighborhood throws on creative costumes and hits its stride at the arty annual East Atlanta Strut, and raises a toast or ten to progress at the East Atlanta Beer Fest. The Earl regularly showcases alt-acts and new genres, from doom soul to roots rock. Gay karaoke and DJ sets rock the house at Mary's, and there are live jazz bands upstairs and DJ sets downstairs at the Graveyard. Barflies swear by the Mother Clucker (egg and sausage roll) at Delia's Chicken Sausage Stand, but for maximum local flavor, hit East Atlanta Farmers Market 4 to 8 pm Thursdays for chef demos and fierce peach cobbler competitions.
No matter when you arrive in Midtown, it's showtime. Midtown's Cultural Corridor is home to 30 performing arts groups and 25 entertainment venues, including the granddaddy of them all: the art deco Arabesque Fox Theatre. Generations of fans have yelled "Freebird!" for encores here, ever since Lynyrd Skynyrd recorded their definitive Southern rock anthem at the Fox. Summer brings Music Midtown and Screen on the Green to 189-acre Piedmont Park, while winter inside the vast Woodruff Arts Center means great performances at Atlanta Symphony and Tony-winning Alliance Theatre. The High Museum of Art keeps the inspiration coming from Italian Renaissance painting through Southern folk art, with 13,000 artworks overflowing Richard Meier's dazzling white-enamel galleries into Renzo Piano's light-dappled 2005 extension. The Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA) gives Midtown even more to brag about with its Smithsonian-approved collection, 2011 platinum LEED-certified green building, and blockbuster shows ranging from Bauhaus furniture to skateboard art. Midtown has been a major drag ever since Drag Race superstar RuPaul rocked the Atlanta LGBT scene, which is America's third largest and most diverse. Atlanta Gay Pride Fest has grown since 1971 into a week-long extravaganza in June, though Midtown's underground club scene has been mainstreamed and tamed since the '90s. All dressed up and no place to go in Atlanta, like Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With the Wind Channel Margaret Mitchell, who wrote these Pulitzer Prize-winning words in Midtown: "My dear, I don't give a damn."
Historic trials make creative triumphs sweeter along Old Fourth Ward's "Sweet Auburn" Avenue. Nobel Peace Prize winner Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was born at 501 Auburn Ave., and gave sermons at nearby Old Ebenezer Baptist Church that inspired the nation to end segregation and redefine the American Dream. APEX Museum puts Sweet Auburn's history into global perspective, from its harrowing slave-ship diorama to early Black Atlanta society portraits by NAACP co-founder (and Atlanta University professor) W.E.B Du Bois. A century before The Cosby Show was set in a Brooklyn brownstone, Sweet Auburn was Atlanta's model African American middle-class community. After the 1917 Great Atlanta Fire destroyed almost 2000 buildings along Old Fourth Ward Boulevard, the community rallied, establishing the public market that's now the Sweet Auburn Curb Market. Today you can witness history in the making at the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Change, and in the revitalized streets of Sweet Auburn National Historic District. The Sweet Auburn Heritage Fest has launched the "Dirty South" sound with megastars such as Outkast, Usher and Little John, and the old cotton warehouse has been taken over by Studioplex art studios and restaurants. The $50 million renovation of Historic Fourth Ward Park includes the BeltLine rails-to-trails initiative and a new Old Fourth Ward Skatepark designed by skate legend Tony Hawk. For further inspiration, don't miss hog jowls at Kevin Rathbun Steak, Highland Bakery's sweet potato pancakes, and irreverent "spiritual sangria" at Sister Louisa's Church of the Living Room and Ping-Pong Emporium.
When working for The Man leaves you feeling stuck in a Downtown Connector loop, head east to recover your indie spirit in Little Five Points (L5P). Start with the obvious: underground comics and Jack White's latest at Criminal Records, or vintage soul and shoe-gazer Goth CDs at Wax-n-Facts. The density of musicians in L5P makes September's Little Five Fest one to watch for breakthroughs, and Variety Playhouse regularly features live alt-folk and bluegrass in a deco theater. Don't worry if you missed L5P's legendary Halloween Parade & Festival—just be sure to pay due respects to the Elvis Shrine between live sets at Star Community Bar, located inside a converted bank. Guinness is too corporate for L5P happy hours: locals head to Wrecking Bar Brewpub for backyard-brewed Stout served in a former Methodist Church. To honor undead-invasion movies like Zombieland, the brave enter the skull doorway of Vortex Bar and Grill for Hell Burgers (haba—ero-spiked burgers) and Skull Crushers (the Deliverance version of a Long Island Ice Tea). Stop and smell the roses and/or discover your presidential ambitions at the Jimmy Carter Center in neighboring Inman Park.
You only really need three reasons to visit Grant Park: lions, gorillas, and (oh yes) giant pandas. After a circus went bankrupt in Atlanta in 1889, the exotic animals were donated to the city and moved to vast Grant Park for safekeeping. Crowds flocked there to see the lions and camels, and Zoo Atlanta was born. As if pandas and 1,300 other rare beasts aren't enough, there's human history to explore here too. Grant Park's vintage 1929 Cyclorama is a 358-foot painted diorama that gradually reveals the dramatic story of the 1864 Battle of Atlanta. Few buildings survived the burning of Atlanta ordered by General Sherman, but Atlanta rebuilt rapidly and in grand style around Grant Park. Grant Park Historic District has Atlanta's oldest surviving homes, including lacy Queen Annes and hand-carved Craftsman bungalows along Grant Street. The city's oldest burial ground is just north of Grant Park at gargoyle-bedecked Oakland Cemetery, with a fan shrine for golf legend Bobby Jones and special sections for Jewish Atlantans, Confederate soldiers, and slaves. Afterwards, contemplate the great beyond over catfish and beer at neighboring Six Feet Under bar and grill, and enjoy an Octane coffee pour-over strong enough to wake the dead.
The wrong side of the tracks never felt so right. Tucked behind a defunct rail yard, the neighborhood formerly known as Factory Town has industrial cool and street creds galore. Running under the tracks into Cabbagetown is century-old Krog Street Tunnel, which has a new lease on life as a graffiti art showcase and hip hop album backdrop. The center of Cabbagetown is the landmarked Fulton Bag and Cotton Mill, which opened in 1881 and closed a century later. The factory was recently remodeled into the largest loft community in the United States, smokestacks and all. After a string of bad luck that included a 1999 fire, 2008 tornado and the U.S. mortgage crisis, most units remain unsold and unrented. But newcomers are already settled into Cabbagetown's shotgun houses, and weekend crowds arrive hungry for smoked Georgia trout guacamole at Agave and fried green tomato BLTs at 97 Estoria. The odds are definitely in starving artists' favor at the annual Cabbagetown Chomp & Stomp, which features 60 bluegrass artists and 120 types of chili chased with craft SweetWater beer. If you feel a creative urge coming on, Cabbagetown Clay and Glass Works is a collectors-magnet art studio that also offers classes.
The neighborhood once abandoned on weekends to stranded conventioneers is now the center of ATL attention, as Atlantans escape suburban sprawl for downtown's historic streets and super-sized attractions. Sports fans head directly to Philips Arena for NBA games, Turner Field for Braves baseball, and the Georgia Dome for Falcons football and killer marching band contests (as seen in the movie Drumline). Atlanta businesses shamelessly self-promote downtown, as you may discover on tours of CNN Center, at cola tastings inside the World of Coca-Cola, and mingling with the hip hop mogul crowd at Magic City strip shows. Between tradeshows and the annual Dragon*Con sci-fi convention at World Congress Center, don't miss dolphin shows at the world's largest aquarium: Georgia Aquarium, located in Centennial Olympic Park. The capitol of the New South can get mighty fancy, with its gold-domed State Capitol Building and a neo-Gothic City Hall as lacy as a Southern debutante ball. But downtown remains refreshingly down-to-earth along tree-shaded Fairlie-Poplar Historic District, and landmarked Hotel Row along Mitchell Street shows what Southern hospitality looked like a century ago.
Atlanta's third tallest high-rise district is second to none when it comes to Atlanta luxury. Eight miles north of downtown, the glittering glass towers of Buckhead's high-end hotels try to outshine each other. To get the best deals at Buckhead's upscale malls, you may have to elbow some Real Housewives of Atlanta out of your way. Phipp's Plaza has the swankiest selection—Saks, Versace, Nordstrom, Jimmy Choo, Lilly Pulitzer—but Buckhead Station has the best bargains at DSW, Nordstrum Rack, and TJ Maxx. Phipp's has a 14-screen multiplex, though you may need to borrow a kid to see Atlanta MiniLand at Phipp's LEGOLAND Discovery Center (adults are allowed entry without kids only on designated Adult Nights). For grand decorating ideas, tour the Governor's Mansion and visit Atlanta History Center's antebellum Smith Family Farmhouse and elegant 1928 Swan House. Buckhead's answer to Midtown's sprawling High Museum is the more intimate, focused Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia, featuring 800 works by 200-plus Georgia artists. Rumbling stomachs call for steak and lobster bisque lunches at Bone's Restaurant, and spiked Southern Cola cocktails and burgers 10 pm (sharp) at Holeman and Finch Public House. For demos by Top Chef stars and Buckhead flavor to go, stop by Peachtree Road Farmers Market Saturday mornings, April through October.
Our friends at Eater.com pick the city's best restaurants each quarter, and we trust their opinion. See full list »
Ammazza
The newest addition to the pie scene is Ammazza, a Neapolitan-esque pizzeria that sources some ingredients locally instead of importing everything from Italy. Also: they have glitter pizza.
Miso Izakaya
Named as one of Bon Appetit's six favorite izakayas in North America, Miso Izakaya also happens to be helmed by 2011 Eater Atlanta Award-Winning Chef of the Year Guy Wong. A favorite of locals and critics alike, the Japanese pub is a must-try.
Rathbun's
There aren’t many bad things to say about Kevin Rathbun’s restaurant, so we’ll focus on the good: the food is great and so is the service. Rathbun’s is also conveniently located next to Krog Bar, so stop in before or after your meal for a glass of wine and an appetizer or a nightcap.
BoccaLupo
BoccaLupo opened quietly in Inman Park in April, and early reviews have been nothing but positive. Go for the pasta, stay for the patio.
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