So, you’re traveling to Atlanta. But where are the best places to go? The World of Coke, CNN Center, and Stone Mountain may be the most popular tourist spots, but if you want to get to know the real Atlanta, here’s my guide:
FOOD AND DRINK
Ponce City Market: A redeveloped building in the heart of downtown Atlanta, Ponce City Market is a great place for sightseeing, grabbing a bite to eat, shopping, and drinking. Ponce City Market is located on the Beltline (see below), allowing tourists to stop in for a quick bite to eat before continuing on their hikes.
Krog Street Market: From authentic Italian pizza just out of the oven to world-famous spicy chicken sandwiches, Krog Street Market offers a variety of incredible places to eat. Fodor’s Travel even named it one of the Ten Best Food Halls in the U.S. Here’s a secret tip: visit Richard’s Southern Fried for the best taste of Southern food you can get in Atlanta.
Home Grown GA: Located minutes from Oakland Cemetery, Home Grown is the perfect spot to order Southern comfort breakfast food. They are best known for their Comfy Chicken Biscuit, a breakfast meal so mouthwatering that just the smell will excite you!
Butter and Cream: I spent my high school years just across the street from Butter and Cream, meaning I’ve tasted almost every flavor of ice cream that they offer. All of their ice cream is locally crafted using fresh ingredients. Some of my favorite flavors include Mint Chocolate Chip, Church Street Vanilla, and Persian Rose.
Sister Louisa's Church of the Living Room and Ping Pong Emporium: I may not be 21 yet, but I’ve heard that Sister Louisa’s is one of the most iconic bars in all of Atlanta. The bar is church-themed and hosts church organ karaoke, ping pong tournaments, and more. When asked about the most iconic drink at Sister Louisa’s, my mom told me that “no particular drink is the most iconic—you go because Jesus says so!”
Beltline: A former railway corridor, the Atlanta Beltline is a trail for walking, running, and biking that can get the most athletic of us from one end of Atlanta to the other. The Beltline commissions local artists to create displays, so your hike will be filled with interesting art pieces to snap Instagram pictures of.
Goat Farm Arts Center: If the art on the Beltline leaves you wanting more, visit the Goat Farm Arts Center. This collection of 19th-century industrial buildings is used for performing and visual art displays. True to its name, you can also spot quite a few friendly goats around the Arts Center!
Oakland Cemetery: Oakland Cemetery was founded in 1850 and still remains in the heart of Atlanta today. Beautiful architecture, a rich history, and thriving nature describe Oakland’s 48 acres. Margaret Mitchell, Maynard Jackson, and Bobby Jones are just some of the iconic Atlanta citizens that are buried here. Oakland is even a short walking distance from Octane Coffee, one of the best spots to fill up on caffeine in all of Atlanta.
MARTA: The Metropolitian Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority is Atlanta’s primary source of public transportation. MARTA has several stops conveniently located next to landmarks such as Oakland Cemetery and Piedmont Park. Rather than just taking the train to get from location to location, spend a few hours exploring the various train stations. Five Points Station has intriguing and futuristic architecture, while Peachtree Station contains an escalator that looks like it may transport you into a different dimension.
Piedmont Park: Want to escape the bustling city? Piedmont Park’s 185 acres are perfect for relaxing in the sun. Throughout the year, Piedmont Park is home to dozens of different art, music and food festivals—one of the most notable is Music Midtown, Atlanta’s largest yearly music festival. Previous headliners include Bruno Mars, Mumford and Sons, The Killers, and Jack White.
Filming Locations: Next to Los Angeles and New York, Atlanta is one of the top three filming locations in America. Take a quick drive to Covington to visit the famous Mystic Grill restaurant, an iconic location from The Vampire Diaries. A short walk through the campus of Georgia State University will lead you through dozens of filming locations from Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver. Some other movies and shows filmed here include Spiderman: Homecoming, Black Panther, Divergent, The Hunger Games, and Atlanta.
The High Museum of Art: Speaking of Black Panther, a quick visit to the High Museum will transport you right into the movie. The High Museum is one of the leading art museums in the Southeastern United States. Previous exhibitions include the works of Andy Warhol and Eric Carle.
The Plaza Theatre: Ever wanted to see a midnight showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show? Atlanta’s longest-operating movie theatre is the best place to go. With an incredible cast and an iconic location, Rocky Horror productions at the Plaza are perfect for any movie-lover. The Plaza also screens old and new films throughout the year and hosts the Atlanta Film Festival.
Little 5 Points: Little Five is my favorite place for shopping around Atlanta. Criminal Records offers a wide variety of vinyl and comic books, The Clothing Warehouse sells true vintage jeans, and Rag O’Rama sells affordable, trendy consignment clothing. If you’re looking for a great place to buy tarot cards, crystals, or incense, visit Crystal Blue. If you prefer to support your local feminist bookstore, check out Charis Books!
Lenox Mall: Lenox is the best place to visit high-end department stores, including Topshop, Urban Outfitters, Adidas, Madewell, Anthropology, and more. Lenox is also conveniently located next to a MARTA station, saving you from the crazy Buckhead traffic!
Decatur Square: Decatur Square is a great place to shop local fashion and art. I’ve lived in Decatur for several years and always have great finds around the square. Hop into Little Shop of Stories for a great book selection, Squash Blossom for cute vintage dresses, and Homegrown for affordable work from local artists.