Explore Atlanta

Meet the Concierge at Mandarin Oriental, Atlanta

Concierge Jim Ledford is a local expert on the luxe Buckhead hotel as well as the vibrant city beyond its walls.

Stay cool this summer with tips from Concierge Jim Ledford at Mandarin Oriental Atlanta.

Where would you recommend going for a cool summer cocktail?

What used to be a scooter shop on Ponce de Leon Avenue next to the Atlanta BeltLine is now 8ARM. It is a drink bar and café serving adult beverages, coffee and light bites. Speaking of the Atlanta Beltline, check out Golden Eagle in Reynoldstown. Once an old train depot, it's now a midcentury decorated restaurant that serves an updated twist on classic cocktails.

Golden Eagle
Visit Golden Eagle during Golden Hours, a special food and drink menu available nightly from 5-7 pm starting June 21. (Courtesy Golden Eagle)

Which park do you go to for a picnic?

I have to pitch my neighborhood of Grant Park for picnicing. Even though the Boulevard side of the park is going through a renovation, do not let it stop you from noshing under the established tree canopied grounds and paths. Stop in at Grant Park Coffeehouse to grab a coffee and danish before or afterward.

Where's one of your favorite places to pick up some ice cream?

I really enjoy Morelli's Gourmet Ice Cream on Moreland Avenue. They create truly delicious blends of ice cream featured on a rotating roster. They also offer non-dairy for those that are lactose intolerant and a vegan flavor. When in the Virginia-Highland neighborhood, visit Paolo's Gelato. Paolo's offers double the amount of Baskin Robbins. Not to be forgotten is Kilwin's in Atlantic Station. The wafting smell of the sugar and waffle cones draw you in. 

Kilwin's ice cream at Atlantic Station
Kilwin's (Courtesy Atlantic Station)

Do you know of a few places you can catch some Fourth of July fireworks?

Locals are visiting Stone Mountain Park, Decatur, Chamblee, Marietta and East Point, which all have fantastic firework displays.

One great way to dodge the heat is with a movie. What unique movie theatres are in the area?

A classic throwback is the Starlight Six Drive-In Theatre with concession stands that serve favorites. I just watched "Deadpool 2" there.

To see avant-garde and independent flicks, visit the Landmark Midtown Art Cinema. The concession stand serves adult beverages and coffee. To see a movie in the utmost comfortable seats you ever sat in, visit AMC 14 Phipps Plaza. Order food and drink right from your seat.

Favorite local soul food restaurant?

I absolutely am in love with The Colonade, with a monthly visit to bat. Since 1927 it has been serving up soul food to Atlanta's gays and greys. The butter beans are fantastic. The bartender is amazing and fast with your order. I often tell guests to visit Mary Mac's Tea Room (dating back to 1945) before or after a show at the Fox Theatre. Mary Mac's is unique because you complete your own guest check.

Where's a great place to take the kids while on vacation in Atlanta?

For the little ones ages 8 and under, the Children's Museum of Atlanta is always an interactive educational experience. Close by is the Fountain of Rings at Centennial Olympic Park. The kids love running around laughing and screaming while getting wet. We big kids can also be seen racing through the rings trying to catch our kids while doing our best not to get wet.

The Amazing Castle at Children's Museum of Atlanta (Photo by Minnesota Children's Museum)
"The Amazing Castle" exhbit at the Children's Museum of Atlanta is open through Sept. 9, 2018. (Courtesy Minnesota Children's Museum)

Is there anything else going on you want to tell us about? 

It is festival and amphitheater season in Atlanta. Check the pages of Where Atlanta for more event details.

I believe the big music event of the summer will be held July 1, 2018, at SunTrust Park featuring Def Leppard and Journey.