Explore the Atlanta BeltLine
Circling the core of the city’s in-town neighborhoods, the BeltLine is a wondrous trail with miles of parks, cafes, tea rooms and shops. You’ll feel like you’re roaming amidst of mashup of urbanity with nature. At every turn, there’s street art, music, and vendors hawking their wares. Bike it. Walk it. Grab a seat and watch the passeggiata. No matter how you choose to enjoy it, the BeltLine is a beautiful oasis that shouldn’t be missed.
Just off the BeltLine, Ponce City Market is a place to spend a few hours shopping, enjoying the foodie choices at the central food hall, or taking a well-deserved coffee or cocktail break.
Culture, Culture and More Culture
Atlanta is home to the Coca-Cola Company and it’s a kick to visit their eponymous museum, World of Coca-Cola. Test your scents savvy, sample a variety of beverages at Taste It!, and ogle the Fort Knox-like vault, guardian of the beverage’s secret recipe.
Celebrating the re-opening of the Georgia Aquarium, “Shark and Ray Interaction” dares you to share a predator-filled pool or suit up for a shark cage dive. Timed tickets for both general entry and special “immersions” must be booked online. During the shutdown, the penguins were lonely so the aquarium-keepers let them wander about for some socially distant socialization. How cool is that?
In this time of BLM, me-too, and changing beliefs and values, the National Center for Civil and Human Rights rightfully belongs on your agenda. Martin Luther King is Atlanta’s hometown hero and his story as well as those of other notables of the American civil rights and global human rights movements are explored in the Center’s galleries, films and changing exhibits.
If art is more your thing, head to Midtown, Atlanta’s arts district. The High Museum of Art, known simply as The High, gives you a spacious, well-curated art fix that includes a notable collection of 19th and 20th-century French paintings. Nearby, The Fox Theatre is a shining example of a 1920’s movie palace, now used for concerts. Check the website to see if any programming has resumed, or, at least, to arrange a tour of this gorgeous building.
(Spring travelers, take note: Atlanta CityPASS offers a discount of 45% on admission to five attractions).
A Mecca for All Kinds of Dining
While there’s plenty of four-star and expensive ethnic eating in Atlanta, there are fewer bougie choices that are “musts” for any serious foodie visiting the city.
Mary Mac’s Tea Room continues a long history of women opening restaurants (called tearooms) in Atlanta. Now in its eighth decade in its original location and virtually unchanged, Mary Mac’s invites you to enjoy a Southern tradition, “meat ‘n’ three.” A favorite? order the fried chicken, fried green tomatoes, black-eyed peas and collard greens. Yum.
If you’ve never tried BBQ before, Atlanta is your place. Markedly unfussy but downright delicious, choices like Fat Matt’s Rib Shack and Community Q will wow you even if their lines don’t. For a chance at seating (with drinks to accompany), steel yourself for the wait at Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q. No matter, though -- in this time of social distancing, you can opt to get your spread to go, tailgate near your car, or just feast back to your hotel or BnB. Be sure to try a pulled pork sandwich, brisket on a platter with fried okra and coleslaw, fried pickles, and a slab of ribs. Plan to get dirty and just wear jeans and a T. It’s a vacation and you shouldn’t be dressing up anyhow.
Nearly a century old and another Atlanta classic, The Varsity is a humongous American drive-in where hot dogs, onion rings and a Frosted Orange (FO to “those in the know”) are celebrated as haute cuisine. Trust me on this.
For some late-night insanity, visit The Vortex Bar and Grill in Atlanta’s hippie ‘hood, Little Five Points. The 20-foot skull that serves as an entry is an indication of what’s inside. But truth be told, the décor belies the fact that the burgers are crazy good and the music is seriously rockin’. It’s a favorite among the college set, but everybody has a blast, no matter how old.
Where to Stay
The new Hotel Colee is offering an inviting “Show Up & Shop” package with deals on neighboring mall shops. Located in the glam Buckhead neighborhood, the new hotel from the Autograph Collection also has a rooftop pool.
Convenient to the Georgia Aquarium, the new Reverb by Hard Rock Downtown Atlanta is offering 15% off and admission for two to the Aquarium.