36 Hours in Atlanta

Our editor-picked itinerary for your weekend in Atlanta: Soul food, erudite museums, outdoor fun, and even late-night pubs

Ask people what they should do in Atlanta, and you’ll get a lot of different answers. We are home to the world’s largest aquarium, the world’s biggest news network and one of the world’s best-selling novels (the only book that’s sold more copies than Margaret Mitchell’s “Gone With the Wind” is the Bible). But the city is also known to a lot of smaller, more hidden spots that are every bit as cool and fun. Here, we give you a taste.

FRIDAY

5:30-7:30 pm: Take A Brewery Tour 
Now that you’re here, kick the weekend off right with a tour of Atlanta’s SweetWater Brewing Company (404.691.2537). You can take the tour and try the brews without spending a dime, but for $10 you get a shiny souvenir pint glass to take home. Note: Each tour is 20 minutes and there’s no going back for a refill midway.

8-10 pm: The Bookhouse Pub 
This neighborhood spot is the perfect bridge between the brew tour and what comes next. In addition to an extensive beer menu, the cozy bar/restaurant serves up delicious fare ranging from pub favorites (we love the gouda grilled cheese sandwich served with spicy tomato dipping sauce) to more elegant options such as pan-seared scallops with spaghetti sauce and Brussel sprouts.404.254.1176

11 pm-3 am: Clermont Lounge 
For those who condone such late-night debauchery, Atlanta’s oldest strip club, The Clermont Lounge (404.874.4783) is legendary (Anthony Bourdain, Alton Brown and pretty much any rapper you can think of have all been guests at this dive bar). $10 cover; go early if you want to avoid a wait.

SATURDAY

9-10 am: Flying Biscuit Café 
For breakfast, head to this Atlanta staple for comforting mounds of biscuits, tasty omelettes, creamy grits and organic oatmeal pancakes. There are now over a dozen Atlanta locations, but we suggest the original Candler Park location (404.687.8888) or Midtown (404.874.8887), which is right down the street from your next adventure.

10 am-noon: Atlanta Beltline 
Rent a bike (or inline skates, if that’s your thing) from Skate Escape (404.892.1292) in Midtown. From there you can cruise through Piedmont Park, Atlanta’s most popular green space, straight to the Atlanta Beltline, a growing network of parks and trails built on 22 miles of historic railroad corridors that—when all is said and done—will eventually connect 45 of Atlanta neighborhoods. You can pick it up at the corner of 10th and Piedmont in Midtown and just follow the bike riders, dog walkers and joggers from there.

1-2 pm: Woody’s 
Now that you’ve worked up an appetite, pedal on over to Woody’s Famous Atlanta CheeseSteaks (404.876.1939), an Atlanta landmark since 1975. Located in a little wooden shack on a tiny triangular lot just south of Piedmont Park, the restaurant serves a full line of subs, sausages and dogs, but really, the name says it all. Enjoy your son the wraparound porch and make sure you get a banana split or King of Pops popsicle for dessert. 

2-5 pm: Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum 
President Jimmy Carter and wife Rosalynn have an apartment at his presidential library and museum located right off Freedom Parkway, and actually stay there quite often. And why not? The property boasts a library and archives, a museum with photographs and historical memorabilia (not to mention an exact replica of the Oval Office) and beautiful gardens. 404.865.5131

5-7 pm: Chicken & Waffles 
Mouth-watering soul food is the draw at Gladys Knight’s Signature Chicken & Waffles (404.874.9393), Make yourself at home while enjoying fried green tomatoes, shrimp and grits, salmon croquettes, brown sugar salmon and other Southern delights.

7-10 pm: Shakespeare, As You Like It 
Inspired by The Globe (Shakespeare’s original theater), The New American Shakespeare Tavern (404.874.5299) presents the bard’s plays, in addition to original works and American classics, as they would have been originally staged—i.e., with live sound effects, music on period-appropriate instruments and Elizabethan-style costumes. A pub-style menu is served 75 minutes before show time.

SUNDAY

10 am-noon: Rise & Dine 
Sleep in then go for breakfast at Rise & Dine (404.377.4407), a popular Emory Village breakfast and lunch spot featuring quirky décor and friendly servers. Best bets include chicken sausage, lox scrambles, sweet potato pancakes and yummy omelettes. Wash it down with fresh-squeezed drinks and specialty coffees. When you’re done, e a stroll around the Emory campus or nearby Lullwater Park (404.712.9979), a serene oasis with paths, ponds and lots of green space.

Noon-1 pm: Michael C. Carlos Museum
Located in a Michael Graves-designed building on the Emory University campus, this esteemed art museum is an archaeologist’s dream come true. It boasts the largest collection of ancient art in the Southeast, with pieces from ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, Africa, the ancient Americas and more.