Calinda N. Lee
Margaret Mitchell House / Photo courtesy of Jin-Ping Han/Wikipedia
Octopus Bar / Photo credit So Ba Vietnamese Restaurant Atlanta
The Busy Bee Cafe' / Photo courtesy of Lauren Polinsky/Creative Commons
Calinda N. Lee is a historian at the Atlanta History Center. She is currently curating an exhibit on the history of Atlanta opening there in March 2016.
Best Historic Architecture
The Margaret Mitchell House, aka “the Dump,” is where the famous author lived and wrote Gone with the Wind. It is one of the properties of the Atlanta History Center. On our main campus in Buckhead, Swan House is the early 20th-century mansion of Edward and Emily Inman. Both are fun to visit on the weekends as part of the “Meet the Past” program where history comes alive.
Best Off-the-Beaten Path Architecture
The South-View Cemetery in Jonesboro is about a 15-minute drive south of Atlanta. It offers a great view of the city’s history, particularly its African-American history. South-View was one of the first cemeteries to allow African Americans to be buried there. Among the interred are Martin Luther King Jr.’s parents, some of the victims of the Atlanta Race Riot of 1906, and Alonzo Herndon, Atlanta’s first black millionaire.
The Spelman College Museum of Fine Art is fairly new, but it’s really courageous in its choice of cutting-edge exhibits.
Attached to a Vietnamese restaurant, Octopus in the East Atlanta neighborhood opens at 10:30 in the evening on its neighbor’s patio, which is painted with graffiti. There’s a changing menu of small plates, fresh seafood, and its signature head-on, salt-and-pepper shrimp.
The Sound Table in the Old Fourth Ward has great drinks and good food. Its top floor opens up with a DJ late at night. On Mondays, there’s a pop-up restaurant serving ramen.
Open daily, the Dekalb Farmers Market is huge. It has an amazing assortment of international foods and ingredients.
For a sort of excursion, Atlanta has a lot of street festivals and home tours, especially in May. The home tours in Druid Hills, Grant Park, and Candler Park are great.
The best neighborhood is my neighborhood of course—Grant Park. It’s home to the zoo and lots of historic architecture, and the last standing embankment from the Civil War. We’re just cool, and we’ve got lots of cool stuff. It’s residential here, but with a good energy, and there are always people out.
Best Civil Rights Pilgrimage
Not only has The Busy Bee Café been operated by the same family since 1947, it’s the place where Martin Luther King Jr. and student activists would meet. And it has great Southern soul food.