State Botanical Garden of Georgia / Photo courtesy of Javier Martin/Wikipedia
Centennial Olympic Park / Photo courtesy of Lee Coursey/Creative Commons
Sweet Auburn Curb Market / Photo courtesy of ciambellina/Creative Commons
Georgia Aquarium / Photo courtesy of Wikipedia
Dennis Hertlein is a principal at Surber Barber Choate + Hertlein Architects.
The High Museum is a must-visit for art and architecture enthusiasts. The original building was designed by Richard Meier, and the new wing by Renzo Piano is a masterful addition that creates a great outdoor space. The museum showcases a fascinating permanent collection with special exhibits rotating throughout the year.
Gunshow with chef Kevin Gillespie is located in Glenwood Park and offers innovative food in a dim sum inspired set-up. Go with a crowd to sample as many of the dishes presented to your table as you can. Chef Kevin Rathbun has several great restaurants in Atlanta, but Rathbun Steak in Inman Park on the Beltline is my favorite. Steak of all sizes, cuts, and dry-aging will please any meat lover. Cocktails are excellent and the sides are almost as good as the steak.
H. Harper Station, located in one of the few remaining train depots in Atlanta offers carefully crafted cocktails and modern riffs on traditional Southern food. It also happens to be on the Belt Line.
The EARL in East Atlanta Village is a music venue, restaurant and bar. Also an excellent place to people-watch and absorb the vibe of what the New York Times called “a steadily rising wave of cool.”
The Variety Playhouse in Little Five Points is a perfectly sized venue for national and international musical acts.
The Fox Theater is an experience few will forget. From Broadway to the Pixies, you can see an amazing show in the opulence of a Moorish castle courtyard.
Little Five Points, Virginia Highlands, and Downtown Decatur all have great, walkable areas with locally-owned, unique shops. In Little Five, you’ll find alternative clothes, records, and edginess. Virginia Highlands offers more upscale boutiques and specialty shops. Downtown Decatur tends to be the most family-friendly of the three. Each neighborhood has a good selection of restaurants and bars.
Athens is about an hour drive north east of Atlanta and is famously home to The University of Georgia and R.E.M. The U of G campus itself is worth an extended stroll and the adjacent downtown has great shops, restaurants, and bars to round it out. Check out the restored Georgia Theater for music and drinks. The State Botanical Gardens is about a fifteen-minute drive from downtown. Consider making it an overnight trip and stay in the contemporary, LEED certified Indigo Hotel.
Places to Explore
The Beltline trail from Krog Street Market to Piedmont Park is a good way to see the new trend towards walkable urban infill as well as a great opportunity for some exercise and people-watching. At the midpoint of this walk is Ponce City Market. Having worked on PCM for the better part of the last five years, I’m a bit biased, but this is one of Atlanta’s great historic buildings and it is taking on a new life as a vital piece of the Atlanta Beltline.
The new Atlanta Streetcar takes passengers in a loop through a slice of downtown that includes stops along historic Auburn Avenue and the edge of Centennial Olympic Park. It is currently free to ride. Step off to explore the Sweet Auburn Curb Market or grab a bite and a drink at one of the bars or restaurants on Edgewood Avenue. You can also take in the view from the Ferris wheel or walk across the park to the Aquarium.