I’ve been a resident of Atlanta for over 12 years. Crazy. I finished high school in Peachtree City which is a suburb south of the city. Then I headed to Georgia State University in downtown Atlanta for college and never left. I’ve seen this city completely transform. We now have a really cool path through most of the city called The Beltline that’s helped to connect several of my favorite neighbohoords. New hip spots that didn’t exist 5 years ago like Inman Park and the Westside are making this city feel cooler than ever. It’s a changing city and I’m here to share some of my favorite places to eat, stay and explore.
But First, Getting To ATL & Around Town
Flying In – Ask anyone who lives here, ATL airport is hands down THE BEST. I feel like it’s got a cult following with the locals. It’s fast, easy and full of amazing restaurants. No joke, I purposefully don’t eat before I head to the airport because there’s certain restaurants I want to visit like Argo Tea, my go to oatmeal at Corner Bakery, and I’m also wanting to try Ludacris’ new restaurant. When you fly in, you can take Marta to your destination if you’re within walking distance of a station. If you aren’t, just Uber.
Around Town – We sadly don’t have a very great mass transportation system. Unless you live near a Marta station, it’s really only convenient for a few spots. Instead, we rely on Uber and Lyft to get around town. Some neighborhoods are walkable, but you’ll have to drive to them and then walk. Welcome to Atlanta, y’all. We’re slowly adding bikes to rent around the city which is great! Many neighborhoods are now bike-able thanks to the Beltline too.
My Favorite Neighborhoods
I figured it would make most sense to start with the neighborhoods of Atlanta before diving into specific spots. The city is super spread out requiring you to drive to get to any of these, but once you’re there, you can usually walk around, bike or take a quick Uber. The city is broken down mostly by three main areas starting at the bottom with Downtown, Midtown and then Buckhead. Downtown is where all the businesses are, and as a visitor you likely won’t spend much time here. Midtown is a very happening neighborhood and near many of my other favorite smaller neighborhoods below. Buckhead is our version of “uptown” with fancy shopping, restaurants and lots of high rise condos.
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Probably my favorite neighborhood since it’s walkable, full of great food and shops. A few personal favorite spots here are Hampton & Hudson, Victory Sandwich Bar and Folk Art. If you walk down the Beltline a bit you can visit Ponce City Market for more shopping and eating. Head inside of PCM to check out some local to Atlanta shops like Elk Head Clothing and Citizen Supply which is home to The Victorian. There’s also Krog Street Market and I highly recommend trying Bar Mercado and finishing the night off with an ice cream from Jeni’s Ice Cream.
Just half a mile up from Inman Park, this is another great neighborhood that has some classic Atlanta restaurants and is completely walkable. It’s one of the oldest neighborhoods and has quite a bit of charm. A few favorite spots are Mali for Thai food and DBA BBQ for the best bbq in town (don’t forget the banana pudding!). There’s also La Tavola which is a fantastic Italian restaurant. Stop into a few specialty shops like Cacao and Alon’s Bakery.
This is the newest neighborhood in Atlanta and is quickly growing. Shop at Westside Provisions and dine at my favorite spot, Marcel or grab a quick sandwich at Star Provisions. Breakfast at West Egg requires a nap afterwards, but totally worth it. It’s also where my beloved Upbeet is, our only make your own salad spot worth visiting. Also, one of Atlanta’s favorite chef’s, Ford Fry, has two great restaurants here, Marcel and JCT Kitchen.
This is where the shopping is, friends. The upscale standard shopping. The malls, malls and more malls are all here. Visit Shops Around Lenox (grab a Roots Juice, my favorite is the Pink Breakfast Smoothie) and shop at South Moon Under. A mile and half down from the malls are the Buckhead Shops where there’s more swanky shopping and dining plus my favorite workouts, FlyWheel, Highland Yoga and Barry’s Bootcamp.
Piedmont Park & Midtown
Midtown is quickly becoming a super cool neighborhood. It’s home to our rainbow crosswalk because Midtown is the heart of the LGBTQ community in the city. Visit the Vortex for great burgers and a comedy show at Laughing Skull Lounge that’s right inside. This tiny comedy club is one of my favorite things to do in the city. Walk to Piedmont Park and then hop on the Beltline to explore all the way to PCM and then make your way to Inman Park (see you’re becoming a local already!).
The farthest from everything, but a very very cool spot. Decatur is home to a few of my all time favorite restaurants like Iberian Pig and No. 246 (another Ford Fry must visit). It’s a great area full of amazing restaurants and bars (I like S.O.S Tiki Bar) and isn’t too far to a great brewery, Three Taverns.
Where To Eat
Coffee Shops, Juice Bars & Treats
Dancing Goats Coffee
Honey Bubble Tea
Proof Bakeshop (best vegan cookie ever)
Bars, Cocktails & Breweries
Whiskey Blue – great rooftop view
Ormsby’s – great food & lots of games
The Lawerence – also a great restaurant
Orpheus Brewing – right at Piedmont Park
Monday Night Brewing
Urban Tree Cidery
Three Taverns Brewery – near Decatur
Johnny’s Hideaway – an ATL institution
Where To Stay
Where To Pamper Yourself
Loews – just two blocks from Piedmont Park
Adore Hair Studio – I see Nichole for my cut
Coleman Alexander Salon – Cut, color & lashes!
Hammond Nails – Great mani & pedis and they do fun nail art
Adventures To Take
Stone Mountain – Roughly a 30 minute drive from the city, but a great place for a hike
Paddle Boarding On The Hooch – Just a short drive from the city and you feel like you’re in a different part of the state. You can rent paddle boards or kayaks to spend an afternoon on the water.
Piedmont Park – Dog park, tennis courts, pool, soccer fields and lots of walking! Visit Park Tavern for a cold beer and live music on occasion.
Clermont Lounge – A must visit strip club. Atlanta has one of the largest strip clubs per capita ratio making us real proud. Either way, you can’t visit Atlanta without a drunken night at Clermont. I mean, their resident gal, Blondie, has a documentary.
Civil Rights Museum
Coca Cola Museum – This is also near the CNN Center, College Football Hall of Fame and the Georgia Aquarium. It’s our only touristy section of the city so I recommend spending an afternoon here if you want to see the tourist stuff!
I know not everyone may want to work out while on vacation, but sometimes you do. Personally, I have in the past especially on work trips. So here’s a few locally owned spots I love to visit.
StellarBodies (quite possibly the hardest pilates class I’ve ever taken)
CrossFit 404 – They also have an all girls workout MWF and Sundays, highly recommend.
Highland Yoga – Several locations
FlyWheel – Several locations
Barry’s Bootcamp (be sure to visit their smoothie bar)
Athens – Home to the University of Georgia and Creature Comforts. This is a great little town to explore for the day and is less than an hour from the city.
Lake Lanier – If you want a lake day, this is where to go.
Chateau Elan – A beautiful resort with a winery on property.
Dahlonega – Georgia wine country, enough said.
Barnsley Resort – A beautiful resort and land full of fun activities like clay shooting, golf and horse back riding. The food is also incredible!