A Local's Guide to Atlanta
Discover things to do in Atlanta, best places to eat, festivals to explore, and tips and tricks navigating the city.
Also known as the "New York City of the south", Atlanta is a bustling melting pot. Atlanta is home to the original Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, Chick Fil A, Coca Cola Company, the birthplace of MLK Jr. and Whitney Houston. It brought John Mayer and Usher to fame and hosted the Summer Olympics in 1996. While it still preserves the southern charm, Atlanta embraces newcomers, making the city ever evolving. Whether you are a music festival enthusiast, a foodie, an artist, an outdoors fanatic, or a sports fan, there is always an abundance of events to explore! Because I have lived in Atlanta for 10 years and have hosted many out of town guests, I will share some insider tips for exploring the city. The following are a local's list of where to go, what to eat, and tips and tricks when navigating the city. Whether you're just passing through or have an extended stay - I hope you enjoy your visit to Atlanta!
Things to Do:
Westin bar/observation deck - Grab a drink at the revolving Sundial bar or view the city from the 72nd floor at the observation deck.
Ponce City Market/Skyline Park - Once Sears and Roebuck Co. this building now showcases trendy industrial-style shopping, dining and a rooftop with carnival games and bars. It also hosts a weekly Farmers Market and seasonal Wonderroot artist market.
Krog Street - A unique destination in west coast fashion with street art, murals, and trendy dining.
Piedmont Park - Atlanta’s central park with acres of grassy fields for hiking, sports, jogging, music festivals, biking, scootering, or watching the ducks at the lake.
The Beltline - A flat gravel path perfect for walking, jogging, biking, dog walking, skateboarding, scootering, bar hopping or viewing the unique art pieces along the trail created by local artists.
Sweet Auburn Market - Set in a historical part of downtown this farmers market has some of the most authentic southern food.
Tallulah Gorge State Park - A day trip away from the busy city; drink in Georgia’s natural beauty! Walk through the visitor center and learn the history behind the Tallulah Gorge, hike around the falls and take in the beautiful North Georgia Mountains.
Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park - Only a 45-minute drive from the city, this park has a historical battlefield, live reenactments with a cannon, a museum and hiking trails with vistas overlooking the city.
Stone Mountain Park - For all you hikers and outdoors fanatics, this park has a hike to the summit or if you're feeling less energetic take the leisurely route in the cable car to the summit. The view of the city is spectacular on a clear day! In addition there is , boating, golfing, dining, camping sites and a laser show every summer.
The Fox Theatre - Catch a show at the historic Fox theatre, whether you enjoy stand up comedy, country music or musicals, there is something for everyone!
Electric Scooters -
Another unique way to see the city is zipping along on a electric scooters, take in the sites of the city’s parks, historical buildings, and abundance of walking trails.
Bird Scooter: Get a free ride on me!
Uber car and scooter: $2 off each of your first 3 Uber ride
Lime Scooter: Get first free unlock!
Battery Park - Home of the Braves, the stadium is surrounded with restaurants, bars, hotels, and shops.
Mercedes Benz Stadium - Is the home of the Atlanta Falcons stadium, Atlanta United team and a venue for music concerts.
State Farm Arena - For basketball lovers - catch a local basketball game with the Atlanta Hawks in the downtown arena.
Midtown bars: Cypress Street Pint & Plate, Rí Rá Irish Pub, Apres Diem, The Vortex Bar And Grill
Buckhead bars: Big Sky, Buckhead Saloon, Twin Peaks, Moondogs
Virginia Highland bars (on N. Highland Avenue): Dark Horse Tavern, Blind Willies, Neighbors, Atkins Park, Limerick Junction
Beltline pub crawls: Ladybird Grove, New Realm Brewery, Park Tavern
Decatur bars: Thinking Man Tavern, Twain’s Brewpub, Leon’s, The Imperial
Clermont Lounge: a historic landmark is one of the city’s oldest strip clubs. Unlike your typical strip clubs the atmosphere is welcoming, unique entertainers and has a trendy rooftop bar.
All restaurants, cafes and coffee shops have been sampled in person and I can assure you these places are the best Atlanta has to offer. These places are also at the top of the list for Atlanta foodie bloggers. If you have questions about specific cuisines, feel free to message us, I have sampled all cuisines in the city and can give customized recommendations for Indion, Mexican, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, Spanish, and Ethiopian.
Breakfast/Brunch: West Egg Cafe, Top Golf, Buttermilk Kitchen, Murphy’s, Big Sky Buckhead, Another Broken Egg, Highland Bakery, The Mercury
Lunch and Dinner: Mary Mac’s Tea Room, JR Crickets, Fox Bros BBQ, Wisteria, JCT Kitchen, Folk Art Restaurant, The Vortex, Hattie B’s Hot Chicken, True Food Kitchen, Majestic Diner, Antico Pizza, Apres Diem, The Varsity, Superica, Ponce City Market Food Hall, Food Trucks (Thursdays on the corner of 12th and Peachtree Street) Atlanta Food Truck Park & Market on Howell Mill Rd (open on Wednesdays)
Sweets and Treats: Krispy Kreme, Sweet Hut Bakery, Kilwins, Jeni’s Ice cream, Smallcakes Cupcakery, Cafe Antico, Honeysuckle Gelato, Five Daughters Bakery
Coffee Addicts: Press & Grind, Octane, Joe’s East Atlanta Coffee Shop, Read Shop, Dancing Goats Coffee Bar, Chattahoochee Coffee Company, Ebrik Coffee Room
Lenox Mall, Phipps Plaza, Atlantic Station, Cumberland Mall, Perimeter Mall
There is no lack of festivals in Atlanta. During the summertime, you can find one every weekend. Each neighborhood hosts its own summer festival as well, which is open to the public. Here is a list of festivals for each month if you happen to be visiting Atlanta in the summer/fall.
Atlanta Dogwood Festival: This family-friendly festival offers carnival rides, face painting, food trucks and stages with music and dance performances from around the world.
Inman Park Festival: A neighborhood event with arts & crafts market, parade, music, dance performances, kids’ zone, and a ticketed tour of the neighborhood's historic Victorian-style homes.
SweetWater Festival: Hosted at the Centennial Olympic Park enjoy a weekend of sampling the finest of local beers from SweetWater Brewery while listening to live music.
Atlanta Renaissance Festival: Travel back to a magical time full of make-believe, sword fights, costumes, turkey legs, and ale! The Medieval Carnival awaits!
Shaky Knees: A line-up of a variety of rock bands, local food truck, photo booth and printed merchandise with favorite bands.
Shaky Beats: A line-up for EDM fans, multiple stages, drinks, food trucks, and photo booths, local vendors with games and lounge seating.
Chastain Park Arts Festival : Close to 200 artists display: paintings, photography, jewelry, glass glowing, leather, metal art, and sculpting.
Atlanta Jazz Festival: Enjoy talented jazz artists while sitting on the grassy slopes of Piedmont Park.
Atlanta Summer Beer Fest: Hosted at Historic Fourth Ward, this festival offers over 200 beers and celebrates many local brewery samples.
Atlanta Streets Alive: In honor of cyclists, stretches of roads in the city are closed for the day; open to cyclists, scooters and walkers to enjoy their freedom in safety!
Atlanta Food & Wine Festival: If you're a foodie this is an experience you can't miss- talented chefs, mixologists, and baristas from across the southern states to showcase their masterpieces.
Peachtree Road Race 10K: Every Fourth of July Atlantans of all ages dress in festive costumes and run/walk or cheer along the 10k stretch of Peachtree Road. It is a family-friendly event for both jogging, walking or spectating.
Atlanta Icecream Festival: This family-friendly event celebrates America’s favorite dessert, but also encourages a healthy balanced lifestyle with fitness activities such as Hula hoop contests, Yoga and Jump rope competitions. The event kicks off at 10:00 am with a 5K Fight Cancer Walk.
Attack of the Killer Tomato festival: This event benefits Georgia’s organic produce. The event is centered around all dishes and drinks with tomatoes and a live auction to support local farmers.
Grant Park Summer Shade Festival: Music and art lovers - this is an event for you! Enjoy an artist market with over 200 local artists, live music performances, food trucks, and a 5k to support the upkeep of historic Grant Park.
Piedmont Park Arts Summer Festival: Voted one of the top 100 Art festivals nationwide, this 2-day festival features a wide selection of media, materials, and prices from over 250 artists.
Atlanta Greek Festival: Gyros and baklava…say no more! Located at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral, there will be food, live performances, shopping and even a with to-go boxes!
Dragon Con: Expect to see crowds of people in downtown dressed in very creative costumes for this annual weekend convention. It is a fun experience to drive through downtown to see many favorite movie characters!
Imagine Music Festival: An electronic dance music festival featuring top Dj’s and talented circus act performers.
Music Midtown: This two-day event features 3 stages at Piedmont Park with carnival rides, food trucks and a variety of music genre performers.
Tips and Tricks:
Parking: Parking in downtown/midtown can be expensive and difficult to access parking lots with so many one-way streets. I would recommend taking an Uber or Lyft or riding a scooter to your destination.
Driving: Southern hospitality does not extend to the roads! Drive safely - we Atlantans don't like to use turn signals, follow too closely and are unpredictable drivers!
Local Lingo translation: "Y'all" translates to you all, "all y’all" translates to all of you, "finna" means gonna or going to, "fixin" on the verge of doing something, "like to" something almost happened, "fix" also to make something, "OTP" - outside the perimeter aka anything beyond Interstate 285, "ITP" -inside the perimeter aka anything inside the interstate 285 circle. "Coke" aka coca cola - the sacred drink of Atlanta - not to be confused with Pepsi!
City Attraction Packages:
If you are looking for a staycation or you are visiting Atlanta with the family - this is one of the best ways to save on the city’s attractions! The CityPass includes a choice of 5 out of 7 offered attractions, great savings especially for family groups, tickets are valid for 9 days, includes additional discounts - on dining, souvenirs, transportation, best times to visit, parking tips, and for some attractions you can bypass the long lines.
CNN Studio Tours: Experience this 50 minute guided tour of behind the scenes of a live broadcast and try your hand at reporting the news in an interactive studio!
World of CocaCola: This interactive museum is fun for all ages! Learn the history of the invention of coca cola, take pictures with coca cola mascots, anjoy sensation theatre show and taste coca cola from around the world!
Georgia Aquarium: Experience breathtaking exhibits of sea creatures, a 4D theatre show and an incredible performance by the dolphins!
Fernbank Museum: So much more than a dinosaur museum - there are multiple interactive science exhibits, an IMAX theatre, outdoor exhibits and playground.
Atlanta Zoo: Walk through the forested trails while viewing the most exotic of animals, experience a kid friendly petting zoo and an epic train ride!
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