Instead of organizing the locations by category/activity (like I did in My Unofficial Guide to Princeton), I'm going to do my best to divide this guide up by geographic area/neighborhood.
Atlanta is like New York City, with all of its events, festivals, opportunities, attractions, and different neighborhoods. Unlike NYC, however, it's not as crowded, has more green space, and doesn't have a reliable public transportation system (sorry, MARTA. Note: uber will be your go-to). The historical remnants of the Civil War and Southern culture itself are prolific (compared to the Northern focus on the Revolutionary War), and making conversation with strangers is no big deal.
Oh, and you'll hear people say "y'all" a whole lot.
Though I was able to see quite a bit of the city, there's so much more that I wasn't able to take advantage of. This city is teeming with rising opportunities and potential, and I highly recommend that you come visit. A few years ago, this snobby Northerner would have never considered dipping her toes into Southern culture, but looking back now, it's been such a wonderful, and truly life-changing, experience. Atlanta is a hidden gem, and I'm very thankful that I had the opportunity to live there.
So let's jump right into it; let me highlight what my old stomping grounds has to offer.
So how will you get to ATL? Sure, you can drive, but you might also want to take advantage of the world's busiest airport. I am absolutely in love with this airport (I know, it's a weird thing to say, but come here and experience it); compared to other airports I've been to, Hartsfield-Jackson is very well organized, easy to navigate, clean, and modern. Plus, there are purified water refill stations located near all bathrooms -- um, yes please? I've flown into this airport many times now, and I've never had any issues. Given that it's so busy, flights from all over the world are constantly flying into ATL, making it a relatively inexpensive place to fly into (I've found $28 flights into ATL via Frontier)!
Atlanta is also home to several Fortune 500 companies (Coca-Cola, Home Depot), including Delta. In fact, Delta's headquarters is located in Atlanta, so any Delta fans out there will certainly find more than enough Delta flights into Hartsfield-Jackson (there's a baggage terminal dedicated solely to Delta flights, people).
(Let's be clear though - this is not a sponsored post ;); in fact, I mostly flew Southwest this year.)
The '96 Olympics were held in Atlanta. This spurred an urban renewal project that has allowed much of Atlanta to be what it is today. This park was originally designed for Olympic tourists and visitors, and was later redesigned for the public to enjoy. This park is an open, flat area with winding brick sidewalks -- most bricks have donors' names on them! The Fountain of Rings is beautiful, and watching little kids run through the squirting water takes you back to those good, old, lazy summer days (there are even fountain shows that are synchronized to music!).
In the winter time, an outdoor skating rink is set up right on Centennial Park. As a former skater, I was shocked to find out that there aren't 3 skating rinks in each town, and that ice skating is a treat for Southerners! On top of that, the twinkly, Christmas lights really make the park a festive place to be.
There are several attractions in and around Centennial as well; when you see the American Cancer Society HQ, a giant ferris wheel, and The World of Coke, you'll know that you're near Centennial!
I'm not that smart, and I don't know all that much about politics and current events. However, I do try my best to stay informed, and CNN has been my go-to -- maybe it's because my dad made "cnn.com" our internet's homepage for years, or maybe because I like getting notifications from the CNN app to stay updated on the latest news. Regardless, journalism and media have been an interest of mine for a while, and touring the CNN center was one cool experience. We enjoyed the basic tour, but there are more in-depth experiences offered. CNN's parent company, Time Warner Cable Network, also owns Cartoon Network -- there's a small Cartoon Network gift shop on the ground floor, near the food court, which is open to the public (free entry!). My favorite part about the CNN Center is the variety of flags that you'll see when you look up :)
Fun fact: around 9:30 at night, after flying back to Hartsfield-Jackson after Thanksgiving break, I was sitting near the luggage carousels and talking to a classmate, waiting for another person to come so we could split an uber. Almost out of nowhere, I see a very very familiar face. I had to shake my head, blink five times, and ask myself constantly -- "IS THAT SANJAY GUPTA?!". I honestly could not believe my eyes, and unfortunately, I could not work up the nerve to go up to him and say hi...but y'all. DR. SANJAY GUPTA. In the same airport?!
At the time, I was still freelance writing for a health and wellness website, and writing professionally about health seemed like the coolest job anyone could have. Admiring Dr. Gupta is a total understatement, and just seeing him in real life -even though I didn't say hi to him- was such a surreal experience that I look back on with the same awe and disbelief :). He practices at one of Emory University's hospitals, too!
Kind of a price-y tourist trap at first, but when my friends and I hopped onto the SkyView (the giant ferris wheel that you can't miss) around December, we were able to see all of the beautiful Christmas lights from a bird's eye view, and every penny was so worth it. Plus, the ferris wheel went around and around several times; it's not a short 2 minute ride at all! I can't quite remember how long the ride lasted for, but I do remember it being much longer than we expected!
See the fountain of rings in the photo above (right)?
Tripadvisor's #1 aquarium (#2 is Monterey Bay's), and apparently, the world's largest!
For animal welfare reasons, I have decided that I do not feel comfortable with encasing animals in tiny spaces. I'm at odds because I still love aquariums and zoos; they connect the public to animals and foster love/compassion for animals like no other way. I also admire their conservation and research efforts (particularly Monterey Bay's Seafood Watch). I'm going to restrict myself in the frequency at which I visit aquariums/zoos, but I'm not going to completely ban them from my life. Side note - I'm not sure why, but I prefer Monterey Bay's aquarium over Georgia's...
Having gotten that disclaimer out of the way, when I wasn't questioning whether or not the animals had enough space to live in, I did enjoy my time at the Georgia Aquarium. Admission is on the pricey side, but if you're a Georgia resident, you can visit for free on your birthday! There are ticket deals on the aquarium's website as well, so do some research before visiting. I missed the sea lion show, but the dolphin show did make me want to be a dolphin trainer ;) To see more photos, see my previous post.
World of Coca-Cola
This attraction is particularly fun for kids, but teenagers and adults will still have a good time. Literally explore the world of coca-cola: see beautiful artwork inspired by coke, view the history of coke, and sample over 500+ kinds of coke! The tasting area is like Club Cool at Disney World's Epcot, but 50x bigger and better (Disney's Epcot post here, video here). After visiting, take home a complimentary glass bottle of coke.
Atlanta Botanical Gardens
I was unable to visit the Botanical Gardens while living here, however, I've heard so many people rave about it. Tickets are on the expensive side as well, but it should be well worth the cost. I'll talk about James Beard Awarded Chef Linton Hopkins in greater detail later on, but this famous chef recently opened a new restaurant, "Linton", at the gardens! Keep your eye out for special events throughout the year; I'm aware that there are special Halloween and Christmas displays.
Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site
Especially after so many recent events, we need to remind ourselves to follow the examples of inspiring figures who strove for peace and promoted love. Atlanta honors its very own Civil Rights' Movement leader with a national historic site, located near Ebeneezer Baptist Church, where he preached. (Fun fact: my friend attended a service there a few months ago!)
Atlanta History Center
Georgia is rich in history, and the kid-friendly Atlanta History Center is a great place to immerse yourself in that history. In addition to traditional exhibits, visit the many gardens and historic houses -- including Margaret Mitchell's House and Museum, where the famous author, Margaret Mitchell, wrote Gone With the Wind!
Children's Museum of Atlanta
I haven't personally visited this museum, but I have visited other childrens' museums when I was younger. These museums are designed for hands-on experiences, perfect for kids as they can use all 5 senses to explore and learn. Consider this attraction if you have kids ages 0-8 years!
What is the South without football? Catch an NFL Atlanta Falcons or Georgia State Panthers game; if you don't like sports, you can catch concerts here too (heads up - Beyonce on 9/26/16).
Basketball fans will be pleased to hear that tickets to see the NBA Atlanta Hawks can be as low as $25! You'll also be able to see concerts here, especially during the off-season.
I walked through Tech's campus for a bit, and it is truly quite beautiful. I know very little about "technology" schools, but I have visited MIT before. MIT's buildings are very square and industrial looking, but Tech's buildings range from sleek to whimsical to traditional; all are beautiful. Take a walk through campus or catch a football game!
Turner Field (old Atlanta Braves Stadium)
Catch an MLB baseball game at Turner Field while you can -- the Braves will be moving to a new stadium after this 2016 season!
my first baseball game here.
Very few zoos in the US have pandas, and Zoo Atlanta is the only one on the east coast, aside from the National Zoo in D.C., to have pandas! I believe their twin panda cubs recently celebrated their 1st birthday :) For $3/person, you can even feed giraffes.
Atlanta Marriott Marquis
If you're looking for a place to stay at in the downtown area, consider the Marriott Marquis! My parents and I stayed here for two nights and took way too many photos of the atrium. While this hotel can accommodate a very large number of guests, many of the floors were under renovation (didn't even notice the renovation until we were in the elevator -- did not bother guests at all) and the hotel seemed relatively quiet. We mostly saw business people stay at this hotel, but there were a few families as well. The Marriott Marquis offers spa treatments in addition to providing access to indoor and outdoor pools to all guests. (Side note: guests are required to pay for valet parking.)
view from our room
An iconic, retro fast food joint that entices from the exterior - it looks like a 1970's fast food drive thru meets the all-American diner, but it serves below average fast food (hamburgers, hot dogs, sandwiches -- don't try their hand pies). They are famous for their chili, and I didn't try that, so I can't write it off completely.
Coming here is an experience though, which is what makes this place so popular (it is PACKED with people, and finding parking isn't easy). When it's your turn to order, someone wearing an old-fashioned paper hat, will yell "What'll ya have?!". There are locations all over Georgia (even in the airport), but its downtown location is "The World's Largest Drive-In".
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
Enjoy a night of music with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. Take a look at their 2016-2016 season's concert offerings here; you'll find some cinema/movie related music that will certainly appeal to all ages.
High Museum of Art
This museum is great for individuals of all ages - there are special events and spaces designed for toddlers and kids but also nights with music and drinks for adults. While their latest modern exhibit showcases "The Rise of Sneaker Culture", you can find ancient artifacts and artwork too.
The Fox Theater
Though you can catch movies through its Summer Film Festival, The Fox Theater is really known for its live shows. This classic theater can't be missed -- the exterior, with its lights and sign, is reminiscent of 1920's New York theaters. Alton Brown recently performed here!
A beautiful, streetscape-styled shopping district with a little park and outdoor seating, just down the road from The Millenium Gate, aka Atlanta's Arc de Triomphe/Washington Square Park Arch. I visited Atlantic Station during April and during January, so I've seen it during different seasons. During the winter, Atlantic Station is considerably busier due to its outdoor ice skating rink and kid-friendly train :) Come here to shop, dine, or catch a movie.
winter time at Atlantic Station:here.
Since this park has an open field with a great view of the Midtown skyline (similar to Sheep's Meadow), Piedmont Park is often compared to New York City's Central Park. I visited Piedmont Park in the fall, during the Atlanta Arts Festival. What I love about these festivals is that you can spend as much or as little time there as you want; I love meandering through the artwork, talking to artists and vendors about their work and experiences. I even saw a cooking demonstration! Festivals like this are free of admission, and you'll always find food trucks and BBQ around.
Mary Mac's Tea Room
An Atlanta classic that's very well known for its traditional Southern cuisine. Don't be deterred by the phrase "traditional Southern" -- they offer vegan and gluten-free menus, too. The Dalai Lama even ate here! That's how iconic and classic this establishment is.
Atlanta Food Truck Park
To be very honest, I did not have a good experience when I came to the Atlanta Food Truck Park, but I figured it's worth mentioning anyways. I wouldn't personally recommend coming here because I experienced a very limited variety of expensive and mediocre tasting food, but this gathering of food trucks (in a vacant lot lit by twinkly lights) is apparently well known.
Holeman & Finch
I've mentioned Chef Linton Hopkins too many times on this blog, but he really is an incredible person. I really admire him for his consideration for the environment, passion and actions to eliminate hunger, and artistic, methodical approach to cuisine. H&F is a gastropub located next door to another one of his restaurants, Restaurant Eugene. (H&F burger, is another famous branch of H&F, located in Ponce City Market and Turner Field.)
Read and see more photos here.
Your experience at Restaurant Eugene, another restaurant brought to you by Chef Hopkins, is very different from that at H&F, but the quality of the food, service, and overall dining experience will be equally high. Restaurant Eugene is refined, elegant -- the epitome of fine dining.
BuckheadR. Thomas Deluxe Grill
Calling all omnivores, carnivores, vegetarians, vegans, raw food-ists, and gluten-free eaters! (so...everyone!) R. Thomas Deluxe Grill is sure to have something that'll suit both your dietary choices and palate; it's easy to miss because it looks like an outdoor furniture store from the exterior, but it's definitely worth looking for. This place screams eclectic: birds -- in bird cages -- line the outdoor entryway, and the interior is studded with more outdoor furniture and neon lights. I highly recommend coming here!
Another favorite of my family's is the Corner Cafe. This modern bakery/diner reminds me of San Francisco's Boudin Bakery, but isn't as tourist-y or big. They do, however, bake their own bread and specialize in breakfast/brunch. You'll find an elegant lunch menu too though, and everything, given its location, popularity, quality, and classic-with-a-modern-twist food, the price is very reasonable.
Read and see more photos here.
Lenox Square Mall
A personal favorite of mine is Lenox Square Mall. I've made several trips here, and I've enjoyed each one. I haven't tried any of the food here, but there are many dining options to choose from. As for shopping, let's just say that I've never found an Urban Outfitters with so many great deals (I've never purchased from any other UO store!). This mall is packed with people, and you may encounter quite a bit of traffic during the afternoon, when driving in/out of the mall. I wouldn't recommend coming to the Lens Crafter's here (unless you want to wait for 1+ hours to be helped), but my poor experience did have a positive spin to it: a famous celebrity (an actor from Empire?) was leaving JCPenney's after a little event as I was leaving Lens Crafter's! He was surrounded by body guards, beaming JCP employees, and excited fans :)
Grand Hyatt Atlanta in Buckhead
My family stayed here during April of 2015; we really enjoyed the hotel's quiet atmosphere and proximity to many of Buckhead's attractions. What I loved most was the fact that the hotel has a beautiful garden and waterfall area; you really feel like royalty there. Driving down the road at night is a spectacle too; you're surrounded by beautifully lit buildings on all sides. The hotel itself is very elegant (almost like a modern castle), and most of its guests are business people. Another bonus - a great fitness center.
Atlanta is a religious city, with churches, temples, mosques on almost every street.
Don't be intimidated by the exterior; yes, Passion holds its services in a transformed/repurposed Home Depot warehouse, but the messages and music are amazing. Passion is home to well known Christian artists, such as Chris Tomlin, Kristian Stanfill, and David Crowder Band -- who led worship during my first visit! Get here early (30 minutes early) if you want to find parking in the lot directly outside of the church; come any later and you may have to park at the nearby MARTA Lindbergh station - don't worry, Passion provides a shuttle to take you directly to the church.
A foodie's favorite. Explore international cuisines down this long highway. Who said Georgia is only limited to Southern cuisine?Nam Phoung
My family loved this Vietnamese restaurant so much that we came here during both of our visits, and I even ordered the same dish (vermicelli bowl - "bun thit nuong" - with shrimp). You get large portions of delicious, traditional Vietnamese food for reasonable prices (comparable to NYC Chinatown prices for anyone who understands that comparison!). This is a quiet restaurant, but local Vietnamese residents frequent it often, so it has to be good. Don't be deterred by its highway road-side location either! Read my full Restaurant Review from my first visit here.
Given my Asian background, I'm very familiar with Asian markets, such as H Mart. It was cool to find an H Mart, a giant Korean supermarket that specializes in Asian foods and groceries, in Atlanta! This is one of the few Asian supermarkets that I've been to that consistently sells quality products; unique features of this market also include its food court section and Asian beauty/home product shops. My friend and I didn't buy anything during our visit, but we both had so much fun walking down the aisles and taking a look at their products. I especially enjoyed explaining Asian goods and pointing out my childhood favorites to her -- coming to an Asian market is something that I never enjoyed as a kid because it was so secondhand and mundane, but it's truly an adventure for someone who's never been to one!
Buford Highway Farmers Market
This Farmers Market is actually a large, indoor market. It specializes in local and international goods, and you can even take cooking classes here!
Sweet Hut Bakery & Cafe
Another piece of Asian culture that I've taken for granted are Asian bakeries. I was born in New York City, so Chinese bakeries selling Hong Kong pastries and breads in Chinatown made up a bulk of my diet ;)
Sweet Hut brings those Asian pastries, breads, buns, bubble teas, grass jelly drinks, and cakes to Atlanta, an area underexposed to Chinese bakeries. The way you buy your baked goods is more akin to Californian bakeries as opposed to the East Coast bakeries I've been to; instead of a glass case with all of the goods, most of the products are located in accessible clear cases. Pick up a tray and use the tongs provided to select your desired baked goods. Pay at the counter, where you can order drinks and other un-traditional cafe menu items. They offer a variety of traditional sweet breads and pastries, including hot dog buns, mochis, Portuguese egg tarts, and milk bread, but you'll also find new twists to old favorites; I tried "Violet", a bun that was stuffed with taro mochi (they even sell donuts and cupcakes!).
Though it's not on the same level of academic rigor and prestige as Harvard, Emory University is a wonderful school that is known as the "Harvard of the South". Its main campus is located in Atlanta, but its original campus, Oxford College, is located 45 minutes outside of the city.
Park in the Peavine Visitor's Lot after 4 pm on weekdays or anytime on the weekends for free, and take a walk around campus. The Atwood Chemistry building is Emory's new pride and joy. Woodruff Library has special exhibits on its 3rd floor and a permanent "Manuscripts, Archives, and Rare Book Library" (MARBL) on its 10th floor. Pitts Theology Library, located on the bottom floor of Candler School of Theology (a personal favorite building of mine), was one of the world's 25 most beautiful college libraries in 2013. Goizueta Business School has a beautiful building, located next to Schwartz Performing Arts Center. Not too far from there is the Emory Medical School, whose main building is also beautiful.
Dobbs - 1st year residence hall
Special exhibit (Bobby Jones) - 3rd floor Woodruff Library
Reading room - 4th floor Woodruff Library
Emory Medical School
Atwood Chemistry Building
Emory's Farmers Market is held year-round on Tuesdays from 10-3 pm. Personal favorites of mine include Revolution Doughnuts (almost all products are dairy-free, and they have vegan and gluten-free options! -- try their Orange Pistachio) and Atlanta's favorite, King of Pops (gourmet ice pops that are so worth every penny).
And lastly, get near the freshman quad to see the sunset. Emory is located on a hill, and you get a great, unobstructed view!
(I wouldn't bother with trying campus dining, but there are great places to eat around campus!)
Across the street from Emory's freshman quad and next door to the Woodruff Residential Center is Lullwater Preserve. I used to run several miles through this beautiful haven nearly everyday, and I've never gotten tired of it. There's a gorgeous lake (Candler Lake) that people like to fish at, several paths (paved and dirt) to hike/bike/run/walk, an old power house, a dam that looks like a waterfall, and a giant mansion where the Emory president lives. This preserve is pet and kid friendly; just don't visit too late during the evenings or at night (no streetlights so it's pitch dark).
An Emory tradition that former President Wagner held at the Lullwater mansion is trick-or-treating on Halloween night (ten times scarier because it's so dark and it's Halloween). Acapella groups perform outside of his house, and his entire first floor is redecorated to look like a haunted house. Students are invited to come and take a photo with President Wagner before receiving a candy bar.
I'll let the video and photos do most of the talking, but keep in mind that there's no parking (it's only accessible by foot). I recommend parking at Emory Point and walking the 2-3 blocks, or parking at Emory's Peavine parking deck.
Despite its overgrown appearance, this area is currently being restored by Trees Atlanta. Hahn Woods isn't as "pretty" and groomed as Lullwater, but it's quiet and very beautiful. It's on the same street as the Emory Alumni house and has a parking lot, so it's easier to access. An end to one of Lullwater's trails opens up to the street that Hahn woods is on, but I don't recommend parking at Hahn's parking lot and walking to Lullwater through that path unless you really know your way :) Just beware of the cars if you're walking on the little bridge or crossing Houston Mill Rd -- they zoom by!
An inexpensive sushi restaurant located in a small strip mall. It's a pretty popular restaurant, and there's a little bit of something for everyone (several vegetarian friendly options). I saw many kids/families when I came here, so I'd say it's very family-friendly.
A mini collegetown closest to Emory's Admissions Building with a few good offerings. It looks run-down and definitely has room for improvement. There are a few "festivals" and events here each year, but I've never been to them!
Some of the best cookies that I've eaten are from Ali's. I've come here several times throughout the year to buy cookies for myself or for others as gifts, and I've never been let down. Ali's even has gluten-free cookie options! I've bought so many cookies that I've punched through the "Buy 10 get 1 cookie free" coupon...twice.
When I finished my very last final in May, I scampered off to Ali's to buy cookies to celebrate and bring home. The girl working was so sweet and stuffed two free cookies into my bag and gave me two day-old cookies for free. (Ali's sells day-old cookies for 1/2 off). Come in when they open for freshly baked cookies, or come around closing time and see if you can score any free or extra 1/2 off cookies ;) You get free milk with your cookies (no dairy-free milk options, unfortunately), and Ali's also sells cookie cakes and mason jar cakes.
Rise 'n' Dine
This classic breakfast/brunch diner is so popular that there's nearly always a line out the door. The attention to customer service is wonderful -- free coffee as you wait outside, and the food is good. (The decor is so cute too!) The menu items aren't that unique or different from your standard diner breakfast food, but it's done right. Granted, Rise'n'Dine is on the pricey side (when it comes to breakfast foods), but it's an Emory Village classic.
All Fired Up!
This is a pottery painting place next door to Ali's and Rise 'n' Dine. It's great for kids and adults alike, and you can come in as a party or walk in by yourself.
Though it looks quite run-down from the outside, Falafel King is a hidden gem. Not only will you find great falafel (ranked as Atlanta's #1) and gyro, you'll also find sushi! The couple who owns this branch (Falafel King is a chain) are Korean, and the husband is in charge of making the sushi. Sushi is extremely inexpensive (comes with edamame, too), which may worry some, but it is made fresh - my roommate and I ordered sushi, and we watched the chef (the husband) make it in front of us! I highly recommend coming here for a quick lunch - seating is very limited, but the food is great and inexpensive.
Starbucks (connected to Emory's Admissions Building)
My Saturday-morning go-to :) Sit at the 2-person table closest to the cash register, by the power outlet -- that's my spot!
Another collegetown-esque area, 2-3 blocks away from the other side of Emory's main campus. This is the Village's newer, cooler sister. You can live in the apartments or hotel here. Conversely, just visit and enjoy the shopping/dining. As wonderful as this place is, it's very quiet. I won't be surprised if it becomes incredibly populated in a few years though! Take advantage of the free parking and enjoy your time here.
Emory Point's Trader Joe's/Wegman's/Wholefoods/Mrs. Green's. It's a beautiful grocery store and has great deals every now and then (ex: 2 avocados for $1!), but it's quite price-y. If you don't need groceries, though, considering grabbing lunch/dinner from Earthfare. Their sushi looks great (reasonably priced compared to their other items) and they have a pizza area, deli bar, bakery, and hot food station.
The General Muir
I've raved about this restaurant many times too, so I'll keep my words short and let my previous post do the talking. This NYC Jewish deli - inspired spot serves the best bagels, breakfast items, and smoked fish. It's on the price-y side, but the food is so high in quality and unparalleled that it's worth every little penny. I've come here three times, each time for breakfast, but TGM serves up great lunches, dinners, and desserts too (my friend highly recommends the cheesecake!). Some nights have themed menus - Japanese inspired or Sunday Italian pasta nights. TGM has a new next door neighbor, TGM Bread, which bakes all breads for TGM. TGM Bread serves up sandwiches on weekdays too :) Service is great but expect to wait in line if you come after 8:30 on a weekend morning.
(The restaurant owners and chef own restaurants in other parts of Atlanta too!)
Fresh 2 Order
Fresh 2 Order isn't on the same level as TGM, but it's another great option. Get fresh salads and sandwiches here; the entree items have also looked amazing. The presentation of their food is great and the service is fast.
I visited Marlow's on a weeknight in March; unfortunately, it was still extremely crowded and we waited a very long time before being helped (we even sat at the bar!). The menu, however, is a mix of modern food trends and good, old pub food. I ordered an ahi tuna salad when I visited.
Before the storm of finals hit, my roommate and I shopped at Emory Point's clothing stores on a December Saturday afternoon. The shops are all part of chains, but they have boutique-styled clothing (Francesca's, fab'rik, Lizard Thicket, etc.). The style of the clothing was very feminine and modern, but each store had a unique accent or theme - one was more Californian-bohemian, another was European-chic, another was more Western-American. I look back at this little shopping excursion fondly, and I highly recommend taking the time to just walk through and window shop :)
Emory Conference Center Hotel
This hotel is located in the back of Emory Point. Surrounded by trees and decorated to look like an Aspen lodge, you really feel like you're in a remote, secluded mountain resort. I attended church here (Decatur City Church - a branch of Northpoint, which is led by Pastor Andy Stanley, who just so happens to be childhood best friends with Passion City's Pastor Louie Giglio!), but I've also walked through the hotel during my runs since the Emory Alumni House bridge connects directly to the hotel!
The CDC & CDC Museum
This is the US's largest federal agency located outside of Washington D.C.. Don't be intimidated by all of the security guards -- they are all soo friendly and kind! You can't visit the CDC's facilities, but you can visit the museum -- for free. I think this museum is best for ages 8+. There are some kid-friendly exhibits, but those 8+ will benefit most from a visit here. It takes less than 1.5-2 hours to slowly walk through the entire museum, and you can probably park at Emory Point.
There are two entrances to the CDC; the museum is located closest to the entrance across the street from Emory Point's CVS.
Fernbank Museum of Natural History
This museum is located near a beautiful golf course, so you'll be in awe even before you step into the museum. I've never been here, but I do know that there's a big, T-Rex (fossil) on display, so it's gotta be good ;). (The exterior looks just like Animal Kingdom's "Dinosaur" ride...how many Disney references have I made already?)
Candler Park, like many Atlantan locations, is named after the Coca-Cola Company founder. I attended the park's annual Fall Festival with a few friends; there were food trucks, inflatables, kid-friendly stations and crafts, King of Pops, live music, and artists/vendors selling etsy-like goods. I highly recommend coming here if there's a festival; admission is free and it's just another fun, weekend option.
Downtown Decatur/Decatur Square
There's a plethora of cafes, restaurants, and shops in Decatur's Square. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to visit before I left, but I've heard so many good things. The Iberian Pig is very famous restaurant, and my roommate highly recommends it. Stop by for a relaxing evening, and enjoy this small town, downtown area :)
Your Dekalb Farmers Market
This place looks like a Sam's Club or Costco (any wholesale store), but it sells very high quality, local and specialty goods. If you don't need groceries, you should still check this place out and have lunch or buy some baked treats! The employees wear name tags that also state the languages they speak! Warning - it can get very crowded and hectic, and I believe it's cash only.
Waffle House Museum
Waffle House is a Georgian classic. I've been to one but have never eaten the food; you get your below average diner fast food, but again, it's the experience that matters. Waffle House is an icon, a symbol of Georgia :) There's a Waffle House museum in Decatur, located at the very first establishment.
Historic Fourth Ward / Old Fourth Ward
The Carter Center
Ah, President Jimmy Carter. A Georgian native, humanitarian, and overall wonderful person -- I can say this because I met and shook hands with him ;) Let's just say that there are pros to taking chem lab, and there are also pros to walking there early.
Quite frankly, my knowledge of American history after the 1965 is quite sad. I never learned about it in school and I've been meaning to learn about it on my own, but have never gotten the chance to. I don't know much about President Carter's time in office, but I do know that he's done more than any other president after his presidency, and for that, I truly admire him.
The Carter Center is an NGO that promotes and works towards global peace, human rights, disease prevention, and mental health care improvement. It's only open to the public via special event booking or business requests, but I thought it was worth mentioning because you can volunteer/intern/work here, and it's located next door to the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum, which is open to the general public.
Jimmy Carter Presidential Library & Museum
This is a family friendly museum that exhibits photos, events, and memorabilia from the Carter presidency. There's a replica Oval Office and kids under 16 are admitted for free :)!
Spice to Table
I've mentioned Linton Hopkins and TGM way too many times on this blog, and you're probably rolling your eyes because I'm mentioning Asha Gomez again too. But in all seriousness, Asha Gomez is a wonderful, self-trained chef! Taste her pomegranate molasses chicken over coconut rice -- you will not regret it (it's what made me so thankful to eat meat again, and I don't say that lightly.) You've most likely never experienced Indian cuisine like this, and you can even take cooking classes from Chef Gomez at The Third Space, located next door to Spice to Table.
Asha Gomez's instagram account (pomegranate molasses chicken).
Read and see more photos here.
Krog Street Market
In short, Krog Street is Atlanta's Chelsea Market -- just less crowded, which I think is always better. Though it's smaller, the quality of the options are just as high. Plus, there's free water stations -- that also provide sparkling water! You can't top that.
Places that I would personally recommend are:
- Fred's Meat and Bread: owned and operated by the restaurateurs/chef that have gifted TGM to us. Alton Brown claims that the Philly cheesesteak here is better than the ones he's had in Philadelphia. Wow.
- Jeni's Ice Cream: I had the Riesling Pear sorbet and was changed. It's pricier, but it's such a nice treat.
- Xocolatl: I've never had real chocolate until sampling the chocolate at Xocolatl. You can order online or purchase their products in stores as well, but nothing beats coming here, talking to the people behind the business, and learning about the complexities of the flavors of chocolate. Everything is fair-trade, sustainable, vegan, and gluten-free. Seriously. Talking to the employee about chocolate really changed my perspective and has made me understand the importance of purchasing high quality chocolates. Consider taking a tour/tasting here!
See more of my photos from Krog Street here.
Ponce City Market
This hub for shopping and dining was originally an old factory building. Though the stoic, industrial look was retained, it's now inviting and attractive. I thoroughly enjoyed exploring the store Citizen Supply and taking 1000x photos; it's probably the most photogenic store I've been to.
Read and see more of my photos here.
Atlanta Beltline (technically located all around the city)
You know how New York City's Highline has become the newest and greatest tourist attraction? Well, turns out, Atlanta's Beltline is the Highline's older sister! Yup, not all trends start in NYC.
Both Ponce City and Krog Street Market have easy access to the Beltline. Take a walk, rent a bike, or run with your dog on the Beltline. You'll find Instagram-worthy street art ;)
Little Five PointsLittle 5 Pts. is a little sketch-y at night, so I really don't recommend coming here then. Definitely come during the day, and come with at least one other person! It's eclectic, different, and vibrant.
I've heard that the shopping is good!
My research leader actually asked me, after I moved, if I've ever been to the underground shopping mall in Atlanta, and I had to stare at him in shock for a moment because I have never heard of it! I still know very little about it, but I had to throw it out there. There's opportunities to take tours, dine, and shop.
I went to The Festival on Ponce in the spring that took place at Inman Park. It was just like the Atlanta Arts Festival, with great artwork, friendly artists and vendors, food trucks, inflatables, and music. Like the other festivals, admission is free.
Artwork inspired by the artist's recent trip to Italy (above, left). I loved talking about traveling with her :)
All around Atlanta
I'm not sure if it's worth mentioning, but Chik-fil-A was founded in Georgia :) I don't promote fast food, particularly when it contains monosodium glutamate (MSG), but Chick-fil-A is a pivotal part of Georgia's culture.
(as is Waffle House)
Six Flags over Georgia
I haven't been to this Six Flags, but my roommate has! She had a great time, and this is just another attraction located outside of the city that's worth considering :)
A classic, must-see, must-hike attraction. Don't worry, if you don't like to hike (and fair warning - it can get a little steep, but it's certainly doable, even for kids ages 5+), there's a cable car that takes you to the top for an additional fee. The cable car does get close to the iconic Civil War carving on the side of the mountain, but the windows are quite dirty and the cars are crowded, so your best view is honestly from the bottom, near the visitor's center. There's no fee to hike the mountain, but be aware that you have to walk about a mile from the visitor's center/parking lot to the starting point of the hike at the bottom. The view from the top is magnificent, and there's seasonal events to consider - including sledding in the winter!
Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area
If you're outdoorsy, enjoy Mother Nature and go boating/cycling/fishing on the Chattahoochee River! The daily parking pass costs $3.
I believe one of my best friends toured this museum during her trip to Atlanta, and I think this is a pretty entertaining idea, especially for younger children. Tickets range from $10-20, Learn about the history of Chick-fil-A; the $20 ticket includes a shuttle ride that tours "The Kitchen".
Chick-fil-A Dwarf House
Have you heard of a sit-down Chick-fil-A? The menu is slightly more complex (cornbread, sweet potato "souffle" -- which is just mashed sweet potatoes). There are a few "Dwarf Houses" in Georgia; I linked what I think is the closest to Atlanta, above.
Another thing that this Northerner takes for granted is the fact that there's more than 5 farms in each town -- I live on the same road as two! This isn't the case in all places, and I found that out when we drove 2 hours to Mercier Orchards to pick apples. Cars were lined down the street, and the general store was packed. We went a little later in the season, so many of the trees were overpicked, but apple picking is always fun and reminds me of my childhood. You pay for bags before you get onto the hayride that takes you to the apple trees; fill the bags up as best as you can! Mercier Orchards, like most orchards, is famous for its cider donuts. I tried their pumpkin butter (no sugar added) and hot apple cider -- both were amazing!
I think it's pretty clear that Atlanta is abundant in just about every area possible. Thank you for sticking around to the end, and I hope that you enjoyed this travel series guide. I'm so happy to have shared this beautiful place with you!