Welcome to Atlanta! Atlanta is home to the 1996 Summer Olympic Games, the world’s largest airport (Hartsfield-Jackson), and the worst traffic in the Southeastern United States. There is a public transit system called MARTA, but most of the locals don’t use it. MARTA is useful getting from the airport into the city, but after that, I find myself cabbing around town.
Atlanta is divided into three main parts: Downtown, Midtown, and Buckhead. Downtown Atlanta boasts sprawling office buildings/commerce and most of the touristy ventures in the city, such as the World of Coca-Cola, Georgia Aquarium (world’s largest indoor aquarium), College Football Hall of Fame, CNN Studio Tour, and Centennial Olympic Park. These are all well-documented tourist attractions and are worth checking out. Buckhead is nice too. However, I want to focus this post on what I think is the best part of Atlanta: Midtown.
Midtown is the cultural district of Atlanta and the preferred area for local young professionals, foodies, exercisers, and artists. It showcases Piedmont Park (pictured above), awesome annual festivals/concerts, a solid art scene, historic homes, unique restaurants, and nightlife. Midtown is centered around Piedmont Park – a sprawling 53 acre green space in the middle of the city. The park is beautiful all year round and you never know what you might stumble across walking through it. I’ve seen art/food markets, live music, kickball games, movie nights, festivals, dog parks, etc. Great people watching here and beautiful scenery with the skyline of Atlanta surrounding the outskirts of the park. Across the street from Piedmont Park is a little restaurant called The Nook, which I can recommend for post-park adventure coffee, brunch, or adult beverage.
Piedmont Park is connected to the BeltLine which a 22 mile stretch of exercise paths. The Beltline was originally a railroad corridor that Atlanta developed in the early 2000’s, based on a Georgia Tech student’s thesis. Originally, it was just intended for exercising, but has become so popular that it has exploded with restaurants, bars, and shopping along the way. Great area to walk and explore cool local establishments. LadyBird is a nice restaurant/bar to hang out during the day right on the Beltline, complete with a good menu and huge outside area with seating, ping pong table and other activities in the sunshine. Also, the BeltLine is Atlanta’s largest temporary public art exhibit. You can see statues, performers, and artistic graffiti. The exhibits are always changing so each new encounter with the BeltLine has fresh and interesting displays.
My new favorite area in Midtown is also located on the BeltLine. Ponce City Market (“PCM”) is a fully-renovated 10 story building that was originally built in 1920 and used to be a Sears and Roebuck. It is now an upscale multi-purpose facility that has some chain retail anchor shops, stand-alone restaurant concepts, residential units, and office space. The brick facade and structure of the building are original, but everything on the inside is brand new. Really well done. Also, the food court there is amazing and I wanted to try everything. The variety of food from Thai to seafood to gelato to coffee to barbecue just overwhelms your senses.
And if that wasn’t cool enough, Ponce City Market also has an amazing rooftop venue. They call it Skyline Park and it is a carnival-themed atmosphere that has midway games, mini-golf, beer garden and a 30 foot slide. The view of Atlanta’s skyline from that vantage point is pretty spectacular. It costs $10 per person for admission but the view alone is worth it. PCM is a must-see!
Lastly, I would be remiss without giving a shout out to our friend Stacey’s favorite Midtown neighborhood bar: Cypress Street Pint and Plate. It was phenomenal… good people, cold beer, and neighborhood atmosphere. The majority of our time was spent on their back patio (pictured below) where they had flat screens and the fire pit going. We ordered a plate of the sweet potato nachos and then promptly ordered the same dish again back to back. They were amazing. Also, if you order the ‘house beer’, it is Sweetwater 420 and it is only $3! Thought that was a cool touch.
So, when visiting Atlanta check out the touristy stuff in Downtown, but don’t sleep on Midtown. If you’re interested in more recommendations, just comment or send me a message. In a big city like Atlanta, there are a ton of cool places to see and this post is just scratching the surface.
You know what’s also in Midtown?? Read the review: Sweetwater Brewery: Good, Bad and Ugly