This author has lived in Atlanta, Georgia all her life. Visiting friends and family regularly call upon her to show them the town. Here are a few recommendations on how to have a great time in Atlanta.
Where to Eat Mary Mac’s Tea Room is an iconic southern food restaurant located in Midtown; try the fried chicken and collard greens. Little Five Points’ Vortex serves an amazing cheeseburger. Prime is a great place for steaks and sushi in Buckhead; order between 5:00-6:15p.m., and your steak is half price. Alfredo’s on Cheshire Bridge has the best Italian food in Atlanta. Eats on Ponce de Leon offers an eclectic (but tasty) array of pasta and jerk chicken, at unbeatable prices. Visit the original landmark The Varsity in downtown for the greatest, greasiest chili dog ever.
For the History Buff There is no admission fee for visiting the incredible Martin Luther King, Jr. Historic Site. Take in the history of the Civil War era at the Atlanta Cyclorama. The High Museum of Art boasts an impressive permanent collection, as well as outstanding traveling exhibits.
For the Entertainment Buff The Fox Theatre offers a steady progression of the best shows off Broadway. CNN Center offers a wonderful tour of its facilities, including many of the sets for their programming. Little Five Point’s Variety Playhouse is a theater-nightclub hybrid, and offers the best in jam bands, bluegrass, jazz, and alt rock from Atlanta and beyond. Chastain Amphitheatre is a fantastic outdoor venue; enjoy classic entertainment from the likes of Aretha Franklin, Moody Blues, and James Taylor.
For the Shopaholic Lenox Mall is a world-class shopping mall in the heart of Buckhead, with everything from traditional mall brands to the top names in luxury. Atlantic Station offers the features of a traditional mall in an attractive outdoor courtyard environment. Little Five Points district is home to dozens of off-beat stores, including the famous Junkman’s Daughter.
For the Party Animal 300 offers bowling in an upscale club environment, complete with the latest music, designer cocktails and the best food you’ll ever have at a bowling alley. Star Bar is the greatest dive bar in Atlanta, with great local bands, Karaoke and an Elvis shrine. The Masquerade offers three clubs in one, with music for ravers, rednecks, punk and funk fans. If you’re interested in adult entertainment, Atlanta is the unofficial gentlemen’s club capital of the country.
For the Outdoors Crowd Atlanta is undoubtedly the greenest major metro area you’ll ever visit. There are dozens of biking and walking paths, not to mention beautiful parks in most of the intown neighborhoods. Check out Stone Mountain Park for great hiking and picnicking in a lush forest, fifteen minutes outside of Atlanta. The Atlanta Botanical Gardens is a thirty acre oasis of gardens, trails, and wildflower exhibits.
For the Kids Zoo Atlanta has lions, tigers, bears, and more, including the famous panda exhibit. Six Flags over Georgia is among the top theme parks in the U.S. The Georgia Aquarium is a must regardless of budget or age. Fernbank Science Center offers great exhibits on natural sciences; admission starts at $3.
For the Budget Conscious Piedmont Park is a refreshing expanse of green, conveniently located in the heart of Midtown; admission is free. Underground Atlanta offers low-cost dining options, with plenty of street performers and special events. There is no charge for the Georgia State Capital’s self-guided tours.
Some additional tips:
Bring Your Walking Shoes If you plan on visiting many of the tourist attractions in the Downtown or Midtown area, plan on doing a lot of walking. Our fair city is a sprawling one, with many blocks in between attraction such as the Georgia Aquarium, the World of Coke, Underground, and the State Capital downtown.
You Can’t Hail a Cab Atlanta does not boast a huge number of cabs like other major metropolitan areas. Some major attractions (like sporting venues) might have cab lines, but be prepared to call a taxi from wherever you are. New Yorkers please note: a cab will almost certainly not stop when hailed, so don’t be surprised.
They Don’t Call it Hot-lanta for Nothing Not only is Atlanta among the hottest metro areas in the U.S., it’s also very humid between April and October. A temperature of ninety-two degrees in July can feel infinitely warmer if the humidity happens to be ninety-five percent. Atlanta is most temperate in April, May, September and October. Dress in layers when visiting in the spring or autumn months, as morning and afternoon temperatures can differ by thirty degrees.
Avoid the Traffic As any resident of or recent visitor to Atlanta will tell you that the traffic is the worst they’ve ever encountered. Two-lane roads in busy areas, construction, and our not-so-great sewer system can leave you with a serious case of road rage, particularly during inclement weather. Avoid major interstates like I-75 and I-85 between 3p.m. and 6p.m. Don’t venture towards Midtown or Downtown during these hours without expecting serious delays. Use our public transportation, MARTA, for a ride to major venues, such as sporting events and big music concerts. Consult Georgia Navigator’s website for in-depth traffic coverage for the entire metro area.