Atlanta has grown exponentially in the past few years, and it's just getting better. And with more choices for things to do, a single weekend simply isn't enough to take it all in. This guide, however, will get you pretty close.
The trick is to find the best mix of beloved establishments, new and buzzed about spots, and even a couple under-the-radar gems in neighborhoods across the city. From hiking the Beltline and tubing along the Chattahoochee to enjoying drinks and dinner in Midtown and reveling in the amazing nightlife on Edgewood Avenue, here’s the perfect combination of activities for you to get the best Atlanta experience in one weekend.
Where to Stay
The most important part of your trip is figuring out your basecamp. Midtown is easily the most central, so naturally, the neighborhood is packed with hotels. Two superb—and very different—options to look into are The Georgian Terrace and the Loews Atlanta Hotel.
The Georgian Terrace is a storied standard, yet it never gets old. First opened in 1911, the hotel counts the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Walt Disney, Helen Keller, Elvis Presley, and the *Gone with the Wind *cast as guests. (If you include Alex Cooley's Electric Ballroom concert venue downstairs during its short mid-1970s run, you can add a host of iconic rock 'n' rollers, too.) Unsurprisingly, the hotel is on the National Register of Historic Places. Bonus: It's located across the street from the Fox Theatre, another history-steeped landmark.
The Loews Hotel near Piedmont Park isn't as history-rich, but is ideal for anyone looking to unwind. Its spa and fitness center, Exhale, is one of the city's biggest at 20,000 square feet, and includes barre and yoga classes, plus a Moroccan style Hammam.
While you savor a Southern-style breakfast at the Midtown location of the Flying Biscuit, a staple since 1993, take a moment to download the free app for Living Walls. The annual street art and urbanism conference is renowned for producing jaw-dropping murals all over the city. Six years in, Atlanta's landscape is brighter and more inspiring as a result. The app makes a cakewalk of locating pieces or learning more about ones you spot along your adventures around town.
When you’ve had your fill at breakfast, run, walk, or bike the BeltLine Eastside Trail. Start in Midtown at 10th Street and Monroe Drive and head into Piedmont Park. Once you get to the park, you can pop into Atlanta Botanical Garden for a quick tour, then jump back on the path to the North Avenue exit where you can check out fresh and varied dining and shopping at Ponce City Market. Be sure to head to the rooftop before you leave as well. Skyline Park boasts carnival games, rides, and incredible city views. For dinner, The Mercury is a standout, with its mid-century American vibe and flawless, award-winning classic cocktails.
After dinner, take an early evening stroll along the trail into Inman Park and Old Fourth Ward in Atlanta’s Eastside. There are murals aplenty in both neighborhoods, and at the trail’s end, you're just minutes from Edgewood Avenue. This historic area includes theKing Center and the Sweet Auburn Curb Market, which opened some 90 years ago. The area’s recent revitalization has sparked a wave of new businesses both inside the market and along the avenue, and the late-night appeal has significantly increased. There's the popular kitsch of Sister Louisa's Church of the Living Room and Ping Pong Emporium, DJs at Noni's, the glorious arcade at Joystick Gamebar, and more. After dark, calling the area bustling is an understatement; navigating Edgewood Avenue on a Friday night is an adventure all its own.
South City Kitchen has served Atlanta for more than 23 years and remains an infallible choice for sophisticated Southern cuisine—brunch included. Take your pick of benedict dishes, fried chicken with waffles, or the Geechee Stew, which includes black-eyed peas, collards, and a sunny side up egg.
For midday outdoor excitement, head to the Chattahoochee River. Georgians "Shoot the 'Hooch" in tubes during summer, but kayaking is best for fall. You can also hit the trails for a run, walk, or bike ride. Crisp air and changing leaves offer a beautiful setting regardless of which activity you choose.
Another eye-catching outdoor adventure is Arabia Mountain, a stone mound (called a monadnock) that was donated by a quarry family in the 1970s. This moon-like rock is one of 49 National Heritage Areas in the country and this one is extra special. It has a curious mix of nature and history, with 12 miles of nature trails, 30 miles of paved bike paths, wetlands, and five species of endangered plants on it. It is also home to a monastery for Trappist monks, and has the remains of farmhouses and homes built in the 1820s. There is plenty here to keep you busy in the outdoors for the whole afternoon.
After all of your exploring, head back to Midtown for drinks and dinner at one of any number of terrific restaurants and pubs in the neighborhood.
Start your day at ADios Cafe (yes, the A and D are both capitalized), for a Mexican-inspired breakfast, including breakfast burritos, quesadillas, and crepes. Once you are done there, head down the way for a thrill-filled film tour.
Did you know that Georgia is now a powerhouse state for movie and TV production with more than 140 works produced since 2008? Among the most famous is *The Walking Dead, *and Castleberry Hill-based AtlantaMovieTours offers a guided trip around Atlanta filming locations. If you're a fan of the series, it's all pretty exciting.
One of the tour stops is the Goat Farm Arts Center, which is a totally worthwhile visit. The renovated complex of industrial buildings in West Midtown hosts an unprecedented mix of classic, contemporary, and experimental cultural events, as well as a slew of innovative companies ranging from fashion to gaming to natural sciences. Stop into the Warhorse Coffee Joint first, then soak in the practically palpable creative energy as you explore the grounds.
For dinner, there's Krog Street Market, a new food hall in a reworked 1920’s warehouse. Within the market there’s the Ticonderoga Club offering upscale cuisine in a no-frills environment; Superica serving Tex-Mex tastiness; and Grand Champion BBQ serving award-winning barbecue.
Add the grandest of finales by heading downtown to Centennial Olympic Park, where you can board the SkyView ferris wheel, soar 20 stories high, and survey the city you've just conquered.
Originally written for Atlanta CVB.