If you know us, you know that we LOVE Atlanta. We would say our Heart is on the West Coast, but our soul lives in Atlanta.
Atlanta definitely deserves more love. It's a perfect family vacation, if you know how to do it the right way. Majority of people that don't get our love for Atlanta say they have visited and then come to find out.. they have only been to Downtown Atlanta.
Logistically Atlanta is set up better than any city we have ever seen! Everything runs in a circle. Sounds confusing? It kind of us, but once you get use to it - it makes getting around so easy. Most cities state where they live by saying "North, South, East, West" - in Atlanta you classify where you live by saying ITP or OTP.
ITP, or "inside the perimeter," refers to the Atlanta city limits perfectly outlined by Interstate 285, which forms a loop around the city. OTP, or "outside the perimeter," contains the suburbs of Atlanta, all with their own characteristics and personalities outside I-285. For many Atlantans, being an ITP-er or an OTP-er is a way of life.
On the ITP side you will find all the tourist spots, hot spots, night life, art and music. On the OTP side you will find your quaint Southern shopping centers and waterfalls... yes you read that right. Atlanta has waterfalls.
WHERE TO STAY
Midtown, Midtown, Midtown!!
Downtown is where every tourist goes, it’s not the nicest part of Atlanta. Locals do not hang out in Downtown.. In fact, downtown gives a bad image of what Atlanta really is. If you've only been to Downtown you haven't fully experienced Atlanta
Buckhead is where all the reviews and blogs will say; however, this is old school news. Midtown is the new Buckhead. Yes there are a ton of things to do in Buckhead; however, majority of it is designer shopping and overpriced restaurants
Treehouse Airbnb - if you can grab an open date ;)
Personally we do not feel you need a car when you go to Atlanta. It’s very public transportation friendly. We know what you're thinking. Public transportation?! It's not grimy like other cities. Everyone takes the Marta, so it’s usually pretty full. As clean as public transportation gets and it stops in all the neighborhoods you would want to visit any way.
You can get on the Marta right at the airport and take it to wherever you need to go.
You can also easily get to games, concerts and different neighborhoods.
If you do rent a car, be prepared to spend money in parking
NEIGHBORHOODS OF ATLANTA ITP
There are many more than the below, but just to name a few
Old Fourth Ward
Poncey-Highlands (in between Ponce and Virginia Highlands)
Quick and Easy Eats
Waffle House - it started in GA, they are on another level in GA. Everyone goes there even celebs
Varsity - not our favorite place to eat, but it’s an experience that you should have at least once. We honestly never went to Varsity once we moved to Atlanta
The Cookout - East coast chain (super cheap!) Get a tray combo! Fresh charbroil burger
Zesto's - if we had to pick between Varsity or Zesto's.. it's Zestos all day. You may know Zesto's from the show "Atlanta" with Donald Glover aka Childish Gambino. Get the lemon pepper wings! You can get a box of
Publix (yes it’s a grocery store, if you are from the East coast - you would understand. If not, it’s something you should experience. What to buy when you are there?
Italian Sandwich on Mountain Bread (Boar’s Head)
Red wine vinegar and oil
Things to do by Neighborhood - ITP
Piedmont Park - it's like a mini Central Park :)
Walk the Belt Line - Atlanta deconstructed the old railroad and turned it into a walkable trail. It wraps around the entire city. Our favorite part of the belt line is the East side (more information below)
Cafe Intermezzo - Amazing cakes and coffees
Steamhouse Lounge - get a bucket of steamed oysters, you shuck them yourself
South City Kitchen - There is another location in Buckhead, majority of people go to Midtown though
Cafe Agora - really good Gyro’s and Greek food
Bar Margot - inside of Four Season’s
Flying Biscuit - for brunch
Sweet Hut Bakery and Cafe
Loca Luna - great place for drinks and Paella
The Vortex - Not so much for food, but great for drinks and there is a comedy club upstairs
Bar Taco - strong margaritas, cute patio, great guac, pork belly tacos and tamales
Jeni’s Ice Cream
Ginya Sushi - our fav sushi spot
Jeni’s Ice Cream
Krog's Street Tunnel - instagram opp
Little Five Points
Fox Bro’s BBQ - Really good! TX style bbq
Criminal Records (shop for old school records)
Old Fourth Ward
Jackson Street Bridge - photo op. They use this bridge in many movies/shows.
TOURISTY STUFF, Just in case you are feeling basic
Ferris Wheel Downtown
Football Hall of Fame
You can take a tour of CNN as well
Underground railroad mall
Tin Lizzy's Catina - cheap drinks
Little Foods Store - grab a burger or chili dog - the area around the store is also very cool
Buckhead - Lenox
Shopping and more shopping!
Phipps Plaza (more designer than Lenox)
Buckhead - Square
Cute area with more designer stores.. see Buckhead
Atlanta Fish Market
Shake Shack - every city has one now, but this location has a nice rooftop
Atlanta Station is a small mall area
Ponce City Market tons of shops and places to eat
“The Roof” - The roof of Ponce City Market. Restaurant, bar and carnival!
Marrakesh - inside of Ponce City Market
King of Pops - inside of Ponce City Market and can be found throughout the city
Mary Mac’s Tearoom - it’s touristy.. Fried chicken is just okay
Things to do by Neighborhood - OTP
Tassa's Roti Shop - A buffet of Trinidadian Food! So good!
Dekalb's Farmer Market - best farmer's market ever!
Caribbean Chicken & Fish - right by Dekalb's Farmers market. Great jerk chicken
Sip and Strokes - paint and sip class, we have never found a paint place close to it! It's a ton of fun and they do theme nights like Michael Jackson, Tupac, Prince, etc - and play their music while you paint :)
Stone Mountain - you can pay to the park or you can hike up the mountain for free! Great workout. If you have kids with you, just take your time. If you're by yourself and need a workout... run up it!
ACTIVITES TO DO:
CITY SCAVENGER HUNT
Throughout Atlanta you will see “tiny doors” . This is a scavenger hunt. They also came out with a book.
Map of the locations in the city can be found on their site
Sweetwater Creek State Park, - waterfall
Roswell Mill - our favorite waterfall
DAY ON THE EAST BELTLINE
The beltline wraps around the entire city. It was an old railroad track that is not a bike/walk path. There are tons of restaurants, markets, shops, etc located directly off the Belt Line. Everyone has their own favorite part of Beltline based off of your own style. Our favorite part of Belt Line is the East side. There is a ton of art, graffiti and cool stops along the way. If you are looking to take cool photos.. This is a great way to do it!
Below is the route we suggest:
Park by Piedmont Park
Enter the Belt Line by Park Tavern (you will see everyone walking across the street from Park Tavern)
You can walk/ride a bike/rent a scooter about 3 miles
When you reach this area, this is where the fun begins.
On the left (the flowered building) find a tiny door outside
Enter this building to see a cool thrift shop (it’s big)
Next continue back out of the building to the brick building on the right
The brick building on the right is called “Ponce City Market”
You will enter from mid level if you are coming from the Belt Line. From there follow your way downstairs
Inside there are a bunch of restaurants and shops
Grab a King of Pops popsicle - it’s a staple of Atlanta
Fried chicken and mac from Hop’s Chicken
Sweet Potato fries from Marrakesh.. Don’t ask.. They are just amazing!
On top of Ponce City Market is “The Roof” - it’s a carnival on the roof. It’s only $1 to visit. There is a bar and restaurant on the roof as well. You pay per ride or activity you choose to do, so you can dictate how much you want to spend. It’s also an amazing view of the city. In the winter you can ice skate there.
Once you’ve had all the fun you can possibly have, head out of Ponce City Market back onto the belt line and continue on the opposite direction you came from. You can also split this into two days, if needed.
In order of what you will pass next:
Barcelona Wine Bar - Great tapas! They also have a great brunch
Two Urban Licks - BBQ Restaurant that gets lively at night. Also has a speakeasy
Next neighborhood you will enter is Virginia Highlands.
You’ll know when you start seeing cute little townhomes
There are tons of restaurants and shops in this area as well. See lower in the list of Neighborhoods
Lady Bird Atlanta - great place for brunch or to just grab a cocktail
Continue on to Krog Market - Historic Atlanta Food Mart
Grab dumplings from Gu’s Dumplings
Cheesesteak from Fred’s Meat and Cheese