Gaze out the window of any high-rise in Downtown Atlanta and you’ll see how surprisingly green the surrounding city is. It’s those charming, urban, tree-lined neighborhoods just outside Downtown proper, each with its own distinctive personality, that give the city its cool vibe. So after you’ve tasted 100 different spins on Coke at the World of Coca-Cola, discover the city Atlantans love by trekking into that urban forest.
Inman Park — Colorful Victorian homes are this historic hood’s signature. So is good food. Its thriving restaurant and bar area, found near the intersection of North Highland Avenue and Elizabeth Street, is packed with trendy options and bustling at all hours, attracting a young and active crowd. The Atlanta Beltline Eastside Trail also intersects with the area, so you can hop on the trail for a walk, jog, or simply to find your way to another eatery, bar, or park, or to popular Inman Park food hall Krog Street Market.
Midtown — Midtown’s gleaming glass high-rises, clean sidewalks, and patio-fronted restaurants make it one of the most beautiful and lively neighborhoods in Atlanta. It’s home to the High Museum of Art, the Fox Theatre, and the Museum of Design Atlanta, so it’s ideal for art lovers. It’s also where you’ll find plush Piedmont Park and the rainbow crosswalks at the 10th Street and Piedmont Avenue intersection, celebrating Atlanta’s LGBTQ community.
West Midtown (aka Westside) — Industrial chic best describes this area west of Downtown Atlanta, where a polished, fashion-forward crowd frequents trendy restaurants, contemporary art galleries, clothing boutiques, and high-end furniture showrooms at the Westside Provisions District — an area that was once warehouses, railroads, and factories (and still retains a bit of that look). The nightlife is vibrant, whether nightlife means savoring a cup of Brambleberry Crisp at Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams or tossing horseshoes at The Painted Duck.
Virginia-Highland — Known for its beautiful historic craftsman bungalow homes, cozy porches, and tree-lined sidewalks, Virginia-Highland is a great spot to pair brunch with boutique shopping or dinner with a patio. The main drag is North Highland Avenue, where you’ll find people roving from eatery to clothing store to gelato shop to pub at all hours of the day. It’s relaxed, neighborly, family-friendly, and shaded by oaks.
Decatur — For a small-town feel with a slightly bohemian vibe, try Decatur’s town square just outside city limits, where trendy but laid-back restaurants, pubs, and shops are all within easy walking distance. Have a pint at beloved Brick Store Pub or listen to live music at the intimate Eddie’s Attic.
Old Fourth Ward — Thanks in large part to the huge adaptive reuse and restoration development Ponce City Market, where you can valet your bicycle at the Beltline entrance, shop for indie goods, and foodie-out at its eclectic food hall, Old Fourth Ward is one of Atlanta’s hottest neighborhoods. Take in the area’s street art, check out the skyline view at the Jackson Street Bridge, watch the skateboarders at the Historic Fourth Ward Skatepark, and visit Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birth home.
Buckhead — Buckhead is the residential area north of Downtown where you’ll find some of Atlanta’s most beautiful estates and mansions. The main drag is Peachtree Road, which is lined with retail and restaurant options. Browse the luxury wares at Rodeo Drive-inspired The Shops Buckhead Atlanta, and then downshift to a burger and fries at Shake Shack. Or visit the Atlanta History Center to take in the cyclorama, a 360-degree historic painting of the Battle of Atlanta, and stroll the historic Swan House and verdant Goizueta Gardens.
Downtown — Downtown is where the locals go to work and the visitors hit up the city’s main tourist attractions. The World of Coca-Cola and the National Center for Civil and Human Rights share a block with a green space in the center, so you could easily visit both in a day if you time things right. Downtown is also home to the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, where you can catch a high-energy Atlanta United MLS match (the team has a loud and loyal fan base) or a Falcons football game. While the neighborhood has a few good restaurants, it’s mostly a business district and can get a bit quiet after dark, so you’re better off heading into the surrounding neighborhoods for food and nightlife.