1. The market to end all markets
In other words,
The reason for all the hubbub around Ponce City? The Central Food Hall — arguably the greatest food hall in the Southeast and home to some of the city’s best-known chefs. Restaurants you should experience include the gourmet Italian market Bellina Alimentari, offering slow-cooked Italian foods made with fresh ingredients; The Mercury, serving American classic cocktails straight out of Mad Men; Latin-inspired sandwiches, baked goods, and hot plates at El Super Pan (from Hector Santiago, formerly of Pura Vida); and King of Pops, home of gourmet popsicles so good you’ll never want a regular old freezie again.
Other more-than-honorable mentions include Simply Seoul Kitchen, Honeysuckle Gelato, and some epic Mediterranean cuisine at Marrakesh (fresh pita bread made daily). And that’s not even getting into the shops…
2. Railroad tracks, reinvented
Much like New York City’s High Line, the BeltLine also has some of Atlanta’s best art — wander the route and you’ll experience the Southeast’s largest temporary public art display to date. And let’s not forget food — some of Atlanta’s favorite restaurants are right here, complete with walkup patios so you can keep enjoying those views while you eat. Try the salmon chips or fried catfish and grits for brunch at TWO Urban Licks, or grab a latte made (with beans roasted locally by Batdorf and Bronson) at Ponce City Market’s Dancing Goats Coffee. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself wanting to spend the whole day BeltLining.
3. The place where artists go to dream
Set in West Midtown, the
More than 450 artists and performers work out of the art studios at the center (and some teach classes). Goat Farm also hosts classical and contemporary concerts, theatrical performances, film screenings, workshops, art exhibitions, panel discussions, and seminars. Bonus: A lot of the exhibitions and performances are free.
4. A portal to the Civil Rights Movement
On Auburn Avenue, just east of downtown, you’ll find the birthplace of
5. The Newsroom, but in real life
Right smack dab in the middle of downtown Atlanta, check out the
Completely unrelated bonus: The atrium escalator has been listed by Guinness World Records as the longest freestanding (supported only at the ends) escalator in the world.
6. Golf — how it was meant to be experienced
And there’s also golf.
But it’s not golf like you’re used to. Try the signature TopGolf, where you score points by hitting balls into targeted areas (no cheating here, they use microchips to keep track!). The more accurate your shot is and the farther you hit it, the more points you get. Don’t know a golf ball from a ping-pong ball? At TopGolf, lessons are taught by a certified pro who covers the fundamentals with the help of technology (Tipsy Palmers not included).
7. Doll’s Head Trail (literally)
Atlanta loves its outdoors, but it also loves its creativity, and sometimes the two combine in weird and mysterious ways. Doll’s Head Trail is the epitome of this, so be sure to bring your camera.
The trail is part of Constitution Lakes Park, a nature preserve formed on the grounds of the defunct South River Brick Company. The old clay pits, over time, filled with water, creating the lakes; now the preserve is 125 acres of “urban” nature just a few miles from downtown Atlanta.
And giving reason to the name, lining the trail is “found art” — that is, art found in the preserve. It’s mostly dolls, doll parts, bottles, old bricks, and other small trinkets, all arranged to create displays along the walk. If you find something interesting along the trail, be sure to add it to one of the “exhibits,” becoming one of the artists yourself (and doing your civic duty of keeping the preserve clean).
8. The birthplace of your inner race car driver
If you’re the kind of driver that thinks speed limits are for wimps, hightail it to the
Though newbies will certainly get their thrills, it’s the hardcore driving enthusiasts who’ll find a home here. You’ll be able to drive your own car, testing its speed in the “Dynamic Area,” try out the Handling Circuit (an area designed to mimic a winding road), test your control skills on the Kick Plate, and take on the 45-degree vertical descent challenge of the Off Road Circuit.
9. The best place to hang your hammock
Few places get as scenic in Metro Atlanta as the
After a morning of breaking a sweat, don’t forget the hammock — you deserve it. Head to East Palisades, go to the edge of the bamboo forest, and set ‘er up. You’ll be right along the river, listening to the coursing waters and bamboo waving in the breeze. Consider it your own zen spa just a quick hop from the thrum of the city.