10 Things I Love About Atlanta
Atlanta is a city my wife and I love. I lived there for a time when I was growing up and we’ve talked often about how it’s one of the cities in America where we would enjoy living together. We also have tons of friends in the Atlanta area and a part of me will always have a strong connection to the city.
Now, we get to return to Atlanta often and play the role of tourist, which is something I wish I’d done more of when I was a student at nearby UGA. With easy access on MARTA from the Atlanta airport, it’s no trouble for us to hop on a flight and spend a day in the ATL. And it’s a trip we make on a regular basis.
Sometimes it’s just to eat lunch. Sometimes it’s to visit friends or family. Sometimes it’s to do some shopping. And it’s almost always a lot of fun.
As always, many of our activities revolve around food (like the rest of my life.) Here are 10 things I love about Atlanta.
While Atlanta is a city full of big-name, world-wide companies, I don’t think there’s one more synonymous with the city than Coca-Cola. You see Coke’s presence everywhere. Whether it’s on the menu at every restaurant, the classic signs and banners as you drive along the interstates, the giant Coke bottle at Turner Field, or with a visit to the World of Coca-Cola in Centennial Park, you’re never far from a Coke.
2. The Neighborhoods
Part of what makes Atlanta a difficult city to get around is also part of what makes it great. Yes, there’s no denying that the public transportation system could use an overhaul and visiting stuff “outside the perimeter” is difficult if you don’t have a car, but there are still some great communities that make up the Atlanta area. We love visiting the different parts of town, like Buckhead, Decatur, Midtown, the Virginia-Highlands area, and up-and-coming places like the Westside near the Georgia Tech campus. The different neighborhoods make it easy to feel like you’re not in a big city and help give Atlanta some of its great character.
3. The Aquarium
You’ll likely have to battle swarms of kids and other groups, but a visit to the Georgia Aquarium in Centennial Park is still worth it. It has an incredible collection of species, and my favorites are the beluga whales, who have tons of personality. The aquarium is also a great place for some really cool pictures, including in the marine tunnel and large window viewing area in the Ocean Voyager exhibit.
While it’s not hard to find tons of great food in Atlanta, I’m most impressed with the selection of awesome burger places in the city. Try the one-of-a-kind experience at Ann’s Snack Bar or The Vortex, a more trendy spot like Grindhouse, FLIP, Yeah! Burger, or Farm Burger, or even the elusive Holeman & Finch burger. You’re never far from a delicious burger in Atlanta. BBQ is my first love, but I’ll never turn down a great burger in the ATL.
5. Little Five Points
For people who believe the myth that Atlanta is a city of nothing but suburban W.A.S.P.s who drive their SUVs into the city for work and then get out as quickly as possible, I recommend spending an evening walking around Little Five Points. It’s a quirky, funky, artsy section of town with some interesting bars, restaurants and shops that show Atlanta has plenty of eclectic people who call the area home. I also recommend checking out The Vortex, one of those great burger restaurants I mentioned in No. 4.
Though it pains me greatly, I identify myself as a fan of Atlanta sports teams. The Braves break my heart every year, the Falcons are always “one more piece away” from being a championship contender, and the Hawks...well...they still exist. Still, it’s always a lot of fun to go to game in Atlanta, particularly to see the Braves play. It was one of our favorite activities in college to be able to drive down to Turner Field during the week to see the Braves without having to spend much money. And hopefully the move to the north side of town will make the atmosphere even better.
7. The Mothership
I know Krispy Kreme is based in North Carolina. I know it’s a chain that you can find throughout the Southeast and other parts of the country. I know some people say you can get Krispy Kreme doughnuts in a grocery store or gas station. ← Those people should be left on a deserted island.
But, it’s simply different when you can visit the Krispy Kreme on Ponce de Leon. When we lived there, this spot became affectionately known as “The Mothership.” It’s open 24 hours a day. And more importantly, the “Hot” sign is almost always on! Seriously. I’ve never seen that beautiful, heavenly sign not lit up to announce the creation of delicious, fresh, hot doughnuts.
8. The Parks
Atlanta has it’s iconic park in the heart of the city with Centennial Park, which was created as a hub for the 1996 Summer Olympics, but it’s not the only great park in the city. Actually, similar to other big cities, Centennial Park overshadows many of the other great spaces where you can enjoy some green space. Head over to Piedmont Park for some amazing views of the skyline. See some of the incredible art at Freedom Park, known as Atlanta’s Art Park. And have an adventure at the Zoo at Grant Park.
9. The Arts
The arts and culture scene of Atlanta continues to grow and become more exciting. Between the different public art projects that continue to pop up, the museums such as the High Museum of Art, and the amazing live music venues like The Tabernacle and Fox Theatre, it’s a community that is taking pride in its arts. I also love the idea and content of the entire #weloveatl campaign, which you can learn more about in this fantastic profile from The Bitter Southerner.
10. The Markets
I can’t talk about the things I love in Atlanta without a mention of the different markets in the city. You can find a crazy cast of characters and unique food items at the Your Dekalb Farmers Market and there’s also some really cool stuff happening at the Sweet Auburn Curb Market. For a smaller, more local feel, head over to the Morningside Farmers’ Market in the adorable Virginia-Highlands neighborhood.
Learn more about my experiences in Atlanta by checking out some of my Atlanta restaurant reviews!
Other Atlanta Resources
Atlanta Journal Constitution
Creative Loafing Atlanta