It’s been 8 months since my long-weekend trip to Atlanta and I can’t believe I haven’t written about it yet! Atlanta is one of my favorite cities I’ve ever visited and I can’t wait to go back. Here’s a field guide from a total ATL rookie!
Hartsfield-Jackson Airport & MARTA
The Atlanta airport is a Delta hub, so the running joke is that if the devil himself had to fly back to Hell, he’d connect in Atlanta. The airport is massive, so big that it necessitates a “plane train” to take passengers between terminals. H-J also has the lovely tendency of switching arrival gates, often to different terminals, which can be a bit stressful.
I, of course, was actually flying to Atlanta, though, so I had a great experience navigating the airport. It’s best feature is that, when it spits you out at baggage claim, there’s a MARTA station right there that can get you anywhere in the city!
MARTA is Atlanta’s answer to the T or Metro, but possibly way better. The trains run frequently, are super clean (as public transit goes) and the lines are super simplified so it’s easy for a newbie to navigate the system. The only downsides are that the trains pretty much only converge at Five Points, so that station is, I’m sure, a nightmare, and that you have to tap your Breeze Card on exit as well as entry, just like BART. MARTA reminds me a lot of the Montreal Metro, just way less confusing.
The W Atlanta-Midtown
The W Hotel in Midtown is conveniently located between the Midtown and Arts Center stops on MARTA. I hopped off MARTA at Midtown, grabbed a cup from Dancing Goats, and booked it to the hotel to relieve myself of the two stuffed totes I was schlepping. I knew the W was a nice hotel, but holy smokes was it swanky! Easily the nicest place I’ve ever stayed, so big ups to my friend, who treated us!
The High Museum
Going to the High Museum was my #1 Atlanta priority and it did not disappoint! Designed by Richard Meier, the iconic AF architect who designed the Getty Center in LA, the High is a bright beautiful building filled with a stunning array of artworks, American, European, and African. I can’t wait to go back—there was an entire wing we didn’t have time to see!
The Margaret Mitchell House was a must-do on my Atlanta list. My best friend (who accompanied me on the trip) and I had a movie-watching club with her dad when we were kids (because we were super cool), and Gone With the Wind was one of the stand-outs. I read the book in high school (so…eleven or twelve years ago….) and similarly adored it. There’s some controversy about the book glamorizing the antebellum period, but, in my extremely optimistic view, it’s a story of a strong woman doing what it takes to survive. Also, Margaret Mitchell was a badass journalist and proto-feminist who died in a car crash, so who doesn’t want to hear about that drama?
We did brunch at Cafe Intermezzo on our last day in ATL, and I have exactly 2 words: savory. crepes. Intermezzo, as the name suggests, has super Italian vibes—there was an Italian movie playing while we were there (I heard it over the speakers in the bathroom, and the female lead sounded exactly like Isabella Rossellini). The food and cappuccinos were to die for, the staff was super nice, and the atmosphere was very European (or so I imagine, as someone who has never left North America).
Dancing Goats Coffee Bar
Dancing Goats was located right across from the Midtown MARTA stop, so I popped in on my way in and out of Atlanta. Since I didn’t spend much time here, I don’t have a ton to say, but the cold brew was good, they had bomb green iced tea, and the décor was sparse and right up my alley. More coffee shops need to adopt the minimalist menu trend! I don’t need the calorie count and every flavor under the sun listed. Just tell me lattes are $4 so I can get on with my life!
Revelator Coffee Company
I’m dreaming….of a Revelator cold brew…
Revelator is so nice, I went there twice! Once on the Georgia Tech campus and once at Ponce. They have a super stripped down menu—no frappuccinos up in here! I also heard a rumor that they bought Wired Puppy in Boston, so I’ll catch y’all soon!
TAP: A Gastropub
TAP is so, so good. We went for Sunday brunch and it was (fortunately for us) deserted, so we got to enjoy our mimosas and breakfast quesadillas in peace. Also, we got loaded tater tots, because, let’s face it, when in Rome. Can’t wait to go back and sample the rest of the menu!
South City Kitchen (Midtown)
Brunch goals, elevated. South City Kitchen was arguably the *most* Southern thing we did during our stay. I had grits, y’all.
We went to The Nook on our first night in ATL. It was right around the corner from our hotel, across from Piedmont Park, and it was the perfect low-key location to get the vacay started. I tried the “Atalanta” plum beer by Orpheus Brewing Company and it was amazing. Also, buffalo tater tot nachos. TOTCHOS.
After 2 days of eating nothing but tater tots and cheese, my body was screaming for vegetables, so we decided on Thai for dinner. Midtown is (apparently) super quiet on Sunday nights, so we had a very peaceful meal on the patio of Tamarind Seed, which, unfortunately, is closed now. I will say, the food was excellent! I hope their renovations go smoothly and that they’re able to reopen!
This bar was around the corner from The W, and it ended up being one of the best spots we hit during our stay. We went after our dinner at Tamarind Seed for dessert, drinks, and the Celtics game. The Verde cocktail was the dreamiest–it had Hendricks, lime, cilantro, and chili pepper–and the Vanilla Bavarian dessert was like key lime pie on steroids. Not to mention that the decor was stunning and modern, and the service was outstanding (although I am highly biased towards people who compliment my glasses). We just intended to pop in for a few minutes, but ended up staying because the TV was playing basketball (which I have never watched or cared about), but as a Boston native herself, my friend was really invested in the Celtics winning (which they did spectacularly in the last few seconds)!
P.S. 5Church contacted me on Instagram and asked to repost this shot, so hit them up on Insta and you might see a familiar handle!
This bar was located next to our hotel, so we decided to give it a try Saturday night around 11, to prove to ourselves that we weren’t 80-year-old women. (We are.)
This is a very cool spot, admittedly, but that was kind of the problem. It was packed, loud, and super dark. I think there was actually a wedding after-party happening while we were there. We were fighting to stay awake after our long day, but we gave our version of “going out to da club” a try, and I have to say the drinks were fab. I got a Negroni, because they were referenced on Master of None, and I actually love the borderline gross bitterness of Campari.
The decor at The Establishment was Old West-inspired–lots of burlap, rope, and barrels. Even the glassware was heavy and ornate, a very nice vintage nod. If I ever make it back to ATL, I’ll stop into this bar during the early evening so that I can actually hear my companion’s conversation.
Luckily, as we were finishing our drinks, the bar TVs started playing SNL, so after the cold open, we rushed back to the hotel to bid farewell to Bobby, Vanessa, and Sasheer.
On our first night in Atlanta, at The Nook, we discovered local brewer, Orpheus Brewing, and their incomparable Atalanta Tart Plum Saison. It was so amazing that even I, who never drinks beer, couldn’t help but order one. A quick Google search let us know that the brewery itself was just across the park from where we were staying, so we set out on Sunday to take one of their tours and enjoy samples of all their varietals. (Can you say varietals about beer, or is that just a wine term?)
Unfortunately, after walking all the way across Piedmont Park to get to the brewery, they were closed for a private event, so we didn’t get to do the brewery tour. Super bummed! This is a must-do activity on my next trip down South!
Ponce City Market
I’d venture to call this the Faneuil Hall of Atlanta. It’s an outdoor mall (think lululemon and Madewell) and an indoor food hall with every type of cuisine imaginable. If I were a local, I anticipate that I’d find myself here a lot. I grabbed a Lyft down to Ponce on my last day to kill some time before my flight, and I’m really glad I checked it out. I ended up having a burrito and a margarita (because I’m predictable) while listening to Throwing Shade, a recent podcast obsession. Unfortunately, it was raining and generally crappy out all Monday, so apart from the umbrella I bought, I wasn’t able to do much shopping.