This September, I’ve covered Chicago, New York, and Seattle — focusing on major American cities for Wanderlust Wednesday this month. Though it wasn’t intentional, I picked one location from the east coast, west coast, and the midwest.
And now we’re going south to the Empire City of the South: Atlanta.
Atlanta has won its way into my heart over the past few years. Born and raised in Augusta, two hours southwest of the big city, I never appreciated ATL when I was growing up. But now, I’m glad for the excuse that many friends and family give me to visit regularly.
So what do I love most about Atlanta?
#1. Great outdoor spaces are everywhere.
What I iove about Altanta is something I love about Georgia in general: opportunities to enjoy the outdoors are everywhere.
In Atlanta, you can experience the city’s many metropolitan green spaces right downtown or drive a few miles out of the city for more natural parks.
One of my favorites is the iconic Piedmont Park, Atlanta’s version of Central Park.
Another is the Beltline, which shares many similarities with NYC’s Highline. (And just off the Beltline and newly opened is the Ponce City Market, which is modeled after the Chelsea Market off the Highline.)
Centennial Park, made famous by its fountain rings commemorating the 1996 Olympics, now plays host to a huge Ferris wheel and is central to two of Atlanta’s top tourist attractions, the World of Coke Museum and the Georgia Aquarium.
To chill by the water, find the Chattahoochee River flowing through the western side of Atlanta.
And if you’re looking for a quieter experience, check out Sweetwater Creek, for which the beer company is named, and also where parts of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay were filmed.
#2. Big city meets southern hospitality.
While I love big cities, they’re not always associated with charm. The big city experience usually suggests a fast pace and a lack of manners. But not in Atlanta.
In addition to hospitable people, you can find beautiful southern mansions in Atlanta proper and outside of it. The Swan House is one of the most well-known, and it’s beautiful.
There’s a lot to learn about southern history and art at the many museums around Atlanta, too, including the Atlanta History Center, which the Swan House is part of. Some others include the High Museum, the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, Cyclorama (currently closed for relocation, but cool nonetheless).
And while I haven’t yet been, the Southern Trilogy in Roswell is known for its antebellum, white-columned stylings.
And if big houses aren’t your thing and you just want to eat, Mary Mac’s Tea Room has been around for more than 70 years, and always serves up the classics. For the best and freshest fried chicken I’ve ever tasted, there’s The Farmhouse at Serenbe, just south of Atlanta. And for perfect Georgia barbecue, Fox Brothers is hands down my favorite BBQ joint ever.
#3. Atlanta is always evolving!
Though greenery and charm go a long way, maybe one of the most desired traits of Atlanta is its constant state of evolution. While the city itself isn’t young, most of its revitalization efforts are, and new projects to beautify and improve the city are always on the horizon. From its brand new streetcar, to ever-expanding projects on the Beltline, to many festivals, to its status as a global city, something new and exciting is always around the corner in “Hotlanta”!
Have you visited Atlanta? What are your favorite things? Tell me in the comments!
Editor’s Note: To narrow this list down to three, I consulted with some expert help. One of my closest friends lives in Atlanta now, and I have to give her a shout out for the multiple ideas she threw out when I was telling her about this post. Cheers to many more visits to Atlanta, Katie! 🙂