Atlanta City Guide

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The birthplace of Martin Luther King, Jr., the 24-hour news cycle and Coca-Cola, Atlanta is an engine of innovation. As the unofficial capital of the Southeast, the 404 area code has long been a center of commerce and culture, from its early days as a railroad depot to today, where the world’s busiest airport has kept Atlanta one of the world’s dominant transportation hubs.  

This constant stream of exchange has made Atlanta a prime destination for business — like Delta Airlines, Home Depot and UPS — but also a nucleus of creativity, generating a television empire and a booming film industry.  

This city’s creative side extends far beyond its boardrooms, airplane runways and sound stages, of course. The museums, shops and restaurants of Atlanta’s thriving city scene spread across this massive metro as far as your eye can sprawl.  

You’ll find artisan wares at the Ponce City Market. Great local music at Eddie’s Attic and Aisle Five. Work by some of the nation’s top artists (who just happen to be Atlantans), like Myra Greene, Jill Frank and Radcliffe Bailey. And amazing eats from Midtown to Sandy Springs and beyond.  

But let’s not forget — one of the greatest things about the city is what surrounds this rich culture. (No, not the Perimeter.) Atlanta has one of the lushest landscapes of any major city in America, with towering native pines, fragrant magnolias and cheery dogwoods and redbuds announcing the arrival of spring. Okay, and kudzu. Lots of kudzu. 

When you are stuck in traffic on the Perimeter, or winding your way through the curvy, confoundingly against-the-grid layout of Atlanta’s meandering streets, you’ll know you’re never far from a hike on the Beltline or a canoe trip down the Chattahoochee.  

Just don’t stand still too long — kudzu may start to creep up past your sock line.    

If you’re ready to get out there and experience everything Atlanta has to offer, get a few tips below on what makes the ATL such an amazing place to live in Mayflower’s Insider’s Guide to Atlanta.

Where to Get a Culture Fix in Atlanta

culture fix in Atlanta

Whether art, history or science is your jam, you won’t have to turn over any rocks in this cultural hotbed to find something fun and engaging to do. Classical music lovers have the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, thespians fill the seats at the Alliance Theatre and the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center is the place to see the Atlanta Ballet, the Atlanta Opera and dozens of other performances throughout the year. 

The High Museum is Atlanta’s top destination for art. With its iconic white building, originally designed by Pritzker Prize-winners Richard Meier and Renzo Piano, The High has notable collections African art, folk art and, especially, photography. With a history of exceptional exhibitions for children, this is also a great museum to get your kiddos hooked on art — the work is even hung lower on the wall to be at eye-level for little ones. Each year, the museum puts on monumental shows that have visitors lining up for exhibits like Yayoi Kusama’s retrospective and her mesmerizing Infinity Rooms.  

But The High is far from Atlanta’s only art museum of note. The Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory University has a renowned collection of ancient art from around the world. The Atlanta Contemporary and MOCA GA showcase the best working artists in the area and around the country. And the Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA) considers the impact of design on how, where and how well we live, with exhibitions like Close to the Edge: The Birth of Hip-Hop Architecture, The Design of Dissent and Level Up: Pixels, Play & Progress. 

At the Breman Jewish Heritage Museum, the permanent collection was designed by Ben Hirsch, himself a Holocaust survivor and an Atlanta architect. This haunting and poignant reminder of the not-so-distant past incorporates first-person accounts from Atlanta-based survivors along with images, documents and personal objects lend dimension to not just the atrocity of these events but the humanity that rose above them. Other exhibitions celebrate wide-ranging Jewish cultural contributions, from contemporary art to the pioneering — and persevering — Jewish women in the South.  

Fernbank Museum, which began in the 1930s as a small “school in the woods” has turned into one of Atlanta’s true naturalist’s treasures. Inside Fernbank you can learn about Georgia’s ancient natural history, when dinosaurs hung out where Buckhead bars are today. Other highlights include the twinkling Star Gallery and the impressive collection of giant dino replicas. You might introduce yourself to the pescatarian Anhanguera, whose name means “Old Devil,” who ate fish while flying and had an 18-19-foot wingspan. Or make pals with the vegan Argentinosaurus, who weighed in at roughly 100 tons and had a weakness for conifers. Perhaps you might share your G&T at Fernbank’s After Dark soirées with the world’s first gin connoisseur?  

If you’re looking for underwater adventure, the Georgia Aquarium will quite literally drop you in the deep end of the pool when you sign up for one of their animal encounters. You can dive with whale sharks — the GA Aquarium is the only place in the U.S. that even has them — help train a sea lion or hang out with the marshmallow Peeps of the sea — the charming Beluga whales.   

Is your child always asking you, “Why?” Well, The Children’s Museum of Atlanta has answers. Why do the lights come on when you flip a switch? Why do some things float and others sink? “Why can’t I paint on the walls?” When all other museums point to no, the CMA says, “Go ahead.” By building their own rockets, creating digital art and looking at things from the inside out, kids will leave with a deeper understanding of what makes the world go round.  

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Where to Get Your Game on in Atlanta

stadium in Atlanta

Sure, Atlanta is a destination for high-brow culture, but let’s get real for a minute: Atlanta is also a die-hard, knock-down, drag out sports town, where pro team alliances and college rivalries run as deep, wide and muddy as the Chattahoochee. Watch out for cottonmouths when you enter these waters.  

A veritable cathedral to athletics, Atlanta’s shiniest new arena is the striking Mercedes-Benz Stadium, where both the Atlanta Falcons — the city’s NFL team — and the Atlanta United FC — the city’s MLS team — play. This LEED Platinum facility replaced the old Georgia Dome, which cost $210 million to build in 1992, hosted the 1996 Olympic Games and stood for just 25 years before being demolished.  Atlanta has had no trouble packing the seats of the new stadium, but it is in desperate need of a nickname as easy on the tongue as “The Dome.” In 2026, The Benz (hey, maybe it’ll catch on?) will host matches for the FIFA World Cup.  

If b-ball is your go-to, you’ll make many new NBA BFFs in Atlanta. The Atlanta Hawks play at the State Farm Arena, which underwent a major renovation by HOK in 2017 and reopened the following year as TRUE Platinum, zero-waste facility with LEED Gold certification. The Hawks may have closed out the 2022-23 season in only 7th place in the Eastern Conference, but that didn’t stop 719,787 people from packing the seats — the stadium can hold nearly 17,000 screaming fans. The Atlanta Dream, on the other hand — the city’s WNBA team who plays at the Gateway Center Arena in College Park — made the playoffs for the first time since 2018 as the league’s #5 seed.  

If you subtracted the number of Braves fans from the metro area population of 6.2 million, Atlanta would look like a rural outpost teetering on the edge of a Cormac McCarthy novel. Though the team has certainly seen its ups and downs over the years, their five World Series appearances in the 90s (including a win over Cleveland) helped ignite a passion for the team that spread across the region. In 2021, the Braves clinched another World Series victory, this time over the Astros. 

Consider yourself warned that enthusiasm for the area’s college teams may even surpass the pro-team fan base. Georgia Tech (GA Tech), the University of Georgia (UGA), Georgia State (GSU), Mercer, Kennesaw State, and Georgia Southern all have NCAA Division I teams. Whatever you do, don’t trap a Dawg in a room with a Yellow Jacket — both bite. 

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Things You Can Only See and Experience in Atlanta

church in Atlanta

One of the top destinations in Atlanta is Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Park and the King Center. Located in the Sweet Auburn neighborhood, the site encompasses the birth home of Martin Luther King, Jr., the final resting place of the Kings and Ebenezer Baptist Church, where both Martin Luther King, Jr. and Sr. were once pastors, and where Georgia senator Raphael J. Warnock is currently a senior pastor. The buildings have an emotional resonance that surpasses their modest beauty, and it is impossible not to feel the weight of what was lost with his passing and the legacy of his extraordinary life. 

Located In Atlanta’s historic Old Fourth Ward, the Ponce City Market repurposed some of Atlanta’s most beautiful aging brick architecture into an amazing food, shopping and entertainment destination. Local merchants and international retailers share this trendy space. The artisan marketplace Citizen Supply offers handmade wares by Atlanta’s best craftspeople, while the bespoke hat shop, Goorin Bros., sells an array of head and footwear, from contempo Fedoras to cheeky trucker hats and socks. In between spending splurges, sample the culinary splendors of this sprawling city without burning a drop of fossil fuels. Kids young and old will beg to spend an afternoon at the market’s rooftop amusement park, which has old-timey games like Skee-Ball and horseshoes as well as mini-golf, a three-story slide and other rides to make your stomach go up and down.  

If you’re still thirsty for fun, the World of Coca-Cola awaits. This site offers a full sensory repast, with virtual experiences inside the Coca-Cola vault, a tasting suite and even a scent library, where colorful, olfactory lockers tickle your nostrils and your memory bank to recall pleasant experiences of your past, which may or may not have anything to do with soda.  

If you want to see the largest painting in the entire country, head to the Atlanta History Center to experience the Cyclorama — a multimedia panorama depicting the Battle of Atlanta. This 42-foot-tall canvas-in-the-round is one of only two cycloramas in existence in the nation. Following a $35-million-dollar restoration and relocation from its former home in Grant Park, the exhibition of the work opened to the public in 2019. The AHC also has several historic houses and stunning gardens to explore on its 33 acres, from the opulent Swan House to the humble Wood Cabin.  

Another of Atlanta’s larger-than-life claims to fame is Stone Mountain Park, which contains the largest piece of exposed granite on the planet. This singular stone is, regrettably, best known for its Mount Rushmoresque memorial to Confederate generals, but the surrounding parkland is picturesque and has lots of family-friendly attractions. You can climb to the top of the monumental rock (or cheat and take a fun trip on the Skyride), paddle on the lake, ride the Scenic Railroad or travel back in time in the Dinotorium, which has four floors of indoor fun, from trampoline floors to super slides.  

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be the leader of the free world, the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum will give you a peek at a day in the life of America’s Commander in Chief. Don’t worry, you won’t have to start that day with a brisk jog or anything, though President Carter could reportedly run a 6½-minute mile. In addition to its permanent exhibits, which include a replica of the Oval Office, the center hosts exhibits and events throughout the year, including conversations with bestselling authors.  

Literary buffs may want to explore some of Atlanta’s historic authors’ homes of note, including the Wren House — the onetime home of writer Joel Chandler Harris, and the Margaret Mitchell House, the building where the Gone with the Wind author once occupied the first-floor apartment, which Mitchell not so lovingly nicknamed “The Dump.” 

In the last two decades, Georgia has become the backlot for some of the nation’s hottest movies and streaming series. Tyler Perry founded his Atlanta studios in 2006, and Trilith, Shadowbox and EUE/Screen Gems Studios are all major players in Atlanta’s motion picture business. You may find it challenging to get a sneak peek at the studios and sound stages, but you can make a pilgrimage to lots of now-famous film spots around the area. Fans of Stranger Things, Ozark and The Walking Dead will enjoy a cinematic scavenger hunt across the city in search of Hopper’s cabin or the Blue Cat Lodge, where there, sadly, is no money walled up between the cabin studs — we already checked.  

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Where to Get Outdoors in Atlanta

Outdoor in Atlanta

Because Atlanta lies in a Piedmont region — one crosscut by creeks and the Chattahoochee River — its woodsy, hilly environment is beautiful but challenging terrain for biking, hiking, bouldering, ziplining and paddling.  

One of the best investments the city has made to explore this alluring landscape is the Atlanta Beltline, a network of 33 miles of urban trailways for pedestrians and bikers. This massive connectivity project has also meant serious investments in affordable housing and expanding public transportation in the city, which is desperately needed to combat traffic congestion and smog. The trails connect far-flung neighborhoods with dining destinations and public art, and the Beltline has even spurred diverse new developments, like Aluma Farms – an urban agricultural enterprise that supplies fresh veggies, flowers and herbs to Atlanta residents and businesses. A beltline bike tour is the perfect way to get acquainted with this incredible city resource. 

With densely forested neighborhoods, Atlanta also has many notable parks, including the Historic Fourth Ward Park and Memorial Park, where serpentine creeks and old growth trees make for languid walks. Founded in 1883, Grant Park is Atlanta’s oldest city park, and it’s the center of a beautiful residential district downtown near Georgia State University and the historic Oakland cemetery. Grant Park is also home to Zoo Atlanta. Originally designed by the Olmstead Brothers (who also created New York’s Central Park), Piedmont Park has evolved over the years to be one of the city’s greatest urban treasures. There is a weekly walking club, a terrific Farmers Market on Saturdays and a great pool and splash pad, but the stars of this park are the playgrounds. The newer playground, Mayor’s Grove, is a Boundless™ playground, designed for children of all abilities. The historic playground, the Noguchi Playscape, was designed by famed sculptor Isamu Noguchi, and it is the only playscape of the artists to ever be realized. Since 1976, lucky Atlanta children have been spoiled by this sculptural space for play, where they — and their imaginations — can run wild.   

Nothing runs wilder, though, than the waters of the rivers in this region. The Chattahoochee is great for kayaking, canoeing, fishing, tubing and even whitewater rafting. Near the city, the waters only reach class II rapids, so you aren’t too likely to have an out-of-boat experience if you shoot the ‘Hooch. Daring and experienced rafters will want to explore other rivers in the region. One outfitter in Columbus, Georgia, offers a “Carnage Trip,” which we declined to attempt because we’ve found life is always better when you’re alive. To the north, you can take your chances on the waters of the Chattooga — made famous by the movie Deliverance — if you’re looking for more of an escape-the-woods kind of experience. BYO banjo. Just over the Georgia-Tennessee border, you’ll find the Ocoee Whitewater Center, which hosted the whitewater slalom events for the 1996 Olympic Games.  

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Local Eats in Atlanta

downtown Atlanta

Atlanta has always managed to tuck fine dining into unexpected spots. In the 1980s and 90s, you could find expertly prepared French cuisine in Lenox Square Mall, decadent fondue — and live alligators — in an elaborate, underground dwelling in Buckhead (RIP, Dante’s Down the Hatch), and charming brick houses converted into star-chef kitchens. But the city that gave rise to the fried poultry empire that is Chick-fil-A is also a master of humbler fare, like the country cooking of the Colonnade (est. 1927) or the casual-cool, NYC-style pizza at Fellini’s. Today’s epic food scene in Atlanta has sprouted from deep, culinary tap roots and expanded on the epicurean lexicon of the South with tastes from around the world.   

Before we steep you in the delights of the city’s fancier outfits, like the chef’s tasting menu at Atlas, let’s start with Atlanta’s signature dining establishment: The Varsity. Established in 1928, this legendary hot dog and burger joint puts all other fast-food restaurants to shame, both because The Varsity is freakishly fast — you’d better know exactly what you want when they ask What’ll you have? — and because the Varsity has their own lingo — there’s a dictionary on their website for noobs. For instance, if you ask for a hot dog, that dog will automatically come topped with chili and mustard. If you want it plain, you’ll need to order a Naked Dog (FYI, that’s pronounced nekkid dog), and that also applies to burgers. Ask for a Naked Steak if you don’t want any toppings interfering with your meaty bliss. And, while other joints long ago transitioned to their fruit pies in a performance of healthiness, The Varsity has stuck to its greasy guns and continues to fry their pies, just as nature intended.  

Down the street from the Famous Fox Theatre on Ponce de Leon you’ll find Mary Mac’s Tea Room, a legendary Atlanta institution that opened in 1945 and is the last surviving establishment of its kind. It seems that because women weren’t permitted to open “restaurants,” enterprising ladies of the day instead established “tea rooms,” skirting the laws, as it were. This exhaustive menu of Southern classics — fried okra, sweet potato souffle, cheese grits, collards, potlikker and chicken and dumplings — provides enough comfort to cure anything that ails you.  

In Decatur — one of the hippest, friendliest areas in the city — you’ll find The Deer and the Dove, an elegant eatery run by James Beard Award-winning chef Terry Koval. This soulful menu highlights regionally sourced ingredients from Georgia purveyors like Sweet Grass Dairy and Grateful Pastures, and beers from Creature Comforts and Wrecking Bar. Their salted yeast rolls and the beef fat potatoes are truly something to write home about, as are their piquant small plates, like the coffee dusted venison with pickled beets or the ember-roasted octopus with shrimp sausage and salty-crisp sea beans. Because the D&D butchers their own meat, you can expect to find dishes here that you won’t see at many places — sweetbreads au poivre and grilled beef tongue — but vegetarians also have it easy — that harvest plate is a celebration of plants if we ever tasted one.  

In the trendy Westside Provisions District, you’ll find longstanding ATL staples like Taqueria del Sol but also relative newcomers like Aziza, an Israeli restaurant whose Middle Eastern plates eschew tradition for a little twang. Instead of meat that’s kosher or halal, you’ll find a definitive regional inflection to Aziza’s dishes — rainbow trout, locally raised beef and even rock shrimp. Aziza’s plates are a feast for the eye and the palate. The cauliflower tagine is richly spiced with saffron and muhammara. Smaller plates are subtly enriched with smoked labneh, harissa honey and sumac. Save room for the pistachio baklava or the tahini chocolate bar, served with Turkish coffee ice cream.  

Two of Atlanta’s culinary flagships — Bacchanalia and Star Provisions — have moved down the road a piece from their original locations to be closer to the Atlanta Beltline, but the standards these establishments set more than two decades ago raised the bar high and helped launch a new era for the Atlanta food scene. Foodies will enjoy shopping for Michelin-grade ingredients at Star Provisions as much as they will relish taking the night off from cooking to savor Bacchanalia’s prix fixe menu. 

When you need a little taste of the sea but can’t quite make it to the coast, don’t despair — there’s always The Optimist. Blue crab claws with pineapple and mint, sweet Georgia shrimp with “sopping toast” (don’t ask, just eat it) and crispy oysters with charred lemon all offer a new lease on life withing this elegant fish camp. If your mood hasn’t fully lifted by the time it’s time for dessert, a slide of their peach cobbler pudding cake with hot buttered rum will set you down gently on the sunny side of the street. 

Atlanta’s near suburbs are packed with longtime favorite restaurants, too. Canoe, located on the banks of the Chattahoochee River in Vinings, is a beloved spot for fine food and cocktails on the lawn. In Buckhead, Aria and Pricci are fine dining pioneers, the former forging new American flavors, and the latter perfecting Italian traditions. Pricci’s signature starter — Georgia Goat Cheese in Warm Marinara, served with fresh-baked focaccia — is so deliciously simple even your cocktail will pine for it. With its dark, inviting interiors and its legendary spinach-artichoke dip (better than all others, trust us), Houston’s has made a home in numerous neighborhoods around the city, and Treehouse has been a favorite in-town perch for years.    

The spicy and comforting plates at Desta brings the taste of Ethiopia to Briarcliff Woods. Meat dishes like the beef kitfo and the lamb biret mitad tibs are as savory and filling as their many vegan offerings, like the gikel Gomen, a turmeric-y cabbage and onion dish and the shiro, a chickpea stew in a deeply seasoned sauce. 

Atlanta has several destinations for excellent sushi, but one of the most intimate dining experiences can be had at Omakase Table. This 20-course indulgence at the 12-seater establishment features some of the most artful food of any restaurants in the city, and the menu changes daily. The kknmedai and ikura chawanmusi — a steamed egg custard with salmon eggs and splendid alfonsino — is, indeed, a splendid preparation of this big-eyed, deep-water fish. And the salt-cured monkfish liver is unsurpassably creamy.  

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Locally Loved Atlanta Coffee Shops

coffee shop in Atlanta

Okay, we may be giving ATL chef Terry Koval an outsize amount of love in this guide, but bear with us because his café, B-Side, is the coffee-drinking mixtape of your bagel-loving soul. It’s the rare shop that that offer you expertly crafted bagels (we’re talking wood-fired, people) with your choice of house-cured lox, pit-smoked ham or pimento cheese, which is what identifies this joint straight off as a Southern bagelry. As soon as your teeth hit the poppyseeds, your taste buds will have forgotten about NYC and its mythical water-based breads entirely. B-side also has incredible house-made pastries, including osso buco hand pies, fluffy doughnuts and cinnamon rolls so temptingly draped with icing you’d jab your brunchmate with a fork to get at them.  

Brash Coffee has several locations throughout the city, including one inside a most adorable converted old truck called the Beast and another in the Westside Provisions district. Pop in for a pick-me-up during your shopping expedition for some of the best prepared refreshments brewed with responsibly sourced, perfectly roasted beans.  

Like many current Atlantans, Dancing Goats wasn’t born and raised here. But this Olympia, Washington, transplant has been roasting premium beans in the city since 1994, and undercaffeinated ruminants and humans alike have been lining up for a cup of roasted-in-ATL java ever since. The Espresso Con Pan is whipped cream heaven in a mini-mug and the Chilly Goat Chai will make you considerably less gruff, no matter how many trolls you encounter on the bridge home from work.  

When you need more than just a short-term burst of energy, Condesa Coffee has an ideally curated selection of sandwiches to go with your liquid fuel. All their drink syrups are house made — we recommend the espresso shaker with caramel to accompany the grilled AB&J — an almond butter and jelly sandwich on sourdough. Condesa sources its pastries and breads from Alon’s Bakery & Market, which should also make your must-eat list.  

In Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward, b Yellow stands out as one of the best small-batch roasters in the city. Blends like Huxley have a fudgy, almond flavor, while their honey-processed Columbian blend has a tropical air and floral afterglow. Their house blend, Counter Point, is an elemental balance of caramel and berry — just the ticket to recalibrate your day.  

When you really deserve a treat (and isn’t that every day?) Revolution Doughnuts & Coffee will overthrow whatever hellish world order your workweek has ushered in and inaugurate a sweet, new leader, coronated with frosting. Among our favorites at this pastry shop for the rebellious are the chai latte, the faux-stess crème, with its signature scribble of icing, and the salted caramel cake, a Southern classic, reincarnated in doughnut form. The doughnut’s constant companion, coffee at Revolution is no less noteworthy, because it comes courtesy of Cafe Campesino — a fair trade roaster in tiny Americus, Georgia, close to where former President Carter was born, in Plains. 

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Atlanta’s Happy Hour Haunts and Nightlife  

nightlife in Atlanta

Whether you are looking for a quiet date night or a blow-out night with your squad, Atlanta offers something for every mood in its nightlife.  

If its bachelor/ette blitz you’re after, the Buckhead bars are the place to crawl and crawl home from. There are upscale snooteries like the St. Regis Bar, classic dives like Moondogs, and neo-speakeasies like the Red Phone Booth, where an insider must give you a number to dial from an actual red phone booth to get you in the door. With its tropically swanky rooftop bar, Habitat offers an escape from the ordinary. They mix a mean Paloma with house-made grapefruit soda.  

Atlanta’s original come-as-you-are strip show has remained largely unchanged in its nearly 60-year history. We know strip clubs aren’t generally known for their, um, longevity, but The Clermont Lounge, which has occupied the subterranean chambers of the Clermont Motor Hotel since 1965, has stood the test of time. Many a celebrity has come to wet their whistle at the Clermont, from the late great Anthony Bourdain to the inimitable Morgan Freeman. Regulars show up every Tuesday for karaoke night, and Saturday is all about disco. BYO funk.  

When it comes to craft beer, Atlanta is no lightweight. The ATL scene got started in the 90s with Marthasville and Red Brick (both now defunct), but SweetWater Brewing Company has been going strong since ’97. Their assortment runs deep but leans heavily on the light and bright side of the flavor spectrum, from their signature 420 Extra Pale Ale to their loads of IPAs (which even include some eyebrow-raising candy flavors) and the now de rigueur hard seltzers.  

Fire Maker Brewing has an extensive array of suds, ranging from fruity, sour ales like the Cherry Bake Sale to the cavernously dark Aliferous Imperial Stout — you might morph into the mythological when you drink it.  

Best End earns our highest points for range — funky witbiers, weightless wheats and sturdy ales. The flirty Lack of Fokus — a hazy rye IPA with a 7% ABV — is steeped in tropical fruit and spice and brought back to attention with a snap of pine. Their Grammy & Gramps Hot Cocoa Stout is a drinkable trip over the river and through the woods.  

Sister Louisa’s Church of the Living Room & Ping Pong Emporium is the outcast’s outpost and the safe space for the unsaved. Grab a Blood of Christ slushie or an Original Sin cider and hit the mic for church organ karaoke. Mind what the good sister says, now, and “sin boldy.”  

Beyond the bars, there’s also plenty to do in The ATL after dark. Cultural centers like the High and the Aquarium have evening hours that might feature DJs, tours and specialty sips. Drink whenever someone says SHARK! The intellectual set will feel at home at the Atlanta History Center’s numerous author events and the annual holiday tree lighting. And the city really comes to life at night with performing arts. The world-class Atlanta Symphony Orchestra has classical music shows with superstars like Joshua Bell and Renée Fleming and — Halo junkies, rejoice —contemporary performances like “Hero: A Video Game Symphony.” You can see live music at historic punk joints like The Masquerade or picnic at Chastain Park’s amphitheater during one of their outdoor summer concerts. If you’re looking for a little more action in your activity, there’s plenty of bowling, roller skating, putt-putting and joysticking to be hand within this entertainment-minded town.  

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Hidden Gems in Atlanta

hidden gem in Atlanta

Since 1978, Atlanta’s Center for Puppetry Arts has been where childhood goes to live forever. The CPA’s Worlds of Puppetry Museum has a collection of 5,000 artifacts and puppets, just waiting to be animated as your best new make-believe friends. The CPA’s puppet shows feature beloved familiars like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Stellaluna (based on Janell Cannon’s 1993 picture book), and experimental works, as well. They also offer puppet-making workshops! 

In Atlanta’s West End neighborhood, the Hammonds House Museum exhibits works by artists of African descent. The museum opened in 1988 in the home of the late O. T. Hammonds, an esteemed Atlanta physician who had amassed an impressive private art collection, including works by Romare Bearden, Elizabeth Catlett and Sam Gilliam. The museum now houses more than 450 artworks in its permanent collection and showcases works by prominent and up-and-coming artists practicing in Atlanta and around the world, including Carrie Mae Weems, Edouard Duvall Carrié and Tokie Rome-Taylor. 

An art gallery and performance venue that operates as a collective and community-centered venue, Eyedrum, is a quirky-awesome spot founded in the late ‘90s that has long been the offbeat place to see, hear, and be seen and heard.  

Long before Urban Outfitters slunk onto the alternative-grunge scene and ravenously commercialized everything in sight, there was the Junkman’s Daughter, the steadfast clothier of counterculture since 1982. This outpost of the irregular was, in fact, founded by the daughter of a junkman in Little Five Points, and it supplies Atlanta’s misfits with the weird, the wild and the completely wacky, from 4.5 vegan leather platform boots to fortune-telling posters.  

If you like puzzles, larviciding and things that go viral in the night, you will L-O-V-E the CDC Museum, which explores the institution’s 75-year history of heading boldly into the epidemiological unknown to tackle the world’s most confounding diseases and pathological quandaries. Fair warning: some exhibits are only for the stout of stomach, and — contrary to logic — you will likely slather yourself in hand sanitizer upon exiting. The museum even offers a free Disease Detective Camp for high school students interested in public health. 

Oakland Cemetery is a revered public park, arboretum and gardens, as well as the final resting spot for many Atlanta residents. James M. Calhoun, who served as Atlanta’s mayor from 1862-65 and surrendered the city to Union troops in 1864 is buried here, as is Maynard Jackson, Atlanta’s first African American mayor, who served three terms and helped bring the Olympics to the city. Other famous figures interred in Oakland include Margaret Mitchell, Kenny Rogers and amateur golf superstar Bobby Jones. 

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