Planning a short getaway to Atlanta? If you are looking for quick recommendations, full day activities, or a mix of both, this Atlanta Travel Guide has you covered! Lodging, restaurants, and general city recommendations, it's all here.
Atlanta is flourishing with people from all over the United States. We've lived here for two years now, but I feel like we have a pretty good grasp and update on things happening, local favorites, and so much more. Whether you're visiting Atlanta for the first time - no matter how long you're staying - I'm positive you'll enjoy it. Hopefully, with this Atlanta Travel Guide, you can hit a couple of spots and see everything this city has to offer.
Traveling around the city once you arrive in Atlanta
One of my favorite ways to explore a new city is by driving in and through it. If you’ve heard anything about the transit in Atlanta, it’s that traffic is horrible. Literally any time - it's slightly annoying. BUT, it allows you to see all different parts of the city. Most places have parking that isn’t astronomically costly and there are ubers, lyfts, and so many scooters available. PLUS, there are so many cool towns that sit outside the perimeter, and instead of ubering to those, you would save money by having a car. One thing to note is the public transit system: MARTA. It’s a nice accommodation; however, it usually isn’t convenient for traveling throughout the city as it’s two lines travel North/South and East/West and stops are infrequent. I don’t recommend this as a preferred method of travel here.
Lodging and accomodations
Like most major cities, there are neighborhoods within them. We live in Buckhead, it’s north of downtown Atlanta. If you look at a map, locals will say things like OTP or ITP. This stands for Outside the Perimeter or Inside the Perimeter. They’re referring to the perimeter of the city. I would recommend staying in downtown Midtown - near Piedmont Park, Virginia Highlands (by Ponce City Market), or Buckhead. Any of these neighborhoods will put you in a pretty centrally located area.
One of our favorite places to stay is the St. Regis in Buckhead. It's in a great area and good walking distance from a few Atlanta staples. You could also find a ton of Airbnb's available. If you're visiting to Atlanta in the summertime, seek somewhere that has a pool - it gets HOT. Also to note - not a single person here actually calls it 'Hot-lanta'.
What is The Beltline?
It’s a large urban development that will eventually echo the entire perimeter of Atlanta. It’s a wide walking, running, and biking path that connects you so closely to the city and restaurants & breweries. We often go to the beltline on Saturday afternoons, starting on the furthest southeast side and mosey north on the beltline until we hit Piedmont Park. It can be as quick as an hour walk or a full afternoon - drinking and eating.
Major locations on the Southeast Beltline:
- Ponce City Market
- Best finds inside: Bellina, Marrakesh, Pancake Social, The Tap on Ponce, Nine Mile Station (on the rooftop), Sweetgreen, Hop’s Chicken, Five Daughters Bakery, Farm to Ladle, and so many more!!
- Krog City Market
- Favorite restaurants inside: Superica, Recess, Sushi take out, & a very cute shopping store called Merchant Co.
- Piedmont Park
- Large community park that has a bopping Farmers Market on Saturday mornings (check the season schedule), endless pathways for walking, playgrounds, and a restaurant: Park Tavern which is a big bar and reception area (they always have unique festivals and $1 beers when it rains). The Atlanta Botanical Gardens are also connected to Piedmont Park. They have seasonal displays and a restaurant inside. Recommend booking your tickets in advance as they will sell out.
- Breweries along the Beltline
- New Realm (so many outdoor games & usually a liveband), LadyBird (usually where we start most day drinking at), Kroger (you're just as shocked as we are - the Kroger has a outdoor patio and always hopping), Pour Taproom ("vip" cards to drink from all different taps - they have mixed drinks, ciders, seltzers and so many beers), Park Tavern (in Piedmont Park)
- Restaurants along the Beltline
- Buena Vida del sol, Superica, Nina & Rafi’s, Speakeasy next to Pour, 9 mile station, Two Urban Lick's, Kroger (yes, it has a patio!)
What's to come for the Beltline?
As I mentioned earlier, the Beltline isn’t complete yet. So if you google it, it will show up as a broken circle. The East Side (Ponce City Market / Krog Street) was developed first. It has completely changed the socioeconomic status of the area. The West Side is a new addition. And as developers continue to build real estate and living complexes near it, it will grow too. This area is know as the ‘beer gardens’ I have not been able to try as many of these restaurants as I’m not a huge beer girl, but each time we go, it’s packed. It also has a cute touristy mural of Atlanta if you’re here for that 🙂
Other finds in this area: Monday Night Garage (can rent this out for events), ASW Whiskey Exchange, Finca to Filter Coffee Bar, Boxcar at Hop City West End, Wild Heaven West End Brewery & Gardens...
Breakdown of Restaurants by Meal type
- Brunch Ideas
- Cultivate Food, Bread & Butterfly, Parish, Folk Art, Sun In my Belly, Buttermilk Kitchen, Flower Child, West Egg cafe, Taverna, Cooks & Soldiers, Shed (on Sunday), Beetle-cat, Little Reys, Snooze Eatery, Bell street burrito, Emerald City Bagels, Le Bon Nash
- APOP Favorites: The Chastain (ATL), Emerald City Bagels, Cultivate food & Buttermilk Kitchen, West Egg Cafe, Bell Street Burrito
- Quick Lunches
- Bartaco, Brack's Kitchen, Chicken Salad Chick, Corner Bakery, Velvet Taco, Upbeet, Kale Me Krazy
- APOP Favorites: Corner Bakery, Flower Child, Jack's favorite: Velvet Taco
- Superica (multiple locations), Fudo ATL Sushi, South City Kitchen, Storico Vino / Storico Fresca, JCT Kitchen, Barcelona, Two Urban Licks, The Bellyard Hotel (for cocktails on the roof), Chops, Whiskey Bird, Little Ray Tacos, Flower Child, Leon’s, Iberian Pig, Amazza Pizza, The Varsity, Ladybird, Barcelona Wine Bar, New Realm Brewery, Buenas Tapas Del Sol, Seven Lamps, King + Duke, Garden Room, Atlas, Fox Brox Barbeques...
- APOP Favorites: Superica (Spicy Margarita - ALWAYS), Fudo ATL Sushi (best rolls: Fantasy & Incredibles), Nina & Rafi's OR Emmy's Squared Pizza, Little Ray Tacos, Storico Fresca, Whiskey Bird, Portofino Italian, Iberian Pig, Haven, Chops ($$$)...and more 🙂
- Bars & Activities
- Dark Horse (downstairs - karaoke) Buckhead bars: Lost Dog, Big Sky, Five Paces, Stagecoach, The Ivy (really fun), Johnny's Hide Away (to go only after the Ivy...) West Midtown: Little Trouble / Ormsby's, Midtown: Park Tavern, Activity / Bar: Painted Pin (bowling) and Painted Duck (arcade games)
- Paige Favorites: Dark Horse, Painted Pin, Ormsby's
Get Moving! Hikes & Activities
Depending on where you're staying in the city, some of these hikes may be a little far. I highly recommend downloading the AllTrails app. It's incredibly accurate and has a ton of different hikes based on difficulty, elevation, and terrain. It also will give you specific trails so you can gauge distance, views, and more. I have a ton of recommendations of hiking apparel in this blog post.
- Sweetwater Trail - quiet trails & near water
- Stone Mountain - entrance fee required
- Kennesaw Mountain** - this is the one that I recommend. It's a straight up and back, you get a view of the Atlanta skyline, parking is free, it's less than 2.5 miles, and it's only 20 minutes outside the city. It's the closest you can get to hiking being so close 🙂
- Arcadia Mountain
- Roswell Mill Trail - another favorite. It's an old waterfall that has a ton of small paths. The whole loop takes about 3ish miles, but you could walk it for hours. Get brunch in town after at Fellow's Cafe. It's so cute.
- Sawnee Perserve Trail
- National Chatahoochee Forest
- Yonah Mountain
- Blue Ridge, Georgia
In addition, here are some other activities you can explore:
- Coca-Cola Headquarters
- Georgia Aquarium
- Go to a Braves game
- Shoot the Hootch - it’s a southern way to say, tubing or kayaking on the Chatahooche River 🙂 There are a ton of places that you can rent from.
- Top-Golf and/or Puttshack. There is an new darts place coming to West Midtown, but it's not opened yet.
Favortie Fitness studios
If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I am always looking for new fitness studios to try. I love using ClassPass while living in Atlanta. It allows me to take group fitness classes periodically without committing to an expensive membership to each. If you're bopping around to larger cities, be sure to check out ClassPass and redeem some free credits.
- Barry's Boot camp for a kick-a$$ workout, SculptHouse Boutique or Solidcore (Pilates), Highland Yoga (best yoga studios in the city and I've tried 4-5), Pantheon Boxing, Perspire Studios Sauna (love the sauna sweat)...and more!
Explore outside the city
We love to explore. Some of our greatest finds have been outside of Atlanta. While I know you're here for those recommendations, I'd also like to suggest a few other things:
- The Battery (area where the Atlanta Braves play)
- Restaurants: Punch bowl social, got to a Braves game, Superica, ASW distillery, Anticos, Good Game (fun virtual simulator games), Ph’East - cafeteria style pho and poke (and other food court-options), Jeni's Ice Cream
- Roswell (about a 25 minute drive north): Fellows Café, a few local breweries, hike old Roswell mill (lots of short trails, waterfall, can do it easy one morning)
- Worth the drive: Emerald City Bagels. Get the almond and fig cream cheese frosting
- Chateau Elan Winery (1 hour outside ATL): I've only been once but holy cow is it breathtakingly beautiful. And, the wine tasting is 7 glasses. Incredible atmosphere and destination.
Thinking of planning a bachelorette party in Atlanta?
On the other hand, if you're visiting for a bachelorette party and/or want to plan one here, I highly recommend it. In fact, I planned one for my cousin in April of 2021 and it was awesome! I've attached our itinerary for reference.
Looking for more travel experiences
Whether you're planning a short getaway to Atlanta or just in town for a layover, this blog post has you covered for quick recommendations, full day activities, or a mix of both. If you live here and have a hidden gem or another favorite that I glossed over, be sure to leave your recommendations in the comments for readers to utilize. I hope you enjoy your time in the Peach State!
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. It’s my passion to share about traveling that can aid your experience or be shared with others. Let me know if you have any questions; happy to answer them below! Safe travels XO Courtney Paige