The Inside Out Guide To Atlanta

atlanta city guide
Credit: Miguel Romero

Atlanta, the ATL, the 404, Hotlanta: Whichever moniker you go with for this Southern metropolis, there’s plenty to explore in this city. It’s the birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement, Coca-Cola, and music stars like T.I., Ludacris, Outkast, Indigo Girls, TLC, Usher, John Mayer, to name just a few talents that’ve gotten their respective starts here. Another fun fact: In the spread-out Georgia capital, you’ll find 71 streets named Peachtree, all in homage to the state fruit. Stone fruit and soda heritage aside, here’s where you’ll want to stay, eat, get inked, and much more on your next visit to the ATL.

Where to Get Tattooed in Atlanta

Liberty Tattoo: This ink spot, which has been on the scene since 2002, was founded by Shay and Kaki Cannon. It’s an airy, quirky space, with mint green walls, high ceilings, and red velvet curtains that offer privacy during ink sessions. Artist Rachel Anne, whose interests include taxidermy, crafting, circus, freakshow, and Victorian matters, among other things, is celebrated for her illustrative, painstakingly detailed work. 755 Ponce de Leon Ave., Old Fourth Ward

Only You Tattoo: Sporting lots of vintage-feeling text in a fortune teller or carnival show-esque font on its windows and the swinging saloon doors that usher customers from the reception area to the main action, and homey touches like vibrantly patterned rugs, Only You has some quirk to it. Co-owner Danielle Distefano is ace at a slew of ink styles, from a pink sprinkle-laden donut homage to The Simpsons to delicate, precise, angular geometric motifs. Check of DiStefano and the rest of the (quite extensively-tatted) team’s work, here. It’s conveniently perched close to the picturesque, lush Oakland Cemetery, for a creepy but cool stroll pre- or post-ink. 401 Memorial Dr., Grant Park

Where to Stay

Stonehurst Place Bed & Breakfast: This petite option—one of the rare boutique hotels in a city where the hospitality scene is dominated by ubiquitous mid-range and luxury chain names—is comprised of six rooms in a stately 1896 former home, nestled on a pretty, lush street in the Midtown area, near the iconic Fox Theater. Decor highlights include pine flooring, a big wraparound stone porch, vintage chandeliers, and impressive modern art, including a Warhol piece. Try to nab a room with a working fireplace. And while the exterior might be modern, the rooms have all the modern comforts you’d want. Perhaps best of all? The homemade breakfast spread, especially the pastry selection. 923 Piedmont Ave., Midtown

The Glenn Hotel: Now part of the Autograph Collection, Marriott’s group of boutique-feeling properties, this hotel is housed in The Glenn, a building built in 1923. It languished vacant for decades before being reborn as a hotel in the early aughts. Located Centennial Park, many of The Glenn Hotel’s spacious rooms have park views to boot. Check out more prime vistas from the popular rooftop bar; inside, quirky design touches include dangling vintage keys suspended artfully in the lobby. 110 Marietta St., Downtown

W Atlanta – Midtown: For a more modern, happening option, there’s the Midtown outpost of the W, which has a weekly tacos and tequila party in The Living Room, its lobby bar, on Tuesdays. Like all of the W’s many outposts, expect hip, bright design details throughout. Rates start at $199 per night. 188 14th St NE, Midtown

Georgian Terrace Hotel: Occupying a building that dates back to 1911, Georgian Terrace Hotel is a history-filled option housed in a Beaux Arts building. One of the property’s many notable bona fides: the premiere gala for the release of Gone with the Wind was held here in 1939. Illustrious hotel guests over the years have included Elvis Presley, President Calvin Coolidge, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. The stately lobby sets the tone for a stay at the handsome (yet affordable—rates start at $176 per night) home away from home, while the rooms are more modern, and some are quite spacious, with apartment-like layouts. It’s well-located for some cultural enrichment, too. Right across the street, there’s the legendary Fox Theatre, which is where Walt Disney’s very first Mickey Mouse cartoon, “Steamboat Willie,” premiered in 1929. 659 Peachtree St. NE, Midtown

What to Do in Atlanta

Ponce City Market: This mishmash of food hall, retail, and residential space is housed in a historic, 2.1 million-square-foot Sears, Roebuck & Co. building, and was masterminded by the same people behind NYC’s popular Chelsea Market. You can happily nosh on an array of interesting snacks at Central Food Hall at PCM, with diverse options like Minero, a Mexican spot from one of the South’s most beloved chefs, Husk’s Sean Brock; Biltong Bar, which focuses on its namesake air-dried South African beef jerky; and Batter, a cookie dough shop. Or, hop in a freight elevator ride up to to The Roof at Ponce City Market, where there’s mini golf, boardwalk-esque games, booze, and views of Atlanta. Also keep an eye out for cool events on offer at various Ponce City Market vendors, like a candle-pouring session, a shirt-making class, and a pasta-making course. 675 Ponce De Leon Ave. NE, Old Fourth Ward

ATL BeltLine: First conceived in 1999, the Atlanta BeltLine is an ongoing urban redevelopment project to transform 22 miles of former rail lines that wind around downtown ATL into a constellation of paths for walking, running, biking, and more, like a mega-sized version of NYC’s High Line.The project is far from finished, with completion expected in 2030, but you can currently check out some segments of the BeltLine, such as the two-mile-long Eastside trail, which runs between Piedmont Park and Ponce City Market. A slew of restaurants and bars can be found along the BeltLine, for a self-guided food or booze tour. Besides strolling, there are also free fitness classes, from bootcamp workouts to beginning skateboarding to a weighted drumstick-based cardio and strength-training class, POUND!. 10th St. and Monroe Dr., Downtown

Where to Get Inspired

Goat Farm Arts Center: The unique environs and varied past uses of Goat Farm Arts Center are big draws to visit. It’s a 19th-century industrial complex that once housed manufacturing before becoming artist studios over the years, and these days, it’s a hybrid art studio, event, and coworking space. More than 450 artists work out of Goat Farm, and there’s even a dance troupe, gloATL, housed here. Visitors can check out concerts, film screenings, experimental theater performances, and more. Also good to know:  scenes from The Walking Dead and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire have been filmed at this unique spot. 1200 Foster St., Blandtown

Center for Civil and Human Rights: For a thought-provoking rumination on civil and human rights, with a focus on race relations, head to the sprawling $68 million, 42,000-square-foot Center for Civil and Human Rights in downtown ATL. Opened in 2014, the attraction explores the intricacies of the mid-20th century Civil Rights Movement, with ample artifacts and manuscripts from Atlanta native Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on display, which rotate on a regular basis. Besides local history, the global human rights movement is explored here, too. Recent special exhibits have included “Breaking Barriers,” exploring how athletes have helped break boundaries culturally and have an impact far beyond the sports community.  100 Ivan Allen Jr. Blvd., Downtown

Where to Eat and Drink in Atlanta

Gunshow: One of the most innovative dining concepts in Atlanta, if not the Southeast, is Gunshow, which was opened in 2013 by Kevin Gillespie. Creative dishes that change weekly, whipped up by seven to eight different chefs, are served dim sum-style in a lively, industrial feeling space with a rock-heavy soundtrack. The menu may change constantly, but you can count on varied, delectable options at any given time, like nori-spiced, tempura-fried smelt served with togarashi-seasoned broccoli and curry relish, an inventive take on chicken and waffles in the form of chicken liver served with waffle-flavored ice cream, strawberry pepper jam, and pecans, or roasted carrot salad with tahini, cashews, and turmeric dressing. 924 Garrett Street, Glenwood Park

The Colonnade: Classic, hearty Southern comfort grub is dished up in a charmingly nondescript ambiance at The Colonnade, a Cheshire Bridge restaurant that’s been around since 1927. The place is so old school, it just started taking credit cards for the first time in 2014. The Southern fried chicken is the go-to move here, there’s also chicken fried chicken or chicken fried steak, served with peppered gravy. Other options include straightforward American classics like pot roast, chicken fried steak, and, for offal adorers, “a lot of livers,” served either fried or boiled; all of the entrees come with two sides out of dozens of options, or a side and a salad. Strong martinis and Bloody Marys are mixed up here, too. 1879 Cheshire Bridge Rd., Morningside-Lenox Park

The Optimist
One of Atlanta’s hippest culinary names is Ford Fry, and it’s hard to go wrong with any of his delicious spots in town. For excellent seafood served alongside fun vibes, make your way to The Optimist, home to what’s widely considered to be the city’s best lobster roll. Other aquatic options include a handful of raw seafood platters, crudos, and tartares, as well as seafood gumbo, crispy Gulf oysters, and clams with pork belly. The whimsical cocktails are a must, too, as is a few rounds of mini golf on the lawn. Another popular seafood-focused spot in Fry’s portfolio (which also includes Superica, King + Duke, St. Cecilia) is Beetlecat, which dubs itself an “Oysterette,” and is a stylish, retro-feeling nautical spot for briny bivalves. 914 Howell Mill Rd., Westside

Miller Union: Chef Steven Satterfield showcases the local bounty of Georgia produce and ingredients at Miller Union with innovative, seasonally driven dishes that won him the prestigious accolade of Best Chef: Southeast at the James Beard Award in 2017, after five nominations in a row. Veg-driven dishes change frequently to highlight local ingredients when they’re at their peak, but the hotspot’s signature dish is always on the menu, luckily: a farm egg baked in celery cream and served with big slices of grilled bread. 999 Brady Ave., Westside

Staplehouse: Looking for a splurge-worthy, special-feeling meal while in town? Consider Staplehouse: Opened by chef Ryan Smith in 2015, it was a hotly-anticipated and hyped addition to the ATL’s dining scene, with a tasting menu format (which was scrapped in 2016 in favor of a la carte dining, and since resumed the tasting menu format). There’s a cool charitable component, too—Staplehouse is actually a for-profit subsidiary of Giving Kitchen, a local food service-focused non-profit organization. To nab reservations here, you’ll want to plan ahead, since they’re required here: tables become available at noon on the second Friday each month, to reserve for the following month, although patio seating is available sans a reservation. Alternately, you can dine on Staplehouse’s patio or at Paper Crane Lounge upstairs without booking in advance, for cocktails and a selection of dishes from Staplehouse’s dinner menu on offer, including its popular chicken liver tart, which is served with “city ham” and satsuma, a citrus fruit. 541 Edgewood Avenue, Old Fourth Ward

Related: More City Guides from Inside Out

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