1 Atlanta Weekend, 4 Ways: Locals Share Their SecretsBy Lia Picard
Atlanta is bursting with things to explore, from colorful neighborhoods to museums to an endless amount of restaurants. Like most cities of its magnitude, it’s not a one-size-fits-all destination — there is something for every type of traveler.
To help you make the most of the Big Peach, we chatted with four local heroes, each with their own approach to the city. Keep reading to see what they had to say about things to do — no matter your interest.
For the Arts and History Enthusiast
Molly Freeman is a muralist whose vibrant art is woven throughout Atlanta. From the Atlanta airport to local craft beer cans, there’s no doubt she’s left a mark on the city. It’s no surprise that Freeman suggests seeking out street art while visiting Atlanta. Murals have made their way into the city’s nooks and crannies, including the suburbs.
But for the highest concentration of street art, she says to go to Atlanta’s Cabbagetown neighborhood, just east of Downtown. “You can walk along Wylie Street, and it’s basically like a giant outdoor mural gallery,” she explains. “So that’s a really fun kind of excursion, like an art-based excursion. Also, it’s great for photo ops.”
If history is more your thing, Freeman loves Oakland Cemetery in Grant Park. From its fantastic skyline view of the city to its famous former residents like Margaret Mitchell (author of “Gone with the Wind”) and golfer Bobby Jones, there’s plenty for history buffs to take in.
But don’t overlook Old Fourth Ward, either. In this neighborhood you can visit Martin Luther King Jr.’s birth home and Ebenezer Baptist Church where he and his father were pastors. You can visit these sites on your own or take a tour (like this one) to make the most of your visit.
For the Foodie
Barista and roaster Whit Hagemann spends most of his time at Buckhead’s East Pole Coffee, where he develops some of Atlanta’s favorite brews. When he’s not at work, he and his wife are eating their way through the city, visiting Atlanta’s hot spots.
One of his can’t-miss favorites is Heirloom Market BBQ, a Korean-American barbecue joint on the edge of the city. If you want to stay inside the city, he says to head to Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q in Inman Park, where they’re known for their brisket and Frito pie.
Meanwhile, owner and chef Rasheed Philips of Philips Barbeque Co., a pop-up and catering business, has had plenty of time to explore Atlanta’s food scene. He may be partial, but he doesn’t think you can go wrong by eating your way through Atlanta’s pop-up dining spots at places like Joystick Gamebar in Sweet Auburn.
“It’s an amazing adult arcade. Basically, imagine an adult looking at an unlimited amount of quarters to play arcade games,” says Philips. “They have rotating cooks there, so the menu’s always changing.”
Breweries also host pop-ups, but even if you just want to sip a cold one, he recommends visiting Eventide Brewing in Grant Park. “It’s a really nice vibe,” Philips explains. “They typically have live music once a week, and just good trivia and good fun.”
For Sports and Outdoors Lovers
If all that eating and drinking starts to, er, weigh on you, it’s time to get outside. Coffee guru Hagemann skateboards for a hobby and suggests Old Fourth Ward Park Skatepark. Even if you don’t skate, it’s still worth checking out. He says, “That park also has other really cool features, too, like jungle gyms and big fields for playing.”
Atlanta’s sports teams are heartbreakers, but the one that hasn’t let pitmaster Philips down is Major League Soccer champions Atlanta United.
“The atmosphere is great. And just the energy of the fans, for a new team in the city, is just mind-blowing,” says Philips. “It’s monster tailgates and pregame events.” Besides cheering the team on, Mercedes Benz Stadium, with its beautiful design, is worth checking out.
For the Night Owl
Bob Jamerson is better known by his alias, Baton Bob. He’s been making Atlantans smile since 2005 as he dons corsets and feather headdresses and twirls a baton on street corners throughout the city. It’s no wonder he’s referred to as the Ambassador of Mirth.
When he’s not twirling, he’s hanging out in the Buckhead neighborhood. One such spot is Atlas in The St. Regis Atlanta. “If you go on Wednesday nights, they have a local performer there named Deb Bowman that performs,” Jamerson says. “It’s really a great place just to hang out and to have drinks and enjoy some really nice music.”
Other Buckhead favorites of his include Parisian café–inspired Le Bilboquet and The Southern Gentleman, a gastropub whose drink program delves into the classic Southern cocktails — think barrel-aged cocktails, boozy beverages on tap and a self-proclaimed “perfect” mint julep.
To truly experience Atlanta like a local, book early and save up to 20% at participating Marriott International hotels.