ATL. Hotlanta. The A. No matter what you call it, the city of Atlanta is sure to leave an impression on you … or so I’d been told. You see, before recently, I had never actually been to Georgia’s capital city, despite travels throughout the U.S. and to more than 110 countries worldwide. But all that changed when I descended into Atlanta on a quest to understand just what makes this exciting city tick.
However, I only had a few days to spare and a lot of ground to cover. Instead of overwhelming myself trying to do and see everything during my first visit, I decided to concentrate my exploration efforts on one area: Midtown.
A vibrant commercial and residential neighborhood located about a mile north of Centennial Olympic Park, Midtown, I soon discovered, was the perfect base from which to get better acquainted with The A. Here’s why.
1. Art abounds
The Midtown Arts District is affectionately known as the “Heart of the Arts,” and it’s not hard to see why.
From the critically acclaimed High Museum of Art (which has an extensive anthology of modern American art) to the quirky Center for Puppetry Arts (one of the few puppet museums in the world) and Fox Theatre, artistic expression is not only appreciated, but exalted, in Midtown.
As a lover of color and street art, I knew a stop at the murals along the Atlanta BeltLine was a must. Formerly a railway corridor encircling the city, the revitalized BeltLine is being redeveloped into 20-plus miles of multiuse trails, parks and a modern streetcar system.
However, the real showstoppers are the murals, which span seven miles of the trail and constitute one of the largest outdoor art exhibits in the South!
2. You can get in touch with Mother Nature
Craving the great outdoors? I discovered that Midtown’s got green spaces in spades. While Historic Fourth Ward Park and Winn Park are great options for a picnic, run or game of frisbee, Midtown’s Piedmont Park provides the best views of Atlanta’s skyline.
Speaking of views, it’s worth noting that Piedmont Park is pretty easy on the eyes, too. The park has acres of rolling hills, gazebos and prime location on the banks of Lake Clara Meer, and I couldn’t resist taking an embarrassing number of pictures. (Note to self: Next time, bring extra camera batteries!)
3. Midtown’s food scene is popping
Home to some of the hottest restaurants in the city, Midtown has a culinary scene that is both exciting and impressive. Whether you’re a foodie or a picky eater, there’s literally something for every palate and budget.
With that said, seeing as how I was in the South, I had to sample some of the best Southern food Midtown has to offer — in the name of research, of course! I thus took myself to Mary Mac’s Tea Room, the place to go in Atlanta for Southern comfort food.
Open since 1945, Mary Mac’s is the last of 16 tea rooms that were once found around the city and continues to serve homemade regional specialties (like their renowned tomato pie!) with a massive helping of Southern hospitality.
4. Things ramp up when the sun goes down
Any Atlantan of age knows that the city really comes alive as soon as the sun goes down. Midtown is known for its epic nightlife, and while I wasn’t quite up for partying until the wee hours of the morning, I did get to check out one of the neighborhood’s trendiest bars, The Consulate.
Selected as one of Zagat’s Top 10 Sexiest Restaurants and Bars in Atlanta, the space oozes retro chic, and its oh-so-cool tapas-style menu is not only inspired by cuisines from around the world, but also changes quarterly.
Midtown is where it’s at!
Atlanta’s Midtown neighborhood is a true gem. I fell hard for its art, nature, delectable cuisine and nightlife. So much so that I’m already planning my next trip. Because now that I’ve seen a good chunk of Midtown, I’m more than ready to see and explore the other amazing neighborhoods Atlanta has to offer. Looking at you, Downtown.
Oneika Raymond is the personality behind Oneika the Traveller, an award-winning travel blog dedicated to inspiring, encouraging and empowering women and people of color to see the world.