Last weekend my mom sister and I took a little trip to Atlanta. I recently celebrated a milestone birthday, and taking a girls trip was a fun way to commemorate it. You can never go wrong with some good food, shopping and sightseeing. Atlanta has always been a bustling city with things to do, but they seem to have really stepped up their game in recent years. Having explored the Buckhead area and downtown several times already, we were curious to check out some new (to us) neighborhoods.
Most of the places we visited were near the East Beltline Trail. The Old Fourth Ward and Inman Park neighborhoods to be specific. If you are from Atlanta, then you are fully aware of the crazy development happening in these parts. If you have never been or have not been in a few years, then you have lots to look forward to 🙂
Before the trip, we did some light research on the areas we wanted to visit. I found this Garden & Gun article particularly inspiring. Friends who live there or visit often shared their recommendation with us too. My friends Maria and Beth both gave me some helpful tips on what to expect at Scott Antiques Market.
Although we only had two full days in Atlanta, I feel got to really make the most of our time. Here’s a quick rundown of the highlights:
What we did in Atlanta:
Scotts Antique Market – The main reason I chose Atlanta for my birthday trip destination was because I have been itching to check out Scott Antique Markets for a loooong time. Scott’s only happens on the second weekend of every month and is about a 15 minute drive south of downtown. The market is basically two gigantic expo center warehouses full of home and garden vendors of ALL types. There was a huge selection of furniture, lighting, plants, art, area rugs and tons more. We were there for 3 hours! I would highly recommend Scott Antique Markets if you are on the hunt for a few pieces for your home. Because the market is SO big, I think having a list of specific items you need would be very helpful in not getting overwhelmed.
One of the hundreds of vendors at Scott Antique Markets
Antique carved doors at Scott’s
Framed treasures at Scott’s
The Atlanta BeltLine – Have you heard of the Beltline project? The Atlanta BeltLine is a genius way that the city planners are addressing sprawl in the city. They are taking an old existing railway track and converting it into a paved trail that will eventually go around the perimeter of downtown. If you have been on the Highline in New York, it is very similar. On our visit we explored the completed East BeltLine Trail, and let me tell you, it was bustling! People were walking, jogging, biking up and down the trail. On either side of it were new apartments, condos and restaurants. The revitalization of Atlanta through this structure is going to be transformative. While I am sure there are some downsides, it truly seems like progressive city planning at its best.
Taking time to leave a positive message on the BeltLine.
Trash made into art under a BeltLine overpass
Saturday morning on the BeltLine
The Lantern Parade on the Atlanta BeltLine – We lucked out on the weekend of our visit because it happened to coincide with the BeltLine Lantern Parade. The parade was SO fun! The website claims it is the “largest temporary art exhibition in the South.” People set up blankets and chairs all along the sides of the BeltLine from Krog Street Market to Piedmont Park, which is like 3 miles! It was bustling with people getting set up hours before the parade even started. The spectators have created lanterns of their own to light up during the parade. Once it got dark, around 8:30pm, all the people who were in the parade starting walking down with their lanterns of every imaginable theme. We were right at the start of the parade, and about an hour after it started, people were still lined up to walk!
People getting ready for the Lantern Parade
The Lantern Parade
Ponce City Market – Housed in what used to be an old gigantic Sears & Roebuck Factory, Ponce City Market is a mega shopping and eating destination. How can I describe this place? First of all, it is huge, with both indoor and outdoor areas. Inside the main floor is a giant food hall with local food vendors of every imaginable cuisine on either side. The center of the hall is filled with tables and spots to perch with your food. There are also at several sit-down restaurants. Secondly, the design is gorgeous. Having embraced the industrial feel of its factory roots, the space is airy and bustling. There are entrances and exits in every direction as people come and go with their food and shopping bags. Speaking of shopping bags, the retail in this place is incredible. In addition to some of the expected regular haunts, there were so many local and unique vendors. There is something for everyone.
My mom, sister and I at Ponce City Market
Krog Street Market – Krog Street Market is a food-lovers paradise. If you have ever been to Chelsea Market in New York City, it is very similar. Imagine it like a food court, except instead of the sketchy-looking Chinese food and Sbarro, replace it with Korean noodle bar, a Southern fried chicken joint, a fresh juice bar and many more local and delicious vendors. The picnic tables and communal tables are perfect for a group that each wants to grab their preferred meal and then meet up with their friends. There are sit-down restaurants as well. Besides the food, there was one retail shop here worth mentioning – The Merchant. Such an amazing shop filled a huge variety of products including what seemed like Rifle Paper Co’s entire product line.
Entrance to Krog Street Market
Lots and lots of choices at Krog Street Market
The Merchant at Krog Street Market
Center for Civil and Human Rights – On our last full day in Atlanta, we were trying to decide between visiting the High Museum of Art and the new Center for Civil and Human Rights, which I had read about in this Garden & Gun article. I am so glad we chose the Civil Rights Center – it is an incredible building and exhibit. You know how sometimes you go to a famous museum, and you just go from piece to piece, staring at it for a few seconds before moving on to the next thing? After about an hour of that, I get real bored. When a museum gets it just right though, it can be transformative. This museum fits in that category. The space inside is exquisite and filled with natural light from the wall made of windows on one side. The main floor is dedicated to our nation’s Civil Rights story. And it is GOOD STUFF. You are not just walking from photo to photo reading captions. Not at all. This is an entire multi-sensory experience. I don’t think I have ever grasped the continuum of the black struggle as well as I did in this exhibit. We will definitely be coming back here with the boys as I sincerely doubt they could ever learn about this in a classroom as well as here.
Center for Civil and Human Rights
A few of the heroes in the human rights movement.
Downtown Decatur – We spent Friday afternoon exploring Downtown Decatur. This neighborhood on the east side of Atlanta has an adorable downtown square surrounded by shops and restaurants. We enjoyed a casual but healthy lunch at Souper Jenny and then popped into a bunch of cute independent stores. I especially loved “Little Shop of Stories”, an independent children’s bookstore. I think it would be so cool to open up a shop like that in our town. Maybe one day! I also had my first Jeni’s Ice Cream experience.
Charming downtown Decatur
Little Shop of Stories in Downtown Decatur
Where we ate in Atlanta:
Brezze Cucina – Somehow we ended up at Ponce City Market twice around dinnertime and we ate here both times! We tried a large part of the menu and all of it was delicious. The kale salad was probably the all-around favorite. I know, it sounds like a health food, but it was unlike any other. The kale was small and curly, and the dressing was super garlicky. They little bits of toasted breadcrumbs in there added the perfect crunch. The wood fired pizza was delicious too!
Souper Jenni’s – This Downtown Decatur cafe was a great casual spot for a soup and salad pit stop. The menu consisted of about 3 or 4 varieties of soups, sandwiches and salad options that were made that day on-site. It tasted like homemade and hit the spot.
Jeni’s ice cream
Jeni’s Ice Cream – If there’s a hyped up local(ish) ice cream place I haven’t tried yet, I have to stop. So when I saw Jeni’s in Downtown Decatur, I wanted to check it out. The flavors were so creative. We tried several before settling on a poached pear sorbet and dark chocolate ice cream combination. It was very very good. Not as good as Morgernsterns in New York or Bi-Rite in SF, but still up there.
The Little Tart Bakeshop – This little coffeeshop/bakery in Krog Market was our breakfast stop one morning. If you are a pastry lover, you will probably swoon over the creative bread puddings, croissants, muffins and many more goodies. My sister and I had their greek yogurt and their homemade granola, while my mom enjoyed the brioche egg sandwich.
Dancing Goat Coffee – Before heading back home Sunday morning, we stopped Dancing Goat Coffee at Ponce City Market based on this list. They have a small selection of breakfast food, which seemed like they bring in from other vendors. The coffee and light breakfast hit the spot before our 5 hour drive home.
Superica – Pretty much anyone and everyone recommended this restaurant in Krog Street Market. The description of its food is Mex-Tex, which I assume means it is more Mex than Tex. They offered many of your Mexican food favorites, but with a small twist and more interesting ingredients. I had a delicious green ceviche. My sister and mom shared the veggie fajitas, which included veggies like sweet potato, mushrooms, cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli.
Where we stayed in Atlanta:
We booked this AirBnB rental located in the Old Fourth Ward District. The Old Fourth Ward is an area that is a bit transitional. Before the BeltLine project, it was probably not the safest part of town. Considering it now includes the gigantic and upscale Ponce City Market, it is definitely changing. Our AirBnB hosts were super friendly and responsive. The apartment was spacious and comfy. The location was not our favorite though. It was right off a busy road and not somewhere you would likely be strolling around at night. With that being said, we were a 5 minute Uber ride from everywhere we wanted to go, so that was super convenient.
Living area of our AirBnB
Have you been to Atlanta lately? What were your highlights? And if you live in Atlanta, what should I add to our list for our next visit? And there will be another visit 🙂