This Local’s Take is provided by Hannah Miller, the product of four generations of Atlantans. After graduation from the University of South Carolina this May, Hannah will move to Orlando for work. She’s happy to report it’s just a quick jaunt from Atlanta. Enjoy this Local’s Take!
Atlanta, regional capital of the South, has undergone many changes over its storied history. Initially inhabited by Creek and Cherokee tribes settling along the Chattahoochee, Atlanta’s industry developed along textile and paper mills as a major railroad hub. After besieged and fully burnt to the ground by General Sherman during the Civil War, Atlanta rebuilt from the ashes, saw radical change with MLK Jr. in the Civil Rights Movement, and became the vibrant economic center it is today. Atlanta is now home to worldwide companies like Coca-Cola, Home Depot, CNN, and Turner Broadcasting Communications. There are happenings all months of the year ranging from Jamaican-themed festivals to Music Midtown.
In town: The Georgia Aquarium is the largest aquarium in the world and home to two whale sharks, a fun touch tank, and the coolest view from a moving sidewalk! The Coca-Cola Museum by Centennial Olympic Park will teach you more about the soft drink and a multitude of advertising campaigns than you ever wanted to know. The tour culminates in a free-for-all tasting room where you can sample Coke formulas and products from around the world. Try the Beverly from Italy, if you dare!
The CNN Center offers the chance to channel your inner Christiane Amanpour or Anderson Cooper with daily tours of the world wide network’s studios. All three of these are within walking distance of each other in the city center and make for a full day of touring!
Tip: Consider the City Pass, a discount pass for multiple attractions.
Farther afield: Stone Mountain – the largest mound of exposed granite in the world features a one mile hike up the summit offering great views of Atlanta’s skyline on a clear day. Simply pay the $10 in parking and walk around the base of the mountain to see the massive carving of three key Confederate leaders: Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, and Stonewall Jackson. This attraction is just off metro transit and a 15-minute drive from the city.
Dining & Entertainment
Atlanta offers three professional sports teams with affordable ticket options. Check out the Hawks, Falcons and Braves while in town. Also worth investigating are offerings by the “Fabulous” Fox Theatre, Atlanta’s historic theatre, most famous for the Egyptian interior decor, Coca-Cola summer film festival and the 1949 premier of Gone With The WInd.
For a quick bite on a student budget, stop right off I-75 at North Ave. for The Varsity. Open for more than 80 years, The Varsity serves more fountain Coke daily than any location in the world. Try the chili cheese dog and the frosted orange drink, or F.O. to natives!
Get your soul food fix at Mary Mac’s Tea Room, on Ponce de Leon Ave. This traditional meat and three offers more veggies fried and stewed and souffle style than you could ever imagine. The fried chicken is on point, and the table wine of the South (sweet tea) is not to be missed. Meals run between $10-20 per person.
For a date night or dinner on the parents, La Tavola Trattoria is my absolute favorite. This cozy Italian spot is tucked away in Virginia Highlands by Piedmont Park. Shop around in fun boutiques during the day, job or nap in the park before dinner. You can’t go wrong with anything on the menu.
Last thing to do: Catch a show at the hilarious Improv Atlanta in the East Andrews Forum, home to other fun bars as well in the Buckhead area. For a night cap, see Cafe Intermezzo, perfect for dessert, an espresso drink os something more powerful from their 20-page cocktail offerings.