Living in the suburbs can sometimes make me feel like I don’t live in Atlanta (and some would argue that I don’t). But as much as I loathe the term “staycation,” it’s nice to spend time away from home but within the city. I’ve done it a few times before when staying at hotels to review them, namely the Omni Hotel at CNN Center and The Westin Buckhead Atlanta. This time around was over Labor Day weekend for my youngest sister’s 21st birthday, so we had to show her the town on someone else’s dime. It’s a time of year appropriately dubbed by a local newspaper as “Clusterfest” for all the activities going on including Gay Pride, DragonCon and Decatur Book Festival.
I was in charge of planning the weekend so I booked us a night at an AirBnB in the Old Fourth Ward neighborhood. It was located in a warehouse-turned loft within walking distance of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site and Sweet Auburn Curb Market. I wanted to stay near the places we’d be going and didn’t want to deal with the exorbitant rates of downtown.
Despite the fact that they didn’t take reservations, we went early to Kimball House, known as one of the best restaurants in Atlanta. I soon understood why, from the decor to the cocktails to the delicious food. All three of us nearly licked our plates clean.
From there, we hopped around town going from bar to bar, including The Brick Store Pub, Wrecking Bar Brewpub, Sister Louisa’s Church of the Living Room and Ping Pong Emporium and Joystick Gamebar, a video game bar where I used all my quarters on a Dolly Parton pinball game. We ended up riding around with a friend of my sister’s, but this is a great part of town for taking Uber and riding the Streetcar.
The next morning we were up for coffee, wandering down Edgewood to check out a new place Rachel had heard about, Chrome Yellow Trading Co., a hip coffee shop and boutique. From there we needed to run errands and get back to the suburbs to meet the family for lunch. On our way, we went by one of my favorite places, Delia’s Chicken Sausage Stand, which serves quick breakfasts all day. We got their Mother Clucker, a breakfast sandwich made up of a chicken sausage, cheese, fried egg and comeback sauce.
Planning Your Own Atlanta Staycation (or Vacation)
Book yourself a place to stay that will be within walking distance, or short drive, from where you’ll be hanging out. Don’t get sucked into the downtown hotels if you’ve already seen all the tourist attractions. This isn’t where you want to go out to eat and drink. Check out the funky Urban Oasis Bed & Breakfast, which is right next to the Beltline Trail and Krog Street Market, or The Highland Inn, which is in the heart of Poncey-Highlands. You can walk to favorites like Manuel’s Tavern and Majestic Diner.
Splurge on a nice dinner. It doesn’t have to be crazy expensive but spend at least more than you would on an average Friday night. I highly recommend Kimball House, as mentioned above, as well as The Optimist and Miller Union on the Westside, Rathbun’s in Cabbagetown and Polaris for dinner with a killer view.
Pick a neighborhood to go out in and create your own pub crawl. This is essentially what we did on Edgewood Avenue, although we started in Decatur and Little Five Points. On Edgewood, check out Sister Louisa’s (“Church”), Noni’s Bar & Deli and Joystick. In Little Five Points, stop by Brewhouse Cafe Inc, The Porter Beer Bar and Wrecking Bar. In Virginia Highland, make time for Moe’s & Joe’s, Fontaine’s Oyster House and Neighbor’s Pub. And in Inman Park, it’s got to be Barcelona Wine Bar & Restaurant, Victory Sandwich Bar and Ladybird Grove & Mess Hall.
Brunch is the most important meal of the weekend. Get yourself up early enough to elbow your way into becoming the first mimosa served at 12:30. Everyone has their favorite brunch spot, but be prepared to wait in line at most places. Ria’s Bluebird is one of my most beloved, as is Folk Art Restaurant.
Do you have any more tips for an Atlanta staycation?
Get $25 towards your first stay when you sign up for AirBnB today!