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My Atlanta Bucket List

I’m born and raised in the Atlanta, Georgia area. I grew up having tea with the Easter Bunny at the Ritz-Carlton, riding the Pink Pig, and chowing down at The Varsity before Braves games. But, if you can believe it, there’s so much that I’ve never done in my hometown, despite living here for the majority of my (almost) 29 years and writing extensively about the city.

I made a list when I first moved home, in 2010, and after seeing this list by my friend Christine about her life in New York, I made a new one. I blame some of this on the fact that I’m always on the go, but this year, I hope to change all of this. I also included a few items at the end that I only recently crossed off and other items to add to your Atlanta bucket list.

Go see a movie at Starlight Six Drive-In.

Starlight Drive-In

Starlight Six, Credit: Michael Dougherty

In a land where there are few drive-in theaters left, Georgia is lucky enough to have a few. While I’ve been to one in North Georgia, I’ve never been to Atlanta’s famous Starlight Drive-In Theatre & Flea Market. But I have plans to go with a friend this weekend! The theater is famous for its first run films where you can bring your own snacks. It’s been open since 1949. I’d also like to check out an indie film at the Plaza Theatre.

See shows at The Earl, The Tabernacle, and Eddie’s Attic.

atlanta bucket list

The Tabernacle

Despite the fact that I was a concert freak for many years, these are three of the city’s venues I’ve never crossed off. The EARL is an East Atlanta dive that showcases up-and-coming talent, while Tabernacle is an iconic former church that brings in top-name acts. Eddie’s Attic is a favorite for intimate acoustic performances.

Go on a tour of homes in Grant Park, Inman Park, or another historic neighborhood.

Inman Park, ©2008, Kevin C. Rose, Courtesy of ACVB &

Atlanta is full of historic neighborhoods that were originally planned suburbs. A few times a year, these neighborhood associations open the homes up for tours. You can see where some of the city’s most notable residents have called home. Grant ParkInman Park, and Druid Hills all offer tours in the spring and around the holidays.

Climb Stone Mountain, Arabia Mountain, and Panola Mountain.

Top of Panola Mountain

Panola Mountain, Credit: Courtney McGough

I’m not much of a hiker, but Atlanta is a surprisingly green city. I’ve been to Stone Mountain as a child, but I think it’s time to re-climb the granite monolith. It also has a park full of activities like their famous laser shows. Arabia Mountain and Panola Mountain are two other monoliths in the metro area worth a visit.

Day trip to Monticello, Covington, and Conyers to scout film locations.

atlanta bucket list

Credit: City of Covington

It’s well known that Georgia is one of the top places for film production in the world. I’ve spent the last year writing about the state’s best filming locations. But it’s well past time for me to visit them. Senoia is home to The Walking Dead, and I’ve visited a handful of times, but I’ve never been through Covington, previously home to The Vampire DiariesConyers is another that was used for Stranger Things and Monticello is best known for being the location from My Cousin Vinny. 

Eat the city’s best fried chicken.

Busy Bee Cafe

Busy Bee Cafe, Credit: LWYang

Atlanta doesn’t have a dish that it’s known for above everywhere else, but it does fried chicken well. I went to Mary Mac’s Tea Room for my birthday a few years back, which is one of the contenders, as well as Paschal’s Restaurant. But The Colonnade RestaurantPittypat’s Porch, and Busy Bee Cafe are frequently referenced for their Southern food.

Treat myself to a spa day.

atlanta bucket list

Jeju Spa

I’ve gotten massages at hotels like the Loews Atlanta but never had a treatment at Jeju Sauna, the city’s famous Korean spa. It has 24/7 access, saunas made of different materials, and a cafe with authentic Korean food. I’ve also heard good things about the sensory deprivation tanks at Infinity Floating.

Stay up for late night bites.

the lobster roll at octopus bar

Octopus Bar, Credit: Foodie Buddha

In my early, twenties, my version of late night bites was Checkers on North Avenue or maybe Waffle House. That’s why I’ve never been to Majestic Diner, which you really have to be inebriated to appreciate. On the other end of the spectrum is Octopus Bar, a favorite with the food and bev crowd that doesn’t open until 10:30 pm.

Visit Atlanta’s lesser-known museums.

Georgia Governor’s Mansion, ©1995, Kevin C. Rose, Courtesy of ACVB &

There are dozens of underrated museums in the city, but the David J. Sencer CDC Museum focuses on the organization’s missions abroad and infectious diseases. Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia and Millennium Gate Museum are art museums most visitors don’t know about. It’s also well past time to go on a tour of the Georgia Governor’s Mansion.

Support the city’s sports teams.

SunTrust Park

It’s no surprise that I’m not a massive sports fan. I’ve only recently been to a Hawks basketball game. Next on the docket is a Falcons football game at the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Atlanta also has Atlanta United, an MLS soccer team. And now that the Braves baseball team has moved to the northern suburbs, it’s time for a visit to the new SunTrust Park.

Spend time in the gardens.

atlanta bucket list

Atlanta Botanical Garden

Atlanta Botanical Garden is one of my favorite places in the city for a sunny day out, so this summer I hope to catch a concert there. There’s also an outpost at Atlanta Botanical Garden, Gainesville on the north end of the city. I’m well overdue for a visit to Gibbs Gardens in Ball Ground.

Cool off in a city pool.

atlanta bucket list

Credit: W Buckhead Atlanta

In case you haven’t experienced it firsthand, summertime in the south is HOT. My parents have a pool, but there’s nothing quite like cooling off with friends around. Piedmont Park Aquatic Center is located in the heart of the city’s largest park. The W Buckhead also has epic pool parties overlooking the neighborhood with a bright colored mural by Greg Mike.

Enjoy the cultural offerings.

John and Jen 1

Serenbe Playhouse, Credit: Blue Delliquanti

I’ve had the opportunity to see the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, but haven’t seen a show at the Alliance Theatre since I was in school. The theater has put on performances that have gone on to be played nationally and even won awards. I’ve also been to The Fox Theatre many times, but never have taken a behind the scenes tour. And the Castleberry Hill art stroll is a unique monthly event that showcases the galleries in one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods. I’m also well overdue for a visit to Serenbe to catch a show at their playhouse.

See Atlanta from above.

atlanta bucket list

Skyview Atlanta

I was working at a nearby office when the SkyView was being constructed in the matter of a week in the old Cotton Club parking lot. I thought, “Who wants to see the view of a park, not even that high up?” The answer is: a lot of people. I haven’t gotten around to riding the Ferris wheel myself yet, despite working nearby, but will change that soon. Their nighttime rides are popular and you can even splurge on the VIP experience. I also want to see Skyline Park at Ponce City Market, a rooftop theme park with old school games and a restaurant.

Explore my new neighborhood.

Credit: Porsche Experience Center

As I get ready to move to the Southside of Atlanta, I need to check out some of the attractions down there like the Porsche Experience Center and the Chick Fil A Headquarters. It’s an underrated part of the city, especially since it’s home to the world’s busiest airport.

Explore the city through the new transportation systems.

atlanta bucket list

Relay Bikes

Atlanta’s trains and bus systems haven’t been updated in decades, but I still use them as much as I can. But a few years ago, the Atlanta Streetcar was created to connect downtown to the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site. It costs only $1 to ride and is made with green technology. We’re also the latest city to get a bike share program. Relay has a few locations downtown, in Midtown, and the Westside, but they’re rapidly expanding.

Ride the Silver Comet Trail and Beltline connections.

atlanta bucket list

Beltline Trail

The Beltline is Atlanta’s newest trail that loops through the city, but the Silver Comet Trail was the original. It runs from Smyrna outside Atlanta all the way to Alabama. And while I’ve been on the Beltline’s Eastside trail, I’d like to check out the smaller trails that are still under construction, especially now that I have a bike.

There are also some things on this list that I only recently crossed off. I went to the observation deck at the Sundial at the The Westin Peachtree Plaza, open mic night at Laughing Skull Lounge, a Korean food tour in Gwinnett County, toured the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta museum and Margaret Mitchell House and Museum, dined at Paschal’s and sipped at Dr. Bombay’s Underwater Tea Party, and cheered on horses at the Atlanta Steeplechase. I’d also like to go back to Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse and Agatha’s A Taste of Mystery.

What’s on your Atlanta bucket list? Do you have a to-do list in your hometown?

Mentioned in this post
  1. Starlight Drive-In Theatre & Flea Market
    Attraction in Atlanta Georgia

    2000 Moreland Ave SE
    Atlanta Georgia
    (404) 627-5786
  2. Plaza Theatre
    Attraction in Fulton County Georgia

    1049 Ponce De Leon Ave NE
    Fulton County Georgia
    (404) 873-1939
  3. The EARL
    Attraction in Atlanta Georgia

    488 Flat Shoals Avenue Southeast
    Atlanta Georgia
    (404) 522-3950
  4. Tabernacle
    Attraction in Atlanta Georgia

    152 Luckie St NW
    Atlanta Georgia
    (404) 659-9022
  5. Eddie's Attic
    Attraction in Decatur Georgia

    Decatur Georgia
    (404) 377-4976
  6. Grant Park
    Neighborhood in Atlanta Georgia

    Atlanta Georgia
  7. Inman Park
    Neighborhood in Fulton County Georgia

    Fulton County Georgia
  8. Druid Hills
    City in Georgia

    Dekalb County Georgia
  9. Stone Mountain
    City in Georgia

    Stone Mountain Georgia
  10. Arabia Mountain
    Attraction in Dekalb County Georgia

    Dekalb County Georgia
  11. Panola Mountain
    Attraction in Rockdale County Georgia

    Rockdale County Georgia
  12. Covington
    City in Georgia

    Covington Georgia
  13. Conyers
    City in Georgia

    Conyers Georgia
  14. Monticello
    City in Georgia

    Jasper County Georgia
  15. Mary Mac's Tea Room
    Restaurant in Atlanta Georgia

    224 Ponce De Leon Avenue Northeast
    Atlanta Georgia
    (404) 876-1800
  16. Paschal's Restaurant
    Restaurant in Fulton County Georgia

    180 Northside Dr SW
    Fulton County Georgia
    (404) 525-2023
  17. The Colonnade Restaurant
    Restaurant in Atlanta Georgia

    1879 Cheshire Bridge Rd NE
    Atlanta Georgia
    (404) 874-5642
  18. Pittypat's Porch
    Restaurant in Atlanta Georgia

    25 Andrew Young International Blvd
    Atlanta Georgia
    (404) 525-8228
  19. Busy Bee Cafe
    Restaurant in Fulton County Georgia

    810 M.L.K. Jr Dr NW
    Fulton County Georgia
    (404) 525-9212
  20. Jeju Sauna
    Attraction in Duluth Georgia

    3555 Gwinnett Pl Dr NW
    Duluth Georgia
    (678) 336-7414
  21. Infinity Floating
    Attraction in Jackson County Georgia

    32 Johnson Dr
    Jackson County Georgia
    (706) 654-7118
  22. Majestic Diner
    Restaurant in Atlanta Georgia

    1031 Ponce De Leon Ave NE
    Atlanta Georgia
    (404) 875-0276
  23. Octopus Bar
    Restaurant in Atlanta Georgia

    560 Gresham Ave SE
    Atlanta Georgia
    (404) 627-9911
  24. David J. Sencer CDC Museum
    Attraction in Dekalb County Georgia

    Dekalb County Georgia
    (404) 639-0830
  25. Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia
    Attraction in Fulton County Georgia

    75 Bennett St NW
    Fulton County Georgia
    (404) 367-8700
  26. Millennium Gate Museum
    Attraction in Fulton County Georgia

    395 17th St NW
    Fulton County Georgia
    (404) 881-0900
  27. Georgia Governor's Mansion
    Attraction in Fulton County Georgia

    Fulton County Georgia
  28. SunTrust Park
    Attraction in Cobb County Georgia

    755 Battery Avenue Southeast
    Cobb County Georgia
    (404) 577-9100
  29. Atlanta Botanical Garden
    Attraction in Fulton County Georgia

    The Prado NE
    Fulton County Georgia
  30. Atlanta Botanical Garden, Gainesville
    Attraction in Hall County Georgia

    1911 Sweetbay Dr
    Hall County Georgia
    (404) 888-4760
  31. Piedmont Park Aquatic Center
    Attraction in Fulton County Georgia

    Monroe Dr NE
    Fulton County Georgia
    (404) 875-7275
  32. Alliance Theatre
    Attraction in Fulton County Georgia

    1280 Peachtree St NE
    Fulton County Georgia
    (404) 733-4650
  33. The Fox Theatre
    Attraction in Atlanta Georgia

    660 Peachtree St NE
    Atlanta Georgia
    (404) 881-2100
  34. Serenbe Lane
    Fulton County Georgia

    Serenbe Ln
    Fulton County Georgia
  35. Skyline Park
    Attraction in Fulton County Georgia

    675 Ponce De Leon Ave NE
    Fulton County Georgia
    (770) 999-1530
  36. Chick Fil A Headquarters
    Attraction in Fulton County Georgia

    5200 Buffington Rd
    Fulton County Georgia
  37. Silver Comet Trail
    Powder Springs Georgia

    Silver Comet Trail
    Powder Springs Georgia
  38. The Westin Peachtree Plaza
    Hotel in Atlanta Georgia

    210 Peachtree Street Northwest
    Atlanta Georgia
    (404) 659-1400
  39. Laughing Skull Lounge
    Attraction in Atlanta Georgia

    878 Peachtree St NE
    Atlanta Georgia
    (877) 523-3288
  40. Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta
    Attraction in Atlanta Georgia

    1000 Peachtree St NE
    Atlanta Georgia
    (404) 498-8500
  41. Margaret Mitchell House and Museum
    Attraction in Fulton County Georgia

    990 Peachtree St NE
    Fulton County Georgia
    (404) 249-7015
  42. Dr. Bombay's Underwater Tea Party
    Restaurant in Dekalb County Georgia

    1645 McLendon Ave NE
    Dekalb County Georgia
    (404) 474-1402
  43. Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse
    Restaurant in Fulton County Georgia

    499 Peachtree St NE
    Fulton County Georgia
    (404) 874-5299
  44. Agatha's A Taste of Mystery
    Attraction in Fulton County Georgia

    161 Peachtree Center Ave NE
    Fulton County Georgia
    (404) 584-2255

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