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.
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.
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.
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 Park, Inman Park, and Druid Hills all offer tours in the spring and around the holidays.
Climb Stone Mountain, Arabia Mountain, and Panola Mountain.
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.
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 Diaries. Conyers 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.
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 Restaurant, Pittypat’s Porch, and Busy Bee Cafe are frequently referenced for their Southern food.
Treat myself to a spa day.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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’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.
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.