48 Hours in Atlanta
48 Hours in Atlanta
So, we’ve got the busiest airport in the world, in case you didn’t know (there’s an old saying in the South: “When you die, no matter if you’re going to heaven or hell, you’ve gotta go through ATL first.”)
Anyway, it’s entirely possible you’ll find yourself with a layover. We know you’re busy and all, but Atlanta is way more than a fly-through city. If you get a wild hair sometime, why not arrange your flying plans around a two-day stint in A-Town? We promise, there’s more than enough to do. Not to be presumptuous, but would you mind if we helped you out with your itinerary?
Welcome to the ATL.
You landed, and have grabbed your bags from the luggage carousel. Look up, and find the signs that direct you to MARTA. That’s the train that goes right into the heart of the city. It’ll cost you about two bucks.
There are so many good hotels in Atlanta, it’s impossible to pick just one. But for centrality and proximity to easy transportation, there are two hotels in Midtown, right next door to each other. For something modern and boutique-y, the Hotel Indigo Atlanta Midtown is a great bet. For a taste of Atlanta’s history, the Georgian Terrace is old school and lavish — this is the place where the cast of Gone With The Wind stayed during the film’s premier back in the ‘40s. Plus, they’re both only a block away from the North Avenue MARTA stop, which is a straight shot from the airport.
The best of Southern fare.
You’re probably jet lagged, so the last thing you want to do is get checked in and have to explore the heck out of the city to find a decent bite to eat. Peachtree has an abundance of amazing restaurants, but if you want our pick, you can’t go wrong with Empire State South, just six blocks to the north — an easy 10-minute walk. Chef Hugh Acheson’s menu is the pinnacle of innovative farm-to-table, and their cocktail program is exceptional. Solo travelers will love this place, too — there’s always a laid-back crowd here, so you’re bound to meet someone who’ll give you some tips about town.
The best of late night.
Let’s say you got a second wind after dinner. Within a few blocks, there are some awesome spots to spend a few more hours. Opera Nightclub on Crescent Avenue is a groovy place for the dancing set — bonus points for the location in a converted opera house. For the see-and-be-seen crowd, New York transplant STK is always jammed with beautiful people sipping on pricey cocktails. Or, if you’re up for something a little more low-key and authentically Atlanta, head west a few blocks to Cypress Street Pint and Plate for cold beer, some of the friendliest bartenders in town, and some live local music.
Get some carbs in your system.
Overdid it last night, huh? No excuses. Pound some water, and grab a bite to eat. Flying Biscuit, located a little to the Northeast on Piedmont Avenue, is one of those all-day breakfast places, and they’ve got a mammoth selection of comfort foods. Perfect way to start the day.
Other fish in the sea.
Since you’re in Atlanta, and you’re only here for two days, you have to hit up the Georgia Aquarium. It’s the second largest aquarium in the world, and among the 100,000 specimens of marine life to be found here are whale sharks, beluga whales, manta rays, dolphins, and oodles of penguins. A lot of the creatures can be found in the facility’s centerpiece exhibit — a six million gallon mega aquarium.
All the pretty buildings
If you’re an architecture buff, Downtown is an interesting microcosm of Atlanta’s stratospheric growth from the ‘60s onward. Atlanta’s own architectural genius, John Portman, was almost single-handedly responsible for many of the buildings in Downtown Atlanta, and believe us — you’ve never seen anything like them. The highlights are the Westin Peachtree Plaza Hotel (the big cylindrical one), the Marriott Marquis, and the Hyatt Regency Atlanta.
We’re all here, because we’re not all there.
Little Five Points: the epicenter of eccentricity in Atlanta. There are beer bars, hip farm-to-table restaurants, record stores, costume parlors, head shops, and some of the very best people-watching in town. From Downtown, it’s about a five-minute Uber ride, so it’s really accessible.
Head back to your hotel, wash up, and grab a bite to eat — the Georgian Terrace hotel has a great restaurant on the ground floor called Livingston Bar and Grill. A fine place to fit in dinner and still be able to make your 8:00 p.m. curtain, because you’re going to…
A night at the theater!
Right across the street, you’ll find the Fabulous Fox Theatre. There’s always some live concert or traveling Broadway production coming through, but to be honest, this place is worth it for the aesthetics alone. The facility was originally supposed to be a Shrine Temple back in the ‘20s, but funding ran dry, so they turned it into a theater instead. Still, the nuance remains — the Fox is a love letter to Arabian and Egyptian architecture, creating a patchwork of just delightfully gaudy enough to be, well, fabulous.
A jog through Piedmont Park.
If you’re down for a good way to get the blood pumping before your day gets started, strap on the running shoes and take a quick jaunt to the Northeast to find Piedmont Park. There are a number of beautiful running trails that weave through this centerpiece of green space, along with some dazzling views of the city to boot. Head back to your hotel, check out, and ask them to hold onto your luggage for a bit.
The best fried chicken in town.
Sunday Brunch. It’s not just a tradition in Atlanta — it’s practically a birthright. Luckily, you’re just a few blocks to the south of South City Kitchen, which does one of the best brunches in the city. Start out with a Bloody Mary, and if you’re going to order anything, get the fried chicken. It melts in your mouth and is regarded as some of the best in town (for a part of the world known for fried chicken, that’s saying something).
Take in some masterpieces.
If this happens to be the second Sunday, admission to the High Museum of Art is free. If not, this world-class art museum is still one of the best ways to spend an afternoon in the city. There’s always a rotating exhibit or two, but the permanent collection — consisting of some amazing contemporary art, sculpture, photography, and American folk art — will easily drain your last few hours in Atlanta. Their gift shop is awesome, too. high.org
New to Atlanta?
Whether you’ve already slated your move to Atlanta, or are just considering this city as your new home, you’re likely going to be doing a lot of research. Every city has nuances, history, quirks, and jargon that can be confusing for newcomers, and Atlanta is no different. We’ve taken the liberty of providing a few basics with our Atlanta Beginner’s Guide. Check it out, and you’ll be feeling like a local in no time.