Memorial Drive is one of the longest, most historic central thoroughfares in Atlanta. Running from Downtown Atlanta undisturbed to Stone Mountain, Ga. (15 miles away), it serves as the main corridor for many neighborhoods in the newly redeveloped east Atlanta, and for a large swath of southeast Atlanta.
Along with Ponce de Leon Avenue and DeKalb Avenue to the north, Memorial Drive is one of the three main east/west thoroughfares that extend from Atlanta’s center to the eastern edge of the Perimeter. And like DeKalb Avenue, Memorial is an excellent alternative to the Ponce Corridor when it comes to ease of commute, especially during what is often a crowded rush hour on this street.
But read on: some of the coolest up-and-coming communities have already risen along this stretch of roadway (Intown Atlanta neighborhoods like Grant Park, Cabbagetown and East Atlanta are just a few), and some fascinating examples of urban redevelopment have already been established in the form of converted industrial spaces that, today, serve both commercial and residential uses. But that’s just the start...
Perhaps the most important part of Memorial Drive’s history is yet to occur. For the past several years, a collection of plans have been underway to transform the two-mile stretch of Memorial Drive just east of Downtown into the ultimate work-play community. Some of Atlanta’s premier loft properties line this route already, but a series of builders — who plan to spend more than $600 million in total — are investing in a collection of two dozen projects that include, dining ventures, service vendors, the addition of a massive plot of green space, and the establishment of the Georgia State Judicial Complex, which will house the state Supreme Court and the Appeals Court. Keep an eye peeled over the next decade.
The historic, cultural, and most recently, newly thriving social center of Atlanta is never short on amenities: from a burgeoning dining scene, to a museum district that is second-to-none in the region, to a fine collection of places to live (not to mention extreme accessibility via roadways and public transportation), Downtown is jam-packed with the finest the city has to offer.
Much of this property predates even the Civil War (though that conflict certainly maintains a place in Oakland’s history). The final resting place of some of Atlanta’s biggest luminaries, the repose this cemetery offers is palpable — though there are some events through the year that brings some culture to the history, too.
Located in the massive Grant Park, Zoo Atlanta boasts acres and acres of animals in perfectly reconstructed habitats. The place is large enough to spend the day, which is great by itself, but if you need any extra push, yes — there are pandas. Pandas.
At the intersection of Memorial and Moreland, a two-fer. Head a little north, and you’ll find yourself in the Edgewood Retail district, which is home to a half-dozen big-box stores and numerous little restaurants and boutiques. A little farther to the north, and you’re in the heart of Little Five Points, the most hyper-eclectic district in town.
In a town with more than its fair share of museums, the Fernbank often goes unnoticed, which is a bit of a bummer — this facility has full-scale dinosaur skeletons and an IMAX screen, and on Fridays throughout the year, they throw the doors open for a prolonged cocktail hour that’s a must-visit for new Atlantans to get their feet wet.
Something that nobody ever really thinks of: Memorial Drive, just a few miles to the east of Downtown, is actually home to two on in-town Atlanta’s biggest golf courses. Charlie Yates and East Lake Golf Clubs are large enough to be well-maintained, but are low-key enough to avoid too much oppressive exclusivity. A great place, close to home, to fit in nine holes on the weekends.
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