Most people’s experiences with Atlanta, Georgia are limited to the terminals of Hartsfield Jackson International Airport, the world’s busiest airport, as well as some unfortunate reality television portrayals. But there’s so much more to my hometown, the “Capital of the South.” I’m sharing my favorite lesser known neighborhoods for a local’s perspective of the city.
Flanked by the Georgia Institute of Technology (“Georgia Tech”) on one side and train tracks on the other, the Westside has refurbished warehouses that now provide shopping and restaurant spaces. The White Provisions building is home to some of the nicest restaurants in town including Bacchanalia, JCT Kitchen, and Bocado, but Star Provisions is fine dining on a budget.
The Atlanta Food Truck Park brings together the city’s best mobile eats into one central location with live music and events. Also try brunch at West Egg Cafe or stick around for their beer dinners. Monday Night Brewing is Atlanta’s newest brewery and allows visitors to sample their beers. Ormsby’s has an indoor bocce court and games for the young at heart.
Cabbagetown and Grant Park
Cabbagetown was once a thriving cotton mill town within the city, closing as recently as the 1970s. It went through a lull but is now one of the more popular neighborhoods with young urban professionals. The mills have been turned into lofts and it’s now full of bars and restaurants. Grant Park is the neighborhood around the park of the same name and Oakland Cemetery. Urban Oasis Bed and Breakfast gives guests the chance to sleep in a renovated cotton sorting mill. It frequently hosts book signings and other events for the community.
Start your day with coffee to go from Octane Coffee before waiting in line for a healthy brunch at Ria’s Bluebird. Walk off the calories at Oakland Cemetery, where the city’s most famous residents, specifically Margaret Mitchell and Bobby Jones, are buried. Six Feet Under, Tin Lizzy’s, and Republic Social House all have rooftop bars overlooking the skyline and cemetery. Stop by Zoo Atlanta to see the new baby pandas before dinner at Young Augustine’s or Agave.
Sweet Auburn and Old Fourth Ward
Sweet Auburn is the area where Martin Luther King, Jr. grew up and preached at Ebenezer Baptist Church. You can see his boyhood home and where he is buried. The Sweet Auburn Curb Market is a unique place to find unusual ingredients — like every cut of meat — alongside prepared foods at Grindhouse Killer Burgers or Bell Street Burritos.
While the tourists are limited to partying at the sports bars in downtown and Buckhead, the locals hang out in up and coming areas like the Old Fourth Ward’s Edgewood Avenue. Most of the restaurants turn into hotspots around 9 pm, so grab a bite at Noni’s before the DJ sets up and move on to Joystick, a bar full of your favorite childhood arcade games. Back in the daylight, you can walk or ride your bike on the Beltline, an old train line turned walking path.
Little Five Points and Inman Park
Little Five Points has long been Atlanta’s answer to bohemian areas like San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury or New York City’s Greenwich Village. The name signifies where five streets come together, similar to Five Points downtown. Walk straight down Moreland Avenue to check out funky gifts and attire at Junkman’s Daughter and browse for obscure music at Criminal Records. Rag-O-Rama and Clothing Warehouse have the best vintage clothing in the neighborhood.
Burgers at The Vortex are sure to stop even the healthiest heart, as are the ribs at Fox Brothers BBQ. Savi Urban Market in Inman Park has gourmet sandwiches, popsicles from King of Pops, and wine on tap. The Porter Beer Bar and Wrecking Bar Brewpub have been named two of the top beer bars in the country.
Decatur often feels like its own city a short ride outside of Atlanta, with dozens of shops and restaurants surrounding the central square. It’s also a college town, home to Agnes Scott College and Emory University. Emory University has one of the nation’s largest collections of Egyptian art and artifacts at the Michael C. Carlos Museum. Little Shop of Stories is a wonderland of children’s books, hosting regular author readings.
All photos are courtesy of the author except the lead photo by downeym.