By Miriam Landru
Atlanta is so much more than a Braves game and a day trip to Six Flags. This bustling metropolis, the ninth largest city in the United States, is home to over five million people. It is the home of the busiest airport in the world, Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. It’s a hub for transportation, media and industry (Turner Broadcasting/CNN and Coca-Cola) as well as fine art and exhibitions found at the High Museum of Art. But most importantly, it’s only a five-hour journey from Fayetteville.
The city is made up of three skylines: Buckhead, Midtown and Downtown which all provide spectacular views of the Olympic City, which is also made up of 242 distinct neighborhoods. From College Park with its mom and pop restaurants to hip Inman Park, there are all sorts of neighborhoods to explore for the urban traveler. And in the spirit of parks, the Centennial Olympic Park must receive a shout-out as well.
What to Do
Sometimes called the “New York of the South,” Atlanta is not short on cultural events and many concerts, art exhibits are always on display and plays or musicals are always touring in the city. At the High Museum of Art, fall exhibits will include, “American Encounters: The Simple Pleasures of Still Life.” This large-scale collection, focusing on the European still-life style adopted by American artists in the late 18th and early 19th century, is a collaboration between the Louvre, High and the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art located in the home of Wal-Mart, Bentonville, Arkansas.
If you’re into world events, check out the set tours at Turner Broadcasting and CNN. If you’re an early bird, you can go behind-the-scenes of HLN’s hit AM show, Morning Express with Robin Meade. Other tour opportunities available include the Inside CNN Studio Tour and the Inside CNN VIP Tour. On the VIP tour, you’ll receive the opportunity to go inside their HD Studio 7 where the majority of their broadcasting takes place. This is a family-oriented activity. Who knows? A trip to CNN could inspire your child to be the next Wolf Blitzer.
Atlantic Station has now replaced Underground Atlanta as the popular shopping destination for those in midtown and downtown. Many national retailers can be found there like Ikea, West Elm and women’s style favorite, Atlanta-based franchise, Fab’rik. However, if you’re looking for local Atlantan flavor, this may not be the place for you. Atlantic Station is home to many upscale, national chains like Yardhouse and California Pizza Kitchen.
When to Go
They don’t call it “Hotlanta” for nothing. While there’s still many options for the metropolitan sightseer, the Georgia summer is sweltering. Fall is one of the best times of the year to visit Atlanta. Even though it’s a sprawling concrete city, fall foliage is a showstopper. This is thanks in part to the gigantic Piedmont Park and the now-under construction Atlanta Beltline. The Beltline is the largest revitalization effort in the Peachtree City’s history. Upon completion, the Beltline will be a 22-mile urban trail. It’s the perfect way to experience Atlanta away from the traffic. And while you’re taking your brisk Autumn walk, be sure to check out “Art on the Atlanta Beltline,” the city’s largest public exhibition.
Where to Eat
As a major southern city, Atlanta is home to a bevy of unique restaurants catering to every flavor and palette. Expect cafes with alfresco dining in the many boroughs the city offers, like the brunch offerings at Carroll Street Café in Cabbagetown. A bohemian’s culinary dream, this eatery is located on a side street in one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods. Expect an inspired American menu with tangible brunch offerings such as the Shrimp Frittata. Or, if you’re there for lunch or dinner, sample the Asparagus en Croute, asparagus and bleu cheese wrapped in phillo dough and topped with lemon-tarragon sauce. These are just two of the items on their eclectic menu.
If a more upscale surrounding is your dining style, weather the experience at 10 Degrees South in Buckhead, specializing in South African fare (now that’s something we cannot find in Fayetteville). South African cuisine is as colorful as a rainbow. The country has been influenced not only by its indigenous people, but also from the influx of the British, French, German and Dutch during their years of colonization. 10 Degrees South in Buckhead fuses flavors from those countries along with Malaysian, Indian and Mediterranean tastes to bring diners authentic South African dishes. The 13-year-old establishment boasts a sophisticated wine list and dishes like Beef Bobotie: sweet ground beef curry covered in savory custard and served with sambals yellow and white basmati rice. Another favorite is the Filet “Au Poivre,” an eight-ounce Angus filet mignon doused with Madagascan creamy peppercorn sauce with mashed potatoes and vegetables. A local and tourist go-to restaurant, 10 Degrees South receives consistent four-star ratings on Yelp, Trip Advisor and Open Table.
A hidden Atlantan gem that’s located in a not-so-pleasing to the eye strip mall, is Blue Crabs 2 Go in College Park. Open every day but Monday, this small café is worth the trip because it packs the punch. Crabs and other dishes, like lobster, are served family style or in Styrofoam to-go containers. Their garlic potatoes and corn on the cob are to die for. It’s calabash style cooking with a soul food twist.
There’s a no reservations policy in Atlanta, a city filled with fun sights and modern comforts. And let’s not forget the culture and food scene. Since we are south of the Mason-Dixon, Fayettevillians should mesh right in with the locals. But, don’t have too much fun.
“If you arrest all the men who get intoxicated in Atlanta, you must have a good many Yankees in jail.”- Gone with the Wind.