Honestly, I have never met a fellow traveler on the road saying, “I plan to visit Atlanta, Georgia on my holiday!” Oh, foolish, foolish people. New York, Los Angeles, Chicago. Sure, those bustling municipalities are tops of many lists when visiting the United States. Those beautiful white sandy beaches of Florida are definitely worth a visit too. This post is not meant to sway you away from visiting those locales, but instead, to add another absolutely worthy option to the list – ATL (handy airport code too).
Guess what travel geeks? Atlanta is home to the major airline – Delta. Even better, Business Insider ranked Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport as the busiest airport in the world in 2016. Not only does this mean travelers will find great airfare deals, say via my favorite website for booking flights, Skyscanner, through this major hub, but if traveling elsewhere it’s “within a two-hour flight of 80% of the US population.”
Spin That Outkast Vinyl
Every time I am around the city I pick up a copy of Creative Loafing. This local publication is chock full of happenings and is the best reference for the local music scene. Top concert venues include The Tabernacle, Lakewood Amphitheater, Masquerade, Fox Theater, Terminal West, Verizon Wireless Amphitheater and the Georgia Theater up in Athens.
Traveling from out of state or out of the country provides the opportunity to stay a while and take in a festival at nearby Piedmont Park or Centennial Olympic Park. Sweetwater 420Fest (sponsored by Sweetwater Brewery in April (duh), Shaky Knees and Shaky Beats in May, and soon to be Music Midtown (September 16-17, 2017) are the major jamfests in the city.
Netflix and Chill?
Ever heard of The Walking Dead? Of course, you have! The hit AMC television show is one of many productions that call Atlanta home. AdWeek reports, “According to Georgia’s Film, Music & Digital Entertainment Office, 245 film and TV productions were shot in Georgia during the fiscal year 2016 (between July 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016). Those productions spent $2.02 billion during that time and generated an economic impact of $7.2 billion.”
Numerous Marvel movies including Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Spiderman, The Fate of the Furious, Netflix’s Stranger Things and FX’s Archer were all produced in ATLwood. And here is my shameless plug from that 1-second clip of me in The Watch with Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn and Jonah Hill (0:17 seconds).
Whet Your Appetite AND Wet Your Whistle
Let’s be real. The single best part about traveling to new places is the opportunity to try new food and drink, in excess. And regret the gluttony later? Never! There is no better place on EARTH to overeat than in the United States. Mind you, this is not a “WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS!” proclamation. On the contrary. Yet, Atlanta is home to some of the best up and coming chefs/restaurateurs and breweries in the United States so go nuts!
A great list of critics and readers picks can be found, once again, inside Creative Loafing’s “Best of Atlanta” section. I also recommend Atlanta Magazine’s “50 Best Restaurants” as a reference. As for the wild ruffians traveling to the metropolitan area, I found this reference from Thrillist to be quite exhaustive and much better than anything I could put together in 24 hours.
Let it be known I am a super fan of Bravo TV’s Top Chef. When I returned from studying in Valencia, Spain in 2008 it was the first show I really sat down and watched religiously. Partially due to my naive understanding of Spanish food and wine (I ate and drank plenty!), but this does not make one a gastronome. The show conjured up so many memories from my recent travels at the time. A featured cheftestant on the show was Richard Blais from Georgia. Since watching and becoming a fan of his, I began to notice how many incredibly talented people whip up good eats and bevs around the city.
Home of the 1995 World Series Champions…
Atlanta is home to world-class, innovative athletic facilities like the brand spanking new Mercedes-Benz Stadium and recently debuted pro baseball stadium of SunTrust Park in Marietta. Notably, the city has not crowned a champion in any of the major leagues since the Braves in 1995. Tom Brady and co. dashed our hopes in Super Bowl LI last February. However, the sports gods are gracious as our city will host the 2018 College Football National Championship, Super Bowl LIII in 2019, and NCAA Men’s Final Four in 2020.
Professional teams calling the “A” home: Atlanta Braves (SunTrust Park), Atlanta Dream (McCamish Pavilion at Georgia Tech), Atlanta Falcons (Mercedes-Benz Stadium), Atlanta Hawks (Philips Arena), Atlanta United FC (Mercedes-Benz Stadium). Collegiate athletics are often larger events than many of the pro teams, and often times, fans of Georgia Tech and the University of Georgia roam the downtown and midtown areas cheering on their teams.
Don’t forget Atlanta was the host city for the 1996 Summer Olympics where Bob Costas, the former voice of Olympic coverage in the U.S. said this about his favorite moments when speaking to USA Today: “When I have to pick one, I always say Muhammad Ali lighting the torch in Atlanta in 1996 because it was such a unique moment. It seemed to pull together so much of his life and a good portion of the history of sports and social issues in the second half of the 20th century.” However, as much of the city has profited from stadium development, many former venues remain vacant and unused.
The Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) hosted the athlete village and swimming and diving at their facilities and still thrive over 20 years later. [Side note — It’s worth mentioning GaTech is a globally renowned engineering and research institute where students get to play with lasers, robots and are sometimes badasses at public speaking.]
Remember, when planning your next international jaunt Stateside, or domestic getaway for the Americans out there, Atlanta should be creeping up your destination list as a frontrunner. This post doesn’t even hold a candle to what this city has to offer (don’t chastise me for omitting anything, ATLiens) and by no means is a comprehensive guide to Georgia’s capital city. Maybe there will be a Part II coming. Let me know your thoughts and musings in the comments section! What are some of your favorite underrated cities?