The ultimate guide to Atlanta

The capital city of Georgia is home to the country’s busiest airport and has so much to offer.

Altanta has more to offer than you might think. Image credit: Sean Pavone Photo/iStock
Altanta has more to offer than you might think. Image credit: Sean Pavone Photo/iStock

Many credit the city of Atlanta as the birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement, as it’s the city where Martin Luther King Jr. was born and also laid to rest. Atlanta is also the city where local pharmacist John Pemberton created Coca-Cola in 1886. And for cable news junkies, Atlanta is home to the world headquarters of CNN. But the city also boasts widely talked about restaurants, must-see cultural attractions, and top-notch hotel options, making it a city worth exploring.

Be sure to book a reliable Blacklane car service in Atlanta to help you make the most of your visit.

Where to eat

Argosy – brunch, beer, and skee-ball

The 7,500 square foot East Atlanta Village gastropub is the perfect neighborhood spot. There’s an excellent craft cocktail menu at Argosy, although the 30-odd beers on tap pair better with the chewy wood-fired pizzas. Brunch here tends to be the busiest time of day outside of weekend nights when the back bar comes alive and offers skee-ball, shuffleboard and more.

Staplehouse – a restaurant with a backstory

A husband and wife duo once had their sights set on opening their own restaurants, when sadly the husband was diagnosed with stage 4 gallbladder cancer. The local community came together and raised money to help the couple out. The couple decided to found a non-profit, The Giving Kitchen, with the remaining fundraising funds to assist fellow industry folks who were faced with similar situations to their own.

When the husband lost his battle with cancer in 2014, the family came together and opened up Staplehouse, a thriving restaurant wholly owned by The Giving Kitchen, which means that all after-tax profits from all meals directly benefit the organization.  Staplehouse offers a tasting menu in addition to an a la carte menu of ingredient-driven soulful food.

The Busy Bee Café – Atlanta’s soul food kitchen since 1947

This downtown institution skips all the frills and boasts their counter seats as the best seats in the house. Arguably the best fried chicken in town, The Busy Bee Café has been feeding hungry locals for more than six decades.

The fried chicken undergoes a lengthy process, which includes 12 hours of being brined before making its way to the deep fry. Order it plain or smother it in pan gravy. But make sure to leave room for the amazing sides like collards, sweet potato pie, and broccoli cheese casserole. Expect a wait, no matter what time of day you visit.

The Optimist – fine seafood in a city of fried everything

Chef Ford Fry’s The Optimist has an overflowing oyster bar that alone makes a visit here a great idea. Experience the Whole GA Shrimp, a house specialty, where the shrimp are grilled a la Plancha and are served smothered in spicy chili and a lime-based red gravy. It also comes with a big piece of toast to soak up all the extra sauce that will be dripping from the shrimp.

Watchman’s Seafood & Spirits – 1 USD oyster happy hour on weekdays

The latest addition to the Krog Street Market, Watchman’s Seafood & Spirits is the perfect newcomer to compliment the ever-growing list of southern-grown restaurants and retailers inside the 1920s warehouse market.

The entire oyster selection here is proudly Southern, so make sure to visit early weeknights for their $1 oysters special. The rest of the menu consists of classics with a Southern twist like ceviche verde, shrimp rolls, and steamed clams.

Where to visit

The National Center for Civil and Human Rights – a part of history that can’t be ignored

Of all the incredible museums and attractions in the city of Atlanta, this museum should be at the top of your list. The center, which opened in 2014, couldn’t be more relevant.

A visit here will most definitely humble and inform you. The sensory experience at The National Center for Civil and Human Rights include visuals, sounds, and touch exhibits, which help tell a tale of America’s tumultuous civil and human rights past.

High Museum of Art – an art museum for everyone

High Museum of Art is one of the leading art institutions in the South.

Its private collection contains more than 15,000 pieces which span various disciplines, including modern, African, and self-taught. What makes the High Museum of Art stand apart from the rest is its strong emphasis on inclusiveness, diversity, and accessibility.

Take in some culture at Altanta's High Museum of Art. Image credit: High Museum of Art
Take in some amazing artwork at Altanta’s High Museum of Art. Image credit: High Museum of Art

Atlanta Botanical Garden – take a breather from the city

The city’s beloved Botanical Garden is set over 30 outdoor acres and is a great way to take some time away from the city by spending some peaceful moments among a lush green setting. Beyond the outdoor gardens, the Botanical Garden is also home to a canopy walk, which highlights the Storza Woods, in addition to the Skyline Garden.

CNN behind-the-scenes studio tour – see where news is made

This 50-minute guided walking tour will provide you behind-the-scenes access to the world headquarters of CNN which includes an in-depth look at how live broadcasts are produced. A VIP tour is also available which takes guests further through the buildings, including the HLN studios.

World of Coca-Cola – learn about America’s favorite soda

In a city where Pepsi products are practically outlawed (they aren’t, but Atlantans are protective over their hometown soda), head to the World of Coca-Cola to learn about the history of Coca-Cola as well as the entire soda industry.

This massive space dedicated to America’s favorite soda includes replica soda fountains, the pop-culture museum, 4-D theater displays and do-it-yourself soda fountains that dispense flavors from around the world. If you ever wanted to try all the different flavors of Coke, the World of Coca-Cola has over 100 different Coca-Cola beverages, including all the classics as well as limited editions.

Featured on countless television programs and visited by endless celebrities such as Anthony Bourdain, Robert De Niro, Bill Murray, Morgan Freeman, Woody Harrelson and many more, The Clermont Lounge is an Atlanta must. But it’s not all about the exotic dancers, inside the Clermont Lounge, located beneath of the Clermont Motor Hotel on Ponce de Leon, there’s a “real Atlanta” allure that is best described by seeing and experiencing it in person.

Wander through Atlanta's glorious botanical gardens. Image credit: Marilyn Nieves
Wander through Atlanta’s glorious botanical gardens. Image credit: Marilyn Nieves

Where to Stay

Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta – five stars and five diamonds for a reason

The five-star, five-diamond hotel is one of the city’s finest. Within walking distance to some of Atlanta’s top tourist destinations, Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta is also home to Bar Margot, their signature restaurant, which serves decadent desserts, like their dulce de leche cake with pretzel ice cream.

Loews Atlanta Hotel – home to the state’s only Turkish bath

Also close to all the finest attractions in the city, the Loews Atlanta Hotel is home to the city’s incredibly popular restaurant Saltwood Charcuterie & Bar, and Exhale, one of the largest spa and fitness centers in town. Guests here receive complimentary access to the 20,000 square foot space, which includes a 9,000 square foot fitness studio, a sauna, and the only hammam in Georgia.

Hyatt Regency Atlanta Downtown – a historic property

This downtown convention hotel boasts energy-efficient rooms, an expanded club level and more than 180,000 square feet of meeting, boardroom and exhibit space.

The hotel is also home to the largest ballroom in the state of Georgia. Polaris, their signature rooftop restaurant, is a crowd pleaser among business folks trying to impress their clients.


David Duran

David Duran is an award-winning travel writer who has been to all seven continents and more than 75 countries and counting. When not travel writing, David speaks about travel trends and changes to the travel industry at conferences and symposiums around the world.