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A Houstonian’s Guide: 24 Hours in Atlanta

I spent this last weekend living it up in the vibrant city of Atlanta. I wasn’t planning on blogging about this trip (sometimes bloggers like to take a vacay for the sake of vacay too) but then my friend turned out to be SUCH a good tour guide and ambassador for her  city, I couldn’t not. Taylor Swift and my friends birthday drew me to the city, but the Beltline, decadent food scene, and gorgeous weather made me want to stay for ever (or well as long as I could go before I started missing HEB…El Rey tacos…Texas sunsets…) ANYWAYS. I was in the ATL for a weekend, but there’s SO much to do outside you could easily spend a week of bliss eating and drinking your way through this southern Georgia city.

In recent years, I’ve been to Atlanta just once before and was able to visit some of the touristy stuff. Last time, I went I checked off the Olympic Park, saw the Coca-Cola building and took a tour of CNN (actually pretty cool). But this guide adds another level of depth to those tour book recommendations. This weekend plan was curated by a local and made all the Georgia Tech and Emory grads who follow me on Instagram drool and feel homesick. So without further ado, here’s how to spend a fabulous 24 hours in Atlanta!

Morning: Brunch

Sometimes I plan an entire vacation around food. So when my friend set up an unofficial foodie tour of Atlanta, I fell in love at first bite. We brunched once in the Buckhead neighborhood at Cafe Sunflower, which has been serving vegan food to Atlanta for over 20 years and once at Ladybird Grove and Mess Hall.  I ironically had avocado toast, albeit very different interpretations, at both places.

For a very distinctly, Atlanta day, head over to Ladybird and spend a day wandering the Beltline. Located in Midtown, Ladybird is located at mile 9.25 on Atlanta’s multipurpose park trail and greensway. Arriving at peak brunch time on a Saturday afternoon, we had a 45 minute wait before we could get seated, so we took a stroll a few blocks away to Krog Street Market.

atlanta beltline ladybird weekend guide

Krog Street Market is a food hall (a tad larger than the Conservatory in Houston) with food stands offering everything from re imagined Cauliflower Eggplant Bahn Mi at Fred’s Meat and Bread and Fried Green Tomato Bao at Suzy Siu’s Bao to a natrual beauty shop, candy stores, and craft beers. I highly recommend Jenni’s Splendid Ice Cream— there’s even some vegan options! The Almond Milk Cortado was my fav. Apparently, you can eat out in ATL for breakfast, lunch and dinner for 27 years straight without repeating places.

Back at Ladybirds for brunch, we ordered a round of blackberry gin rum punch (serves 8!), a side of fries and series of brunch plates like avocado toast and grilled romaine salad. The real winner–which the table next to us ordered–was the brunch platter which was a wooden block topped with all the fixings for a brunch meal including biscuits, fried eggs, sausage, peppers. The vibe of Ladybirds is an iconic all-American campground with picnic tables, bright yellow umbrellas, rustic American flag decor, trailers and tents.

atlanta beltline ladybird weekend guide atlanta beltline ladybird weekend guide

Afternoon: Beltline & Brews

After lunch, we continued our quintessential Atlanta day and walked down the Beltline. The Atlanta Beltline is a massive endeavor to revitalize and connect 45 neighborhoods in the city with usable parks and green spaces. It reminded me a lot of the Houston bayou system, but more populated with restaurants, shops and homes. If I wasn’t tipsy off camp punch and melting under the Atlanta heat, I would have loved to go for a run across the 33 miles!

atlanta beltline ladybird weekend guide

Walking down the green trail, we stopped and admired the famous graffiti under the Freedom Highway.  There’s loads of art along the Beltline, and we only saw a small portion of it. Thus, my street art loving soul is already itching to go back, rent a bike and explore the full Beltline loop!

atlanta beltline brewery weekend guide

Continuing on our way, we stopped into have a drink at New Realm Brewing Company. The upstairs balcony has fabulous views of downtown and midtown Atlanta.

atlanta beltline brewery weekend guide atlanta beltline brewery weekend guide

We concluded our Beltline tour with snacks, boutiques, and impromptu photoshoots at Ponce City Market. This food hall / shopping district is an Instagrammers dream. We sipped on prosecco Popsicle cocktails at King of Pops, snacked on Puerto Rican tofu sandwiches from El Super Pan, and took apx. five million photos at Citizen Supply.

atlanta beltline ponce weekend guide atlanta beltline ponce weekend guide

Citizen Supply is a massive boutique with a delightful assortment of curated clothing and accessories. The second we walked in, we got distracted with the “Atlanta” wall, incredible array of greenery and succulents at the in store florist, the inspirational quotes, and giant white backdrop literally set up for photo shoots!  Truly, an Instagrammer’s playground.

atlanta beltline ponce weekend guide atlanta beltline ponce weekend guide

Evening: Nightlife

With a population spread across 242 neighborhoods, Atlanta’s nightlife scene is diverse and varied. One night we hit up a tiki bar called Flip Flops in Midtown for frozen drinks (omg soooo good). The vibe is what you would expect in Houston’s Midtown–young crowd (thanks to two university’s being nearby), rooftop patio, loud music and a crazy dance floor. Another night we went clubbing at Havana, which was an expansive club with three rooms–pop, techno, and (of course) Latin jams. Made me want to go back to Club Tropicana in Houston. All the places we went (annoyingly) made us pay cover–even when we were rolling deep in a crew of women. So be prepared to bring cash when you go out and get ready to stay out until 3am or later!

flipflops atlanta bar scene

Atlanta Neighborhoods

Despite our best efforts, it’s absolutely impossible to see the best of Atlanta in one weekend. There’s literally so many neighborhoods with so much to offer, you really have to pick and choose what you want to see and what vibe you want to have. Below are details about additional neighborhoods and Atlanta favorites from my friends that are getting added to my list for next time when I visit! For more details about Atlanta neighborhoods, check out this guide.

  • Decatur – Cute town north of the city with a fountain in town center. It has two awesome breweries, awesome boutiques, restaurants, and an old bank turned into a bar called Brickstore Pub with a zillion beers on tap.
  • Buckhead – This is the bougie, new money, multi-million dollar mansions part of town. Any of your friends who just graduated probably live in an apartment in this neighborhood. It’s very yuppie with a River Oaks District vibe with high-end shops like Tom Ford and Gucci on the corner mixed with a Houston Midtown bar scene– lots of kids just out of college at borderline trashy bars. The nice place to get drinks are at hotel bars. Good happy hours in the area include Gypsy Kitchen which has a second story patio serving cocktails and tapas and Whiskey Blue which has an outdoor patio with blue outdoor couches lounge. Joy Café is a famous brunch place–they don’t take reservations so be prepared to wait.
  • Midtown — Older, classic Atlanta with a more #eldermillenial, established residental population. It’s got a big city vibe, a vibrant gay community with lots of company headquarters. Georgia Tech is located here so there’s lots of college students out and about in the school year (hence the Flip Flop clientel).
  • West Midtown – This part of town has become more gentrified over the last 10 years. My friends think it’s actually cooler than Midtown with cool speakeasy bars, organic restaurants, and plenty of boutiques.
  • Atlantic Station – This neighborhood is considered its own town, but basically part of Midtown;. It’s cheaper but up and coming and always seem to have some sort of food festival going on — brunch, wine and cheese, beer fest, etc.
  • Little Five Points – Very different from the other parts of town in that it’s kinda sketchy and very eclectic. Expect to see anything from witchcraft shops and medical marijuana to record stores and vintage thrift shops.  Don’t miss out on Wish which sells high end shoes and streetwear alongside antique book decor.
  • Virginia Highlands – this neighborhood is close to the Beltline, and has plenty of restaurants and boutiques to stroll through. Murphy’s has fantastic brunch (but doesn’t take reservations), and an epic 90s and alternative rock karoke bar called Darkhorse Tavern.
  • If you’re into art, Edgewood apparently has a pretty cool art scene. Also keep an eye out for the Tiny Doors movement which started in Atlanta.

What’s your favorite thing about visiting Atlanta?

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