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What to Do in Atlanta If You Only Have a Day to Explore

The big city of the South has undergone a mammoth rebirth over the last decade and is worth checking out.


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Atlanta, as a major Southern hub, is often thought of as a just-passing-through city, but it’s really a cultural destination in its own right. Sure, there is suburban sprawl, but the city has also been focusing on bringing life back to old buildings, from a Sears, Roebuck and Co. warehouse to a meatpacking plant. The crown jewel in the redevelopment is the Atlanta BeltLine, a former railroad corridor around the city (inspired by the Highline in NYC), now a multi-use trail for hiking, exploring, and even shopping. While there are plenty of new things to do, we had to include some of our classic old school must-visits in Dogwood City.

Ponce City Market

Located in an historic former Sears, Roebuck and Co. distribution center from 1927, Ponce City Market is the area's largest adaptive reuse project and brought the local community buzzing back to life.

Stroll around the nearly 50 shops at Ponce City Market, where you can find favorite big brand stores like Williams-Sonoma and J. Crew as well as local treasures. Cobbler Union is a favorite where you can find bespoke footwear, as is Archer Paper Goods, because we all love cool desk accessories and stationery.

After your shopping spree, hop in the elevator and head to the market’s rooftop (called The Roof) where they serve classic cocktails plus the usual beer and wine. Note: It’s $10 to get onto the roof but there is plenty to do up there, from the Skyline Park to the beer garden and restaurant, Nine Mile Station. Plus, the views are spectacular.

For dinner, you can head back down to the food hall and try out Sean Brocks’ casual Mexican joint, Minero. The charcoal grilled steak is not to be missed.

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The Atlanta BeltLine

Modeled after New York City’s High Line, the BeltLine is a former railway corridor encircling the city. It has become an invaluable way for neighborhoods to connect. Locals can bike, walk, and skate to work on the BeltLine, and it provides a vast amount of green space amid the urban landscape. The Eastside Trail is the most popular with visitors linking Piedmont Park, Inman Park, and the Old Fourth Ward neighborhoods—and it runs right by Ponce City Market.

Westside Provisions District

Originally built in 1917 as Atlanta’s first modern meatpacking plant (hence the pig as their logo), Westside Provisions has been developed into one of Atlanta’s great hubs for fine dining, swanky shopping, and upscale living.

Husband and wife team, Sid and Ann Mashburn, own two of our favorite shops in the district. Both of them cut their teeth in the New York City fashion world and brought their well-trained eye to Atlanta in 2007. Sid offers up everything a gentleman needs in his closet from beautifully tailored Italian suiting to a vast array of shoes and boots. Ann offers a similar classic lineup for women and they both have a sensational home and kids section that will have you browsing and buying for hours.

For lunch, indulge in chef Ford Fry’s first restaurant, JCT Kitchen, now an icon in town where craft cocktails are served and the house-made bacon mac and cheese is not to be missed.

Across the street from Westside you can enter the design dream world of Dixon Rye, one of Atlanta’s most well-curated design stores. Housed in a 1940s former ironworks space, this is a one-stop shop for antiques, candles, vintage furniture, and decadent tabletop accessories.

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Krog Street Market

Krog Street Market is a renovated 1920s potbelly stove and iron-pan factory full of culinary delights from the Tex-Mex at Superica to the new Watchman’s Seafood and Spirits. The joint gets a lot of attention for their sustainable seafood (with a focus on the gulf coast), oysters, and delicious craft cocktails. Krog Street’s retailers are equally as enticing. Check out the home wares and stationary at The Merchant and the rotating book collections at The Read Shop.

Swan House

If you want to see how old Atlanta lived, visit the famous Swan House, built for the Inman’s by Atlanta’s beloved architect, Philip Trammell Shutze. The home and garden feel more old-world Italy than old South. Plus, lunch at the Swan Coach house is like a Proustian portal into the lives of ladies who lunch.

High Museum of Art

Founded in 1905, The High has grown from a small town arts association to a world-class museum with 15,000 works of art in its permanent collection as well as one of America’s most impressive collections of 19th- and 20th-century decorative art. Housed in a Richard Meir masterpiece (with a recent addition by Renzo Piano) check out the growing collection of African American art as well as their impressive rotating exhibits.

Scott Antiques Market

If you want to know where local interior designers go for their favorite finds, it’s Scott Antique Market. A monthly massive antique fair 20 minutes outside of town, get ready to spend hours drifting through hundreds of stalls selling everything from antiques, vintage clothing, home furnishings, and jewelry.


Hotel Clermont

The legendary Hotel Clermont first opened its doors in 1924 and has been famous less for its hotel and more for the swinging bar in the basement, The Claremont Lounge. All of that changed when the hotel went through a major renovation in 2018 and became one of the most happening places to stay in ATL. Offering everything from bunk beds to suites, the Claremont is located in the happening Poncey-Highland neighborhood and the Virginia Highlands shopping area is an easy stroll after breakfast. Be sure to try their restaurant, Tiny Lous offering simple French fare like steak frites and Hudson Valley Snails. The rooftop offers amazing views of Atlanta plus hotdogs and frosé. You may not want to leave.

The Ritz-Carlton, Atlanta

Looking for a touch of Southern opulence on Peach Street? The Ritz-Carlton Atlanta, an American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts property, is home to sprawling suites and set walking distance from attractions like Centennial Olympic Park. But the property’s pièce de résistance? Their restaurant, AG steakhouse, serves an exceptional Sunday brunch (don’t skip the fried chicken and waffles).

Stonehurst Place

If you are looking for a quiet, neighborhood-y vibe, the charming little inn Stonehurst Place is just the ticket. Built in 1896, by a textile mill magnate, this home is on the National Register and offers only six rooms and suites in the heart of midtown Atlanta.

The Glenn

Built in 1923 by the 31st mayor of Atlanta, The Glenn's building was converted to a hotel in 2006 and is part of Marriott's Autograph Collection. Located in downtown Atlanta next to Centennial Olympic Park and the CNN Center, there are 93 deluxe rooms, 16 suites, and one penthouse, as well as one helluva rooftop bar.


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