Bolstered by tax incentives and back in favor with the filmmaking community since Georgia governor Nathan Deal vetoed the “religious liberty” bill, the state has outpaced Louisiana as the Hollywood of the South: The 2015 fiscal year saw 248 productions filmed in Georgia, generating $6 billion for the state’s economy. And it turns out that Angelenos actually don’t seem to mind their new commute to Atlanta, the state’s film hub. “Atlanta’s growth, in the housing market, the restaurants, and cultural activities, has really increased,” says Barry Waldman, an executive producer on the Divergent series, which has been filming in Atlanta since 2014. “It’s become a place where people feel comfortable, marked by Southern hospitality.”
Big-name talent tends to be put up in Atlanta’s upscale Buckhead neighborhood, home to top hotels like the Mandarin Oriental, Atlanta (rooms from $475; 3376 Peachtree Rd. NE; 404-995-7500; mandarinoriental.com), the Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead (rooms from $230; 3434 Peachtree Rd.; 404-237-2700; ritzcarlton.com), and the St. Regis Atlanta Hotel & Residences (rooms from $350; 88 W. Paces Ferry Rd.; 404-563-7900; starwoodhotels.com). Umi Sushi (3050 Peachtree Rd. NW; 404-841-0040; umiatlanta.com), helmed by chefs Fuyuhiko Ito and Lisa Ito, is where filmmakers go to blow their per diems. (Order the spicy tuna crispy rice.) By popular demand, the Umi team opened Himitsu (1 Buckhead Plaza; puraibeto.com) last November. The Japanese cocktail lounge is overseen by mixologist Shingo Gokan. For a fashion fix, the two-year-old Shops Buckhead Atlanta (3035 Peachtree Rd. NE; 404-939-9290; theshopsbuckheadatlanta.com) is an open-air retail mecca filled with boutiques that would be at home on Rodeo Drive.
Meanwhile, movie producers and the younger film set are gravitating toward the area surrounding the hip Old Fourth Ward, on the city’s east side. The OFW is marked by converted warehouses and the BeltLine (100 Peachtree Rd. NW; 404-477-3003; beltline.org), a series of former railway tracks that have been transformed into trails and parks. There’s also Ponce City Market (675 Ponce de Leon Ave. NE; 404-900-7900; poncecitymarket.com), a food hall with shops that is housed in a former Sears, Roebuck & Co. building. Nearby Inman Park has several dining options, such as Krog Street Market (99 Krog St.; 770-434-2400; krogstreetmarket.com) and restaurants like Kevin Rathbun Steak (154 Krog St. NE; 404-524-5600; kevinrathbunsteak.com) and BoccaLupo (753 Edgewood Ave. NE; 404-577-2332; boccalupoatl.com). And in midtown, the Georgian Terrace (rooms from $165; 659 Peachtree St. NE; 800-651-2316; thegeorgianterrace.com) is a charming hotel that dates to 1911 and hosted the premiere party for the Atlanta film that started it all: Gone With the Wind.