Most state capital cities in the U.S. are fairly boring. My theory is that they do that on purpose so the government officials can stand a chance of actually doing their jobs. It’s why the capital of New York is not New York City and why the capital of California is not Los Angeles or San Francisco.
From all the interesting things I had seen and heard about Atlanta before my visit, I was convinced that it couldn’t be the capital city of Georgia, but I was wrong. I went to Atlanta primarily to visit my brother and meet his four-month-old daughter aka my new/first niece. It definitely didn’t hurt, though, to have a fun capital city to explore during those times when my brother had to work and the cutest baby girl in the world had to sleep.
Where I Stayed
At my brother’s house, duh! I’m telling you guys… It’s good to have friends and family in cities all over the world.
What I Ate
While there aren’t any foods that are considered quintessentially “Atlanta,” the city does have a fairly diverse and thriving foodie scene that I only got to experience a sliver of.
I am highly considering calling the owner of Sweet Hut to ask him or her to open a few shops in south Florida and then to follow me to wherever I move and open up even more shops. Sweet Hut is a dream for someone like me with a huge sweet tooth. Inside, they have tons of pastries, cakes and donuts which are mostly self-serve. You take what you like then pay at the counter where you can decide to top off your sweets with something refreshing like bubble tea. If you don’t know what bubble tea is… Google it. Find it. Try it. Enjoy your forever changed life.
Max’s Coal Oven Pizzeria
My first meal in Atlanta was at Max’s Coal Oven Pizzeria so there’s some sentimental value there, but aside from that, the food there is actually incredibly delicious. The pizzas are made to order in a huge oven that can be seen from anywhere in the restaurant, and they’re packed with fresh ingredients on top of their not too thin but also not too tick dough. I had the Caprino pizza with spicy Italian sausage, goat cheese, mozzarella, red onions and basil… Excuse me while I wipe up the drool on my laptop.
Stone Soup Kitchen
Eating at the Stone Soup Kitchen feels like going to your best friend’s house for lunch, especially if you use the restaurant’s back entrance or sit out on their patio. It’s a very relaxed atmosphere at this somewhat off-the-beaten-path restaurant, and the simple, but tasty food definitely fits that vibe. Soups and sandwiches are their specialty so that’s what I ordered: the Myles Stanch, which tasted exactly like Thanksgiving with its smoked turkey and cranberry relish combo, along with a side of roasted tomato soup that a nice, spicy kick to it.
Krog Street Market and Ponce City Market
Combine classy restaurants with a mall food court then add a refurbished warehouse to the mix and what you’ll get are the Krog Street Market and Ponce City Market. These marketplaces, which are housed inside (you guessed it) former warehouses, give the mall food court feel in their wide variety of offerings all in one place but take things up several notches with the quality. You won’t find fast food joints in these markets, but you will find gelato, fresh fruit smoothies, Philly cheesesteak sandwiches, authentic Indian cuisine and so much more. If you’re looking to do some shopping before or after you eat, then head over to Ponce City Market. If you’re a lover of dumplings and want to try what was once voted best dumplings in Atlanta, then head to Gu’s Dumplings at the Krog Street Market.
What I Did
Atlanta is an exciting city with so much to see and do. I only scratched the surface here, but luckily my niece gives me an excellent excuse to go back soon and do some more exploring.
The CNN Center
Visiting the CNN Center was the first thing I did in Atlanta, and it was very difficult not to go all fan girl crazy during the tour. Whether you’re a lover of CNN like me or not a big fan at all, this place is still worth a visit. The behind the scenes look at how our news is made and delivered is incredibly fascinating, and if you time your visit correctly, you might get lucky enough to catch a live taping in the studios. Fun fact: The CNN Center in Atlanta is also home to the world’s tallest and longest free-standing escalator in the world, and you get to ride it at the beginning of the tour.
Largest aquarium in the Western hemisphere… Need I say more? Of course I don’t, but I will anyway. This aquarium is absolutely incredible, and what I loved most was its interactive feel. In some exhibits you could touch the sea animals while in others you were completely surrounded by them as they swam in floor to ceiling tanks. There’s even a live dolphin show among many other shows you can catch at the aquarium. There’s something there to interest people of all ages.
Walk The BeltLine
If you want to squeeze in a little workout while getting a mini tour of parts of Atlanta, then you can walk, run, bike or whatever your way down The BeltLine. This former railroad corridor turned multi-use trail is still a work in progress with plans to circle downtown. For now, it’s a great place to take a stroll and get some fresh air in the middle of a big city while also passing by a few points of interest like Piedmont Park, Krog Street Market and Ponce City Market.
Speaking of fresh air… If you want to get a little deeper into nature, Stone Mountain is only a 30 to 40-minute drive outside of Atlanta. Stone Mountain has tons of attractions including a laser light show (the largest in the world) and a scenic train ride, but my favorite part of the visit was hiking up to the top of the mountain and enjoying sunset views over Atlanta.
World of Coca-Cola
Whether you’re #TeamPepsi or #TeamCocaCola chances are you’ve tasted the iconic drink with its easily recognizable red and white logo. But did you know that Coca-Cola was invented in Atlanta? Yea, I didn’t know either before I showed up in the city and found the World of Coca-Cola, an entire museum dedicated to the soda. Inside the World of Coca-Cola, you’ll get a taste (see what I did there ;)) of Coca-Cola’s history and see how it grew into the mega company that it is today. It’s actually quite fascinating to see all the retro bottles and advertisements for Coca-Cola from decades ago, but the best part is ending your visit in the tasting room. Coca-Cola produces over 100 different types of soft drinks all across the world, and in the tasting room you get to try them ALL. The drinks are in soda fountains grouped by continent. Some drinks were a little gross in my humble opinion while others were amazing and made me wish Coca-Cola would import them to the U.S. Either way, it’s definitely worth trying all of the drinks in the tasting room. Just make sure you don’t completely fill up your tasting cup for every drink. You’ll never get through them all that way.