It’s that time of the year again: you’re scrambling to find a friend’s house to decamp to for part of spring break, lest you get stuck at home without any of your high school friends to hang out with. Well, whether you have a couch to crash on or not, The Thrill‘s crack travel team has you covered. This is the third of five guides to cities around the United States that we’ll be rolling out this week (check out Milwaukee and Philadelphia as well). Safe travels!
There’s a saying in the South that whether you end up going to Heaven or Hell, you’ll probably have to connect in Atlanta on the way. Likewise, if you’re flying home for spring break, you’re probably going to pass through here anyway, so why not escape the airport for a couple of hours and see (a very small sample of) what
A-Town Hotlanta the ATL Atlanta has to offer?*
Places to Eat
The Varsity — Located just across the interstate from the Georgia Tech campus, this is the quintessential Atlanta fast food joint. It’s got tons of celebrity photos, and be sure to try an F.O. (frosted orange) along with your chili cheese slaw dog (or dawg, if you’re visiting the Athens location).
Dante’s Down the Hatch — Located in trendy Buckhead close to Lenox Square, this pirate-themed jazz and fondue restaurant doesn’t just give you a meal—it gives you an experience. Check out their slick website to learn all about their menu, their live alligators and all the local celebrities who have visited over the years (not quite as many as at the Varsity, though). My recommendation: don’t spend the extra money to sit on the ship; you can hear the music fine from the wharf. Also, be sure to ask your friendly waiter about the chance to meet Dante himself!
The Sun Dial — This revolving restaurant is perched atop Atlanta’s 73-story Westin hotel and really is the best view in town. The restaurant ain’t half bad either, serving dolled-up local staples like fried yellow corn grits with local mushroom ragout. The long ascent in the glass elevator is a little scary for some (read: me), but this building got hit by a tornado a few years ago and suffered just a few broken windows, so you’ll be pretty safe up there.
Willy’s Mexicana Grill — None of my Kenyon friends from Georgia understood why it was such a big deal when Chipotle opened up in Mount Vernon, because Willy’s is infinitely better. There are locations all over Atlanta, so there’s no excuse not to visit during your time here.
Places to Visit
The Atlanta History Center — Plenty of exhibits, including (of course) ones on the Civil War and the ’96 Olympics. I liked the giant interactive screen that shows exactly where Civil War battles took place, superimposed on top of current satellite images. They also explain how the hell we ended up with this monstrosity as our Olympic mascot. If you’re in the mood for more history, also be sure to visit the King Center — no visit to Atlanta is complete without spending some time remembering the man who is probably Atlanta’s most famous son.
The World of Coca-Cola — This is really touristy, but it’s just one of those things you have to see. Enjoy the creepy mascots, the gift shop merchandise, and, most of all, the gigantic tasting room which features bizarre and exotic Coke products sold all around the world. The Georgia Aquarium is right next door, but it’s not too different from other aquariums, even if it is really big.
The Tabernacle — When Britney Spears comes to town, she performs at Phillips Arena. When you want to see a real concert, however, you go across the street to the Tabernacle, the multi-story, brick-clad concert venue of your dreams, with a bar to boot. Upcoming concerts include Snow Patrol, Rusko and Guns N’ Roses.
Piedmont Park — This is Atlanta’s Central Park, and we’re allowed to call it that because both were designed by famous landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead (except I think he either quit or was fired before Piedmont was built…but close enough!). Come here to sun yourself, people watch or, even better, puppy watch at the dog park.
*First rule: Don’t call it any of these things. That’s how we know you’re not from here.
Additional reporting by fellow Atlantan and Tabernacle expert Sam Colt.