Atlanta: Much More than Moonlight and Magnolias
By Josie Brown
Atlanta’s logo is the the mythical phoenix, for good reason: this Deep South destination has been in a constant state renewal since the first railroad spike was planted in is rich red soil some 160 years ago. Amid the ashes of her beloved Atlanta, Scarlett found her Rhett. Looking for your own version of Southern Comfort? Here’s where you’ll find it…
All Roads Lead to Peachtree…
And “Peachtree” is the name of practically every road (avenue, street, lane, circle, court, you name it). That’s because, since the beginning of time (say, 1848, when Atlanta was first called railroad-friendly Terminus, then Marthasville) all roads going into this then-sleepy Southern hamlet converged onto a street corner called “Five Points“ by the locals, then shot up on the northern-most road, Peachtree. Even today it is the central nervous system of the city.
On some of its offshoot streets you’ll find gracious turn-of-the-last-century neighborhoods that boast a cornucopia of classic post-antebellum homes. If Atlanta is anything, it is residential eye candy. Don’t miss Ansley Park, where Victorian-era estates are clustered on a series of curved streets, right across the street from Atlanta’s largest gathering spot, Piedmont Park, designed by Central Park architect Frederic Law Olmstead.
Keep moseying north on Peachtree, where you’ll discover Brookwood Hills, where tony homes are clustered around tree-lined streets that sit on historic Peachtree Creek; Garden Hills, what with its Craftsman gems and renowned duck pond, welcomes you into Buckhead, the city’s primo shopping district. But no driving tour is complete until you hit West Paces Ferry Road, home to Georgia’s Governor’s mansion, and the main drag through Tuxedo Park, which includes the biggest mansions and estates in the region.
There, too, you’ll find Swan House, home of the Atlanta History Center, a private home designed by famed architect Philip Trammell Shutze. Its grounds also house the Tullie Smith Farm, one of the few buildings to survive the Civil War. Built in 1840, its outbuildings and gardens were recreated, and it provides a fascinating glimpse of the life in Georgia before the Civil war.
25 Irby Ave. N.W. / 404-233-7644
One Star Ranch. This quirky rib joint, what with its stuffed armadillo, plastic table cloths and the rusted license plates adorning its walls, may look out of place among Buckhead’s posh skyscrapers, but don’t let that throw you. Inside you’ll discover the reason it’s been a two-decade institution among barbecue aficianados. this includes humongous beef ribs smothered in a smoky sauce.
265 Pharr Road / 404-262-3165
This restaurant gets fan mail for its flounder—not to mention stone crabs, oysters and halibut. In terms of sheer seafood variety, no one comes close. Considering that Atlanta sits 1,000 miles from any coast, that’s saying alot.
1593 N. Decatur Road, across from Emory University / 404-377-7766
1040 N. Highland Avenue in the heart of Atlanta’s Virginia-Highland neighborhood / 404-873-4545
An Atlanta institution, this pizza joint’s first location, across the street from Decatur’s Emory University, has the college crowd and families from all over metro vying for its tables. Atlanta. Though it also serves a thin crispy crust pizza, it is best known for its pizza pie that has a thick, chewy crust, and is topped to overflow with gourmet ingredients. Both the Emory and Virginia-Highland locations are comfortable-funky—and worth whatever wait.
43 13th Street, NE / (404) 873-6189
Known for its martini (really, for thirty of them, including its namesake, the Cosmo), CosmoLava caters to clubbin’ thirtysomethings who like to see and make the scene. Its gleaming, curved bar and outdoor patio fills up fast on the weekends, and Thursday night jazz makes that a evening for mellow contemplation.
817 W. Peachtree Street, NW / 404-962-7333
What used to be the basement of Midtown’s old Biltmore Hotel is now one of the hottest clubs in Atlanta. Close to hoppin’ Crescent Avenue but still far from the maddening crowd, Halo is a more sedate setting, what with its cozy lounge, soft lighting, and two-level lounge. The best part: free wifi. Yep, you had me at “Halo”…
Lenox Square / 3393 Peachtree Road, NE / (404) 848-9997
Phipps Plaza / 3500 Peachtree Rd NE, Atlanta, GA / (404) 261-7910
Atlanta’s premiere shopping district is Buckhead, north of the downtown on (where else?) Peachtree Street. There, perched kitty-corner from each other on (you guessed it) Peachtree Street are Lenox Square and Phipps Plaza, the grand dames of all shopping malls (I mean this, literally: Lenox, built in 1959, was the first major shopping mall in Georgia).
Surrounded by world class restaurants and hotels, Buckhead is where you’ll eat, drink, shop, sleep and be merry. Besides the requisite major retailers such as Bloomingdales, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom and Macy’s, you’ll also find specialty stores such as Bally of Switzerland, Betsey Johnson Hermes, David Yurman, and Salvatore Ferragamo.
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