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Our Favorite Places to Eat, Sleep, and Explore in Atlanta

We help you navigate a booming and bustling city.

<p>Photography by Steve Kelley aka mudpig / Getty Images</p>

Photography by Steve Kelley aka mudpig / Getty Images

Atlanta is one of those cities that is like a Rorschach test—depending on how you look at it and what you’re looking for, it appears differently from one person to the next. It’s a music- and movie-making hub, a young metropolis full of hungry professionals, a town inextricably linked with the history of its HBCUs, or a prototypical southern hospitality-laden city.

Atlanta’s rich past makes visiting the city a lesson in U.S. history. With antebellum buildings, historical landmarks, much-debated Confederate monuments, and walking tours that speak specifically to the Black experience, Atlanta is the intersection of so many facets of American culture, past and present. But that’s not all it has to offer.

Locals will complain about the traffic and debate the merits of living ITP vs. OTP (inside the perimeter and outside the perimeter), all the while welcoming you with open arms. It’s a busy, first-class city that still manages to feel plenty friendly. You can take in any of the city's tourist attractions, catch a sports game, or just wander around and spot the occasional celebrity. No matter what your itinerary, you’re sure to eat well, drink well, and have a great time.

Where to stay

The Darwin Hotel, a hip and bright hotel in the Old Fourth Ward, is chock full of art and energy. With 111 (pet-friendly) rooms in a variety of configurations, a courtyard cocktail bar, and pastries from local bakeries, it’s comfy enough for all-day lounging but built for folks who want to explore—it’s close to the Ponce City Market, Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site, and City Winery.

For something more traditional, consider The Whitley Hotel. Located in the upscale Buckhead area, the hotel’s rooms and suites offer views of the Atlanta skyline, while the spa helps guests drift into relaxation. With over 500 rooms, it is quite the operation but perfect for people who enjoy the classic luxury hotel experience. Located in the Poncey-Highland neighborhood, The Hotel Clearmont is a contemporary property with historic bones that offers delightfully designed rooms, suites, and bunkrooms. With rooftop tacos and an on-site Michelin-recommended brasserie, there’s no fear of going hungry, and the neighborhood is filled with restaurants and bars.

Found in the home of prominent Black architect Alexander Hamilton Jr, the Hamilton Howell House B&B is a welcoming three-bedroom option. The Howell family restored the home, built in 1893, blending period charm with modern comforts like a solarium with a spa, a backyard waterfall, and a state-of-the-art kitchen.

This one is cheating a little, but it’s worth it. The Chateau Elan Winery and Resort is in Braselton, just about an hour or so outside of Atlanta, but it feels like it’s a world away. With rooms available in the Provence-inspired chateau, suites in the spa, and stand-alone villas, there is truly something for everyone in the rolling hills of the state’s largest wine producer. With eight on-site restaurants, wine tours, full spa services, and a golf club, you’ll be glad you made the drive.

Where to eat

No one would blame you if you made a trip to Atlanta just for the food. There’s an endless choice of cuisines, price points, and vibes to be had. With a little research and a big appetite, you can find exactly what you’re looking for. Recently featured on Netflix’s High On The Hog, Pachal’s is an Atlanta institution. The restaurant played host to many key figures of the civil rights movement, and its secret fried chicken recipe is one of the city’s best.

The Chastain is an unpretentious American bistro serving up some of the best food in Atlanta. Many of the ingredients are grown in the restaurant's backyard, and practically everything else comes from local farms. Sommelier Juan Fernando Cortes received the Michelin Sommelier Award last year, so, naturally, the wine list is not to be missed.

Another Michelin favorite, Mujo is an upscale Omakase testing menu in West Midtown. The seasonal menu (featuring fish from Japan) also has an optional beverage pairing of sake and wine. Just outside Atlanta and worth the trip, Spring is the brainchild of Chef Brian So and Sommelier Daniel Crawford. The combination of fresh ingredients and top-of-the-line presentation help set Spring apart from many other New American restaurants in the area.

And if you’re looking for something delicious and relaxed, you have to try Heirloom Market BBQ. Loved by locals, out-of-towners, journalists, and smoked meat snobs alike, it is the can’t-miss spot in a city full of excellent barbecue.

Things to do

Don’t let Atlanta’s car culture fool you; there are plenty of opportunities for a leisurely stroll. From Piedmont Park and the Atlanta Botanical Garden to walking or biking one of the trails of the Atlanta BeltLine, there are many ways to hit your step count.

You could easily spend the whole day (and evening if you’re there on a jazz night) at the High Museum, but there are plenty of smaller museums and galleries worth swinging by as well. Atlanta Contemporary is always free and always brings in new artists who haven’t yet been showcased in the southeast, making it a perfect stop for folks who are looking to discover up-and-comers. The ZuCot Gallery is the largest Black-owned gallery in the region and offers a mix of art and objects. If your tastes lean more towards interior design, Miami Circle has a mix of shops and galleries where you are sure to find something special.

If you want to get out of the city and really focus on wine, there are plenty of services like North Georgia Wine Tours that will escort you to all the best wineries the Atlanta area has to offer. If you’re interested in staying in the city, shops like WineShoe and 3Parks Wine Shop offer tastings along with their bottle selection. And if you feel like dancing the night away, be sure to stop by the iconic Northside Tavern.

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