Escape Atlanta Without Leaving Town by Visiting These 12 Places
Take a break from it all.
We get it. You’ve been stuck in Atlanta for over a year and you can’t wait to get on a plane. Totally understandable (if you’re vaccinated), but there are plenty of things to be explored in and around the city. The days are long, so what better time to get reacquainted with your city (or take a quick day trip out of it)? Feeling antsy for an escape? Grab your mask and visit one of these 12 places.
West Midtown has always been a go-to destination (just look at that traffic!) but now there’s an even cooler reason to go: The Interlock. The mixed-use development sits at the corner of 14th Street and Howell Mill and offers plenty to do within. First, there’s the Bellyard Hotel which offers a lovely terrace for cocktail sipping at its restaurant Drawbar. Then there’s Puttshack, an indoor mini golf situation, and St. Germain Bakery where you can find outrageously good French pastries. Did we mention that the property has an open container policy? That’ll come in handy when Holiday Bar opens on the rooftop soon.
You’ll find Gibbs Gardens just a little over an hour outside of the city. The gardens are situated on the private estate of Jim Gibbs, the founder of Gibbs Landscaping Company, and at 300-acres they’re one of the largest residential gardens in the country. The property contains trails that take you through the pictorial setting. Depending on when you go, you might see hydrangeas, roses, and daffodils.
Adairsville is about a one hour drive outside of the city, but it’s a heck of a lot closer than England which is this vibe this property channels. The 3,000 acre property features a resort, golf course, and spa but it’s the gardens that make it worth the day trip. The property was originally owned by Godfrey Barnsley, a wealthy British immigrant, who built a mansion for his family in the 1800s. Fast forward, and the mansion is now in ruins, but the boxwood parterre garden remains. A stroll through the garden and former mansion is a tranquil experience (and makes for some great photo opportunities). If you get hungry you can grab a bite on the veranda of the Woodlands Grill overlooking the golf course (but make a reservation first as guests are given priority).
Tiki bars are far from anything actually Polynesian, but if you’re looking to sip a strong rum drink amongst greenery and palm tree murals then you can’t beat S.O.S. Tiki Bar. The patio is small, but grab a table and order one of their potent drinks, like a Mai Tai or daily punch, and let the tropical vibes wash over you.
Winter, spring, summer, or fall, the Atlanta Botanical Garden is a worthy destination. The 30-acre garden is located at Piedmont Park and allows visitors to get lost in their imaginations for an afternoon. The SUPERnatural exhibit runs now through October 31 featuring glass art and floral sculptures among other visual delights. Don’t forget the usual standbys like the orchid room and edible garden.
Oktoberfest is back this year in Helen but you don’t have to wait until then to visit. Head north to Helen for Bavarian-style buildings and plenty of mountain views. Come hungry and ready to feast on German treats at restaurants like Mullers Cafe, known for their fried cheese, and Hofer’s of Helen for pastries and treats. If you’re feeling motivated, hit the trail to Anna Ruby Falls or go tubing.
Take 400 north and don’t stop until you get to Wolf Mountain Vineyards. There are beautiful mountain views, steep vineyards, and plenty of wine. The vineyard grows red grapes on the property including cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and syrah. You can dine in their restaurant, or you can buy a pizza to-go and take it for a picnic. If one vineyard isn’t enough for you, follow the Dahlonega wine trail to visit other wineries like Frogtown Cellars and Cavender Creek.
There’s no place like Piedmont Park, our own oasis in the heart of Midtown. A trip to Piedmont Park will give you a serotonin boost (once you find parking which, we admit, can be a bit of a struggle at peak times). Go for a run, sprawl on a blanket and have a picnic, or just admire the skyline from a bench. There’s no wrong way to do it.
Food from all over the world. Need we say more? How about a great way to support Atlanta’s small businesses? Head to Buford Highway to do both of these things. Whether you’re craving eats from Malaysia to Korea to Cuba you’ll find it along that stretch. Enjoy a banh mi from Lee’s Bakery or swing by Atlanta Chinatown for hand pulled noodles and dumplings available from the vendors within. Many of Buford Highway’s restaurants have reopened for dining in, or you can grab takeout if you’re more comfortable traveling the world from your home.
Old Fourth Ward
The outdoor amusement park on top of Ponce City Market hearkens back to days on the boardwalk. Only here you trade the beach for sweeping views of the city and beyond. Here you can play games like Skee Ball and break-a-plate and go on rides and follow it up with an al fresco meal at Nine Mile Station. Masks are required.
You barely need to leave the city to lose yourself in nature. The East Palisades Trail in Sandy Springs takes you through a bamboo forest, historic ruins, and offers stunning views of the Chattahoochee River.
Owned by the Atlanta History Center, the Swan House historic mansion once belonged to Atlanta businessman Edward Inman. The first level of the home has reopened, with limited capacity, as have the gardens and trails. Really, though, it’s all about those swoon-worthy steps.
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