Centennial Olympic Park
Centennial Olympic Park | Downtown Atlanta
Centennial Olympic Park | Downtown Atlanta
Travel

The Best Neighborhoods in Atlanta to Spend a Weekend

Fall in love with Atlanta (all over again).

Whether you're coming in from out of town or just looking to fall in love with Atlanta all over again, there are more cool things to do in this city than you'll ever be able to get through. The only real question is where you’ll be staying to experience all of them. This city has over 200 official neighborhoods, each with its own unique flair and aesthetic, and it’s an overwhelming task to comb through them all. That's why we've simplified things for you: Here are the best neighborhoods in Atlanta to spend a weekend in.

Downtown

Downtown is the heart of Atlanta. Not only is it home to Georgia’s state capitol, it’s also the ultimate destination for business and major events in the city. With the Five Points MARTA station running trains in all directions, setting up base Downtown means the city is at your fingertips.

Where to stay: High rises and hotels cover Downtown’s skyline, so expect a more urban vibe in its lodging options. Conferences and events are always happening at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis, but a step inside the 52-story hotel shows why it’s a perfect all-purpose destination. Not feeling the hotel vibe? Then renting out lofts, like this gorgeous minimalistic Airbnb, can save you money while still keeping you in the thick of things.

Things to do: You probably know about the Georgia Aquarium, the World of Coca-Cola, Centennial Park, CNN Center, and other insanely popular attractions that Downtown offers, but there’s more to it. Explore the history of Five Points, catch a concert at the Tabernacle or Masquerade, or see one of Atlanta’s sports teams in action at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium or State Farm arena.

Best restaurants: Dos Bocas is one of the best restaurants in Atlanta right now, so stop by for their blend of Tex-Mex and Cajun dishes. If you’re on the hunt for lunch, try exploring the Sweet Auburn Curb Market. A few blocks east of Hurt Park, the market has a little bit of everything, from Vietnamese food to South African-style pies. There’s also the Peachtree Center, and although it houses chains that aren’t necessarily unique to Atlanta, eating underground is pretty damn cool.

Bars and nightlife: For after-hours fun, you can go for a scenic ride on the SkyView Ferris wheel for a wondrous view of Atlanta at night. For more X-rated views, you can also stop by the legendary Magic City strip club, and you just might see your favorite rapper there. If nothing else, just take a night stroll down Peachtree Street -- you won’t regret it.

Public Transit: Perhaps the most transit-friendly section of the city, Downtown has heavy MARTA Bus activity and access to the Atlanta Streetcar. MARTA stations in the area include Peachtree Center, Five Points, Garnett, Georgia State, and CNN Center.

Little Five Points - Candler Park - Inman Park

On the east side of the city, Candler Park and Inman Park are joined together by the groovy little district called Little Five Points, forming an eclectic and historic conglomerate. A lot of personality bleeds over their borders, so it only makes sense for them to be grouped together. For artists and creatives who are looking to experience the Atlanta that doesn’t get shown TV, these neighborhoods are for you.

Where to stay: In this part of Atlanta, there are fewer towering structures, which gives it a more open and spacious vibe. Airbnbs reign supreme here and consist mostly of guest areas like this cozy Candler Park cottage or this Little Five lair. Inman Park has a bonafide bed & breakfast operating out of a cotton mill from the 1950s. Urban Oasis is situated right on the Atlanta Beltline and perfect for experiencing the surrounding neighborhoods to the fullest.

Things to do: Together, Little Five Points, Candler Park, and Inman Park have the best IG-ops in the city. From the Krog Street Tunnels’ iconic street art to the bike-clad Beltline, there are plenty of picture-worthy places to explore. What’s more, Candler Park has its own 55-acre park, complete with a swimming pool, 9-hole golf course, soccer field, basketball court, tennis courts, and playground. For some atypical retail therapy, you can always peruse record stores and thrift/consignment shops in Little Five Points.

Best restaurants: The major tip for this group of neighborhoods is Inman Park’s Krog Street Market, your source for everything from Spanish tapas to Asian steamed baos. With 15 eateries and a handful of retail spaces, you could spend a few days there without eating the same style of food. On the other hand, Candler Park has the OG Flying Biscuit -- definitely worth visiting. Lastly, Little Five Points has both The Vortex, a burger bar & grill inside the mouth of a giant skull, and Thai 5, a hole-in-the-wall that doubles as a Thai restaurant and sushi bar and doesn’t disappoint.

Bars and nightlife: Ticonderoga Club, which is one of the best bars in Atlanta right now, rests in Inman Park, but the real fun after dark is happening at Little Five Points. You can get some new ink from one of the many tattoo parlors, catch live entertainment at clubs like Aisle 5, the Star Community Bar, and Variety Playhouse, or bar hop from Wrecking Bar Brewpub to the Corner Tavern.

Public transit: These neighborhoods fall between MARTA’s Inman Park/Reynoldstown and the Edgewood/Candler Park train stations, but things are a little more spaced out than other areas. There is a nice amount of MARTA routes, so either riding the bus or catching an uber is recommended if you’re not a walker.

Buckhead

Some people need itineraries when traveling; others just need directions to the nearest shopping center. If you fall into the latter category, Buckhead is probably the destination for you. This uptown neighborhood is your spot for style and decadence.

Where to stay: Arguably the most lavish section of Atlanta, Buckhead has plenty of astounding places to stay. You’ve got plenty of chic hotel offerings, from the AC Hotel to The Whitley, but there’s also the famous Secluded Tree House Airbnb. It’s kind of ironic that this holistic retreat is located in such a commercial district, but if you want to go for something different, then test your luck and try to book a night at one of the most popular and unique Airbnbs.

Things to do: Plain and simple, the main attractions in Buckhead are the shoppes. Peep the fancy spelling, because that was intentional. Lenox Square is the quintessential mall stop for locals, tourists, and celebrities alike, with stores like Forever 21 and Cartier coexisting under one roof. However, you shouldn’t overlook Phipps Plaza, an even fancier operation. In addition to the extensive selection of luxury brands, there is also a dine-in AMC in the mix, so don’t sleep.

Best restaurants: For one of the best brunches in Atlanta right now, roll out of bed and stop by Local Three for an award-winning, all-you-can-eat brunch. Upscale, dress-code enforced spots like Le Colonial or The Garden Room are available, and you can also look forward to vegan-friendly and plant-based dining options from Café Sunflower, True Food Kitchen, and R. Thomas’ Deluxe Grill.

Bars and nightlife: They’re practically polar opposites, but Hole in the Wall and Himitsu are two spots crucial to Buckhead’s nightlife. Hole in the Wall is an extremely popular club for a younger crowd, and Himitsu, a reservation-only Japanese craft cocktail lounge, literally translates to “secret” from Japanese.

Public transit: The Buckhead and Lenox MARTA stations will put you right by Lenox Mall and fancy eateries like Maggiano’s, but getting to Phipps and other hot spots may prove to be more difficult. Nothing is spread too far apart, but Buckhead traffic makes walking a bit unnerving, so be willing to rideshare as well.

Cobb - Cumberland

While technically a suburb of Metro Atlanta, Cobb straddles the perimeter and boasts an impressive amount of things to do. A stay at the outskirts of Cobb County puts you 12 miles away from Downtown, so it’s a destination that you should definitely consider.

Where to stay: Cobb’s quaint mix of the urban and suburban developments will give your stay the best of both worlds -- a city feel with fewer parking hassles. This townhouse Airbnb, for example, has modern design sensibilities without losing the easygoing vibe of the suburbs. However, if you want to dive head-first into everything that Cobb has to offer, you should reserve a room at the Omni Hotel, which is literally at The Battery and feet away from the Atlanta Braves stadium.

Things to do: First off, Cobb has a whole amusement park. Six Flags Over Georgia is a great attraction for anyone looking for thrills, and it even re-opens in the fall for Fright Fest and in the winter for Holiday in the Park. For a spot that supplies the eats and the entertainment, check out The Battery, one of the city’s coolest new developments. Cumberland Mall, the Main Event arcade, and an indoor skydiving center right at the I-285 perimeter.

Best restaurants: Even in the shadows of such endless entertainment, Cobb’s food scene holds its own. Brick oven pizzeria MTH Pizza makes some of the best pizza in Atlanta, and The Battery offers a nice selection of eats all by itself, including H&F Burger  the El Felix, and the Garden and Gun Club.

Bars and nightlife: Just like how it has all the food, The Battery has all the booze too. Liquor selections from Yard House and Cru Wine Bar coupled with a club atmosphere at Live! at The Battery, the venue keeps the party going even after dark.

Public transit: The only downside to Cobb is that it's simply not public transit-friendly. Lyft or Uber will be your best friend if you’re flying into the city. However, if you travel by car, this is one destination in Atlanta that wouldn’t be bogged down by having a vehicle with you.

Midtown

If Downtown is the heart of Atlanta, then Midtown is its soul. Culture and arts run rampant, and there’s a perfect balance of places to shop and things to do. The rainbow crosswalks are a trademark of the neighborhood and a representation of the inclusive spirit that runs from North Avenue to 17th Street.

Where to stay: Midtown is characterized by elegance, luxury, and beautiful designs, and those elements are seen in everything from modern five-star hotels to 20th-century Victorian apartments. You’ll be impressed whether you go the hotel or Airbnb route. If you’re looking to spoil yourself, Four Seasons and the Loews Hotel are two great options that support a wide range of budgets. Convenience is key, so opt for spots like this gorgeous townhouse Airbnb that’s within walking distance of Atlantic Station.

Things to do: Midtown honestly has it all. The High Museum of Art and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra provide creative outlets for the artsiest of us all, and Piedmont Park and the Botanical Gardens bring you closer to nature, even within the confines of a city as busy as Atlanta. Atlantic Station rounds it all out with an appealing outdoor shopping strip.

Best restaurants: Near the AUC, you can grab hip-hop themed pizza with big puns for names, and if you caught that one, Slim & Husky’s belongs on your radar. Midtown also has Aziza, Redbird, and Sukoshi, some of Atlanta’s best new restaurants.

Bars and nightlife: The Vinyl/Loft/Center Stage trifecta should be your go-to for nighttime events in Midtown because the venue has hosted concerts of all genres, live podcasts, and even wrestling matches. The bars aren’t lacking, either -- check out Blake’s On The Park or Little Trouble and see for yourself.

Public transit: Getting around Midtown is a breeze with public transportation. Connected with the North Avenue, Midtown, and Arts Center train stations, Midtown is extremely accessible. The area is pretty walkable in comparison to other parts of the city, which really comes in handy when rideshare surges get nasty.

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Joshua Robinson is a contributor for Thrillist.