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Discover Atlanta: A Beginner's Guide

by Giannina June 2013 - last edited October

Thanks to our great new codeshare agreement with Delta, a whole new world of American cities are now within easy reach, including the self-proclaimed 'capital of the South', Atlanta.

Atlanta has many nicknames: The Big Peach, Hotlanta, The New York of the South. Following the civil rights movement, it earned a reputation as the city "too busy to hate" for the progressive views of its citizens. Like its varied monikers, a holiday in Atlanta will expose the city’s various personas, showcased through colourful neighbourhoods brimming with history, culture and classy Southern style. From the quaint to the grungy to the upscale, this city's mixed character makes it a difficult place to label. Discover Atlanta with the help of our beginner's guide...

History         

Officially incorporated in 1847, Atlanta began as a railroad terminus connecting Georgia with Chattanooga, Tennessee. Coined “Terminus,” the town expanded beyond the train depot and was renamed Marthasville, in honour of the Georgia Governor’s daughter, Martha Lumpkin. In 1845 it garnered the name it carries today, thought to have come from the feminine form of Atlantic.

 

A Beginner's Guide to Atlanta

Skyline view over downtown © Kevin C. Rose
 

Attractions

Home of Coca-Cola, Gone With the Wind and CNN, Atlanta offers several attractions to fill the daylight hours. In downtown’s touristy side, explore the World of Coca-Cola, sampling the beverage giant’s numerous flavours or learning the 125-year history of Coca-Cola’s secret formula, or take a walk to the nearby headquarters of CNN Worldwide for a tour of the media giants' TV studios.
 

Neighbourhoods

Little Five Points | Atlanta

Little Five Point’s Junkman's Daughter is an emporium of hipster clothing and pop-culture knick knacks © Kevin C. Rose
 
Step out of the tourist spotlight and get a true taste of Atlanta’s local flavour by exploring its neighbourhoods. Virginia Highland is a favourite hangout of young professionals, families, joggers and boutique shoppers. Inman Park offers a bevy of sidewalk cafes ideal for people watching; nearby Little Five Points’ alternative vibe is ideal for thrift shopping or stocking up on old vinyl records. Further South, East Atlanta’s quirky scene can be enjoyed during the day or late into the night. Head to Midtown to explore Piedmont Park, Atlanta’s version of New York’s Central Park, where the vast acreage is home to a dog park, picnic areas, walking paths and much more. At least once a year, Piedmont hosts an outdoor concert – past performers include The Dave Matthews Band and Paul McCartney.
 

Piedmont Park | Atlanta

A jogger at Piedmont Park © James Duckworth

 

Head north on Peachtree Road and you’ll hit the shopping and dining hotspot of Buckhead, where power suits and old Atlanta money fill the high-rises and homes. Other neighbourhoods worth visiting include West Midtown – home to some of the top restaurants in the city – and family oriented Decatur. A jaunt through the historical Sweet Auburn district will take you past Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birth home and Ebenezer Baptist Church, where the civil rights leader preached.

 

Culinary scene

Virginia Highland | Altanta

Virginia-Highland, Atlanta © Kevin C. Rose
 
For the food conscious, Atlanta’s gastronomic landscape is big draw. Chef-driven restaurants sprinkled across town showcase award-winning cuisine. Although international foods from nearly every corner of the world can be found – often in hole-in-the-walls on Buford Highway – many noted eateries draw on Southern roots, elevating dishes with farm-to-table inspiration by showcasing the goods of local farmers and purveyors. Food trucks pop up in parking lots serving creative bites through their windows, and foodie festivals attract eaters by the droves. As its epicurean scene flourishes, Atlanta is gaining fame for culinary brilliance. So much so, the city may have to welcome yet another creative nickname to its already lengthy list.
 

Essential Guide to Atlanta

Downtown skyline at Christmas © James Duckworth
 

 

Travelling to Atlanta? Then book a flight with Virgin Atlantic and Delta to one of over 80 US cities.

 

Have you ever been to Atlanta? What did you think? Where are your favourite city hangouts? We'd love to hear your recommendations in the comments below.


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kmartin13 May

This is a great intro to a great city!

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About the author: Giannina

Giannina Smith Bedford

Giannina Smith Bedford is a travel and business writer whose work has appeared in a number of national and regional publications, including Condé Nast Traveler, Delta SKY Magazine, AirTran Airways GO Magazine, and Atlanta Business Chronicle, among others. Born in Miami, she grew up in Brazil, Chile, Hawaii and Australia and continues her worldwide adventures—always traveling with a pen in hand. Her published work can be viewed at www.gianninasmith.com.