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Recently, I went on my first solo vacation in almost 15 years. No friends, no hubby, no kids. Just Me. I spent five glorious days in Atlanta. It was Fall in Canada, but after just a few hours I was able to step back into summer! Since I was traveling on my own I wanted to stay somewhere that was close to the action, but also had a nice boutique feel. I stayed at The Ellis Hotel, a luxury boutique hotel, situated on Peachtree Street in that sweet spot, where it's downtown, in a safe neighbourhood, steps from the Subway (MARTA) and close to everything you need. Of everything I loved about the Ellis Hotel, my favourite is the women's only floor which is accessible only with your room key. Traveling on my own, it gave me added bit of comfort.
There are so many things to do in Atlanta; the main challenge is choosing what you want to do, and what works for the people you are traveling with. Whether you are traveling solo, as a couple, or with kids, you must pick up the city pass. The city pass gives you access to five of the seven most popular activities in Atlanta. Be awed as you walk through the Georgia Aquarium or the Fernbank Museum of Natural History. Be humbled, be inspired, and feel just how far we've come as you walk through the Center for Civil and Human rights. Tickle your taste buds at the Coca-Cola Museum, and on a side note marvel at their marketing genius.
Getting around in Atlanta is very easy. I was surprised at the many options that I had. While I was there, I used Uber, the MARTA, the Atlanta Streetcar, and my own two feet. One of the things I love to do when visiting a new place is to explore by foot. Since I was on my own, I was a bit reluctant at first, but after two days I adjusted to the area and was comfortable walking from my hotel to many of the activities within 45 minutes from my hotel. Thank you, Google Maps! From The Ellis Hotel to the Atlanta Aquarium, and many other activities was only a 15-minute walk. Exploring by foot gave me a chance to see more of the city, walk through the Centennial Olympic Park, which is stunning, and a great place to go if you have little kids.
On the topic of walking, there are quite a lot of places to explore. My favourites are:
The Beltline Eastside Trail: Home to Paris on Ponce, a 46,000 square feet space with art, antiques, furnishings, and that authentic feel.
Westside Provisions District: Lots of fun to walk around; it's the hub for home decor, clothing, and culinary boutiques. When you are there, you have to check out JCT Kitchen & Bar.
Ponce City Market: Housed in the largest brick building in the southeast and features a central food hall, leading retail brands, and skyline park which is a retro amusement park fitted with carnival games and panoramic views of Atlanta. This one is great for the whole family.
For the kids, you want to go to Historic Fourth Ward Park. Lots of green space, a playground, splash pad, an outdoor theatre, and a two-acre lake.
There is so much history in Atlanta, and being the birthplace of the civil rights movement, there are lots of tours that teach you about the movement. Take one of them. Atlanta is also known for its food, so I was delighted when I was able to combine Food and history together. Check out the Atlanta Food walks for delicious soul food, barbecue, Lowcountry cuisine and Creole-style candies. Seriously YUM! And the reason you want to pair it up with the walking tour is you get to burn off some those calories. Win/Win
Please do not go to Atlanta without visiting the birth home of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I cannot even begin to describe the feeling of standing on the street he walked, standing on the ground that this great man existed. There were moments of tears, too because it is a very emotional place, but The Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site is one of the most inspirational places I've ever stood.
If you've read Gone With The Wind, you'll enjoy the Margaret Mitchell House tour, and you can use your Atlanta History Centre ticket to enter, so it's a great deal. The Atlanta History Center houses 50 of Atlanta's most revered objects. Treasures such as Martin Luther King Jr.'s 1964 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech manuscript, Georgia Tech's famous 1930 Model A Ford, a 1915 Coca-Cola bottle mold, among others. You'll need about two hours to explore fully, and I wouldn't recommend this activity for those traveling with little kids.
When it comes to places to eat in Atlanta, there are too many places even to list. No matter what you feel like, you’ll find some great spots minutes from wherever you are standing. So many places to eat in Atlanta, and I tried quite a few.
My absolute favourite for taste and experience is Sweet Georgia's Juke Joint. Not only was this place steps from my hotel, the food is delicious, and they play live music. One thing to know about this spot is there will be lines; the line will be quite long. Call ahead to see if you can get a reservation.
My next favourite is The Sun Dial, a revolving restaurant on the 73rd of the Westin Peachtree Plaza also steps from The Ellis Hotel.
For breakfast, I enjoyed the Farm-to-table cuisine at the Terrace Bistro Restaurant & Lounge, at the Ellis Hotel.
When it comes to places to eat in Atlanta, you have options galore! But for places to have a great time with friends, the #1 is WildPitch Music Hall. It’s a new project from the incomparable DJ Pierre. You are definitely in for a treat for great music, and a great night out.
I was in Atlanta for five days and I still feel like I only got a glimpse into all that Atlanta has to offer. Even though I had a full itinerary each day, I left feeling like there is so much more I want to explore.