Planning Your Time
Planning Your Time
Because it would take too long to explore the city end to end in one fell swoop, consider discovering Atlanta one pocket at a time. In Downtown you can stroll through the Georgia Aquarium, tour the CNN Center, and visit the Center for Civil and Human Rights, then finish off the day with dinner and a glass of wine at the historic Ellis Hotel’s Terrace Bistro restaurant. Another good pocket includes three adjoining, very walkable neighborhoods, all known for their canopies of trees, cute shops, and fun bistros: Virginia-Highland, Little Five Points, and Inman Park. From there you can drive to East Atlanta and check out its casual bars, tattoo shops, restaurants, and live music. Your third pocket should be Buckhead, a shopper's mecca. Two constants there are Lenox Square and Phipps Plaza, great shopping spots in their own right. Finally, there's the beer-loving, literary hot spot of Decatur, which is increasingly being recognized for its top-notch restaurants.
Atlanta Food & Wine Festival. This festival takes place over a four-day weekend in late May or early June in and around Midtown's Loews Hotel. It not only offers incredible food from some of the country's best chefs but also smart seminars on a variety of subjects. 1065 Peachtree St. NE, Midtown, Atlanta, Georgia, 30309. 404/474–7330; www.atlfoodandwinefestival.com.
Atlanta Jazz Festival. The Atlanta Jazz Festival, held Memorial Day weekend, gathers the best local, national, and international musicians for free concerts at Atlanta's Piedmont Park. 10th St. and Monroe Dr., Midtown, Atlanta, Georgia, 30306. 404/546–6826; www.atlantafestivals.com.
Atlanta Pride. Since 1971, Atlanta has put on one of the most vibrant and popular gay festivals in the country. Thousands of people gather in Piedmont Park every October for Atlanta Pride, which includes a long lineup of entertainers and a market with vendors and organizations from around the area. The main event is the parade, with festive floats and dancers and folks of all stripes marching through the streets of the city. Piedmont Park, 10th St. and Monroe Dr., Midtown, Atlanta, Georgia, 30306. 404/382–7588; www.atlantapride.org.
Decatur Book Festival. The Decatur Book Festival is the largest independent book festival in the nation. It takes over Decatur's historic square every Labor Day weekend, with readings, signings, and other literary events. Past keynote speakers have included the novelist Jonathan Franzen and former Decatur resident and current Northwestern University professor Natasha Trethewey, the 19th U.S. Poet Laureate. E. Ponce de Leon and Clairemont Aves., Decatur, Georgia, 30030. www.decaturbookfestival.com.
Dragon*Con. Swarms of sci-fi and fantasy fans from around the world descend on Downtown Atlanta every Labor Day weekend to celebrate everything from zombies to Star Trek. The popular Saturday morning parade with swarms of Storm Troopers and other movie characters making the route is not to be missed. Downtown, Atlanta, Georgia, 30303. 404/669–0773; www.dragoncon.org.
National Black Arts Festival. Celebrating black literature, dance, visual arts, theater, film, and music, this festival is held in venues throughout the city in September and October. Maya Angelou, Cicely Tyson, Harry Belafonte, Spike Lee, Tito Puente, and Wynton Marsalis have all appeared at past events. 504 Fair St. SW, West End, Atlanta, Georgia, 30313. 404/730–7315; www.nbaf.org.