I have spent 7 years wandering, wide-eyed throughout the far corners of Atlanta. Having grown up taking long bus rides to school, peering out at pastures dotted with cows or hay bales, city life was a whole new ball game for me. The contrast was fascinating. When I decided to attend Georgia State University, I could never have predicted the sense of community that could come from a city so much larger than the small town I had left.

Atlanta's real beauty lies below the shining skylines, in the plethora of communities decorating the streets. Eclectic communities are blossoming from the must of antiquated buildings. The philosophy of eating and shopping locally is strongly supported in the city. Atlanta is best represented by its diversity; by southern hospitality; by the pride the residents take in their locale.

Best Time To Visit

In my opinion, summer is the best season to be in Atlanta. If it's the weekend, there is almost a guarantee that one of the handful of neighborhoods will be hosting a street festival displaying the best local art and food trucks galore. Piedmont Park hosts Screen on the Green every summer weekend; a free screening of classic movies for the whole family, smack dab in the middle of the park. The park is also the stage for Atlanta's annual music festival, Music Midtown.

Places I Like

Piedmont Park

This is the best place to spend a few hours with nature, right in the middle of bustling city sounds.

The World of Coca-Cola

One of Atlanta’s most famous attractions, not only for the museum, gives visitors the opportunity to sample sodas from around the world.

The Tabernacle

The personal atmosphere of this venue makes this the best place to see concerts in Atlanta.

Go to a Braves game!

Even if you’re not a fan of baseball, it’s impossible not to give in to the energy in the stadium (and do a little tomahawk chop) while America’s team is playing.

Sweet Auburn Market

Spend an afternoon exploring the local shops and eateries in downtown’s curbside marketplace.

Stroll Down The Beltline

I highly recommend taking a stroll down the Beltline that connects all of the inner-city neighborhoods. There are always art displays on the Beltline and it gives you the chance to slow down and admire the uniqueness of neighborhoods like Kirkwood and Cabbagetown. Plus, there are plenty of local cafes and shops to check out along the way.

Places To Eat

Ria’s Bluebird Cafe in Grant Park

For breakfast, Ria’s serves up New York Times award-winning pancakes, along with an array of incredibly fresh and delicious brunch entrees.

The Nook in Midtown

For brunch with a Bloody Mary lover, The Nook, a little bar just outside Piedmont park, is the place to go. ‘The Bloody Best’ is enormous and garnished with bacon, steak, tater tots and the traditional stuff, too. The food’s wonderful, too!

Roly Poly

This Atlanta-born order-at-the-counter cafe serves wraps filled with healthy and fresh ingredients, and presses them, too! There are several locations around town.

Red Pepper Taqueria in Druid HIlls & Buckhead

Not only are the margaritas wonderful, but the restaurant has a casual atmosphere, incredibly fresh ingredients, the occasional live band on the patio and the best nachos in town.

Flying Biscuit Cafe

This Atlanta original is the perfect place to find healthy and creative dishes for any meal (like french toast drizzled with the most incredible raspberry sauce)

Ways To Travel Around

Atlanta neighborhoods are fairly spread out, so most of the time you’ll end up driving or getting cabs around it’s expansiveness. The city is in the process of completing a beltline of trails for pedestrians and bikes that connects many of the communities, as well as installing a cable car downtown. The MARTA tram system is always the best option for traveling to and from downtown for sporting events or concerts.

Places To Stay

The best place to stay depends on what you are doing in the city. There are plenty of hotels around. To vacation like (or with) the celebs, though, The W Hotel or the St. Regis Hotel are your best bets.

Additional Tips

The biggest tip I could give to someone visiting Atlanta would be to avoid traveling around the city during rush hour. Find a nice restaurant or coffee shop to take shelter in until the 5 o’clock traffic speeds up again. Whether or not you stop and wait, you will probably get to your next destination at the same time, anyway.

Photo Credit

Amber Locke