…or, everything you’ve ever wanted to know about Atlanta.
I am usually a self-proclaimed anti-tourist. I don’t gasp at monuments and I certainly don’t take tours (although you may see me try to sneak a few selfies around town every once and a while). But in Atlanta, it was a whole new ballgame.
Usually in DC, the second question people ask upon meeting you is “Where are you from?” (the first is, of course, “what do you do?”). I always always always struggle with this question. We moved from Atlanta when I was 6, moved again when I was 9, moved again when I was 15, then I moved to college and then to Washington after that. The answer to this question, though, has to be given in less than five seconds and must somehow benefit your new acquaintance’s lust for a network expansion. So, I usually stick to Atlanta–most well known, and it aligns with my Facebook profile.
All that went out the window when I went to visit my grandparents for a long weekend over Memorial Day. I wanted to be where the people were and see what could be seen.
I arrived Friday morning, and after substantially underestimating the size of Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, was reunited with my grandfather, GD. We drove through Atlanta to get to their house in Dunwoody, just north of the city. I was, and still am, in awe of the Atlanta skyline–probably since I don’t get much of a skyline living with DC’s height restrictions. We drove past the Olympic torch (statue, not burning) and the World of Coca-Cola. I was just trying to take it all in.
High Museum of Art, 1280 Peachtree Street, N.E. Atlanta, GA 30309, Tickets are $19.50 for adults (half off Fridays after 4 p.m.!)
Once I had settled in, Classy and I promptly left for the High Museum in Atlanta, opting to take the Marta into town. I am well-traveled when it comes to public transportation, so this suited me just fine. The High Museum was having a “Dream Cars” exhibit, with models of cars that were either prototypes or ideas, but helped shape the way cars are designed today. Pretty cool! Plus, they had a life-size poster of the Eiffel Tower. Yes please.
My favorite spot of the museum, though, was a huge light filled gallery of abstract and mixed media art on the top floor. It was so interesting to read the history behind each piece: some reflected the Underground Railroad while others depicted scenes of the Civil Rights movement. And there we were, where it all happened.
Swan Coach House, 3130 Slaton Drive N.W. Atlanta, GA 30305
The next day, we decided to hit the Swan Coach House for lunch, followed by an outing to the Georgia Aquarium. The Swan Coach House is, I think, where the term “ladies who lunch” originated. It is a quintessential Southern tea room, with LOTS of pink and flowers everywhere.
I have an unofficial policy to only eat restaurant specialties, so I got the bubbly Atlantan, their signature cocktail of champagne and jasmine liqueur, and Swann’s signature, two timbales filled with chicken salad, two cheese sticks and a slice of their frozen fruit salad. I wish I could have taken all of their chicken salad with me and eaten only that for the rest of my life, so it’s probably a good thing I was portion-controlled. The frozen fruit salad was creamy (and kind of tasted like ice cream) but so cold! My favorite part of the dish, even before the chicken salad, was dessert, French Silk Swan, a swan-shaped dessert with a chocolate mousse center. Yes. Please.
Georgia Aquarium, 225 Baker St NW, Atlanta, GA 30313, tickets are $35.95 for adults
After we stuffed ourselves with ladylike Southern cuisine, we were off to the aquarium. Once we battled several lines (don’t go there at 3 p.m., trust me) we were well on our way to see the whale shark. Fun fact: the Georgia Aquarium is the only aquarium in the U.S. with a whale shark–and they have four! There is a huge viewing window in a dark room where you can sit and just watch the sharks and fish swim by. We opted to go see the dolphin show (which I think is probably geared more toward little kids, but whatever….) and got to sit in the front row, which meant we were in the prime spot for splashes. I could have done without the sing along, but watching the dolphins do tricks and flips and move through the show like pros was incredible–I could have easily watched that for hours. But unfortunately, you have to go there to see it because they don’t allow video or photos and I am sometimes a square when it comes to rules,
We ended the aquarium tour in the tropical diver section, where the coral reef lives. I can’t even tell you how many “Finding Nemo” references I heard, including my own response when Classy asked me what the anemone was. There were so many incredible colors of fish, and it did look like the tank in Nemo…
Atlanta Botanical Garden, 1345 Piedmont Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30309, tickets are $18.95 for adults
The Atlanta Botanical Garden houses the kind of sculptures that go viral on Facebook. The first plant “sculpture” you hit as you walk into the gardens is a shaggy dog, welcoming all guests. Not only are the gardens themselves BEAUTIFUL, they host a ton of intricate creatures, including a magnificent lady perched on a waterfall. It is all absolutely breathtaking.
The location of the gardens is also perfect for a tourist like me (never thought I’d write those words!). Behind it you can see the Atlanta skyline–it kind of sneaks up on you! We were lucky and had one of my grandmother’s friends, Sherry, as our guide. She is really cool and volunteers at the aquarium (lots of trivia!) and comes to the gardens to relax and just walk around. Listening to her talk about doing that with her free time made me wonder why I don’t do that more here in DC…I certainly have my pick of museums and gardens around here! Pictures really do the Atlanta gardens more justice than words, so here we go…
Sherry, my guide, in red!
Ormby’s , 1170 Howell Mill Rd, Atlanta, GA 30318
Monday night I had the great opportunity to see my oldest best friend Rebecca. We have known each other practically since we were born, and since I moved so much, I haven’t really had friends longer than that. And right on cue, we see each other about every seven years, whenever I find my way down to ATL.
Of course, she knew that I would be blogging about this, so she made sure to take me to a blog-worthy place! We ended up in the west side at a bar called Ormsby’s, which is super cool–we were greeted by a Jack Spade and a J. Crew, and I was really lucky both were closed. Or, rather, my credit card was the lucky one.
Ormby’s reminded me a lot of Cap Ale House in Fredericksburg, but with more beer cocktails. I got a snake bite (they called it something else, and it had bitters and not creme de cassis, but it was the closest thing I’ve found since Paris!) and SweetWater 420, which is brewed in Atlanta (drink like the natives). Yum! We also got pimento fritters…which is, yes, fried pimento cheese. I died. Downstairs in Ormsby’s are lots of games, but we stuck to the bar 😉 It was so good to see Rebecca after so many years…hopefully we won’t have to go as many between visits next time!
Skyview Atlanta, 168 Luckie St NW, Atlanta, GA 30303, tickets are $13.50 for adults
Alright, last but not least–the ferris wheel. The ferris wheel near the Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta lived in Paris the same time I did, and has also been shuffled around to Switzerland and Pensacola, Fl. before landing in Atlanta. In the hopes of skipping a line, Classy and I hopped downtown first thing Tuesday morning to take a ride. And guess what–we were the first ones in line! When it comes to tourism, the early bird getting the worm actually is true. (For everything else I think I’ll sleep in.)
The coolest view, I think, from Skyview was Olympic Park. We got a bird’s eye view of the Olympic-ring shaped fountain and the surrounding park. That early in the morning it was beautiful! We could see some of the skyline, but not as much as I was expecting…it is definitely not the Empire State Building, that’s for sure. Regardless, it was fun to look out and see all the sights and be able to kind of get spacial recognition of the city. DC just got a similar ferris wheel at National Harbor, so maybe that will be my next stop in the city.
For now, I think I have talked enough, so I am going to have to save a post about my grandparents house for another day. It is practically a museum, but not like one you have ever been to before. I had such a good time wining and dining with them (GD sure knows how to mix a cocktail)…it sure beats chocolate milk and mac and cheese 😉 ♦