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The First Timer’s Guide to Atlanta: A Comprehensive List of What to See, What to Do, and Where to Eat & Drink in the City

Having both lived in Atlanta for 6 years (and Lucy just 1 hour away for the majority of her childhood before college), you better believe that we have all the Atlanta recommendations. We’ve put together a list of all of our favorite places to help you understand all that Atlanta has to offer and to help you plan the perfect visit. We’re working on several other posts like Atlanta’s Best Breweries, Guide to Atlanta: Sports Edition, and Top 10 Eats in Atlanta. We have a few posts already published, including a guide to Atlanta’s best coffee shops and a guide to spending a summer weekend in Atlanta. Feel free to get in touch with any questions, additional tips/recommendations, or comments for us! We’d love to hear about your next visit to Atlanta.

Where to Stay

First thing’s first, you’re going to need somewhere to stay for your visit to Atlanta. Atlanta has lots of different areas that each bring unique scenery, restaurants, types of people, and activities. Public transportation in Atlanta is decent, but you’ll definitely spend more time and money Ubering than using Marta simply because of Marta’s minimal coverage in the city. Because of this, we’ve decided to break out lodging options based on the area within the city. Picking an area that interests you the most can be beneficial if you don’t have your own transportation, but you really can’t go wrong with any of them.


Perhaps your best area for lodging is Midtown. Midtown is in the middle of the city, and it has several Marta stations. Overall, it is a relaxed and walkable area, with lots of restaurants and bars in close proximity. It’s also home to sprawling Piedmont Park, where people go to hang out and relax in the sun. Gas and groceries may be harder to find in this area than others, but if you’re in Atlanta for a short trip, you can’t go wrong with finding a place in Midtown. We think that Airbnb provides the best way to stay in Atlanta like a local, and we’ve found these three options for you:

If you prefer a hotel, we love W Midtown and Renaissance Midtown. Another good option is Moxy Midtown — they have a nice rooftop bar too!

Old Fourth Ward/Inman Park

Although these two neighborhoods are technically separate, we’ve decided to lump them into one since there’s such a fine line between the two. Old Fourth Ward, previously an industrial area, is now a hip area that attracts shoppers, foodies, and locals. Home to Atlanta Beltline’s Eastside Trail, you’re able to find Ponce City Market, Irwin Street Market, and Krog Street Market just a stone’s throw away. You’re probably better off with Airbnbs in this area. Here are some cute options we found:

Virginia Highlands

Just east of Midtown you’ll find Virginia Highland. Situated along Piedmont Park, you’re sure to have a beautiful area to explore. Lots of locals live in this area because of it’s close proximity to the park and Beltline, along with bars and restaurants. Here are some Airbnb options in the area:


Although Buckhead has lots of shopping options like Lenox Mall and Phipps Mall, the majority of our attraction and restaurant recommendations aren’t in the Buckhead area. We recommend Buckhead only if you have your own means of transportation, or if you don’t mind a 15 minute Uber to the majority of the places we’ve recommended. However, if you want to drive past beautiful homes (like the governor’s mansion) and fancy cars, take a ride through Buckhead’s West Paces Ferry Road for a treat. You’ll find less Airbnb options in this area, so here are a few hotel’s we’d recommend:

What to Do

We have a full blog post on the perfect weekend itinerary in Atlanta. We highly recommend it for specific activities and restaurants, so check it out here. Below is an overview of some of your options!


  • World of Coke
  • Georgia Aquarium
  • Atlanta Botanical Gardens
  • Fox Theater
  • Atlanta History Center
  • College Football Hall of Fame
  • CNN Center
  • High Museum of Art
  • Delta Flight Museum
  • Zoo Atlanta
  • Fernbank Museum of Natural History
  • Georgia State Capital
  • Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta


In addition to the attractions and museums above, the following are always options around the city as well!

  • Walk along the Beltline
  • Ponce City Market
  • Krog Street Market
  • Piedmont Park
  • Shopping at Phipps & Lenox
  • Boozy brunch
  • Stroll through Georgia Tech’s campus

Sporting Events

  • Atlanta Braves
  • Atlanta Hawks
  • Atlanta Falcons
  • Atlanta United FC
  • Georgia Tech (our alma mater) — Go Jackets!

Where to Eat

We’re working on full posts like Top 10 Eats in Atlanta and Atlanta’s Best Breweries, but for now check out our post titled How to Spend a Weekend in Atlanta. If you’re looking for our short list, check out below.


  • Einstein’s (Midtown & not the bagel place!)
  • Flying Biscuit (Midtown)
  • OK Cafe (Buckhead)
  • Two Urban Licks
  • Henry’s (Midtown)
  • Homegrown (Reynoldstown)
  • Buttermilk Kitchen (Buckhead)
  • Silver Skillet (Midtown)


  • Taqueria del Sol (Westside)
  • Murphy’s (Virginia Highlands)
  • Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit (Virginia Highlands)
  • Fox Brothers BBQ (Little Five Points)
  • Krog Street Market
  • Ponce City Market


Cheap Eats

  • Mary Mac’s Tea Room (Midtown)
  • Hankook Taqueria (Westside)
  • Taqueria del Sol (Westside)
  • La Fonda (Westside)
  • Felini’s (Westside)
  • The Varsity (Midtown)
  • Zocalo (Midtown)
  • Fred’s Meat & Bred (Krog Street Market)
  • Cypress Street Pint & Plate (Midtown)
  • Nuevo Laredo (Westside)

In between

  • Little Rey (Midtown)
  • Superica (Buckhead)
  • Barcelona Wine Bar (Westside, Inman Park)
  • Beetlecat (Inman Park)
  • Il Localino (Inman Park)

Nice meals

  • Poor Calvin’s (Midtown)
  • Cooks & Soldiers (Westside)
  • Marcel (Westside)
  • JCT Kitchen (Westside)
  • King + Duke (Buckhead)
  • Oku (Westside)
  • Canoe (Virginia Highlands)
  • Eight Sushi (Westside)
  • The Optimist (Westside)
  • Pasta da Pulcinella (Midtown)
  • Tabla (Midtown)


  • Sweet Hut
  • Jeni’s

Late night

  • Victory Sandwich Bar (Inman Park)
  • Marcel (Westside)
  • Cook Out (not an Atlanta local place, but you can’t pass up a Cookout milk shake!) (Midtown)

Where to drink

Coffee Shops

Check out our Atlanta coffee shop post here!


  • Barcelona Wine Bar (Westside)
  • Oku’s rooftop bar (Westside)
  • Ladybird (Virginia Highlands)
  • Lingering Shade (Virginia Highlands)
  • Six Feet Under rooftop bar (Westside)
  • The Garden Room (Buckhead)
  • Park Tavern (Midtown)


  • New Realm (Midtown)
  • Orpheus (Midtown)
  • Atlanta Brewing (Westside)
  • Second Self (Westside)
  • Three Taverns (Decatur)
  • Wild Heaven (Decatur)
  • Scoffalaw (Westside)
  • Urban Tree Cidery (Westside)
  • Monday Night Brewing (Westside)
  • Steady Hand (Westside)
  • Variant (Roswell)


  • Johnny’s Hideaway (Buckhead)
  • The Ivy (Buckhead)
  • Ormsby’s (Westside)
  • Little Trouble (Westside)
  • Moxy rooftop (Midtown)
  • Establishment (Midtown)
  • Pour (Midtown)
  • Rowdy Tiger (Midtown)
  • SOS Tiki Bar (Decatur)
  • Clermont rooftop (Midtown)
  • Little Spirit (Inman Park)
  • Ticonderoga Club (Krog Street Market)

We hope you enjoy your stay in Atlanta! If you have any questions as your plan your trip, don’t hesitate to get in touch. And be sure to let us know if you try out any of our recommendations!

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