By Dana Clerkin 2017-06-16 19:43:26
The weather might be hot but you can CHILL out when visiting Atlanta Check out top A-ttractions, T-astes and L-earning. The question: “What can you do in Atlanta?” begs the reply: “What CAN’T you do in Atlanta?” Culture, history, sports, amusements and food are all rolled into one giant dose of southern hospitality. “A-Town” or “Hotlanta,” as many fans have nicknamed Atlanta, provides a potential whirlwind of activities, restaurants and culture for you to explore before and after the conference as well as during your free evenings. A-TTRACTIONS: WHAT TO DO? GEORGIA AQUARIUM Known for its entertaining, educational and ecological components, the Georgia Aquarium will provide almost as much fun and learning as ANC. Programs for all ages include dolphin celebrations, behind-the-scene tours, Waddle Walks, Imagination Nights and a Funbelievable 4-D Theater. To receive a special ANC discount of $10 per ticket, go to www.GeorgiaAquarium.org/2017Conventions to purchase now and avoid long, mid-July lines. ATLANTA BOTANICAL GARDEN Rated one of the Top Ten Best Botanical Gardens in the country, the Atlanta Botanical Garden graces 30 acres with beauty, flora, and fragrances. This hidden gem invites you to stroll among an astounding variety of flowers and plants and magnificently manicured hedges and topiaries. Take your family to an interactive children’s garden or feast your eyes upon breathtaking flowers in the Orchid House. If you happen to be in Atlanta on a Thursday evening, you can enjoy the loveliest garden party ever, featuring live entertainment and specialty cocktails. Other special programs and activities can be found at atlantabg.org. CENTENNIAL OLYMPIC PARK Atlanta’s crown jewel, Centennial Olympic Park, was the centerpiece of the 1996 Summer Olympic Games. Locals and tourists alike enjoy this city-center park that’s walkable, vibrant, safe and fun. Start your visit at the official Visitors Center, adjacent to the Fountain of Rings, and pick up maps and brochures. Since the park is undergoing renovations starting in July, be sure to check the website, www.gwcca.org/park, for attractions, eateries or festivities that could be affected by construction closures. Fingers crossed that you can ride the nearby SkyView Ferris wheel, which towers 20 stories above Centennial Park. T-ASTES: WHERE TO EAT? Almost all directions to the best places to eat in Atlanta will include the phrase “Go down Peachtree…” That’s because more than 70 streets in this city have “Peachtree” as part of their names—and none have anything to do with peaches! One of the major villages where Creek and Cherokee Indian tribes first settled in the area was called “Standing Pitch Tree,” which later became “Peach Tree” and even later “Peachtree.” Linguistic lessons aside, since Georgia is the Peach State, you’ll want to eat the season’s freshest and juiciest on your visit, in addition to trying out these local favorite restaurants. NIGHT OUT AT PONCE CITY MARKET 675 Ponce de Leon Ave NE For those of you looking for something fun to do on Tuesday evening, July 11, head over to Ponce City Market (PCM). Soon after it opened in 2014, PCM was listed among the top 25 “World’s Coolest New Tourist Attractions” and it has continued to deliver some of the most fun and funkiest eateries in the city. Its home is in the historic Sears, Roebuck and Company Building in Atlanta’s Fourth Ward. PCM is quickly becoming the most vibrant food hall and market in the Southeast. At last count, no less than 27 places to gather, eat and drink await your visit. The Roof at Ponce City Market is one of the most iconic destinations in Atlanta, featuring panoramic views, an 18-hole mini golf course, boardwalk-style games, craft cocktails and dining. NINO’S CUCINA ITALIANA 1931 Cheshire Bridge Rd NE Many reviewers say that for the most authentic, old-time flair for Italian cuisine in Atlanta, you should head over to Nino’s, where the atmosphere, service and prices are all equally friendly. It can be a 20+ minute ride from downtown, depending on traffic, but well worth it. You’ll be sure to enjoy the al fresco dining on the patio. ninosatlanta.com (404) 874-6505 ATMOSPHERE 1620 Piedmont Ave NE What part of “charming,” “gem” and “French oasis” doesn’t sound enticing? This converted-home bistro will provide an ideal quiet atmosphere after a day full of stimulating education sessions and invigorating exhibits. A knowledgeable wait staff and reasonably priced wine list will make this 4.5-star dining experience one you will remember long after the wheels are up on your flight home. www.atmospherebistro.com (678) 702-1620 BUSY BEE CAFÉ 810 Martin Luther King Jr Dr, NW “Soul-food perfection” means you may have a slight wait for Atlanta’s best fried chicken. This Vine City staple is always packed for good reason. It’s been in business since the 1940s and welcomes everyone from lunchtime regulars to business folks to visitors from afar. If fried chicken is not your thing, then try the smothered pork chops with a side of mac ‘n cheese. It doesn’t get much better than that! www.thebusybeecafe.com (404) 525-9212 ATLANTA’S SOUTHERN FOOD TOUR If a meal at the Busy Bee Café whets your appetite for Southern cuisine, then you must make time to take Atlanta’s Southern Food Tour: a 3.5-hour walk through the food and history of ANC’s host city. Don’t worry—you’ll walk off the culinary treats, which include 15 food and drink tastings at seven restaurants. Culinary storytellers will lead you through their city’s food and cultural history while you sample everything from Lowcountry cuisine, Creole-style candies, barbeque and more soul food. Specific tasting locations are subject to change. The tours take place on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 11 a.m.; Sundays at 11:30 a.m. atlantafoodwalks.com/tours/downtown-southern-food-walk (866) 736-6343 NICOLAI’S ROOF 255 Courtland Street Staying near the Hilton Atlanta? Don’t miss one of the most breathtaking views and mouth-watering meals in the downtown area. The restaurant’s modern American cuisine nods to the restaurant’s longstanding French/Russian influence. The staff is knowledgeable, the wine list is extensive and the ambiance is off the charts. nikolaisroof.com (404) 221-6362 L-EARNING: DID YOU KNOW? MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE Atlanta is the birthplace of the national civil rights movement. Many of its leaders and organizations proudly called Atlanta their home as they changed history forever. Their legacy continues to serve as the foundation for the ongoing challenges of achieving and sustaining civil rights for all Americans. Visit the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site to learn about this Nobel prizewinner’s childhood and life. The National Park Service operates the site and admission is free. You can register at the Visitor’s Center for a tour of Dr. King’s birth home and to view featured exhibits. www.nps.gov/malu THE VARSITY DRIVE-IN Technically, this information should go under the “T-astes” of Atlanta, but did you know the Varsity Drive-in is the largest in the world? It has been around for 75 years and can accommodate 600 cars in its parking lot and 800 people inside the restaurant. This institution makes two miles of hot-dogs, 2,500 pounds of potatoes, 5,000 fried pies and 300 gallons of chili. Every. Single. Day. During football season, more than 30,000 people visit The Varsity on Georgia Tech’s game day. Think of the foodservice skills needed for that production! (There are now seven locations throughout Atlanta.) thevarsity.com AN ACT OF WAR Who can forget the iconic scene of Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara escaping Atlanta as it burned to the ground behind them? That part of the Hollywood version of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind is true; Atlanta is the only North American city that was destroyed by fire as an act of war. If you’re a history buff, then a visit to The Atlanta History Center is a must. Complete with exhibitions about the Civil War, as well as African-American Heritage and Southern Folk Art. The Atlanta History Center also operates the Margaret Mitchell house located in midtown. You can tour the apartment where Mitchell wrote her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel and see other exhibits from the book and movie—plus, there’s a gift shop! www.atlantahistorycenter.com THE BELTLINE Didn’t get in enough steps in the Convention Center and Exhibit Hall? Consider the BeltLine, one of the most wide-ranging urban development projects in the United States. An idea conceived and executed by a Georgia Tech graduate student in 1999, the BeltLine has added to Atlanta’s revitalization efforts with this 22-mile loop of pedestrian-friendly walkways and hiking trails. It will ultimately connect 45 in-town neighborhoods through multiuse trails, modern streetcar and parks—all based on railroad corridors that formerly encircled Atlanta. The Beltline’s website is a wealth of information, complete with interactive maps, a downloadable app, event calendars and an ongoing list of things to do. beltline.org On Tuesday, SNA will provide complimentary shuttles to and from Ponce City Market, departing from and returning to the Marriott Marquis. Advance shuttle tickets are required to ride the bus; these will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis from the Shuttle Desk at the Convention Center. Shuttle departure times will be assigned. Shuttles will begin at 5:30 p.m.; the last shuttle will depart from PCM at 9:30 p.m. SAVINGS IN THE CITY Your visit to Atlanta will be as sweet as a Georgia peach if you take advantage of savings that the Convention and Visitors Bureau is offering specifically to ANC17 attendees. You can receive these exclusive deals by going to tinyurl.com/AtlantaDiscounts-ANC17. On the site, you will find an exclusive ANC “Savings Card” that you can print out and carry in your wallet and/or save electronically to your mobile device. Once you present the card at participating partners, you’ll start saving. Discounts will be available at many area restaurants and attractions, as well as for area tours and retail shopping. Dana Clerkin is a freelance writer based in Minnesott Beach, N.C., and a former staff vice president, Foundation programs for SNA. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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