A-Town, Hotlanta, Hollywood of the South, the Big Peach. Atlanta has countless nicknames, and in North Carolina we often refer to it as “Charlotte’s big sister.” It has more people, traffic, shopping, and restaurants—like a bigger, flashier version of Charlotte. If you haven’t visited in awhile—or you’re looking for a fun weekend getaway with the family—take a 4-hour drive down I-85 and get reacquainted with the ATL. Experience the Big A as only a child can, without the headache of rush hour traffic and with all of the parks, museums, and good food your time allows.—Taylor Bowler
If you’re here to shop, stay at Hotel Colee in Buckhead, a neighborhood anchored by two high-end shopping malls. The hotel lobby is a revolving art gallery that features prints by Atlanta-based artists, and renowned designer Andrew Alford fashioned every floor with a different mix of prints and pastels, including a fourth-floor infinity pool with a multicolored pool deck. For a taste of Atlanta history, stay at the Georgian Terrace Hotel across the street from the Fox Theatre in Midtown. The hotel has hosted notable guests like F. Scott Fitzgerald and President Calvin Coolidge, as well as the 1939 premiere of Gone with the Wind. For a more eclectic scene, book a room at the Clermont Hotel. The renovated 1920s building has funky tiled bathrooms, retro artwork, and puts you within walking distance of Piedmont Park.
Start your day at Java Jive, a retro-chic diner that claims to serve “Atlanta’s best biscuit.” This cash-only joint has been slinging waffles, pancakes, and omelets for 25 years. For a light lunch or midday caffeine bump, head to Kinship, a butchershop-grocer-coffee counter hybrid in Virginia Highlands. Co-owners Myles Moody and Rachael Pack can tell you the story behind every bottle of wine they sell while you wait for your sandwich or stock up on fresh meat and local cheese. Grab a casual, kid-friendly dinner at Taqueria del Sol, a counter-service restaurant with affordable tacos and chips and multiple locations across the city. For a kid-free night on the town, get a reservation at TWO Urban Licks, a converted warehouse in Old Fourth Ward where you can hear live music Wednesday through Saturday and nosh on salmon chips, pork belly, and brisket.
Bring your little builders to Legoland Discovery Center Atlanta for indoor play, interactive building, and rides. Catch a game at the Braves Truist Park and visit the interactive kids’ zone, or run the bases after a Sunday home game. Grab a bite at Ponce City Market‘s food hall and head up to the roof to play a round of mini golf or ride down the three-story slide at Skyline Park. For a little art appreciation, head to the High Museum of Art. Older kids can have a do-it-yourself art adventure, while little ones can enjoy the interactive Toddler Thursday program.
EXPLORE ATLANTA ON THE CHEAP
Ticket prices add up, so get familiar with Atlanta CityPASS, a discounted ticket package the city debuted in 2019. CityPASS gets you admission to five popular spots including the Georgia Aquarium, World of Coca-Cola, and CNN Studio Tours. For your last two attractions, choose between Zoo Atlanta and the Center for Civil and Human Rights, or Fernbank Museum of Natural History and the Chick-fil-A Fan College Football Hall of Fame. A CityPASS is $77 for adults and $63 for kids 12 and under. It gets you expedited entry during peak times, and it’s valid for nine days.