Travel to Georgia: lesser-known places worth seeing
A taste of Atlanta
Lyrics: Rachel Truman
Rooted in the railroads, razed twice (during the American Civil War and the Great Atlanta Fire of 1917), and the epicenter of America’s civil rights movement, Atlanta has courage in its history and determination in its bone. It is a city of transformation and enterprise; one who has faced his past and is making strides towards the future.
I begin my visit on a rooftop with an iced frosé in my hand on a warm summer evening. I’m at Ponce City Market, a hub of shops, restaurants, a food hall and apartments in the Old Fourth Ward. It started life in the 1920s as a Sears warehouse; now its rooftop is home to Skyline Park, a stylish collection of bars, slides, vintage games and views. Looking over the urban sprawl, I see skyscrapers and traffic, of course, but greenery also appears. The city has made a real effort to create pockets of nature and renew degraded neighborhoods and neighborhoods. A fine example of this can be found near historic Fourth Ward Park, which borders Atlanta’s famous BeltLine, a car-free trail adapted from old railroad tracks. We set off along the Eastside Trail, which connects Midtown’s Piedmont Park to Reynoldstown. The wide walkway teems with walkers and cyclists and is lined with native trees and wildflowers.
The BeltLine corridor (which will form a 35 km loop when complete) is dotted with trendy shops and restaurants and is a hive of community initiatives and public art. The graffiti-lined Krog Tunnel is a must-see, as are the large murals along Wylie Street. We break for dinner at Two Urban Licks. Housed in a renovated warehouse with beautiful views, it’s loud, hip and full of energy.
Atlanta’s food scene is exciting, with an ever-growing supply of restaurants and food halls. Krog Street Market was one of the originals. Located near the Irwin Street BeltLine entrance, be sure to stop by for tacos and margaritas at Superica or chicken and waffles at Soul: Food and Culture.
Other local treats can be found at the Municipal Market in the Sweet Auburn District, east of downtown, where you can visit local success stories such as Miss D’s Pralines. The building opened in 1924, at a time when black shoppers were allowed in, but black vendors had to sell curbside.
Sweet Auburn was the birthplace of Dr. Martin Luther King and is now a National Historic Site. See the eternal flame burning near Dr. King’s grave, his childhood home and the church where he and his father preached.
Next, we’ll head to the National Center for Civil and Human Rights downtown, which traces the history of the country’s civil rights movement. It’s immersive, unwavering, free-thinking and all about the power of people to create change, much like Atlanta.
Sing in Savannah
Lyrics: Aaron Millar
Savannah is like a sweet southern song. As I walk among the cobblestone plazas shaded by live oak branches draped in Spanish moss, my shoulders drop, my steps slow, and I’m transported to another time. It’s not surprising. Savannah is the beauty of the south. Its historic quarter is lined with 19th-century mansions of every architectural style: huge Greek Revival columns and Gothic-style pillars stand alongside Italianate balconies and stately Regency-style mansions. Soaking up this mix of bygone eras, I watch the river boats paddling down the river.
But that’s only half the story. Savannah is that rare gem of American urban planning that not only embraces its history but transcends it.
“We’re laid back,” a local woman tells me, downing her last prawns and middlins (rice gruel) with a glass of chilled white wine. “But we play hard too.” This town may have one foot firmly in the past, but the other is starting a new song.
It starts at the river. Stretching for a mile along its south bank, River Street is a place to sip and stroll. The terraces overlook the water and are overflowing with laughter and barbecue smells. I sip a margarita, watch the sun go down, then order myself another. It’s that kind of place.
But Savannah’s new heart is the Plant Riverside District, a bustling entertainment hub that opened in 2020 with live music venues, nightlife, and dozens of trendy restaurants and bars. He’s the cool little brother in town. Try Myrtle & Rose, a rooftop garden bar with botanically-inspired craft cocktails, or Electric Moon, where you can take a veritable slide from its balcony to a bustling outdoor terrace below.
The food scene is also booming, and there’s a lot more to this town than your usual southern fried fare. Le Grey, for example, led the way with its Art Deco style and refined tapas-style cuisine. It’s hard to beat, but restaurants like Ardsley Station, located in the aptly named and glitzy and trendy neighborhood of Starland, are bursting onto the scene – and with truffle lobster macaroni to die for. There’s also an exciting new secret speakeasy champagne haunt hidden behind a door at the Mint to Be Mojito Bar (or so rumor has it).
That’s what this town is all about. The old southern song is still playing, of course. But now there is also other music. It’s getting stronger and stronger. It’s the sound of the new Savannah, and it’s impossible not to sing along.
Lyrics: Rachel Truman
An ethereal voice floats on the warm breeze as I sink my teeth into a honeyed Georgia peach and browse the stalls filled with fruit, jars of jellies and cheeses. It’s Saturday morning and the Athens Farmers’ Market is in full swing; not only does it celebrate local producers, but it also champions emerging artists. Music, food and small-town vibe combine to make Athens, located in the foothills of the Appalachians, truly southern charm.
Hometown of the B-52s and the REM, its thriving music scene is evidenced by the abundance of live music venues in town. It has a really fun vibe, helped by its student population – Athens is home to the University of Georgia, the nation’s first state university – and its craft brewing scene. It’s pretty too, with its leafy avenues, clapboard houses and 19th-century mansions.
We admire some of the houses on our walk to Heirloom Café & Fresh Market in the Boundary neighborhood. Another champion of local farmers, the brunch menu is peppered with regional delicacies: buttermilk cookies, hash of pulled pork with baked eggs and crispy cabbage, and Doscuit Holes (cinnamon sugar balls drizzled with salted bourbon caramel). The meal takes away any lingering fatigue from an evening spent enjoying local beers at Creature Comforts alongside live music.
We’re staying at the Graduate, a boutique gem near the university campus. We opt for a walking tour that traces the musical history of the city. One stop is Weaver D’s, including ‘Automatic for the people!’ sign was immortalized in an REM album. It’s the place to eat fried chicken and collard greens, but we choose lunch instead at the Last Resort Grill, a former 1960s music club turned foodie mecca that puts a Southern spin on American cuisine. comforting.
After a stroll through vintage emporiums and cult music stores downtown, we visit Five Points, another beautiful neighborhood with gorgeous mansions (some now fraternity and sorority houses), independent bookstores, and laid-back cafes. .
Our time here ends with a bang, with cocktails, local music and stunning views from the rooftop bar of the historic Georgia Theater concert venue.
Two other must-see small towns