In Atlanta, sometimes it seems like every other block claims its own identity. If your head hurts when trying to figure out the map, don’t despair. Even locals get confused about Atlanta neighborhoods.
A Visitor’s Guide to Atlanta Neighborhoods
To help you cruise smoothly through the city’s complicated urban division, here’s a guide to the most important and interesting Atlanta neighborhoods.
Atlanta’s “Heart of the Arts” is on the rise, and it’s unlikely to slow down anytime soon. You could spend the entire day here and never run out of things to do. With cultural institutions galore, you can enjoy the High Museum of Art, the Botanical Gardens, the Center for Puppetry Arts, the Museum of Design, and the everlasting Fox Theatre.
If you’ve gotten your cultural fix, you can relax at Piedmont Park, or go on a shopping spree along Midtown Milet. Sprinkle all the sightseeing with amazing food. Get free-range and vegetarian food at R. Thomas Deluxe Grill, a culinary staple of the city, or get fancy at the elegantly decorated warehouse that houses ONE Midtown Kitchen.
Stay after the sun sets for some of the best nightlife in Atlanta. Head to gastropubs like TAP for a chill night out, or to clubs like Opera Nightclub and Sutra Lounge when you want to party like a real Atlanta local.
East Atlanta Village
If you’re the type of person who dislikes seeing a Starbucks everywhere you travel, you’ll love East Atlanta Village. One of the Atlanta neighborhoods with the most local pride, EAV boasts a myriad of local places you won’t find anywhere else. From independent bookshops and artisan bakeries to small bike shops and locally owned restaurants, it’s as if every place in East Atlanta Village lives and breathes EAV spirit.
The neighborhood is also famous for its arts and music scene, with bars, nightclubs and live performances powering its nightlife on the daily, and a number of music festivals being held here. The Atlanta Mess-Around, A3C, and the East Atlanta Strut find a home in these streets and at bars like The Earl and S29.
Little Five Points
This eclectic neighborhood is where the alternative youth comes to play. Little Five Points has multiple vintage clothes and record stores, independent bookstores, vegan restaurants, and a number of truly great dive bars. Creative self-expression is the name of the game, with even restaurants and shops inventing eye-catching decorations for their facades.
The neighborhood is decorated with murals and thought-provoking street art, much of which is hidden in small alleyways and streets. Head to The Vortex for a coronary bypass burger, or to Tijuana Garage for some amazing Tex-Mex. Then, hop to The Porter Beer Bar and to Wrecking Bar BrewPub to enjoy microbrews. For great performances, go to 7 Stages, or walk around long enough to inevitably see free performance art on the streets.
This historically black neighborhood was a thriving center for African-American enterprise throughout most of the 20th century. It is now forever linked to history of the country as the birthplace of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Visitors can learn about the activist’s life through tours of his birth house, the church where he preached, and even his resting place.
There’s also the International Walk of Fame, with footprints from some of the most prominent figures of the Civil Rights Movement. The black American experience at the African-American Panoramic Experience Museum seeks to retell American history through the eyes of its black citizens.
But even though Sweet Auburn has a deep and rich history, it has also been able to continue to thrive into modernity. Foodies love the Sweet Auburn Curb Market, which opened in 1918 and continues to offer fresh produce and meats, as well as artisanies to customers. And don’t be persuaded to leave at night—the bar and club scene here is electrifying. For Caribbean music and dancing until your feet give out, there’s no place like the Royal Peacock Nightclub.
Why do tourists flock to this pretty but mostly residential neighborhood? The answer is simple: food. Opened in 2014, the Krog Street Market renovated an old warehouse and turned it into a place where all kinds of flavors meet. Superica serves amazing steaks, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream is as splendid as the name promises, and Gu’s Dumplings might just bring you to tears of joy. The communal “living room” makes it easy to meet and hang out with the locals. Once you’re full, check out the other shops around the market or walk off your meal at the nearby Krog Street Tunnel.
Atlanta’s Downtown may not have the boho chic and urban trendy vibes of other neighborhoods, but there is much more to it than skyscrapers and business offices. Landmarks include local favorites like Centennial Olympic Park and the Georgia Aquarium. But while they are both part of what makes Downtown interesting, its true charm resides in the hidden art galleries at Castleberry Hill, the performances and street art at Fairlie-Poplar, and the exhibitions at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights.
Find the glitzy side of Atlanta at Buckhead, where everything is pretty, shiny, and expensive. With impressive historic mansions and newly built luxury apartments, this is the most upscale of Atlanta neighborhoods. People flock here to enjoy shopping for high-end fashion at Lenox Square, the Shops Buckhead Atlanta, and Phipps Plaza.
Architecture buffs also love to visit the Swann House, one of the most opulent houses that comprise the Atlanta History Center. Treat yourself at one of the numerous gourmet restaurants, enjoy cocktails at rooftop lounges, and finish the night getting lost in the neighborhood’s glamorous clubbing scene.
– Original reporting by Mariana Zapata