Top Atlanta Spots To Entertain Out-of-Town Guests

DSC_0868One of the things I love most is introducing out of town guests to the eclectic neighborhoods in our city. The usual tourist spots like the World of Coke and the CNN center are always an option, but I tend to plan our itineraries around three types of activities to give my friends and family the best Atlanta experience. I like to include a park, a museum or historical tour, and a brewery over the course of a couple days. These are my top four favorites in each category: 

Parks

Atlanta is home to some awesome parks. From playgrounds and picnic tables to walking trails and free concerts, there are a lot of options to fit the personalities of your guests. These are a few of my favorites:

  1. Piedmont Park: Piedmont Park has it all…lake, pool, playground, splash pad, green market, dog park, jogging track, green space, picnic tables, charcoal grills and public restrooms. I’m a little biased since I lived next to the park and enjoyed this space every day for several years, but this park is a great spot for guests. The park also offers free historical walking tours every Saturday at 11 a.m. And there are restaurants within walking distance, so if a picnic isn’t your style, you have food options close. One of the things that I love most is heading to the park in the late afternoon and staying for the free concerts on Sunday evenings at Park Tavern. The concerts typically run April through September and start at 7 p.m.
  2. Sidney Marcus Park: Sidney Marcus Park is a perfect place to bring guests with kids. The park is tucked away in the Morningside neighborhood and has great green space and playgrounds. There are picnic tables and it offers a free family-friendly concert series several Friday evenings throughout that start at 6 p.m with music, food trucks and a favorite Atlanta treat, King of Pops.
  3. Old Fourth Ward Park: Old Fourth Ward Park has really grown over the past few years. It’s a kid’s dream. The playground is fantastic and there’s an awesome splash pad and skate park. There are also some free events throughout the year like exercise opportunities and free movies on the lawn. This is a great spot for out of town guests because it’s right across the street from Ponce City Market which offers lots shopping and restaurants.
  4. The Atlanta BeltLine: While this isn’t a park in and of itself, the BeltLine is an awesome trail that connects many of our in town neighborhoods and parks. The BeltLine provides a great activity for guests that like to walk or bike. You can walk from Piedmont Park to Old Fourth Ward Park and head into Inman Park or over to Krog Street Market. There is a lot of shopping and restaurant options along the way, which makes the stroll even better.

 

Museums and Tours

Our city offers quite a few museum and tour options. These are just a few that make my short list when I’m planning for a guest visit.

  1. Oakland Cemetery: Oakland Cemetery is my number one spot for out of town guests because it’s different from the typical museum stop. This cemetery has incredible history and beautiful architecture. I highly recommend a guided tour where you will hear stories about the people that are buried in this rural garden cemetery. I’ve done this tour several times and it’s always a little different, so continues to be one I enjoy. They also have some cool events like malts and valts where you can hear about Atlanta’s history of brewing then enjoy some local beers after the tour. We typically round out this visit with a trip across the street to Six Feet Under for food and drinks.
  2. Fernbank Museum of Natural History: Fernbank is one of my favorites because of the Giant Screen Theater. The museum exhibits are always great, but it’s nice to sit down and enjoy one of the films. They also have 75 acres of outdoor nature adventures that you can explore. And if you’re planning on an adult-only evening outing, they feature Fernbank After Dark the second Friday of each month with drinks, tapas and films.
  3. High Museum of Art: If you have art-lovers visiting, the High Museum is the perfect place. There are some free admission opportunities, which makes it an even more awesome place to take people. Free admission is offered to everyone the second Sunday of each month as part of their ‘Family Fun at Woodruff Arts Center’ promotion and there’s family-friendly programming from 1 – 4 p.m. Bank of America/Merrill Lynch customers have an additional no-cost admission opportunity with free walk-up admission on the first full weekend of each month. There are a lot of family extras, but if you want to leave the kids at home, the third Friday of each month is ‘Friday Jazz’ with drinks, music and art.
  4. Atlanta History Center: One of the great things about buying a ticket to the history center is that it’s much more than just the one museum. You also get access to some really cool historical houses like the Margaret Mitchell House, the Smith Family Farm and the Swan Coach House as well as 22 acres of gardens. Even better, if you are a Bank of America Bank of America/Merrill Lynch customer you can receive free admission during the first full weekend (Saturday and Sunday) of every month (offer expires December 31, 2017). You can also dine at the Swan Coach House Restaurant, which has some delicious Southern dishes and sandwiches.

 

Breweries

As a beer aficionado, I love introducing my guests to the local breweries. Who doesn’t love a tour that revolves around drinking beer? These are my favorites:

  1. SweetWater Brewing Company: Sweetwater is a staple in our town, so I enjoy taking people here. It’s a decent size, so good for crowds and they often have entertainment in their outdoor space. They are open Wednesday through Sunday. If you want to eat while you are there, Friday-Sunday are the best options because a food trucks are on site.
  2. Three Taverns Brewery: Three Taverns has some of my favorite local brews. The space is on the smaller side, but the tour and beer are great. If you want to spend time with your guests in Decatur, this brewery will fit perfectly into your itinerary.
  3. Orpheus Brewing: Orpheus beer is awesome and they are located right next to Piedmont Park and the BeltLine, so if you plan to take a stroll before or after, this would be the perfect stop along the way.
  4. Monday Night Brewing: Monday Night is another favorite. The space is great and large enough to fit a big crowd. The outdoor space has good seating as well.

Live, work, play. Not necessarily in that order. Upcoming events in the city.

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I was preparing a marketing piece today that included a list of some of the upcoming festivals going on around the city in the next month or so, and I paused to appreciate the amount of culture and entertainment that I’ve enjoyed over the years by virtue of living and working in the city of Atlanta. Here is a list of upcoming events/festivals if you are looking for some unique activities to put on your calendar for late summer/fall of 2017:

Decatur BBQ, Blues, and Bluegrass Festival August 12th

Atlanta Underground Film Festival 8/18-8/20

Piedmont Park Arts Festival 8/19-8/20 

Grant Park Summer Shade Festival 8/26-8/27

Dragon Con 9/1-9/4

Music Midtown 9/16-9/17

Fall Folklife Festival 9/23

Candler Park Fall Fest 9/30-10/1

We moved over to Morningside in 2010 and I love the neighborhood, but my wife and I lived within a couple of blocks of Piedmont Park in Midtown for several years before we came here. It was phenomenal being that close to the park year-round, but it was really special when the festival season was in full swing and something was going on in the neighborhood nearly every weekend. Our life and family has since expanded outside the space of the little bungalow we were living in there, but I do get nostalgic for the ability to walk out of my house and essentially arrive at Piedmont Park for The Dogwood Festival or any other number of events that the Conservancy hosts.

It’s interesting to note that now, some seven years after we moved a few miles up the road to Morningside, I couldn’t tell you what kind of kitchen upgrades were installed in that little 1920s house in Midtown or if the appliances were stainless.  I can’t really remember what color the walls were, or if the bathroom was updated. Our friends always talked about how it was a cute place, but what I recall about the house centers on the people around us and what we spent our time doing while we were there.

I remember grilling in our backyard. I remember sitting around the old aqua(ish) blue, refurbished glass-top picnic table of questionable quality on the back porch that we bought from a guy over in Cabbage Town during a Sunday afternoon adventure like it was yesterday. I remember walking over to Midtown Arts Cinema to catch a movie on a whim. I remember finishing the Peachtree Road Race with friends and all of us strolling back to our house to hang out and grab a shower before we walked over to Fontaine’s in Virginia Highland to reward ourselves with some food and drinks. I remember a block party during a Paul McCartney concert and the entire neighborhood hanging out on our front porches listening to the show. I remember evening runs and bike rides through the neighborhood while (sometimes unsuccessfully) dodging low-hanging limbs of trees along the sidewalks. I remember the frequent walks over to Trader Joe’s to replenish our stock of “Two Buck Chuck”.

I vividly remember how we lived and what we did when we were there, but the cosmetics of the house we lived in are secondary in my mind to the lifestyle that house enabled for us.

I talk about it with clients all of the time, but its worth saying here as well: Your house is more than the number of bedrooms and bathrooms within the walls. It is more than a list of upgrades and finishes that sounds exactly like the listing for every other property for sale out there. The lifestyle your home enables for its future owner drives the value and marketability of your property.

I’m not saying it isn’t important for your house to be in the best condition possible before putting it on the market, or that your renovations and chef’s kitchen aren’t major selling points. Those things matter. However, securing the absolute best price for your house is a function of illustrating, to the right buyer, how your home will help them enable, improve, or enhance their lifestyle. The way a potential new home fits or amplifies how you live, work, and play should be a top consideration for you in your home search as well.