Travel Guide: Atlanta for Design Lovers

“After all, tomorrow is another day,” says Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind, mostly place in Georgia in the era following the Civil War. It is a fitting quotation for resilient Atlantans, who rebuilt their city after the destruction of the war to be better than ever, with incredible Southern architecture by way of Victorian, Italianate and Arts and Crafts homes.

The power continues now, and not just at the busiest airport in the world, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson. Megacorporations like Delta, Coca-Cola, CNN and Home Depot all call the city home. And Vivien Leigh could have been pleased with Atlanta’s climbing studio business, where residents and visitors have a decent chance of running into Jake Gyllenhaal, Jason Bateman, Melissa McCarthy or a Vampire Diaries heartthrob.

However, what may surprise you about Atlanta is that as you travel round the city proper, you don’t feel as though you’re in a world-class city, as a result of some leafy canopy that covers the majority of neighborhoods. That is the reason why a lot of locals have dubbed it “The City in the Trees.” Aside from the woodsy appeal, every locality is walkable and has its own unique flavor, like the artsy shotgun shacks and yard art in Cabbagetown, the gingerbread Victorian houses encompassing Grant Park and also the mansions of Buckhead, I.T.P. (that’s local talk for “inside the perimeter,” that the 285 bypass that circles the city). And every one has its own regional haunts.

Just make sure you get some shrimp and grits or poultry with country gravy and biscuits as you’re in town. We take brunch very seriously here, so don’t miss it on Sunday.

Notice: Prices provided are for adults not eligible for a discount. In most cases senior and child costs are reduced; costs can change at any moment. Be sure to bring any membership cards into gardens, historic houses and museums, along with your National Trust for Historic Preservation card. Many institutions have reciprocal privileges that will help save you money on admission.


The High Museum of Art
Location: 1280 Peachtree St. (Midtown)
$19.50; half price on Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 8 pm
Noteworthy: Architect Richard Meier made the original museum, while architect Renzo Piano made an inclusion.

Recent partnerships include exhibitions in the best museums in the world, including MoMA and the Louvre, in addition to its enormous permanent collection.

Check out the large collection of artwork by Southern self-taught artists including Bill Traylor, Nellie Mae Rowe, Reverend Howard Finster and Thornton Dial, and one of the best collections of photography in the civil rights movement.

More info: High Museum of Art

The Atlanta Botanical Garden
Price: $18.95
Location: 1345 Piedmont Ave. (Midtown)
Noteworthy: The Canopy Walk, a suspended walkway where guests stroll through a woodland canopy 40 feet above floor.

The gardens are spectacular year-round. Past exhibits include Andrew Crawford’s iron gates, Dale Chihuly’s glass sculptures and sculptures by Henry Moore. Recent developments include the Canopy Walk, a new visitor’s centre, an educational building and educational green technologies used and clarified throughout the gardens. There is also an extensive orchid collection and a large conservatory, an interactive children’s garden and an eco friendly café with yummy offerings from MetroFresh.

More info: Atlanta Botanical Garden

The Swan House
Location: Atlanta History Center,130 W. Paces Ferry Rd. (Buckhead)
Price: $16.50
Noteworthy: This iconic mansion was Constructed in 1928 for the Edward H. Inman family, made by famous Atlanta architect Philip Trammell Shutze.

Along with audio and guided tours inside, entry also gets you round the gardens. While they’re spectacular year-round, I suggest moving in the spring to get the showiest flowers in blossom.

A ticket into the Atlanta History Center also allows you to See the Centennial Olympic Games Museum, that the Smith Family Farm and 33 acres of gardens as well as the Margaret Mitchell House, all within nine days.

More info: Atlanta History Center, Margaret Mitchell House

The Atlanta Decorative Arts Center (ADAC)
Location: 351 Peachtree Hills Ave. (Buckhead)
Noteworthy: Famous Atlanta architect and developer John Portman established the 550,000-square-foot campus.

Once open only to the commerce, the centre is currently open to all design fans. Over 60 showrooms display furniture, rugs, lighting, accessories, wall coverings, fabrics, fine artwork and frames, tile and stone, home theater products and more. If you’ve wondered about working with a designer or are searching for you personally, ADAC is a fantastic place for media.

More info: ADAC

Fernbank Museum of Natural History
Location: 767 Clifton Rd. (Druid Hills)
Price: $15; $23 includes an IMAX ticket
Noteworthy: While the displays will thrill your kids, the design by Graham Gund Architectswill excitement you. The construction encompasses an atrium that includes a number of the most significant dinosaur skeletons ever discovered, including those of Argentinosaurus, Giganotosaurus and Pterosauria, the tiniest suspended overhead. Vast windows open out to views of the forests, creating a breathtaking atmosphere.

Catch an IMAX film on the five-story screen; Friday nights are martini and film nights for adults. Entry is $13.

After you leave, go down Clifton Road into the unique Italianate campus of Emory University and catch some top-notch barbecue at Community Q.

More info: Fernbank Museum of Natural History, Emory University, Community Q


There are so many world-class restaurants in Atlanta that you can not go wrong. Here I’ve compiled some areas that are located in great buildings and have cool interiors and only very good locality vibes overall.

Location: 240N. Highland Ave. (Inman Park, along the BeltLine)
Price: Entrées, $14 to $28
Noteworthy: This restaurant is located in the sole remaining structure in an old deserted pipe factory.

This area is my favorite in Atlanta. It has been thoughtfully restored, with a tin-tiled ceiling, original crown moldings and peeling plaster that partially exposes the brick. Antique Parisian sconces mingle with reddish Philippe Stark lamps on the pub, while Murano glass chandeliers hang overhead.

Farm tables, unique antiques, a zinc bar and bread delivered into the tables in paper bags add to the charm. There is a more casual market area downstairs with a large communal table, a back patio and a porch; it is a popular brunch place for many Atlantans.

More info: Parish

Carroll Street Cafe
Location: 208 Carroll St. (Cabbagetown)
Noteworthy: Along with being a café, pub, lounge and fine dining table, this bistro also acts as an art gallery with regular openings and yearly singer-songwriter nights.

Along with the yummy food (for both good dining and brunch) and comfy setting, what I love most about this spot is that it is a true neighborhood joint. In fact, the area itself is well worth a stroll. Cabbagetown is full of amazing shotgun shacks and the Fulton Cotton Mill Lofts, which were originally housing units for employees once the mill was operating. A great deal of artists live here, and I am always struck with joy from the odd and cheery paint colours on the houses.

If margaritas and Southwestern fare are more your speed, just head down the block to Agave.

More info: Carroll Street Cafe, Agave

This is only one of Cabbagetown’s brightly colored houses, across the road from Carroll Street Cafe.

H. Harper Station
Location: 904 Memorial Dr. (Reynoldstown, between Cabbagetown and Glenwood Park)
Price: Entrees, $12 to $28
Noteworthy: The restaurant owners have revived the historic Atlanta & West Point rail station depot construction.

That I love the vibe of the place. You are surrounded by brick walls with Depression-era glass chandeliers and Edison bulb fittings overhead while sitting in a classic midcentury Navy seat. The whole area feels like a Southern speakeasy, but with superior cocktails prepared by expert mixologists. I could mock the beverages as being a little Portlandia design if they were not so damn great.

More info: H. Harper Station

Wrecking Bar Brewpub
292 Moreland Ave. (Little Five Points)
Price: Sandwiches, $7 to $11; entrees, $13 to $16

When I first moved to Atlanta, this was a fabulous architectural salvage place called The Wrecking Bar, which I still miss. However, the bar is a great replacement. The building was originally a private mansion, designed by architect Willis F. Denny and built in 1900 for a prominent Atlanta family. A Methodist Protestant church and also a dance school also once inhabited the space.
Local designer Jenn Ryan made the brewpub area, which is on the ground floor (the second floor is an event space called The Marianna), and the stone walls and kilometers of timber make it a cozy place for gathering with friends. The beers aren’t for the meek. Check out what they are pouring now

More info: The Wrecking Bar Brewpub


Piedmont Park
Location: Between Piedmont Avenue, 10th Street and Monroe Drive (Midtown)
Noteworthy: The Olmsted brothers (sons of Frederick Law Olmsted) established the master plan for Piedmont Park.

If you’re not up for splurging about the Botanical Gardens, go next door to this amazing park. In 1904 the City of Atlanta bought the former fairgrounds and portion of the Piedmont Driving Club; it used the Olmsted brothers’ master plan in 1912.

I stroll through this beautiful park many times every week. It truly has something for everybody, by a dog park into a pond, a public pool into a weekly farmer’s market, a wetland walk into free concerts by the Atlanta Symphony.

More info: Piedmont Park Conservancy

The Atlanta BeltLine’s East Side Trail
Location: Between Piedmont Park and Inman Park; access the trail throughout the Monroe from Park Tavern if you’re already down in Piedmont Park. See all access points
Noteworthy: This 2 1/4-mile finished portion is one of the first finished trails of the BeltLine, which will eventually connect many in-town areas with a 22-mile-long loop on the city’s former railroad tracks.

The entire loop will eventually serve as a linear arboretum with artwork along the way. You can pass over busy streets without needing to stop. A brisk walk from Midtown/Virginia Highland through Poncey Highland into Inman Park and the Old Fourth Ward takes about Half an Hour. On the weekends lots of things pop up along the BeltLine, from performance art to The King of Pops selling deliciously weird Popsicle flavors.

More info: Atlanta BeltLine

Inman Park Neighborhood
Location: A mile from downtown, this area boundaries the amazing Little Five Points area — excellent for shopping for vintage threads and live music — also Cabbagetown and the Historic Old Fourth Ward.
Noteworthy: Inman Park was Atlanta’s first streetcar suburb.

The area blends Victorian, Italianate and Arts and Craft architecture, large and small, in addition to warehouses and other industrial structures. A recent development in the former Mead newspaper plant has completely transformed the energy of the area with flats, townhouses, single-family houses, stores, salons and great restaurants, and is a fantastic example of well-designed urban infill. One of the first finished phases of the BeltLine and another large park cross right through the center of the area. It also has its own MARTA stop.

Little Five Points
Location: The intersection of Moreland Avenue and Euclid Avenue is the heart of Little Five (between Candler Park and Inman Park).

This area is hipster central. Nearly all vintage clothing stores are here (my favorites are Stefan’s, in 1160 Euclid Ave., which is beautifully curated and justifiably pricier than the remainder, and The Clothing Warehouse, that’s a fantastic place for picking up a pair of vintage cowboy boots, preferably in red.

Catch a hamburger at The Vortex, a hefty brew at The Porter gastropub or barbecue in Fox Brothers (you might see Jimmy and Roslyn Carter there). For a beautiful courtyard and New Orleans–inspired fare, head to Front Page News. Be ready for a lot of tattoos and piercings. You can continue a walk through the heart of Little Five Points right into Inman Park down Euclid.

More info: The Clothing Warehouse, The Vortex, The Porter, Fox Brothers, Front Page News

Druid Hills
Location: Close Oakdale Road, The Byway and Lullwater Road
Noteworthy: The home of Miss Daisy, the primary character in the film Driving Miss Daisy, is located in this area on Lullwater Road. And the home is up for sale.

If you’re using an automobile to get around Atlanta, pop over to Druid Hills to rail several streets. I suggest a loop, driving or walking, around Lullwater Road into North Decatur Road into Oakdale Road into The Byway. The beech-lined trees and stately houses are charming. You can continue down North Decatur into Emory village and the campus.

The Historic Old Fourth Ward
Location: Just north of where I-20 meets Boulevard (the main thoroughfare); adjoining Inman Park and Cabbagetown.
Noteworthy: Martin Luther King, Jr., was born here.

This charming area is in transition, and is full of wonderful cottages and other turn-of-the-century houses. It is also where The King Center and also the Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church (Heritage Sanctuary) are located. While you’re in the area, stop at Lottafrutta to get a smoothie, Sister Louisa’s Church of the Living Room and Ping-Pong Emporium for some irreverent artwork, tabletop sports and a beverage, and The Audio Table for cool tunes and good food.

More info: The King Center, Ebenezer Baptist Church, Lottafrutta, Sister Louisa’s Church of the Living Room and Ping-Pong Emporium, The Sound Table

Oakland Cemetery
Location: 248 Oakland Ave. (boundaries Grant Park and Old Fourth Ward)
Noteworthy: There are separate Confederate and Union soldier segments in the cemetery. Besides many Georgia governors and Atlanta mayors, Margaret Mitchell and Bobby Jones are buried here.

This cemetery dates back to 1850 and overlooks downtown Atlanta. It was designed during the Victorian garden cemetery era and is full of beautiful mature trees and other plantings. Take a self-guided walking tour or join a guided tours.

More info: Oakland Cemetery

West Midtown
Location: Spanning from the intersection of Howell Mill Road and 11th Street
Noteworthy: For years this area functioned as the gritty, industrial, railroad-adjacent section of town, full of slaughterhouses and food storage buildings.

A current resurrection has made the district a preeminent place for high world-class and design cuisine. Some of the city’s greatest restaurants and shops are a stone’s throw from active railroad tracks and razor wire. It is a fantastic combination and leads to wonderful repurposed spaces, most notably the White Provisions construction, which houses a large Room & Board store and many other high-end stores.

Stores like Bungalow, Saavy Snoot and Sid and Ann Mashburn paved the way, drawing stores like Jack Spade (the interiors seem right from a Wes Anderson film) and also Jonathan Adler from any mall.

More info: Bungalow, Savvy Snoot, Sid and Ann Mashburn, Jack Spade, Jonathan Adler


Stonehurst Place Inn
Location: 923 Piedmont Ave. (Midtown)
Price: $169 to $399
Noteworthy: This 1896 inn is not only on the National Register of Historic Places but additionally underwent an extensive eco friendly renovation in 2008, earning it the name EarthCraft Home and Southface 2008 Renovation Project of the Year.

The inn combines a charming historic mansion, tailored and comfy transitional design, and ecofriendly layouts that have solar panels and panels for energy efficiency, graywater and rainwater harvesting.

But don’t let its 1896 vintageness fool you; the inn is appointed with all the modern conveniences, like heated marble bathroom floors, iPod docks and Wi-Fi. The owners also share their extensive art collection throughout the inn. On top of that, it’s steps from the lively area around the intersection of Piedmont Avenue and 10th Street and Piedmont Park, yet far enough away to escape the sounds.

More info: Stonehurst Place

Urban Oasis Bed and Breakfast
Price: $125 to $195
Location:130 Krog St. (Inman Park)
Noteworthy: This lofty B and B was formerly a cotton-sorting mill.

This isn’t your great-aunt’s bed-and-breakfast. Situated in a warehouse construction along the BeltLine, the Urban Oasis has easy accessibility to most of the historic architecture of Inman Park and the Old Fourth Ward. It’s about a mile from the Martin Luther National Historic site, including his birthplace as well as The King Center.

The interiors are full of midcentury modern and nuclear era style, including Bertoia diamond seats and Eames shelves. The flourishing neighborhoods of Inman Park and the Old Fourth Ward are chock of a number of Atlanta’s most happening pubs and bars, including Sotto Sotto, Fritti, Rathbun’s, Kevin Rathbun’s Steak (my personal favorite and only steps from the Oasis), Highland Bakery, Thumb’s Up Diner, Serpas, Noni’s, P’Cheen and The Sound Table. Plus, you’re likely to see one of the many film and TV celebrities milling about town in Barcelona, Parish or Sister Louisa’s Church of the Living Room and Ping Pong Emporium.

More info: Urban Oasis Bed and Breakfast, The King Center

The Social Goat Bed and Breakfast
Price: $125 to $240
Location: 548 Robinson Ave. (Grant Park)
Noteworthy: You will share the property with 2 Nigerian dwarf goats named Sherman and Tallulah; fresh baby hens named Daisy and Olive; three cats named Monkey, Leon and Tanuki; three black Spanish turkeys named The 3 Tenors; 11 hens; 2 roosters termed Fabio and Velvet Elvis; 2 fresh rabbits; and plenty of goldfish and koi.

More info: The Social Goat Bed and Breakfast

No, you won’t be sharing the space with a goat in the barn. This is the beautiful B and B’s main building.

Nearby Grant Park is the city’s oldest park, first formed in 1882. In 1889 a traveling circus came through town and then went belly up; the city purchased the animals to create the next Zoo Atlanta.

The Georgian Terrace
: 659 Peachtree St. (Midtown)
Price: $128 to $1,500
Noteworthy: President Calvin Coolidge and F. Scott Fitzgerald slept here, and also the Gone With the Wind premiere celebration happened here in 1939. The glamour continues, since the resort is a favorite place for film shoots, most recently The Change-Up and Identity Thief.

About a hundred years old, this is only one of those buildings that lived vast teardowns that made way for Atlanta’s skyscrapers. The swanky resort is located right across from the fabulous Fox Theater, another demolition survivor. It holds a proud place on the National Register of Historic Places.

Stop by The Livingston Bar downstairs for a cocktail. Go super Southern with its namesake beverage, which is composed of Johnny Drum private stock Kentucky bourbon infused with Southern tea leaves, muddled mint and lemon.

More info: The Georgian Terrace, The Livingston

Must-Visit Shops


Location: 3234-A Roswell Rd. (Buckhead)

Owner Lee Kleinhelter is an Atlanta and nationwide trendsetter, with her keen eye for finding unique pieces and contrasts with snappy upholstery and finishes (bold-colored lacquer is a significant one). She also dubs Pieces’ design “Hamptons low-key luxury having a midcentury Palm Beach punch”

More info: Pieces

Paris on Ponce
Location: 716 Ponce de Leon Pl. (Virginia-Highland)

This magnificent warehouse emporium of unique antiques and oddities from all over the world is a treasure-hunting treat in 46,000 square feet. I’ve a claw-foot tub and 2 patent leather ottomans that allegedly came from a playwright’s home in the Berkshires, all from this amazing store.

Additionally, one side of the warehouse opens into the BeltLine, in which walkers, bikers, in-line skaters, skateboarders and runners are welcome to make a pit stop to use the restroom, catch some sustenance (there are always lemonade and biscuits) and allow their dogs rehydrate.

More info: Paris on Ponce

South of Market

Orange Palette Table of Market from South – $995

South of Market
Location 345 Peachtree Hills Ave., Suite 100 (Buckhead near ADAC)

Owner and inner designer Kay Douglass comes with an eye for unique pieces, which she scouts in France and Belgium. While she has many distinctive industrial pieces (metal lighting fixtures crafted from cable wastepaper baskets or baskets; coffee tables crafted from carts), her taste in linens and accessories balances the crustier stone with sophistication. If you have fantasies of French flea markets and Belgian design, then you’re going to want to go into this store.

More info: South of Market

City Issue
Location: 325 Elizabeth St. (Inman Park)

Just a Couple of steps in the BeltLine in Inman Park, City Issue is paradise for midcentury modern fans. You’ll find vintage pieces like Eames lounge chairs, Danish wool rugs, Blenko vases and Eastern Airlines barware.

More info: City Issue

Hidden Stone

Museum of Design Atlanta
Price: $10
Location: 1315Peachtree St. (Midtown)
Noteworthy: The construction is striking and was remodeled beautifully by Perkins + Will.

Located across the road from the High Museum, MoDA occupies the space under Perkins + Will Architects and a branch of the Atlanta public library. It was originally built in 1985, and Perkins + Will recently revived the building, cutting energy costs by 58 per cent and attaining Platinum LEED certification. The building’s facade has been beautifully upgraded.

More info: Museum of Design Atlanta

Location: 2928 E. Ponce De Leon Ave. (Decatur)

Technically this place is in Decatur, but I could not leave my favorite antiques haunt this off list. Additionally, it is a beautiful drive down Ponce De Leon Avenue throughout the Druid Hills area.

I’ve seen everything in Kudzu, from outsider artwork to an antique European confessional. Whether you’re searching to get McCoy pottery, nuclear age lamps, schoolhouse graphs, vintage clothing or a rustic farm dining table, you will find it here. There is also a excellent farmer’s market up the street.

More info: Kudzu

Ria’s Bluebird
Location: 421 Memorial Dr. (Grant Park)

Noteworthy: The New York Times named Ria’s buttermilk pancakes “the best pancakes in the world,” so maybe this gem is no longer concealed.

The coffee is heavenly, the jam on the table is always homemade, and I’ve never tasted a better biscuit. The wait may be long on the weekends, but it is well worth it. The interior is comfy, retro yet trendy, and makes the food taste even better.

More info: Ria’s Bluebird

The Wren’s Nest
Location: 1050 Ralph David Abernathy Blvd. (West End)
Price: $8; you can also use your ticket over in the local Hammonds House Museum.
Noteworthy: WriterJoel Chandler Harris lived in this Queen Anne Victorian from 1881 to 1908 and composed a number of the Brer Rabbit stories on the front porch.

Tucked into a rather busy portion of the West End, The Wren’s Nest is just a couple miles from downtown. Check it out on Saturdays for tours that include storytelling.

More info: The Wren’s Nest

Ann’s Snack Bar
Location: 1615Memorial Dr. (Kirkwood)
Noteworthy: Mind your manners, wait for your turn and take your food as Miss Ann prepares it no alterations.

This location isn’t hard to miss. Just know that it’s on Memorial between the lights in Whitefoord and Wyman; if you get to Wyman from Whitefoord, you went too far; turn around and it’s going to be across the road from Wyman. It has a screened porch. Get the Ghetto Burger, which has double bread and bacon cheese.

Noguchi Playscape
Location: Piedmont Park near the 12th Street and Piedmont Avenue entry
Noteworthy: Finished in 1976, this is the only playscape in the U.S. made by Isamu Noguchi that was finished during his life.

This sculptural playscape was designed back in the 1970s together with The High Museum of Art to familiarize kids with colors and shapes. I strongly recommend going down the dual slide with a friend.

Architects, taC studios

2013 Home Tours Worth Visiting

Atlanta has numerous diverse neighborhoods full of their own unique character, and home tours are a fabulous way to peek into how individuals have renovated and decorated their houses.

May 11–12: Gardens for Connoisseurs Tour
Exclusive private gardens have been opened to tours to reap The Atlanta Botanical Garden.

May 11–12: The Grant Park Home Tour
Peek into richly renovated bungalows and Victorians in this beautiful area that surrounds Grant Park and the Atlanta Zoo.

May 11–12: Kirkwood Spring Fling and Tour of Homes
Everything I appreciated so much about this tour in a previous year was the assortment of home designs (from nuclear ranch into Queen Anne) and that lots of these were starter homes for young singletons, couples and families. It is a terrific way to find realistic renovation and DIY ideas.

June 8–9: The Modern Atlanta Home Tour
The 2013 tour will consist of exceptional contemporary residential and industrial spaces.

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