How to Spend a 24-Hour Staycation in Atlanta (2024)

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Let’s be real: Atlanta is massive and there’s no way you can do it all in 24 hours. You can live here for years and still find surprises — but that’s part of the beauty of this fast-growing, mid-evolution city, whose disparate neighborhoods are spread out across 134 square miles (and far beyond the Perimeter).

Sure, tourists know to see the expected Downtown sights — the World of Coca-Cola, Centennial Olympic Park, the Georgia Aquarium, and the Mercedes-Benz Stadium. But locals know the cooler spots around town. Here’s how to spend a fantastic day in this fantastic city, with no tourist traps on the itinerary.

9 a.m. to 10 a.m. — Walk the Eastside Beltline

Start your day with a walk. Early morning is a good time to explore the Beltline, a pedestrian walkway and parks built on former railway lines. It also means you can take your time viewing the many sculptures that grace the route. The timing (hopefully) means it won’t be too hot, and might help you avoid the early bird runners and the late-morning family strolls (and strollers).

Head south to detour to Historic Fourth Ward Park for pleasant paths and views, or keep going to Historic Fourth Ward Skatepark to watch skaters take on flips and tricks. Don’t forget to take a photo playing the piano on the way there, and of the many murals, which are swapped out every year. See how many Tiny Doors you can spot.

Other ideas: Start from the Krog Street Market, grab a coffee and pastry from the Little Tart Bakeshop there, and reverse the route by heading north instead of south. This way, you’ll be able to see Krog Street Tunnel, which boasts an entire wall of murals, and even more works of art. It’s roughly two miles from market to market. You can also cover more ground by renting a bike from Atlanta Bicycle Barn or a Relay Bike Share station.

10 a.m. — Treat yourself at at Ponce City Market

Just as the city’s waking up, head to the landmark food hall Ponce City Market for St. Germain pastries, an Atlanta obsession since it first opened in Old Fourth Ward in 2016.

Order a properly made hot cappuccino or iced mocha as an eye-opener, and an almond croissant or buttery cheese custard Danish to lightly sweeten the morning. (But no one’s judging if you go straight for a pear almond or apricot pistachio tart, or try the ethereal strawberry basil and mango mimosas macarons.)

How to Spend a 24-Hour Staycation in Atlanta (1) Campfire Studio

11 a.m. — Big brunch at Buttermilk Kitchen

All that walking should have your belly primed for brunch, so make your way up to James Beard Fellow, cookbook author, and chef Suzanne Vizethann’s blue house in Buckhead.

Try the hot chicken and grits with Benton’s famous smoked bacon; fried green tomato, bacon, and pimento melt with fresh-cut fries on the side; and folded egg frittata with mushroom confit, roasted tomatoes, and Grana Padano cheese for a hearty brunch. Order a biscuit basket to share – it comes with blueberry-basil jam, red pepper jelly, and local Banner butter. Make it savory with a side of sawmill gravy or go even sweeter with your “bread for the table” with cornbread muffins with spun honey. Reservations recommended.

How to Spend a 24-Hour Staycation in Atlanta (2) Buttermilk Kitchen

12:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. — Get to know your city at the Atlanta History Center Buckhead

This Buckhead cultural gem is 33 acres so chock-full of Atlanta’s treasures that it’s a member of the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience. First up is an interactive, multimedia journey through the formation of Atlanta and its culture — a perfect lead-in to the Atlanta ’96 Olympic Games exhibit. Beyond that lies Native American pottery, a 138-year-old hand-painted cyclorama, an old locomotive from the Civil War era, the stunning Goizueta Gardens, and four historic homes including the Swan House, which you may recognize from The Hunger Games.

Parking in the deck is free, so take your time meandering. If you feel a little peckish, there’s local Brash Coffee and a Souper Jenny on site for a quick bite.

Other ideas: Visit the ABV Gallery in its new home. The Old Fourth Ward creative haven founded by artist Greg Mike is currently in the process of moving to its new, expanded space in East Atlanta Village, and is set to open in fall 2024.

3:30 to 6:30 p.m. — Find cool in a pool at Epicurean Atlanta or InterContinental Buckhead Hotel

Do a coin toss to decide between the buzzy Midtown gastronomy-focused Epicurean or contemporary classic InterContinental in tony Buckhead. They both offer day passes and are featured in our Atlanta pool guide.

The InterContinental pool is filled with saltwater instead of drying chlorine and its day rate includes free self-parking, Wi-Fi, towel service, and a spa discount should you want to make a day of it. There’s also a 10 percent discount on the poolside menu offered by celeb chef Scott Conant’s the Americano downstairs. Shareable snacks, raw bar selections, salads, sweet treats (strawberry mousse-stuffed bombolini doughnuts), and sandwiches can tempt you to ruin your appetite before dinner. co*cktails, beer, and wine are just a call from the patio phone away.

Meanwhile, the newer Epicurean Hotel — only the second of its kind — lures folks in with ninth-floor sky terrace views, in-water chaises, and climate-controlled, TV-equipped cabanas. Renting one of these private cabanas is the only way non-guests can experience the pool, but the package includes a complimentary fruit basket, some starter sodas in the mini-fridge, and a bottle of Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne. The Latin American Aerial Kitchen & Bar is located within view of the pool for some good grub. If your staycation falls on a Saturday, live poolside entertainment from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. is a strong argument to splurge.

7 p.m. — Dinner at Kyma

Take your palate to Greece with dinner at Kyma in Buckhead. It is helmed by executive chef, cookbook author, and second-generation scion of the Buckhead Life Restaurant Group, Pano Karatassos, who doesn’t hold back when shining a light on the food of his heritage.

Experience seafood held to such a high standard that he founded a fish market just to ensure the quality of his supply. The opulent chef’s tasting menu, paired with white-glove service, is a mini-vacation to the Greek Isles. And if seats are available, enjoy it — and a glass of Greek wine — on the stark white patio that recalls Mykonos, flagstones and all.

Other ideas: For a dinner that can place you anywhere in the world, consider the Consulate in Midtown. Every 90 days, a guest is chosen to spin a globe to determine the country of choice for the next quarter’s menu. Once decided, chef-owner Mei Lin does a deep dive into that country’s food, and for three months, that’s the cuisine served. Parking is free with validation.

Also fun and transportive: the Garden Room at the St. Regis Hotel, which is strewn with flowers, plants, greenery, and light. The menu focuses on delicate small plates like a lightly charred Caesar salad, field pea hummus, flatbreads, mini lobster rolls, sliders, and tallow-cooked Tater Tots and fries.

How to Spend a 24-Hour Staycation in Atlanta (3) Ouzo Bar/Kyma

9 p.m. to 11 p.m. — Work off dinner at Five Iron Golf or Painted Pickle

Light movement after a meal is good for digestion, and Atlanta has two brand-new options to dial up the fun after dinner.

Five Iron Golf has arrived in Atlanta, and with a reservation, groups of up to five can shoot the greens of any course in the world, with advanced simulators and immersive screens. However, the name is a misnomer, because this location not only has games and air hockey, but also a multisport simulator for up to eight. Slapshot hockey, breakaway soccer, and the Zombie Dodgeball are all a good time. A full bar, and promotions like 30 minutes of play free with a bucket of canned alcoholic beverages, can keep you busy until closing time, which is as late as 11 p.m. on weeknights and midnight on the weekends. Free garage parking (with validation) with direct elevator access to the venue is an invitation to stay a while.

Those hours also apply to Painted Pickle, a self-described “high-end pickleball compeatery.” This indoor pickleball courtyard offers eight courts with an indoor-outdoor feel, and a wraparound porch overlooking center court if you don’t feel like getting sweaty enough to need the complimentary showers. Live music and competitive pub games are free for all to enjoy.

If you do get thirsty or hungry, there’s a full bar with frozen co*cktails, a thoughtful nonalcoholic menu, and snacks like bacon cheeseburger pickle poppers, sushi-grade tuna nicoise, traditional lyonnaise salad, and sushi.

11:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. — Nightcap and dancing

Wow, are you still going? Good for you.

If your staycation ends in Midtown, head over to JoJo’s Beloved co*cktail Lounge in Colony Square, hidden behind the food hall in Politan Row. Its expansion, unveiled less than a year ago, debuted a dance floor, so you can boogie, disco, and cut a rug until 1 a.m. Thursday through Saturday, or until midnight Tuesdays and Wednesdays, sipping on co*cktails as the records play.

Heading south? Make your way to El Malo at Atlanta Dairies, a newcomer to the scene with an A-list of A-town food and drink collaborations and a sensuous vibe. The sound system is designed to bump hard through the night (until 2 a.m. Thursday through Saturday and midnight on Sundays), and drinks by Gabe Bowen and bites by Brad Forsblom and Claudia Martinez are heavenly fuel for would-be sinners.

Finally, on the Westside at Chattahoochee Food Works, Damsel is less a lady and more a party girl after 10 p.m. That’s when the structured cabaret dinner theater and rooftop lounge’s tasting stations shut down and a DJ claims the indoor-outdoor upstairs patio space for dancing until close, roughly 2 a.m. Shut it down Thursday through Saturday.

Where to stay: Kimpton Shane Hotel is sleek, luxurious, and contemporary, while Hotel Clermont is mid-city convenient and midcentury cool. In Buckhead, Hotel Colee is a bright, vivacious option, and the Burgess Hotel’s Library Bar and decor make bold statements. Staying at Epicurean Atlanta is a great hack for accessing the pool without renting a cabana. All of these options are pet-friendly (for a fee), which means you won’t need to get a sitter or walker for your staycation.

How to Spend a 24-Hour Staycation in Atlanta (2024)

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