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Things to do in Atlanta

Red Clay, Ashes, & Buried Soldiers

The Atlanta Cyclorama, Grant Park, and Oakland Cemetery

 

Summer in Atlanta brings oppressive heat that sucks moisture from your mouth and deposits it back on your dripping skin. On such a day, July 22, 1864, sweat glistened and blood caked on Georgia’s red clay as the pivotal Civil War Battle of Atlanta raged around the city. Recreated at the Atlanta Cyclorama, the clashes of Confederate and Union troops encircle visitor’s rotating seats in the middle of a 360 degree diorama depicting the battle. As if their passions cannot be contained, soldiers seem to pour off the painting onto a red clay set in the foreground. The chilling use of surround sound music, sound effects, and narration engage the imagination and senses. This battle led to the surrender of Atlanta on September 2, 1864. Soon afterwards, William Tecumseh Sherman, the Major-General commanding the Union troops, ordered Atlanta evacuated and burned.

 

Atlanta’s symbol is the Phoenix, a legendary bird of Egyptian mythology that rose from its own ashes with renewed strength and beauty. From the Atlanta Cyclorama, located only three miles from downtown, visitors look at the modern architecture of a shimmering skyline reflecting the fact that Atlanta did rise again.

 

Surrounding the Atlanta Cyclorama are the historical houses of Grant Park developed in the 1890’s. Grant Park’s Folk Victorian, Craftsman Bungalow, English Vernacular Revival, Shotgun/Double Shotgun, and Queen Anne homes suffered from disrepair and decay when people moved further from town. Efforts to save this charming neighborhood from becoming urban ashes began with renovations in the 1970’s and continue today.

 

Pay respects to the Civil War dead at nearby Oakland. A Confederate section includes the graves of five Confederate generals. In 1864, Confederate Commander John B. Hood stood on Bell Tower Ridge, the highest ground of Oakland, looking east over the frenzy of the Battle of Atlanta. Many famous citizens including Margaret Mitchell (author of Gone With the Wind) rest here. Elaborate gravestones and mausoleums display symbols such as doves (meaning messenger of God) that communicate the Victorian era’s use of icons as a language of grief.

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Nighlife in Atlanta…The Unknown Factor

As the capital of the South,  Atlanta is called HOTLANTA. No, its not because of the weather in middle of July…its because Atlanta has neighborhoods that make up a thriving, swanky, hot city….On any given night….the pulse of Atlanta is beating with diverse but friendly crowds. For the newcomer, here a list of the top five neighborhoods in HOTLANA to “hang out”.

Everyone knows Buckhead. Its always hip and swanky…..filled with shoppers and the beautiful people. It used to be bar after bar after bar. Now, Buckhead has become a good balance of eateries and bars…On the weekend, Buckhead is sometimes overcrowded, so be prepared to feel like a cattle on Friday or Saturday night….

The unknown secret in Atlanta is the village of East Atlanta….a tight neighborhood off of Interstate 20…East Atlanta is host to a select few bars and restruant that cater to a loyal but diverse clientle. Compared to Buckhead, you won’t find national chain stores or restruants in the Villiage of East Atlanta…you will find family owned bakery, bars, and  hardware stores.  National Recording Acts also play at various venues in East Atlanta.   

Virginia Highlands is for the in-crowd and for those who don’t care to be seen in Buckhead…..Some of the best restruants are located in Virginia Highlands….you’ll also find everything from blues to hard core rock n roll in the Highlands…

Midtown has changed in the past five years…once down and out..now its hip..swanky and cool to be seen in Midtown…Everything you want is in Midtown….Everything….

Last but not the least, is Little Five Points….Once thought to be a ”hang out” for the anti- establishment crowd….now its the coolest part of town hosting renown music and theather venues, eclected eateries, and one of kind shops….Little Five Points is where you can let hair down and just be…..  

This is just taste of Atlanta…its still a developing town as more people head from the “burbs” to the condos on any street called Peachtree.  Nightlife in Hotlanta is open seven days a week……….

 

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Atlanta’s 5 Coolest Coffee Shops

The day has been long and you are in no mood to fight the 5 pm traffic. What you could really appreciate is some place and some time to just kick back and relax for a while. Maybe with a nice home-baked snack and a piping cup of coffee beside you? Well then you are in luck, because in the city of Atlanta, this sort of experience can be had cheaply and conveniently at various coffee shops around town. Even if you are not a coffee drinker, there are other options such as: tea, hot chocolate, apple cider, or fruit smoothies, just to name a few. If you think they are all like Starbucks, you need to check out some of the 5 unique places listed below. Since each coffee house has particular characteristics, consider your own personality and determine what mood you are in. Then find the best fit for you and go unwind before weaving your way through congested interstates. Hey, maybe by the time you get ready to leave, the traffic will be clear enough for you to coast all the way home.

1-      OCTANE COFFEE BAR & LOUNGE

www.octanecoffee.com

1009-B Marietta St. NW

Atlanta, GA 30318

404.815.9886

 

Located on Atlanta’s westside of Midtown, this coffee lounge is a popular hang-out spot for many westside locals. With brick walls and a concrete floor, the room’s ambiance is simple and spacious. Those brick walls are not too simple though- they showcase the work of a local artist, which revolves on a monthly basis. The atmosphere is far from the suburbia lifestyle, and therefore, Octane attracts a younger, hipper crowd. However, it is common to see business-suited professionals interspersed between the artistically inclined. The coffee menu is expansive enough to please any caffeine addict. At least two roasts are offered daily- a lighter roast and a darker roast. Organic options are sometimes showcased, but always available. If you stay long enough to get hungry, the offer healthy snack and meal options. Free wireless internet is available to all guests.

 

What changes: The noise level inside grows louder by the day, as the space grows more crowded by the day.

 

What never changes:  The spirit of community and camaraderie within.

 

 

2-      JOE’S EAST ATLANTA COFFEE SHOP

510 Flat Shoals Ave SE
Atlanta, GA 30316-2044
(404) 521-1122

On the other side of Midtown, Joe’s is most commonly referred to as the building with the big coffee mug coming out of it. The cafe is comfortably nestled in East Atlanta Village, between Glenwood and Metropolitan avenues. The setting is urban, but it also feels like home with cozy couches, board games, and old-fashioned desserts. If you enjoy red velvet cake, you will definitely want to taste of Joe’s homemade version. Lattes are the local’s favorite choice of drink, but the coffee is great and the tea selection is vast. The atmosphere is much quieter than most coffee shops; therefore, Joe’s is a great place for the nonsocial, the studious, or those of you who need to squeeze in another hour of uninterrupted work. Wireless internet is available at no charge, so don’t forget your laptop.

One point of interest: The painted ceiling was inspired by the Sistine Chapel.

One point of common frustration: a parking space is hard to find.

 

 

3-      CARROLL STREET CAFE

www.apresdiem.com/carroll

208 Carroll St. SE

Atlanta, GA 30312

404.577.2700

You can find this romantic spot in Atlanta’s Cabbagetown district, situated between trendy restaurants and vintage clothing stores. The Cabbagetown community boasts pastel-colored lofts and narrow streets, and for a moment, you will forget that you are in the middle of postmodern America. If the weather is nice, you will want to enjoy the area at one of the outdoor tables. The cafe has a European flair- classy art, candlelit tables, and book-covered tables. Though you cannot beat the bottomless cup of coffee, Carroll Street’s caffeinated options are diverse, yet ordinary. However, they do not stop there- an impressive wine bar is open as long as the doors are. The kitchen is always open as well for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, offering some of Atlanta’s most delicious healthy fare. Though the cafe is classified as a restaurant by many, the wait staff will have no problem if you want to hang out on the leather couch with your cup of coffee (or glass of wine, if you prefer), your novel, or your laptop (free wireless internet is available).

Something to take advantage of: Tapas after 4 pm & half wine bottles on Tuesday nights.

Some to take consideration of:  Although the cafe is trendy, it is a little more formal and humble than the usual urban coffee shops. 

 

 

4-      CAFE INTERMEZZO

www.cafeintermezzo.com

1845 Peachtree Road

Atlanta, GA 30309

404.355.0411

 

This one is for the residents of Buckhead, at least for those of you who tired of corporate giants such as Starbucks or Caribou Coffee. Cafe Intermezzo has been in the Atlanta area since 1979, starting in the metro area of Dunwoody. The Dunwoody location is still in daily operation, but it is the Buckhead location on Peachtree Street that most city-dwellers love so much. You will walk in and be transported to 19th century Europe. The rooms are dark and quaint. Each table is carefully covered in white cloth and perfectly lit with a flickering candle. A soft color palette blends nicely with the dimmed setting, creating the most romantic of date spots. The drink selections come in book format, and you could flip through the pages for hours. Coffee combinations that combine Nutella, tea blends that are pressed right at your table, and the hundreds of alcoholic beverages will keep you coming back again and again. Be sure to check out the dessert offerings. Two huge cases are filled with over 100 different cakes, pies, and torts. An entire case is devoted just to various cheesecakes, from Oreo to Mocha, from Pumpkin to Mint. Cafe Intermezzo has acquired persistent praise by people of all ages and places.

 

One big pro: The hours- stay open until 3 am on weeknights and 4 am on Friday and Saturday nights. 

 

One big con: Crowds are so thick on weekend evenings that it can take 2 hours to be seated. Not only is the place popular, but it is hard for people to leave once they have arrived.

 

 

5-      JAVA MONKEY

http://www.javamonkeydecatur.com/

205 Ponce de Leon Ave. #5

Decatur, GA 30030

404.378.5002

 

If the Decatur area is your place of habitation, either residentially or professionally, then Java Monkey remains a highly recommended place of relaxation. It also boasts a bar of carefully- chosen wines, as well as a comprehensive coffee menu. The space is small and cluttered with a thrift-made decor. Ripped-up couches look like they were picked up on the side of the road. A spirit of organic liberalism seems to loom in the air. Speaking of organic, many options are available in food or drink, as well as a cooler full of Arden’s Garden smoothies. This coffee house is urban culture at its best. Right at the door is a bulletin board covered in local happenings, big-time and small-town gigs. Newspapers and other reading material are scattered throughout the establishment. You will often see college students leaning over books or scribbling comments into notebooks. Decatur is a small section of Atlanta that hosts Emory University and Agnes Scott students, both which are liberal arts institutions.

 

A typical Java Monkey:  Dreadlocks, thrift store t-shirt, dirty blue jeans, a taste for the organic, and a high level of intellectualism.

 

An atypical Java Monkey:  The conservative, the frat guy, climbers of the corporate ladder, and obnoxiously loud talkers.

 

But don’t let this profile scare you off- everyone is always welcomed with open arms and anyone could appreciate the sort of “feel” to Java Monkey.



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Five Unique Outdoor Experiences in the Atlanta Area

The always burgeoning sprawl of the Atlanta area is usually not known for its great outdoor experiences, yet the metropolitan area does contain many worthwhile and unique outdoor opportunities.

Sweetwater state park is the site of civil war era factory town, New Manchester, that was burned down as the Union army overtook Atlanta. The only remains standing are the ghostly ruins of the factory right next to Sweet Water Creek (which looks more like a river). The wooded area is far removed from any bustling sprawl and contains three beautiful hiking trails of various challenge. The longest one loops six miles around the 2,000 acres. The park is located 15 miles west of Atlanta off I-20 at exit #12.

Historic Oakland Cemetery is truly a city of the dead invoking a time now gone yet also timeless. The elaborate florid architecture of tombstones and mausoleum speaks poetry among the sculpted gardens and the ancient trees . Many of the city’s movers and shakers are buried here from civil rights pioneers, Confederate generals, Gone with the Wind author Margaret Mitchell and 25 mayors. Oakland leaves a strange stirring experience that is unforgettable. The Cemetery is located off Memorial Drive near the capital.

Nearby Grant Park offers a relaxing retreat from the harsh steel and concrete of downtown. The park’s winding paths and huge oak trees offer a relaxing retreat in the middle of the loud imposing steel and concrete of downtown. The park also contains the attractions of the Atlanta Zoo and the circular epic Civil War painting Cyclorama. The surrounding neighborhood is made up of beautiful meticulously detailed Victorian homes. Grant Park is located off Memorial Drive near the capital.

Mount Arabia nature preserve is part of a trinity of unusual stone and granite mountainous formations in the Atlanta area, which also includes Stone Mountain and Mount Panola. Mount Arabia is like teleporting onto another planet. The mountainous landscape offers a vast amount of trails from the serene to the moderately challenging. Arabia’s appeal over the popular Stone mountain is its isolation and avoidance of at touristy vibe. The preserve contains rare plant life and abundant wildlife. Experiencing the area is seeing nature in sheer intensity which can provide the possibility for a humbling meditative experience. The preserve is located east on I-20 off exit 74.

Kennesaw mountain offers both a vigorous hike, history, and a brilliant view of the Atlanta skyline. The mountain was the site of a bloody civil war battle where the confederates fended off the Union army from atop . Also nearby are other civil war parks memorial parks such as Picket’s mill and Cheatham Hills. These areas not only offer history but are an oasis in Atlanta’s continual engulfing sprawl.

 

 

 

 

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