4. Atlantic Station
The city's shopping and dining just keep getting better. Since it built its first mega-mall, folks have flocked here like birds to a feeder. Now locals and visitors alike put Atlantic Station on their migratory routes. The multiblock area sits in Midtown, where I-75 and I-85 North split. The new 17th Street bridge conveniently accesses underground parking. Currently, Atlantic Station is chockablock with big chains, including such spots as a flagship Dillard's, west elm, and Journeys. Locally owned shops are also moving in, such as Taste Clothing Boutique, which stocks trendy fashions from New York and Los Angeles. You'll want to seek out IKEA, a Scandinavian home store a couple of blocks away. It's the only location in the world to serve grits in its cafe. You can overnight here in TWELVE Atlantic Station hotel, which houses one- and two-bedroom suites complete with granite-and-stainless steel kitchens, living rooms, flat-panel TVs, and granite baths, in the same building as condos with similar layouts. Hotel rates start at less than $200. Restaurants can't open fast enough in Atlantic Station. Our favorite, Lobby at TWELVE, features upscale lunches and dinners. We also go for the pomegranate margaritas and guacamole at Rosa Mexicano. Two spots owned by Ashton Kutcher and his TV pals have added to the scene: Dolce Enoteca e Ristorante joins the glitzy bowling-and-billiards complex, Ten Pin Alley.
5. Downtown Hotels
With so much happening in the metro area, you'll want to be in the center of the action. Catering to a twenty- and thirtysomething crowd, the boutique property The Glenn Hotel boasts a see-and-be-seen, swanky lobby bar. The dark hallways upstairs lead to chic rooms with traditional luxurious linens. Baths offer little privacy but lots of panache with beaded shower curtains and round glass walls that are sometimes open to the bedrooms. Rates begin at $199. Families may stay more comfortably at the Embassy Suites near the aquarium (rates from $165). Rooms include kitchenettes, and outdoors, a cool pool appeals to kids. Later this year, downtown will see several new boutique hotels open, including a Hilton Garden Inn, The Ellis Hotel, and another TWELVE hotel/condo combo. Just don't blink too often in this city. New spots for fun and entertainment spring up that fast.
- Georgia Aquarium: www.georgiaaquarium.org
- Piedmont Park: www.piedmontpark.org
- Atlanta Botanical Garden: www.atlantabotanicalgarden.org
- High Museum of Art: www.high.org
- Atlantic Station: www.atlanticstation.com
- TWELVE Atlantic Station: www.twelvehotels.com
- The Glenn Hotel: www.glennhotel.com
- Embassy Suites: www.embassysuites.com