Lifestyle

How to Have Fun in Atlanta-No Booze Required

Non-alcoholic bars, wellness retreats, and more zero-proof fun.

Photo courtesy of Ponce City Market
Photo courtesy of Ponce City Market
Photo courtesy of Ponce City Market

It’s no secret that non-alcoholic drinks and sober bars are increasing in popularity across the country-and that’s true in Atlanta as well. In a city with so many great things to do, you can pack a weekend (or lifetime) full of fun in Atlanta without ever having a sip of alcohol. We’ve got spaces dedicated to zero-proof drinking and mocktails that rival drinks at the city’s best bars.

But even beyond the growing non-alcoholic scene, there are plenty of sober things to do that don’t involve drinking at all (boozy or otherwise). From top-notch museums and shopping destinations to special events centered around wellness, you’ll find plenty of fun. Whether you’ve completely cut out alcohol, are embarking on Dry January, or just want to take a night off, here are the best events and things to do in Atlanta that don’t involve drinking.

Photo by M.S. Meeuwesen
Photo by M.S. Meeuwesen
Photo by M.S. Meeuwesen

Non-Alcoholic Drinking in Atlanta

Zero-proof beverages and NA bars

There was once a time when zero-proof beverages didn’t go far beyond soda-but times have changed. Sure, you can purchase expertly crafted non-alcoholic cocktails at many top restaurants and bars in Atlanta, but Atlanta is also home to several venues dedicated to the dry drinker. The Sober Social Bar in Castleberry Hill has grown in popularity since it opened in 2022, and a pop-up called Altered Bar at the art venue Bardo offers fun experiences like movie nights and art exhibitions, all while serving some of the best non-alcoholic pours in the city. At stores like The Zero Co. and Soberish, customers can purchase mixers, glasses, fruits, liquids, and more to craft the perfect mocktail (or mocktails, depending on how many want to join the party) from the comfort of your own home.

Coffee shops and tea spots

Your local happy hour isn’t the only time you can grab a drink with a friend or two. Urban Grind‘s intimate atmosphere is the perfect place to sit back, relax, and enjoy freshly brewed coffee and loose-leaf herbal tea. The shop also features a selection of panini sandwiches, pastries and desserts, along with events such as art exhibits and poetry jams during the evening time. If you’re looking for a cozy coffee shop that also houses novels, children’s books, and New York Times bestsellers, then The Read Shop was made just for you.

While it has become normal to run to your nearest bar whenever a celebration is in order, catching up over tea is a fun, upscale way to enjoy the fruits of one’s labor. Atlanta is home to several tea rooms, all with its own unique character. Inman Park’s Just Add Honey has long been a go-to, Dr. Bombay’s grants you the option of getting your tea on the run, and the Swan Coach House gives attendees a dose of Southern charm any time they enter its doors.

Photo courtesy of Console x 2ndbdrm
Photo courtesy of Console x 2ndbdrm
Photo courtesy of Console x 2ndbdrm

Arts and Culture Things to Do in Atlanta

Bear & Honey Candle Co.

Head to Bear & Honey Candle Co., a company that sells some of the sweetest smelling candles in the city and offers unique candle making classes that you have to experience. Along with creating some cool candles that have up to 40 hours of burn time, visitors can also make dessert candles, a waxed and wicked fixture modeled after your favorite pastries. Whether you’re popping in solo or booking a group party, these classes are both fun and fulfilling.

Console by 2ndbdrm

Head to Citizen Supply, an artisan marketplace within Ponce City Market, and go straight to Console by 2ndbdrm for a vinyl listening experience like no other. Surrounded by furniture, incense, non-alcoholic spirits, and other items for sale in the marketplace, there’s a collection of records that will intrigue both casual music lovers and crate-digging vets alike.

Starlight Drive-In

Since the world entered the Silicon Age, we’ve gotten away from many of the good experiences that the old days provided. Well, Atlanta has a gem that takes you back to generations past: the legendary Starlight Drive-In. For what’s arguably the best movie deal in Atlanta, you can bring your own food and drink and watch a double feature from the sanctuary of your car all for about $10 per person.

Georgia Aquarium

You can never go wrong by visiting the largest aquarium in the country for a day of sea appreciation. For years, the Georgia Aquarium has entertained and educated, and features exhibits dedicated to the ocean and the animals that dwell inside of it.

Escape rooms

It would be hard to drink anything when you’re putting your mind to the test at one of the many escape rooms in Atlanta. These venues offer some impossible challenges, with difficulty levels ranging from super easy to incredibly hard. You’ll have to work to solve puzzles and riddles, and ultimately crack the code so that you can exit safely.

Photo courtesy of iFly Indoor Skydiving
Photo courtesy of iFly Indoor Skydiving
Photo courtesy of iFly Indoor Skydiving

Wellness Things to Do in Atlanta

Floasis Float & Sauna Center

There’s nothing more tranquil than disconnecting in a float tank. At Floasis, you can find relief from pain and stress the natural way. This remedy has also been known to reduce anxiety, enhance creativity, and even improve sleep and your immune function. A state-of-the-art sauna is on site as well for an extra boost.

Indoor skydiving

Fly high while still staying grounded. iFly Indoor Skydiving is an exhilarating activity that makes you feel like you’re 20,000 feet in the air when you hover inside of the facility’s second-to-none wind tunnels. If you’ve never jumped out of a plane before, that’s quite alright-you don’t need to have any experience for this one.Want more Thrillist? Follow us on¬†Instagram,¬†TikTok,¬†Twitter,¬†Facebook,¬†Pinterest, and¬†YouTube.

Okla Jones is an Atlanta-based journalist who writes about food, fine arts, and entertainment. His work also appears in ESSENCE, Creative Loafing Atlanta, and Consequence of Sound. Follow him on Instagram at @coolhandoak.

Lifestyle

The Best New Bookstores in LA are Curated, Specific, and Personal

Discover a new favorite book, join a book club, and maybe even do some karaoke at the new wave of LA bookshops.

Photo by Innis Casey Photography, courtesy of Zibby's Bookshop
Photo by Innis Casey Photography, courtesy of Zibby’s Bookshop
Photo by Innis Casey Photography, courtesy of Zibby’s Bookshop

A couple of years ago, the legendary Powell’s Books in Portland released a perfume designed to evoke the smell of a bookstore. The scent has notes of wood, violet, and the lovely and unusually precise word biblichor, the particular aroma of old books. The reality of the scent is what it is-mostly sweet and floral-but more important is the imagery it conjures. The best bookstores are both cozy and mysterious, familiar and surprising, with endless potential for discovery.

Los Angeles has a wealth of independent book sellers, including beloved legacy shops like The Last Bookstore, The Iliad, and Chevalier’s. But a new wave of bookstores has been growing over the last few years, shops that eschew the traditional one-of-everything mindset to focus on specificity, curation, and point of view. There are bookstores with themes, bookstores that double as event spaces, bookstores that reflect their neighbourhoods, bookstores that take inspiration from a specific person-whether that’s the shop owner, a historical figure, or a little bit of both-and so many more.

Like the niche-ification of the internet and the culture at large, these new and new-ish bookstores provide a space to discover books, ideas, and perspectives led by an expert, the kind of things that you may never have found on your own. They can also be a safe harbour for pure nerdiness, a place to dive deep into your favourite category or cause. To help you on your way, we’ve put together a list of some of the best new bookstores in LA, with a focus on curated shops with their own specific perspectives.

Photo courtesy of Octavia's Bookshelf
Photo courtesy of Octavia’s Bookshelf
Photo courtesy of Octavia’s Bookshelf

Octavia’s Bookshelf

Pasadena
Pasadena is a famously book-friendly city, with bookstore royalty in the form of legendary Vroman’s and its own literary alliance. Now it has one of the most exciting new bookstores too. Octavia’s Bookshelf is owner Nikki High’s tribute to the science fiction master Octavia E. Butler, who was a Pasadena native herself. The name of the shop provides a clue into High’s inspiration, titles she imagines Butler would have had on her shelves, with a focus on BIPOC authors. The storefront is small, but the collection is impeccably curated and the space is cozy and welcoming for readers of all backgrounds.

Photo by Mads Gobbo, courtesy of North Figueroa Bookshop
Photo by Mads Gobbo, courtesy of North Figueroa Bookshop
Photo by Mads Gobbo, courtesy of North Figueroa Bookshop

North Figueroa Bookshop

Highland Park
Vertical integration can be a beautiful thing, especially when it allows independent creators more control over their products. The new North Figueroa Bookshop is a shining example of the concept, a storefront built on a collaboration between two publishers, Rare Bird and Unnamed Press. North Fig features titles from those presses, of course, including lots of striking literary fiction and memoir, but it also features a curated collection of other books. They’ve made it a point of emphasis to serve the needs of the local Highland Park, Glassell Park, Cypress Park, and Eagle Rock community-there’s lots of fiction from fellow independent publishers, other general interest titles with a focus on California history and literature, and plenty of Spanish-language books.

Photo by Karen Cohen Photography, courtesy of Zibby's Bookshop
Photo by Karen Cohen Photography, courtesy of Zibby’s Bookshop
Photo by Karen Cohen Photography, courtesy of Zibby’s Bookshop

Zibby’s Bookshop

Santa Monica
Speaking of vertical integration, there’s another new combined publisher and bookstore on the other side of town. Zibby’s Bookshop is the brainchild of Zibby Owens, Sherri Puzey, and Diana Tramontano, and it’s the physical home of Zibby Books, a literary press that releases one featured book a month. That system is designed so that each book gets the full attention and resources of the press. Owens is an author, podcaster, and book-fluencer, and she has become something of a lit-world mogul with a magazine, podcast network, event business, and an education platform too. The shop has a unique sorting system, built around a feeling for each book-in store many of the shelves are labelled by interest or personality type, like “For the foodie,” or “For the pop culture lover.” On their webshop, you can browse for books that make you cry, escape, laugh, lust, or tremble. There are recommendations from Owens and the staff, sections for local authors, family dramas, and books that have just been optioned. If this all seems a little overwhelming, you should probably avoid the section dedicated to books that make you anxious.

The Salt Eaters Bookshop

Inglewood
Inglewood native Asha Grant opened The Salt Eaters Bookshop in 2021 with a mission in mind-to centre stories with protagonists who are Black girls, women, femme, and/or gender-nonconforming people. Over the last year and change that it’s been open, it has also become a community hub, a place for Inglewood locals and people from across town to drop in, to see what’s new and to discover incredible works in the Black feminist tradition. They also host regular events like readings, discussions, and parties.

Lost Books

Montrose
Thankfully, legendary downtown bookshop The Last Bookstore’s name is hyperbole, and owners Josh and Jenna Spencer have even gone so far as to open a second shop, Lost Books in Montrose. Instead of the technicolour whimsy of the book tunnel at The Last Bookstore, Lost Books has a tunnel of plants that welcomes you into the shop, which opened in the summer of 2021. They sell those plants in addition to books, and coffee and vinyl too, which makes Lost Books a lovely destination and a fun little surprise in the quaint foothill town just off the 2 freeway.

Photo by Claudia Colodro, courtesy of Stories Books & Cafe
Photo by Claudia Colodro, courtesy of Stories Books & Cafe
Photo by Claudia Colodro, courtesy of Stories Books & Cafe

Stories Books & Cafe

Echo Park
Ok, this one is fudging the criteria a little-Stories has been open for almost 15 years. But over those years the shop has become a pillar of Echo Park community life, hosting readings, discussions, and events, and their cafe tables function as a de facto office for about half of the neighbourhood on any given afternoon. After the tragic recent passing of co-owner and Echo Park fixture Alex Maslansky it seemed like the shop’s future was in doubt, but thankfully after a brief hiatus co-owner and co-founder Claudia Colodro and the staff were able to band together to reopen and keep the beloved cafe and bookstore going strong.

Page Against the Machine

Long Beach
The name alone makes it clear what you’re getting at Page Against the Machine-revolutionary progressive books, with a collection centred on activist literature, socially conscious writing, and a whole lot of political history. The shop itself is small but the ideas are grand, with fiction by writers like Richard Wright, Colson Whitehead, and Albert Camus next to zines about gentrification and compendia of mushroom varieties. They also host regular readings and discussions.

Photo by Viva Padilla, courtesy of Re/Arte
Photo by Viva Padilla, courtesy of Re/Arte
Photo by Viva Padilla, courtesy of Re/Arte

Re/Arte Centro Literario

Boyle Heights
Boyle Heights has its own small but mighty combined bookstore, art gallery, gathering space, and small press in Viva Padilla’s Re/Arte. Padilla is a poet, translator, editor, and curator, and as a South Central LA native and the child of Mexican immigrants, she’s focused on Chicanx and Latinx art, literature, and social criticism. Re/Arte’s collection has a wide range of books, from classic Latin American literature to modern essays and everything in between. Re/Arte is also now the headquarters for sin cesar, a literary journal that publishes poetry, fiction, and essays from Black and Brown writers. There are always community-focused events happening too, from regular open mics and zine workshops to film screenings and more.

The Book Jewel

Westchester
Most bookshops host events, but few host them with the regularity of The Book Jewel, the two- year-old independent bookstore in Westchester. Their calendar is so full with readings, several different book clubs, signings, and meet and greets that there are sometimes multiple events on the same day. The shop also hosts a ton of family-focused readings, with regular storytime on Sunday mornings often followed by a talk with the author. It’s a great fit for the relatively low-key (but not exactly quiet) suburban neighbourhood, and it’s no coincidence that storytime lines up with the Westchester Farmers Market, which takes place right out front.

Reparations Club

West Adams
Most bookstores lean into coziness, aiming to be a hideaway for some quiet contemplation or maybe a quick sotto voce chat-not so at Reparations Club, the exuberant and stylish concept bookshop and art space on Jefferson. Owner and founder Jazzi McGilbert and her staff have built a beautiful and vibrant shop full of art from Black artists, including books but also records, candles, incense, clothing, and all sorts of fun things to discover. There’s a perfect seating area to sit and hang out for a while, and they host a range of wild and fun events from readings to happy hours, panel discussions to karaoke nights and more.

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Ben Mesirow is a Staff Writer at Thrillist.

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