Travel

Where to Go on a Date in Buckhead

Here's where to impress someone special.

Hotel Colee, Autograph Collection
Hotel Colee, Autograph Collection
Hotel Colee, Autograph Collection

Some neighborhoods in Atlanta are overflowing with attractions and special experiences that make for awesome dates, while others, like Buckhead, require a little more ingenuity to pull off the perfect date. However, don’t let that deter you from taking your boo uptown every once in a while. From a creative way to utilize Lenox Square Mall to the low-down about a top-secret speakeasy, here are 10 fun and romantic ideas for dates in Buckhead.

Go see a concert at Buckhead Theatre

Although some argue that entertainment-whether it be a movie or a sporting event-doesn’t make for great dates, those people are 100% wrong. There’s no better ice breaker than hearing live music together, and that’s why one of the best dates in Buckhead is attending a concert at the iconic Buckhead Theatre. Artists from all genres perform there, but regardless of who you two ultimately decide to see, every concert is arguably a once-in-a-lifetime experience. If all goes well, you and your date will already have a special memory to cherish, and if things don’t work out, at least you got to see one of your favorite artists perform live.

Atlanta History Center
Atlanta History Center
Atlanta History Center

Grab a coffee and take a trip through time

Unless your crush has talked at length about how much they hate Starbucks or any of Atlanta’s best local coffee shops, it’s probably a safe bet to meet for coffee. Whether you consider it a precursor to a first date or a real-deal relationship starter, coffee dates are both delicious and a great way to get to know the person sitting in front of you. Buckhead’s premier coffee shop, Brash Coffee, takes that meaningful date concept one step further by positioning you and your date right at the Atlanta History Center, so after you two link up for some lattes, you can travel back through time and learn about Georgia’s intriguing history.

Take a romantic stroll through Chastain Park

A tried and true date that will bring you closer to your date-and help you save some money in the process-is taking a romantic stroll through a park, and Chastain Park is the perfect place to do that in Buckhead. With tennis courts, soccer fields, a playground, and, most importantly, plenty of walking trails, the 268-acre outdoor recreation area makes for a really fun place to explore, so just make sure your date is wearing good walking shoes! Plus, if either of you gets hungry, you can also grab food nearby at The Chastain, which sits right on the edge of Chastain Park’s western border.

Hotel Colee, Autograph Collection
Hotel Colee, Autograph Collection
Hotel Colee, Autograph Collection

Get away from everything with a romantic staycation

For more serious relationships-or hell, entanglements too-sometimes the best date is just getting away from the monotony of everyday life and being pampered for a little bit. If you can relate to that sentiment, surprise your significant other with a romantic staycation at one of Buckhead’s gorgeous hotels. Hotel Colee, The Whitley, The Westin, and the Kimpton Sylvan Hotel are among the many great options in Buckhead, and for an even more relaxing experience, you should book a stay at the Waldorf Astoria. An aesthetically pleasing spa and a heated indoor pool await you there, so you can check those amenities out in between all the rest you’ll be getting during your stay.

Go bar hopping at the Kimpton Sylvan

The Kimpton Sylvan Hotel is a great example of why hotel restaurants have become some of Atlanta’s hottest spots. The Buckhead hotel boasts three different options for food and drink: The Betty, Willow Bar, and St. Julep. Bond over an extravagant dinner at The Betty, and afterward, go bar hopping between Willow Bar and St. Julep, The Kimpton Sylvan’s respective garden and rooftop bars.

Lucian
Lucian
Lucian

Bond over a shared love of books

Bookworms need love, too, and if both you and your date can take a break from what you all have been reading over the past week, you two can bond over a shared love for books at Lucian Books and Wine. A mashup between an expertly curated bookstore and a wine shop, Lucian is the perfect place to go during the early dating phase, and after enjoying a glass of wine or two, you and your date can pick out a book that you can take on together.

Have some drinks and style each other at Lenox Square Mall

Whether you’ve worked at a mall in the past or been unwillingly dragged to one before, you may think that a trip to the mall is just a chore, but for people of the more fashionable variety, it can also make for a surprisingly great date. Lenox Square Mall has everything to satisfy all of your retail wants and needs, from nice, yet affordable shops like Urban Outfitters, Guess, and Zara to luxury, high-end stores such as Cartier, Louis Vuitton, and MCM. If you’re interested in learning more about your date’s style and offering some fashion suggestions of your own, you two can go shopping-or just window shopping-in Lenox Square Mall’s vast assortment of retailers. And for those 21+, you can enjoy a beer or glass of wine at Peachtree Pint near the food court whenever you need a quick break from trying on clothes.

Red Phone Booth - Downtown Atlanta
Red Phone Booth – Downtown Atlanta
Red Phone Booth – Downtown Atlanta

Hit up an exclusive and top secret speakeasy

Whether or not you’re actually one of the coolest and most in-the-know people in Atlanta, your date doesn’t have to know that right away. If you’re looking to impress them with your local knowledge, take them on a trip to Red Phone Booth, an exclusive and top secret speakeasy that only allows entry if you correctly present its password. You can apply to be a member of Red Phone Booth online to guarantee access, but if you’re down to do some detective work, you can secure the current password from an active member, concierge, or friend. Once you’ve got it, just dial it into the restored London antique red phone booth outside and introduce your date to a side of Atlanta that they’ve never seen before.

Corner Cafe and Buckhead Bread Co.
Corner Cafe and Buckhead Bread Co.
Corner Cafe and Buckhead Bread Co.

Link up for brunch and mimosas

Whoever came up with the unofficial rule that dates are supposed to take place later in the day must not have heard about brunch. In addition to keeping your date on their toes by taking them on an adventure before noon, going on a brunch date is the perfect move for breakfast foodies. Luckily, Buckhead has an impressive assortment of brunch-worthy spots-from South City Kitchen to Toast On Lenox-so all you have to worry about is whether you and your date are up for bottomless mimosas.

Tour three of Atlanta’s best breweries

The only downside of drink-inspired dates is that one of you has to step up as the designated driver and skip out on all of the spirited activities. Thankfully, Southern Culinary Tours thought about that and started offering tours of local breweries in which they’ll do the driving for you. The classic Atlanta Brewery Tour, for example, takes guests to SweetWater Brewery, Atlanta Brewing Company, and Monday Night Brewing, and throughout the course of the tour, they are treated to a private tasting at SweetWater, an complimentary pint of beer at each of the next two stops, and a light snack. Pickup and dropoff is at Iron Hill Brewery Buckhead.Want more Thrillist? Follow us on InstagramTwitterPinterestYouTubeTikTok, and Snapchat.

Joshua Robinson is an Atlanta-based contributor for Thrillist. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter @roshrisky.

Travel

Ditch your Phone for ‘Dome Life’ in this Pastoral Paradise Outside Port Macquarie 

A responsible, sustainable travel choice for escaping big city life for a few days.

nature domes port macquarie
Photo: Nature Domes

The urge to get as far away as possible from the incessant noise and pressures of ‘big city life’ has witnessed increasingly more of us turn to off-grid adventures for our holidays: Booking.com polled travellers at the start of 2023 and 55% of us wanted to spend our holidays ‘off-grid’.  Achieving total disconnection from the unyielding demands of our digitised lives via some kind of off-grid nature time—soft or adventurous—is positioned not only as a holiday but, indeed, a necessity for our mental health. 

Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, an accommodation collection of geodesic domes dotted across a lush rural property in Greater Port Macquarie (a few hours’ drive from Sydney, NSW), offers a travel experience that is truly ‘off-grid’. In the figurative ‘wellness travel’ sense of the word, and literally, they run on their own independent power supply—bolstered by solar—and rely not on the town grid. 

Ten minutes before you arrive at the gates for a stay at Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, your phone goes into ‘SOS ONLY’. Apple Maps gives up, and you’re pushed out of your comfort zone, driving down unsealed roads in the dark, dodging dozens of dozing cows. Then, you must ditch your car altogether and hoist yourself into an open-air, all-terrain 4WD with gargantuan wheels. It’s great fun being driven through muddy gullies in this buggy; you feel like Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park.  As your buggy pulls in front of your personal Nature Dome, it’s not far off that “Welcome…to Jurassic Park” jaw-dropping moment—your futuristic-looking home is completely engulfed by thriving native bushland; beyond the outdoor campfire lie expansive hills and valleys of green farmland, dotted with sheep and trees. You’re almost waiting to see a roaming brachiosaurus glide past, munching on a towering gum tree…instead, a few inquisitive llamas trot past your Dome to check out their new visitor. 

To fully capture the awe of inhabiting a geodesic dome for a few days, a little history of these futuristic-looking spherical structures helps. Consisting of interlocking triangular skeletal struts supported by (often transparent) light walls, geodesic domes were developed in the 20th century by American engineer and architect R. Buckminster Fuller, and were used for arenas. Smaller incarnations have evolved into a ‘future-proof’ form of modern housing: domes are able to withstand harsh elements due to the stability provided by the durable materials of their construction and their large surface area to volume ratio (which helps minimize wind impact and prevents the structure from collapsing). As housing, they’re also hugely energy efficient – their curved shape helps to conserve heat and reduce energy costs, making them less susceptible to temperature changes outside. The ample light let in by their panels further reduces the need for artificial power. 

Due to their low environmental impact, they’re an ideal sustainable travel choice. Of course, Tom’s Creek Nature Domes’ owner-operators, Cardia and Lee Forsyth, know all this, which is why they have set up their one-of-a-kind Nature Domes experience for the modern traveller. It’s also no surprise to learn that owner Lee is an electrical engineer—experienced in renewable energy—and that he designed the whole set-up. As well as the off-grid power supply, rainwater tanks are used, and the outdoor hot tub is heated by a wood fire—your campfire heats up your tub water via a large metal coil. Like most places in regional Australia, the nights get cold – but rather than blast a heater, the Domes provide you with hot water bottles, warm blankets, lush robes and heavy curtains to ward off the chill.

nature domes port macquarie
Photo: Nature Domes

You’ll need to be self-sufficient during your stay at the Domes, bringing your own food. Support local businesses and stock up in the town of Wauchope on your drive-in (and grab some pastries and coffee at Baked Culture while you’re at it). There’s a stovetop, fridge (stocked as per a mini bar), BBQs, lanterns and mozzie coils, and you can even order DIY S’More packs for fireside fun. The interiors of the Domes have a cosy, stylish fit-out, with a modern bathroom (and a proper flushing toilet—none of that drop bush toilet stuff). As there’s no mobile reception, pack a good book or make the most of treasures that lie waiting to be discovered at every turn: a bed chest full of board games, a cupboard crammed with retro DVDs, a stargazing telescope (the skies are ablaze come night time). Many of these activities are ideal for couples, but there’s plenty on offer for solo travellers, such as yoga mats, locally-made face masks and bath bombs for hot tub soaks. 

It’s these thoughtful human touches that reinforce the benefit of making a responsible travel choice by booking local and giving your money to a tourism operator in the Greater Port Macquarie Region, such as Tom’s Creek Nature Domes. The owners are still working on the property following the setbacks of COVID-19, and flooding in the region —a new series of Domes designed with families and groups in mind is under construction, along with an open-air, barn-style dining hall and garden stage. Once ready, the venue will be ideal for wedding celebrations, with wedding parties able to book out the property. They’ve already got one couple—who honeymooned at the Domes—ready and waiting. Just need to train up the llamas for ring-bearer duties! 

An abundance of favourite moments come to mind from my two-night stay at Tom’s Creek: sipping champagne and gourmet picnicking at the top of a hill on a giant swing under a tree, with a bird’s eye view of the entire property (the ‘Mountain Top picnic’ is a must-do activity add on during your stay), lying on a deckchair at night wrapped in a blanket gazing up at starry constellations and eating hot melted marshmallows, to revelling in the joys of travellers before me, scrawled on notes in a jar of wishes left by the telescope (you’re encouraged to write your own to add to the jar). But I’ll leave you with a gratitude journal entry I made while staying there. I will preface this by saying that I don’t actually keep a gratitude journal, but Tom’s Creek Nature Domes is just the kind of place that makes you want to start one. And so, waking up on my second morning at Tom’s —lacking any 4G bars to facilitate my bad habit of a morning Instagram scroll—I finally opened up a notebook and made my first journal entry:

‘I am grateful to wake up after a deep sleep and breathe in the biggest breaths of this clean air, purified by nature and scented with eucalyptus and rain. I am grateful for this steaming hot coffee brewed on a fire. I feel accomplished at having made myself. I am grateful for the skittish sheep that made me laugh as I enjoyed a long nature walk at dawn and the animated billy goats and friendly llamas overlooking my shoulder as I write this: agreeable company for any solo traveller. I’m grateful for total peace, absolute stillness.” 

Off-grid holiday status: unlocked.

Where: Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, Port Macquarie, 2001 Toms Creek Rd
Price: $450 per night, book at the Natura Domes website.

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