Heavy on “a little bit of this and a little bit of that,” Old Fourth Ward is an Atlanta neighborhood with serious versatility. Not only is this historic neighborhood home to the childhood residence of Dr. King, but it’s also home to two of the city’s biggest attractions: Ponce City Market and the BeltLine.
Where to stay: Once home to infamous mob boss Al Capone, Hotel Clermont is now a chic boutique hotel that’s heavy on the vintage aesthetics. Although getting out and exploring Old Fourth Ward is highly recommended, Hotel Clermont does conveniently happen to feature two of the neighborhood’s most popular digs: Tiny Lou’s and The Rooftop. If a hotel room just isn’t cutting it for you and your crew, this spacious Airbnb has room for 12 people and it’s conveniently located on the Atlanta BeltLine.
Things to do: Regardless of where you stay while in Atlanta, a visit to the birth home of Martin Luther King, Jr. and The King Center is a must. You can take part in a ranger-led tour of Dr. King’s childhood home, but keep in mind that tours are on a first-come, first-served basis. And if you fancy a raucous round of Skee-Ball, you’ll find just that and plenty more carnival-inspired games at Skyline Park. Located on the roof of Ponce City Market, Skyline Park features games, rides and some of the most stunning views of the city. Admission to this rooftop attraction is $10 per adult and $7 for kids.
Best restaurants: After exploring all that Old Fourth Ward has to offer, you’re sure to work up a healthy appetite. For a meal that’s sure to please, head to Noni’s for a hearty bowl of fettuccine alfredo or Slutty Vegan for a One Night Stand (the burger, folks!). And if brunch is more your speed, Two Urban Licks‘ weekend brunch is sure to satisfy thanks to dishes that include Lemon Ricotta Pancakes and Nola Shrimp & Grits.
Bars and nightlife: Ask any local about MJQ and you’re sure to be met with many colorful stories about this underground dance club that is hands-down an Atlanta staple. But if you’re more of a pinkies up kind of gal or guy, there are plenty of elevated options for that nightcap. If you’re in the mood for a carefully curated sip, 12 Cocktail Bar mixes up stellar cocktails created by an award-winning lineup of mixologists.
Public transit: While Old Fourth Ward isn’t quite within walking distance to any MARTA station, there are various options you can take. The Atlanta street car can swiftly take you down both Edgewood Avenue and Auburn Avenue. And if you’d like to make your pedometer proud, you can walk The Beltline to access a number of bars, restaurants and attractions in Old Fourth Ward.
Downtown is the heart of Atlanta. Not only is it home to Georgia’s state capitol, it’s also the ultimate destination for business and major events in the city. With the Five Points MARTA station running trains in all directions, setting up base Downtown means the city is at your fingertips.
Where to stay: High rises and hotels cover Downtown’s skyline, so expect a more urban vibe in its lodging options. Conferences and events are always happening at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis, but a step inside the 52-story hotel shows why it’s a perfect all-purpose destination. Not feeling the hotel vibe? Then renting out lofts, like this gorgeous minimalistic Airbnb, can save you money while still keeping you in the thick of things.
Best restaurants: Dos Bocas is one of the best restaurants in Atlanta right now, so stop by for their blend of Tex-Mex and Cajun dishes. If you’re on the hunt for lunch, try exploring the Sweet Auburn Curb Market. A few blocks east of Hurt Park, the market has a little bit of everything, from Vietnamese food to South African-style pies. There’s also the Peachtree Center, and although it houses chains that aren’t necessarily unique to Atlanta, eating underground is pretty damn cool.
Bars and nightlife: For after-hours fun, you can go for a scenic ride on the SkyView Ferris wheel for a wondrous view of Atlanta at night. For more X-rated views, you can also stop by the legendary Magic City strip club, and you just might see your favorite rapper there. If nothing else, just take a night stroll down Peachtree Street — you won’t regret it.
Public Transit: Perhaps the most transit-friendly section of the city, Downtown has heavy MARTA Bus activity and access to the Atlanta Streetcar. MARTA stations in the area include Peachtree Center, Five Points, Garnett, Georgia State, and CNN Center.
Little Five Points – Candler Park – Inman Park
On the east side of the city, Candler Park and Inman Park are joined together by the groovy little district called Little Five Points, forming an eclectic and historic conglomerate. A lot of personality bleeds over their borders, so it only makes sense for them to be grouped together. For artists and creatives who are looking to experience the Atlanta that doesn’t get shown TV, these neighborhoods are for you.
Where to stay: In this part of Atlanta, there are fewer towering structures, which gives it a more open and spacious vibe. Airbnbs reign supreme here and consist mostly of guest areas like this cozy Candler Park cottage or this Little Five lair. Inman Park has a bonafide bed & breakfast operating out of a cotton mill from the 1950s. Urban Oasis is situated right on the Atlanta Beltline and perfect for experiencing the surrounding neighborhoods to the fullest.
Things to do: Together, Little Five Points, Candler Park, and Inman Park have the best IG-ops in the city. From the Krog Street Tunnels‘ iconic street art to the bike-clad Beltline, there are plenty of picture-worthy places to explore. What’s more, Candler Park has its own 55-acre park, complete with a swimming pool, 9-hole golf course, soccer field, basketball court, tennis courts, and playground. For some atypical retail therapy, you can always peruse record stores and thrift/consignment shops in Little Five Points.
Best restaurants: The major tip for this group of neighborhoods is Inman Park’s Krog Street Market, your source for everything from Spanish tapas to Asian steamed baos. With 15 eateries and a handful of retail spaces, you could spend a few days there without eating the same style of food. On the other hand, Candler Park has the OG Flying Biscuit — definitely worth visiting. Lastly, Little Five Points has both The Vortex, a burger bar & grill inside the mouth of a giant skull, and Thai 5, a hole-in-the-wall that doubles as a Thai restaurant and sushi bar and doesn’t disappoint.
Public transit: These neighborhoods fall between MARTA’s Inman Park/Reynoldstown and the Edgewood/Candler Park train stations, but things are a little more spaced out than other areas. There is a nice amount of MARTA routes, so either riding the bus or catching an uber is recommended if you’re not a walker.
Some people need itineraries when traveling; others just need directions to the nearest shopping center. If you fall into the latter category, Buckhead is probably the destination for you. This uptown neighborhood is your spot for style and decadence.
Where to stay: Arguably the most lavish section of Atlanta, Buckhead has plenty of astounding places to stay. You’ve got plenty of chic hotel offerings, from the AC Hotel to The Whitley, but there’s also the famous Secluded Tree House Airbnb. It’s kind of ironic that this holistic retreat is located in such a commercial district, but if you want to go for something different, then test your luck and try to book a night at one of the most popular and unique Airbnbs.
Things to do: Plain and simple, the main attractions in Buckhead are the shoppes. Peep the fancy spelling, because that was intentional. Lenox Square is the quintessential mall stop for locals, tourists, and celebrities alike, with stores like Forever 21 and Cartier coexisting under one roof. However, you shouldn’t overlook Phipps Plaza, an even fancier operation. In addition to the extensive selection of luxury brands, there is also a dine-in AMC in the mix, so don’t sleep.
Bars and nightlife: They’re practically polar opposites, but Hole in the Wall and Himitsu are two spots crucial to Buckhead’s nightlife. Hole in the Wall is an extremely popular club for a younger crowd, and Himitsu, a reservation-only Japanese craft cocktail lounge, literally translates to “secret” from Japanese.
Public transit: The Buckhead and Lenox MARTA stations will put you right by Lenox Mall and fancy eateries like Maggiano’s, but getting to Phipps and other hot spots may prove to be more difficult. Nothing is spread too far apart, but Buckhead traffic makes walking a bit unnerving, so be willing to rideshare as well.
Cobb – Cumberland
While technically a suburb of Metro Atlanta, Cobb straddles the perimeter and boasts an impressive amount of things to do. A stay at the outskirts of Cobb County puts you 12 miles away from Downtown, so it’s a destination that you should definitely consider.
Where to stay: Cobb’s quaint mix of the urban and suburban developments will give your stay the best of both worlds — a city feel with fewer parking hassles. This townhouse Airbnb, for example, has modern design sensibilities without losing the easygoing vibe of the suburbs. However, if you want to dive head-first into everything that Cobb has to offer, you should reserve a room at the Omni Hotel, which is literally at The Battery and feet away from the Atlanta Braves stadium.
Things to do: First off, Cobb has a whole amusement park. Six Flags Over Georgia is a great attraction for anyone looking for thrills, and it even re-opens in the fall for Fright Fest and in the winter for Holiday in the Park. For a spot that supplies the eats and the entertainment, check out The Battery, one of the city’s coolest new developments. Cumberland Mall, the Main Event arcade, and an indoor skydiving center right at the I-285 perimeter.
Bars and nightlife: Just like how it has all the food, The Battery has all the booze too. Liquor selections from Yard House and Cru Wine Bar coupled with a club atmosphere at Live! at The Battery, the venue keeps the party going even after dark.
Public transit: The only downside to Cobb is that it’s simply not public transit-friendly. Lyft or Uber will be your best friend if you’re flying into the city. However, if you travel by car, this is one destination in Atlanta that wouldn’t be bogged down by having a vehicle with you.
If Downtown is the heart of Atlanta, then Midtown is its soul. Culture and arts run rampant, and there’s a perfect balance of places to shop and things to do. The rainbow crosswalks are a trademark of the neighborhood and a representation of the inclusive spirit that runs from North Avenue to 17th Street.
Where to stay: Midtown is characterized by elegance, luxury, and beautiful designs, and those elements are seen in everything from modern five-star hotels to 20th-century Victorian apartments. You’ll be impressed whether you go the hotel or Airbnb route. If you’re looking to spoil yourself, Four Seasons and the Loews Hotel are two great options that support a wide range of budgets. Convenience is key, so opt for spots like this gorgeous townhouse Airbnb that’s within walking distance of Atlantic Station.
Bars and nightlife: The Vinyl/Loft/Center Stage trifecta should be your go-to for nighttime events in Midtown because the venue has hosted concerts of all genres, live podcasts, and even wrestling matches. The bars aren’t lacking, either — check out Blake’s On The Park or Little Trouble and see for yourself.
Public transit: Getting around Midtown is a breeze with public transportation. Connected with the North Avenue, Midtown, and Arts Center train stations, Midtown is extremely accessible. The area is pretty walkable in comparison to other parts of the city, which really comes in handy when rideshare surges get nasty.Want more Thrillist? Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, TikTok, and Snapchat.
Joshua Robinsonis an Atlanta-based contributor for Thrillist. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter at @roshrisky.
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.
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.”