Visiting Laura has always been fun – we’ve had our share of adventures when she lived in D.C., and now that she’s relocated to Atlanta, there’s a whole new city to explore!
She and her husband Armando hosted me for a weekend this spring, and their number one recommendation for a Saturday morning was exploring the Atlanta Beltline. I had no idea what this was. Eager to check it out, we set off for a morning outside at one of Atlanta’s less touristy attractions!
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The Atlanta Beltline is a redevelopment project intending to turn former railroad tracks around the city into mixed-use trails. Eventually the trails will make a full loop around the city, right now only certain sections are completed. But the ones that are get a ton of use already by locals! On a Saturday morning the trails were packed with people – from running clubs to dog walkers to brunch seekers, it seemed like all types wanted to get outside on this beautiful spring morning.
The section we walked was a hipster dream: full of brunch places boasting chorizo tacos, green juices and mimosas. Businesses that already backed up to the former railroad tracks had adjusted to create cute backdoors welcoming walkers into their shops, or set up patio seating out back to entice you to buy a cold drink. Trendy apartments line other sections, making weekend brunch as easy as a walk across the street.
The city set up a number of art exhibits, ranging from found object art (read: cool things made out of trash) to giant metallic leaves to street performers. We lingered over the graffiti area, soaking in the riot of color and design. It may be weird, but I’m always so impressed with graffiti artists – how in the world do you make that big of a piece of art with that precision using spray paint?!
Our destination that day was Piedmont Park. Piedmont Park is the kind of place you could happily spend the entire day, which is why we started at the other end – otherwise we may never have left! It’s a giant park just outside downtown Atlanta, and gives the feel of being much further outside the city. It has trails, fields, trees, and lots of amenities as well as a Saturday food truck setup. I even saw a guy trying to practicing paragliding! It was pretty funny, because the hill he was working with was only about 6 feet above the ground. But you’ve got to start somewhere, right?
Having earned our lunches, we stopped into Ponce City Market. Way more than just a market, it’s housed in the former Sears, Roebuck & Co. building. The centerpiece is the Food Hall, a massive warehouse-sized room with a combination of nicer sit down restaurants and niche counter service places. But even the counter service restaurants had quality food and cute themes. Again, hipster paradise.
We opted for a Chinese food at Jia. The menu is packed and half in Chinese, something which always excites me – usually means the food is authentic! Our ordering covered most of the menu categories: I chose chicken, Armando had soup, Laura got a noodle dish, plus some dumpling for the table.
Everything was great. The spiciness ratings seemed on point, and the staff were happy to give it more or less heat to fit your tastes. My dish had good heat, and so did the soup. The main surprise was the portion size: everything was massive! We probably could have ordered a third of the food and still had our fill. Guess who had leftovers the next day?
Full and happy, we made our way back to our entrance. The Beltline has a bunch of entrances and several have nearby free parking or street parking available. We parked in the Old Fourth Ward, famous for the birthplace of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.. We didn’t get to go in this visit, but it was cool to see the birthplace of such an enormously significant figure, even if in passing.
What’s your favorite thing to do in Atlanta?