Downtown Atlanta remains a business and government district and is slowly developing into nightlife destination with the opening of several upscale hotels and trendy restaurants. Downtown is also home to Atlanta's professional sports, including Atlanta Hawks basketball and Thrashers hockey, which can both be experienced at the Philips Arena. The Georgia Dome, home of the Falcon's football, and Centennial Olympic Park are also located downtown and are well-known destinations that were built for the 1996 Olympic Games. The downtown skyline is dominated by major hotels and office buildings including the headquarters of The Coca-Cola Co. and other international corporations. New additions to the downtown view include the W Atlanta Downtown Hotel and Residences at Allen Plaza and boutique hotel, the Palomar, which are both attracting a trendier crowd to downtown's streets. Business destination, The Peachtree Center, includes a mall with restaurants and shopping and The Georgia World Congress Center hosts a variety of trade shows and conventions each year. In the distance, the golden-domed building is the Georgia State Capital. In the past few years, downtown has reinvigorated itself as a tourist destination. From the opening of the Georgia Aquarium to the New World of Coca-Cola, throngs of visitors make their way through downtown to check these worthwhile destinations off their list. Don't forget to take a whirl through the CNN Center, home to the cable television's first 24-hour news network, or a trip through the subterranean shops and restaurants at Underground Atlanta, opened in 1989.
A mixture of business, arts and nature, Midtown has something for everybody. Boasting the regional headquarters of IBM and AT&T, Midtown's streets also play host to cultural attractions such as the Fabulous Fox Theatre, the High Museum of Art, and the Woodruff Arts Center. Don't be surprised by the number of rainbow flags flying outside establishments and homes near Piedmont Road and 10th Street, Midtown is also home to much of Atlanta's gay community. Along with its beautifully restored homes and mansions, Midtown also has some not-so-picturesque sections that are hangouts for the homeless and seedy characters. Known for its diversity, Midtown is the playground for Georgia Tech students, young professionals and families. The best place to people watch by far is Piedmont Park, an expansive green in the heart of Midtown. Boasting a dog park, picnic areas and several jogging and walking paths that become jam-packed during the fall and spring, Piedmont Park is also a popular venue for festivals and concerts. Recently hosting the likes of the Dave Mathews Band, The Allman Brothers Band and Paul McCartney, Piedmont Park is also the location of the well-known Dogwood Festival, marking the start of spring, and the finish line for the Peachtree Road Race, the largest 10k race in the United States.
Atlanta's Beverly Hills, Buckhead is also a business district and home to the Governor and many of Atlanta's wealthiest. While Buckhead's remaining hole-in-the-wall bars continue to attract a boisterous drinking crowd, many of the favored nightspots were recently demolished to make way for The Streets of Buckhead project-- and upscale shopping and leisure district being compared to the likes of Rodeo Drive. While The Streets of Buckhead is still under construction, Buckhead is already home to luxury shops, high-caliber restaurants and world-class hotels, including The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Hyatt and Intercontinental, which all sit blocks away from Phipps Plaza and Lenox Square, the city's most elegant malls. Some of the neighborhood's newcomers include the Terminus office building on the corner of Piedmont and Peachtree, The Mansion on Peachtree hotel and residence, luxury high-rise condominium The Sovereign and the St. Regis Hotel on West Paces Ferry. Outside central Buckhead, high-rise apartments and condos dominate, as do the old money mansions of Atlanta's elite.
Referred to by locals as "the Highlands," this quaint residential neighborhood centers on the intersection of Virginia and North Highland avenues. The walkability of the neighborhood has made it a popular place to reside, thus driving up rents and home prices. Today the neighborhood is made up of prosperous young professionals and families. Some of the landmarks surrounding the Highlands include the Jimmy Carter Center, Emory University in Druid Hills and Piedmont Park in Midtown. On Highland Avenue you can find a mixture of bars, restaurants as well as high-end boutiques, gifts shops and beauty salons. Stop by Belly General Store for a fresh-made bagel and cupcake or window shop the latest trends at Bill Hallman and Mitzi and Romano. At night this casual neighborhood comes alive with bar hoppers that include Emory students and middle-aged professionals. Grab a pint at the Dark Horse pub or spend the evening listening to live blues at Blind Willies. For a more laid-back evening, grab gelato at Paolo's or a glass of wine at La Tavola.
Little Five Points
Situated on the edge of Inman Park and Candler Park, Little Five Points is a funky combination of thrift shops, piercing parlors, casual bars and music venues. A haven for young rebels and the tattooed crowd, the neighborhood hosts an annual Halloween Parade and is home to the Vortex restaurant, known for its mediocre service, skull shaped-entrance and delicious burgers. Restored bungalows and historical post-Civil War era homes line the streets and areas surrounding Freedom Park along with run-down residences. Although this is not the neighborhood to scour for five-star cuisine, tasty bar food abounds. Stop into Bang-On to design your own T-shirt and roam the aisles of Junkman's Daughter for a wacky gift or bright pink wig.
The latest addition to Atlanta's distinct neighborhoods, East Atlanta is still shedding the reputation of a run down part of town. While many new restaurants and shops have recently made the neighborhood home, the surrounding blocks of Flat Shoals and Glenwood Avenues continue to struggle through disrepair and decline. Some of the noteworthy spots to visit include JavaVino, serving wine and coffee, and budget-friendly Holy Taco. The Earl in East Atlanta Village is one of the neighborhood's most popular destinations for live music and late night eats. From music shops to boutiques to bookstores, the shopping options are varied.
Home to those who want to live outside the city, but not too far outside the city, the Vinings has become a popular residential area for city newcomers and suburban retirees. Situated on the northeast corner of the city, the Vinings has a classy selection of restaurants to choose from, including celebrated Canoe on the banks of the Chattahoochee River and the romantic Vinings Inn. While the majority of shoppers don't consider the Vinings a destination, several boutiques and well known clothing chains can be found in the Vinings Jubilee center, a quaint, walkable area developed to resemble a town square. Cumberland Mall at I-75 and Windy Hill Road recently underwent a complete renovation and is home to major restaurant chains, including The Cheesecake Factory, P.F. Chang's China Bistro and Ted's Montana Grill as well as retailer Costco.