I’m a big fan of short trips to hit a few highlights of a city and then skip town. I’m also a big fan of longer trips, but work seems to prevent that from happening as often as I’d like. For the short trips it can be a challenge to find a couple highlights and get them in without overloading the schedule. A couple weeks ago I was in Atlanta for a weekend and I managed to hit a great balance of great things to do and eat and not be overwhelmed by it all. I stretched it out as I had an extra day in town, but here are some highlights for a weekend jaunt to Atlanta.
The aquarium is not to be missed. I’ve been in Atlanta a few times now since it opened and I am seriously annoyed that it took me this long to get to see it. They have the largest single tank in the world, and it is well stocked, from whale sharks to leopard rays to barracuda, with dozens more species mixed in as well. There are several exhibits in addition to the giant tank, and all were quite well done, with docents around to answer questions or just offer up useful information about the displays, like dispelling the myth that piranhas will eat someone swimming in the Amazon. The otter feeding was more just them tossing chunks of shrimp at the otters than a real show, but that’s OK with me, as they get the fuzzy guys right up to the glass partition. The only notable disappointment for me was that the penguin exhibit was closed until 2010, but I got over it. Go to the aquarium at some point during the visit. I’d recommend earlier in the day than not, but that really depends on what else you manage to squeeze in to the weekend.
A cuttlefish hanging out in the tank.
A pipefish of some sort.
I’m sure that there are other things worth seeing while in town, but given a limited schedule I’d spend most the rest of my time in town focusing on food and beverage. To that end, a few thoughts. The Midtown neighborhood is hopping on weekend nights, with plenty of options for drinking well into the wee hours. Some of the places charge a cover, which is morally reprehensible in my opinion, but such is life. Find a place without a cover and go drinking. Good times are likely to ensue.
We had some great BBQ at One Star Ranch one afternoon. We were there for a party so we had a little bit of everything to choose from which was great. I’d go for the ribs, Brunswick stew and beef brisket, in that order. And make sure to sample the jalapeño cornbread liberally.
The other really good meal we had was at the Brick Store Pub. Sure, there was a 30-45 minute wait for a table when we arrived. But I was honestly a little disappointed it was that short, as the beer selection (both bottles and draught) they have is phenomenal. And not only do they have such a great selection, the beer list explains the flavors for you. If that isn’t enough, the staff also knows them incredibly well, offering great recommendations and tastes just to make sure you like what they’re suggesting. Oh, and get the warm soft pretzels in the bar. Dip them in the homemade mustard. Enjoy. Repeat as appropriate. We waited for our table in the bar upstairs in the back. It was a bit quieter and more intimate than the main bar downstairs. The food at Brick Store was pretty good, too. The Brunswick stew was a big winner at the table, as was the fish & chips. The pasta was rather blah, though I honestly don’t know what I was thinking when I ordered it.
So there you have it. A couple great meals, something to do during the day and some evening entertainment options. You’ll probably want to find one more thing to do during the day for a normal weekend visit, but this is a good start.
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