Who doesn’t love to travel? I find myself trying to do more of it lately and I love writing about my experience from each trip. I hope these posts help if you ever decide to travel to a place I’ve wrote about because I know I love reading about the good/bad and places to see/eat whenever I’m planning out my next trip. If you read my post yesterday, I talked about taking a trip out to Atlanta, so here I’ll go into more detail about the tourist side of things I did during my visit. As previously mentioned I planned to go due to a weekend conference but I decided to extend my trip out for a few extra days to see the city. My mom decided to go with me because she wanted to see Atlanta too, which made the trip even better to have a buddy to hang with while going around town. Let me just say, Atlanta you were so good to me and I couldn’t believe how FRIENDLY everyone was, it was so awesome. We couldn’t stop saying that, literally everywhere we went someone was either giving a compliment or chatting it up, just so nice. Also, I never realized how cheap it could be to fly to Atlanta from San Antonio (I think it was $200 or less, I bought the tickets early on Southwest but later I found the flights went cheaper and they refunded me the difference, winning!) so now I wouldn’t mind putting on my list to go back one day and see more of what I missed. We decided to stay downtown at the W because that is where the conference had a special rate, but it worked out nice because it was near where we wanted to go so we actually walked to a lot of places. Other times we took ubers if we needed to go a little further out, which were less than $5-$10, unless going to airport or further. However it was still relatively cheap (like $15) going to the airport. (Outfit details: Cardigan: similar/Leggings/Ankle Boots/Luggage)
W Downtown Atlanta (photo cred: W Atlanta Downtown)I know it is a more expensive option but if you can score a deal (or military rate!), I would highly recommend this hotel. The room was so nice and the beds were beyond comfortable. Plus if you go during hotter temperatures, check out their pool at the top of the hotel and lounge area. They offered free coffee downstairs every morning and water every afternoon, along with a free newspaper. If you plan on going to some of the main attractions I mention below, I would recommend staying in the downtown area to be able to walk to them or the food options (walking was a money saver)!
FUN THINGS TO DO: One of the coolest things to see in Downtown Atlanta is not only the Centennial Olympic Park but right next to it they have: the Georgia Aquarium, the World of Coca-Cola, CNN Studios, the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, CNN Studios, and the College Football Hall of Fame. Instead of paying separately to visit each place, you could get a adult city pass for $77, which includes the first three mentioned places and then a choice between attending either the Center for Civil and Human Rights or the Atlanta Zoo, and then the College Football Hall of Fame or the Fernbank Museum of National History. Below I talk about some of the places in more detail from my opinion on the ones I visited. Click on titles to be redirected to site for more information.
Georgia AquariumAdult price during the week days online is $32, weekends $36, and if you purchase at the door instead the price is $40. This aquarium is such a cool experience, even for adults! When you first walk in they take a few pictures of you in case you wanted to pay an arm/leg for a photobook. Okay, so we bought ours but we looked cute and we didn’t take too many pictures of us on the trip so we went for it. They have a couple wings that feature different creatures from tiny fish to big whales. I acted like a kid and enjoyed looking at every single thing, especially the penguins because you got to crawl underneath and go in a bubble so it was like you were inside with them. I just hated looking at their wings with the zip ties on them; reminded me of them being caged up for my viewing pleasure. Enough emotions, it’s an enjoyable place that seems very well taken care of with a staff that seems to love their jobs taking care of everything inside. I got to touch a stingray, which was scary for me, but really neat and slimy. We also enjoyed the Dolphin show they presented, I think that is truly the most fascinating thing to watch because they are SO SMART. The whole time watching I kept saying to myself, gosh how the heck do they know to do this? The shows are every so often throughout the day, so plan accordingly when you go so you don’t miss them.
World of Coca-Cola
Adult price is $19. Active duty and retired military service members receive free admission with valid I.D. This place is a neat experience but in my opinion the best thing about it was the two free cokes you receive, other than that it didn’t wow me. One time we went in the summer on the weekend, it was awful crowded (hours to wait unless you had a city pass to skip the lines). This time we went during the week in the fall and there was no line and it was easier to go through the place. When you first walk in they give you a coke of your choice and then you watch a short video. Then its self guided for you to walk around. The only other thing I loved about this place was being able to try all the sodas from around the world at different fountain stations. Then when you walk out you are able to grab another coke in a cute glass bottle. (Here is the watch that is pictured above, it’s a new favorite that I keep wearing)
National Center for Civil and Human RightsAdult price is $16. A typical visit lasts approximately 90-120 minutes. Last entry is one hour prior to closing time. The first time we tried to go to this it was an hour from closing time and we didn’t realize about their last entry time frame, so we couldn’t get in. I’ve been to a few different memorials and centers that are based around the Civil Rights Movement so this one was somewhat repetitive to what I’ve already seen, however it was still a good place to check out. The best thing is this one interactive thing they have where you sit down as if you were a civil rights activist in a segregated place like a restaurant. You place your hands on the table and put headphones on where you listen to people screaming in your ear profanities and racial slurs, telling you to get up, all while feeling the vibrations like if people were hitting you in that situation. I would say it’s very intense, my mom actually cried doing it because it felt real and sad to think about that actually happening to someone. If you are not interested in these type of museums, than I would recommend choosing to go to the Zoo if you bought the city pass and had the option or time to spend.
CNN StudiosAdult price is $16. 50-minute guided walking tours depart approximately every 20 minutes. This is huge, when you walk in that whole first floor is open like a mall where they have a TON of places to eat. When you start the tour you go up the worlds longest free-standing escalator to a top floor and throughout the tour you are going down the stairs to different stops along the way. It was a cool experience to see the studios and people working to bring you the news every day.
College Football Hall of FameAdult price is $19. Active duty and retired military service members receive free admission with valid I.D. I love football so I thought this Hall of Fame would be interesting to check out. When you first walk in you are greeted with hundreds of football helmets (I think they said 770), which is so neat, and I’m sure every guy would want in their man cave. The BEST thing about this place is that when you start they give you a badge that you register with your favorite college football team (go UT Longhorns!). Immediately doing so you will see the football helmet of the team you picked light up and stays that way for 24 hours to show all the people and their teams that have been there that day. For kids or guys that want to be active, they have a playing center in the middle for you interact If you are not into football and bought the city pass, than your obvious choice would be to see the Museum of National History instead. I didn’t go here but I would love to check it out if I go back, I believe it’s an outdoor adventure plus also dinosaurs.
PLACES TO EAT: Below I talk about some of the places in more detail from my opinion on the ones I visited. Click on titles to be redirected to site for more information.
The Silver Skillet This place does not looking too pleasing from the outside or inside even, as it’s older and is a diner style, but man is it good. The sign outside says voted best breakfast in Atlanta and has been featured on TV numerous times; I can see why. Heads up this place is only open until mid-afternoon (2:30pm on weekdays, 2:00pm on weekends) in case you wanted a late brunch/lunch. Literally the biscuits are the best I think I’ve ever had, so soft and fluffy, even tastes perfect by themselves. She brought a basket of four to the table and I almost ate three, hey you only live once. I ordered eggs, bacon, hash browns, as well and they were good, but next time I go I would just order a basket of biscuits and be content.
BLT Steak – W Downtown AtlantaI decided to chat about this restaurant because it was a place we went to and I don’t want to only chat about the good. For being the most expensive place we went, this was the worst. We heard good things and it was easy since it was downstairs at the hotel. It was quiet not packed at all with a good ambiance. We had a waiter who also had an assistant (I don’t know why when it wasn’t packed), but the assistant was MUCH better than the waiter. We asked the waiter a few questions and he couldn’t give a good answer on what was good, since we had never been. For example, how big are the sides (since they are ordered separate) or what was the best side dishes since we were indecisive on some choices. We ended up splitting a salad (good thing) because it was the worst salad I’ve ever had. Which is a big deal because I’M A HUGE SALAD LOVER! We both had two bites and were done. For $13? Negative. When we told the waiter it was bad, he just took it away and didn’t even say anything, but then later at the end decided to give us a free dessert (that I didn’t want and smaller than my fist, so would’ve rather had the salad comped). We ordered the bigger filet mignon to split and then chose the mac & cheese and brussel sprouts. The sides were small, perfect for one person but not really shareable for $10. Overall not a good experience for the price, so had to vent in case you were looking for a recommendation and had this place in mind.
Corner Bakery CafeThis is a chain cafe and I don’t know why but I had never been here before (with one even being in San Antonio). We had heard a good recommendation about this and so glad we went because it was one of the best lunches! We originally wanted to get some breakfast but decided to get soup/salads instead. We split a sandwich just to try (which was good but we could’ve done without) and we split a big portion of the Sante Fe Ranch salad and each had a soup. The salad was SO GOOD and when I got home the next week I went back and got the same thing. I also got a monster cookie for dessert (because why not). Outfit details are listed all here in this post.
Gyro King Downtown AtlantaThis gyro place was right on the same street next door to the hotel and it was also a recommendation that we decided to try. It was REALLY good. The meat was perfect but if you don’t want the gyro meat you can sub for chicken. If you want a quick/easy/cheap lunch, this is a good spot.
Another notable mention is this Italian Restaurant we stumbled upon after a hard search for good Italian food. For a beautiful ambiance feeling like you’re really in Italy and perfect for a date night, head to La Grotta in Buckhead. You will be taken by surprise when you get there though because it is down in a secret hiding spot. When we first pulled up we were like uh, what is this place because it looked like a vintage hotel or apartment and even our uber driver was like do you want me to wait in case this is not what you want? Well it turns out- you go in, down the elevator, and then down this secret passage to get to the restaurant which has a dark “date night” kind of atmosphere. Make a reservation though because we did not have one and luckily they were able to seat us but it appeared as if you needed one for this place. The menu is a bit fancy from your usual spaghetti meatball type of basic Italian restaurants but the staff is really friendly and said they can pretty much make whatever you request. I was actually craving a meaty spaghetti so I had that (which was BEYOND good, I ate the whole thing) and my mom had a veal dish, which she finished and practically licked the plate as well. FYI, if you want to share a plate and tell them that, they charge you an extra couple bucks for the plate. We made that mistake by splitting a salad and them putting in separate bowls for price of one (and upcharge). However, THIS meal was worth the expense compared to the steak dinner mentioned above.
I hope you enjoyed this Atlanta travel diary, check back later this week for another diary post about my experience at the conference I attended in Atlanta. Hopefully I get to experience many more travels in the future and I wish you the same! Let me know if you go/try anything of these things/or have any recommendations for me when I go next time!
*All pictures are my own unless noted*