Gorgeous cities you should visit

Georgia’s leafy capital is due its time in the spotlight. Dynamic, progressive and home to one of the country’s most exciting food scenes, Atlanta is the new star of the South. Whether you stay for a week or stop by on a layover, you’ll soon discover why it’s one of our top 10 cities to visit this year.

Where do I start?

Atlanta is a city of distinct neighbourhoods, each with their own vibe. The best place to start is on the Eastside, where you’ll find rock ‘n’ roll Little Five Points, bohemian Virginia-Highland and laidback Inman Park, once Atlanta’s first suburb.

The Westside is more spread out, but home to some of the city’s coolest areas, studded by galleries, hip loft apartments and factory conversions. The Westside Provisions District is one of the easiest to wander on foot. Once a meat-packing plant, its red-brick industrial buildings have been tastefully renovated and are now packed with cool boutiques and upscale restaurants.

 

To understand the city’s history, dedicate a day to exploring historic Sweet Auburn, birthplace of Martin Luther King, Jr. The district was designated a National Historic Sitein 1976, recognizing the achievements of the African-American community which has thrived here.

You can learn more about Dr. King’s life on a free tour of his Birth Home, in the visitor centre, or at Ebenezer Baptist Church, where he was once pastor. To get a feel for the area today, drop by the much-lauded Sweet Auburn Curb Market for lunch.

 

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For a different taste of Atlanta life, head for quirky Cabbagetown, with its clapboard houses and narrow streets, or drive north to glitzy Buckhead for high-end malls and mansions (yes, this is where residents once protested against Justin Bieber). Downtown and Midtown, while essential to visit for the city’s big sights, can feel a little soulless.

 

What’s new?

Regeneration initiatives have transformed Atlanta in recent years. The highest profile development is the BeltLine, one of the most ambitious public projects in the country. Tracing an old railway line, it will cover 22 miles when fully complete; follow the trail on foot or by bike, and keep an eye out for the latest art installations along the way.

Foodies will love the enormous Ponce City Market, a superb multi-million dollar conversion of the derelict Sears, Roebuck & Co. building. It’s a slick development from the team behind NYC’s Chelsea Market, with shops including Williams-Sonoma and Anthropologie, and food hall residents ranging from award-winning burger purveyors H&F to smart bar-restaurants like The Mercury. Nearby Krog St Market is smaller and more convivial; try the bao at Suzy Siu’s or the excellent Tex-Mex tacos at Superica.

 

The city has also hit the big screen again this year, thanks to FX’s new show Atlanta. Movie tours can take you behind the scenes, as well as to filming locations from the likes of The Hunger Games, Anchorman 2, Stranger Things and The Walking Dead, parts of which were all shot here.