We love it when friends let us park the Airstream at their houses, like we did in Denver and Burlington. We’re basically as close by as if we were sleeping in the house, but we don’t have to pack a bag, nobody has to make up a bed or wash extra sheets and towels, and we can leave Bugsy in a familiar place when we go out. Parking at J’s cousin’s house in Atlanta was a bit more challenging than we’d experienced in other urban camping adventures: their neighborhood in lovely Decatur has very narrow streets, and not only did we have to navigate the cramped roads, we were to park in their driveway.
Luckily, my travel companion has become an expert trailer backer. Even with the added pressure of an audience of curious neighbors, J nailed it and swung the trailer cleanly into the driveway without taking out any shrubs or mailboxes.
We lived in Atlanta briefly almost ten years ago, and visit family there pretty frequently, so rather than list our activities from this short visit, below are some of our favorite Atlanta places where we’ve returned to again and again over the years:
Food and Drink
Brick Store Pub
When we lived in Atlanta, we were SUPER into Belgian beer, and the Brick Store’s dark, wooden-door paneled upstairs Belgian room was our favorite weekend haunt. The downtown Decatur restaurant has good food (I usually assume a pub won’t), a cool atmosphere, an extensive list of Belgian beers, and many local beers too.
Papi’s Cuban & Caribbean Grill
Back in our day, Papi’s was a little hole-in-the wall Cuban sandwich shop near our house in Midtown, but now I see on their website that they’ve expanded into a bunch of location across the region. Good for them, as long as the original hasn’t suffered! The Cuban (for J) and vegetarian (for me) sandwiches are (were) so delicious.
In northeastern Decatur there’s a stretch along Lawrenceville Highway that’s packed with Indian restaurants. Indian food is our favorite, and lucky for us: J’s cousin-in-law is Indian, and introduced us to the best Indian restaurant: Madras Saravana Bhavan. (Our usual double date night with those two started at Saravana and ended at the Brick Store.) Saravana closed shortly after we left, but all these years later the proprietor has opened a new restaurant in the old Saravana location! We haven’t been yet but it’s at the top of the list for our next visit.
Taqueria del Sol
Hello, have you met me? I love tacos. I think Taqueria del Sol is where I became hooked, way back when. It’s possible there are better tacos in Atlanta by now, but when we’re in town and want tacos, we go to Taqueria del Sol. UPDATED AFTER GOING TO THE TAQUERIA DEL SOL IN NASHVILLE: no. we won’t go here again. Where are the best tacos in Atlanta?
Places and Things to See
Our house in Atlanta was a block and a half from Piedmont Park, because right off the bat Piedmont Park was our favorite thing about Atlanta. It’s wonderful for running, full of car-free paved and dirt paths under the striking Midtown skyline; it has an enormous dog park, if your dog’s into that sort of thing (Bugsy’s slowly warming to the idea) and is home to the Atlanta Botanical Garden; and in warmer months it hosts a full slate of activities including farmers markets, movie nights, races, and festivals.
Atlanta is full of history and culture, of course, and you could spend days upon days visiting museums and historical sites. If you don’t have days to devote to museum hopping, consider combining art and history and visiting the Atlanta Cyclorama, recently relocated to the Atlanta History Center. It’s a 130-year-old, 374-foot long oil painting (one of the largest in the world) of the fall of Atlanta in the Civil War–a Union victory–altered a bit in 1892 to sell to a Southern audience as “the only Confederate victory ever painted.” Cycloramas were a popular form of entertainment before movies came along: mounted in a circular shape and viewed from the inside of the circle, it’s supposed to make you feel like you’re part of the panorama. Note: the new Cyclorama exhibition won’t be open until Fall 2018.
Arguably our favorite thing to do in cities is pick a neighborhood and wander around, window shopping, bar hopping, and admiring architecture. Our favorite neighborhoods to explore for shops, bars, restaurants, people watching, and house-peeping in Atlanta are Downtown Decatur, Virginia-Highland, and Little Five Points.
Next time we’re in town, we want to focus on visiting breweries. What else should we check out in Atlanta?