With so many great restaurants in this city, we begrudgingly choose one: Bacchanalia (1198 Howell Mill Rd., 404.365.0410). We’re not alone. Anne Quatrano’s contemporary American restaurant has received every accolade imaginable—it’s been ranked the city’s number one restaurant by Zagat since 1996. The five-course prix-fixe menu changes according to the seasons—much of its is sourced from Quatrano's own farm. If you can’t afford the hefty price tag (and believe us, it’s worth every penny), no worries. Neighboring Star Provisions is a culinary dream shop with cheese, wine, meats, seafood and gourmet sandwiches to go.
If you’ve got a car, head out to Stone Mountain Park (1000 Robert E. Lee Dr., 770.498.5690), Georgia’s biggest tourist attraction—in terms of sheer size, anyway. The world’s largest exposed granite monolith is surrounded by attractions including a railroad, an antebellum plantation, a tree-top adventure course and mini golf. And the 1.3-mile walk up to the top is worth the effort—on a haze-free day, you can see up to 60 miles. For intown adventure, head downtown for a ride on a 150-foot Ferris Wheel (SkyView;168 Luckie St. NW, 678.949.9023) and a trip to the Children’s Museum of Atlanta (275 Centennial Olympic Park Dr., 404.659.5437), then cool off at the Fountain of Rings in Centennial Olympic Park (265 Luckie St., 404.222.PARK).
The Animal Lover
A Panda and Penguins combo tickets takes you from A to Z, i.e., from Georgia Aquarium (225 Baker St. NW, 404.581.4151) to Zoo Atlanta (800 Cherokee Ave., 404.624.WILD). That means you’ll get to see thousands of animals on land and sea, including gorillas, rhinos, dolphins, tigers, belugas and more. Zoo Atlanta is the only place to see giant pandas in the Southeast and the Aquarium is the only place you'll see whale sharks; both attractions offer great hands-on animal experiences, from feeding an elephant to making a sea otter’s supper and swimming with those whale sharks.
The LGBT Traveler
Blake’s on the Park (227 10th St., 404.892.5786) is ground zero for Atlanta’s LGBT traveler (the park in question is Piedmont Park in Midtown). You’ll see all types at this long-standing neighborhood bar; Sundays are particularly crowded. After a couple of cocktails, head to Mary’s (1287 Glenwood Ave., 404.624.4411) for some late night fun. The East Atlanta gay bar has some of the best karaoke (or, as they say, “Maryoke”) in town and when the small dance floor gets going, no one leaves until they’re dripping with sweat. Nearby, My Sister’s Room (1271 Glenwood Ave., 678.705.4585) is the city’s best pickup spot for 20-something lesbians.
The Museum Hopper
With admission to five top destinations built into the $74 price, CityPass is the best way to see the folk art collection at the High Museum of Art, belugas at the Georgia Aquarium, the fast-paced newsrooms at CNN and the beautiful gardens at the Atlanta History Center—and still have money to eat.
The Music Maven
Rather not see a show from the 355th row? Leave it to The Tabernacle (152 Luckie St. NW, 404.659.9022) to bring big names to a venue where you can get close enough to smell their sweat (if you want to, that is). There’s both seating and standing spots, and you can pretty much always press to the front. Plus, it’s located in a former Baptist church, so the setting is divine. Past performers include Elvis Costello and The Avett Brothers.
Put on those comfortable shoes and pay off that credit card—it’s time to shop. Make Buckhead your first stop; the neighborhood is home to two of the city’s toniest malls, Lenox Square (3393 Peachtree Rd. NE) and Phipps Plaza (3500 Peachtree Rd. NE), boasting about 500 stores between them. If you’re looking for something a little quirkier, check out the neighborhoods. Virginia-Highland, Decatur and Midtown all boast fun and eclectic boutiques.
The Outdoor Lover
Rent a bike (or inline skates, if that’s your thing) from Skate Escape (1086 Piedmont Ave. NE) in Midtown. From there you can cruise through Piedmont Park, Atlanta’s most popular green space, or straight to the Atlanta Beltline, a growing network of parks and trails built on 22 miles of historic railroad corridors (just follow the bikers, dog walkers and joggers—you can’t miss it). When you’ve worked up a sweat, treat yourself to an all-natural, frozen treat from King of Pops —just look for the rainbow-striped umbrella.
The Party Animal
You can party like a rock star in Atlanta—the only question is whether you want to do it like Mick Jagger, Dave Matthews or Nicki Manaj. Luckily, we’ve got options. The over-50 set will enjoy Johnny's Hideaway (3771 Roswell Rd. NE, 404.233.8026), a cougar bar with good music that is popular with divorcées; good bets for the younger set include Club Opera (1150 Crescent Ave., 404.874.3006), Cosmolava (45 13th St NE, 404.873.6189) and Havana Club (3112 Piedmont Rd. NE, 404.941.4847), at all of which you can eat, drink, dance and be merry late into the night.
The History Buff
From the Civil War to Civil Rights, Atlanta is a history lover's dream come true. Visit historic Oakland Cemetery (248 Oakland Ave., 404.688.2107), home to local luminaries and nearly 3,000 Confederate soldiers; walk in the footsteps of Dr. King at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site (450 Auburn Ave., 404.331.6922); or explore the newly opened Center for Civil and Human Rights 55 Ivan Allen Jr. Blvd., 404.991.6970), which features the King Papers and exhibits on civil and human rights.