Vacations under $500: Atlanta, GA

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Travelers and wanderlusters alike, if you have not seen Georgia, you need to. Now. Go book your flight, I’m serious.

I had the pleasure of spending the last week in Atlanta. What a beautiful city! Somewhere in my frequent treks up and back the east coast, I missed out on Georgia and its charm. (Next stop, Savannah.)

But seriously, to give my northeasters a scope. The city is the same size as Philly with a third of the population. No trash, few smokers, highly diverse.  I really enjoyed my time there. The city is very hilly. It reminded me of a baby San Fran. It was not uncommon to walk into a building off the street and be greeted by nothing but a lobby. The actual attractions were often up a flight of stairs.

The midtown area where I stayed is filled with little boutiquey tapas places and cocktail bars. Let’s take a moment to appreciate the awesome bar scene. There are bars and lounges on every corner and each hotel has at least two. These are not like schickler bars either. These are modern and fresh.

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Gladys Knight’s Chicken and Waffles

Speaking of hotels, I stayed at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis and though the hotel was beautiful, I would not stay there again. The hotel is driven toward business and conference shindigs and that was exactly why I stayed. (I was attending the National PR Students Society of America Conference that was happening right in the hotel.) The Marquis is truly dazzling and yes, it’s the one where “Mockingjay” was filmed. The elevators zoomed up and down to my 34th floor room so fast my ears popped.

One of the coolest attractions in the city (besides the gigantic, tourist-ridden ferris wheel that I didn’t do because I don’t do ferris wheels) is the World of Coca-Cola. The drink was created right in the ATL and the city is plastered with its love for it. Coke and Chick-fil-A. Any takers?

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The factory is a self-guided museum and costs less than $20. It has little theatres to watch old TV spots, some neat artifacts from around the world, and best of all- the tasting room! This giant space has soda dispensers from each continent where Coke products are sold. My favorites were the South African sodas/juices. Yes they were carbonated but they tasted like all kinds of fruity things mixed with candy and rainbows.

I am Italian so I had to try the one and only soda from Italy which happened to be the best selling soda in Europe, called Beverly. For anyone unaware, this is actually a pretty cute play-on words because “beve” is Italian for “drink”. I tried it knowing nothing of its lore as the most heinous drink made by Coke and possibly, the world round. And I tasted it…and I liked it. I wouldn’t drink it with my pizza but when a staff member told me it was meant as a palate cleanser, I totally understood. (Just as an addition, if you like the Beverly, don’t tell people. They will look at you like you’re crazy.)

Because I was a conference attendee I did not have time to visit the other attractions of Atlanta but I heard great things about the Georgia Aquarium (the largest in the US) and the Civil Rights Museum. All of these attractions are conveniently located in Pemberton Place, a small stone plaza.

Expert Tip Time!

Do: Buy an Atlanta CityPass. You can get a ride on the giant ferris wheel, plus receive admissions to World of Coke, the aquarium and the Civil Rights Museum for around $80. It’s $40 for the aquarium alone so this is a huge savings.

Do: Make this a long weekend trip. Even if you go to all the sites and try the local spots, three days will probably be plenty.

Do: Bring your bathing suit! It’s freezing up north but it’s 70 degrees in Georgia and all the hotels have indoor/outdoor pools.

Do: Visit the most fabulous mall EVER. The Lenox Square Mall has Gucci next to Fendi next to Prada next to Ferragamo next to Herrera. Need I say more?

The display cars are Masis. And I saw Fetty Wap in Louis Vuitton.

Take MARTA (public transit) and it will drop you off right outside.

IMG_5344Check out my Mistura Timepiece for the fabulous watch I bought while there! These are handmade and can only be found in two shops nationwide- Dallas and Atlanta. Each takes a whopping 85 hours to create and is made from genuine teak wood and leather.

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Average Cost

Hotel: $175 per night for 4 nights divided by 4 people per room at a high-end hotel

Food: $20 for a mid-range dinner

Drink: $10 for a mixed drink, $30 for a bottle of low-grade wine

Flight: $160

 

Next time…

Next visit to the ATL (and I will be back), I will stay in a cheaper hotel for 3 nights instead. I could probably do the trip for $400 that way.

Could all my Atlanters comment below with the best local spots we must try? Let me know if you plan to make this trip and need more tips, kids.

 

Happy travels,

Bi

 

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