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Where the People Go: Atlanta

Locals share their favorite spots to fully experience Hotlanta.

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While other major cities are seeing their African American populations dwindle, more than half of the residents of Atlanta are Black. So when I visit, I love to see the shops and public spaces full of fly, Black creative types and professionals. For instance, Ponce City Market is a cool place for a sip and bite before you check out local purveyors. Meanwhile, Little Five Points is an artsy neighborhood with vintage shops, pubs and live music.

The city also lives and breathes Black history. The National Center for Civil and Human Rights engages visitors through powerful imagery, compelling artifacts and poignant storytelling. And on a free, self-guided walking tour of the Sweet Auburn neighborhood and the Old Fourth Ward, visitors can leisurely trace the legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. from his childhood home on Auburn Avenue, to his pulpit at Ebenezer Baptist Church, to his and Coretta Scott King’s final resting place at the King Center. This experience left me feeling empowered. (King’s childhood home is the only park ranger-led stop on the tour.Sign up for the free tours, which are offered on a first-come, first-served basis, at the visitor center.)

There’s so much more to do and see in the ATL. So we asked sisters who call the city home to add to this list of favorite places to wine, dine and unwind.

Ponce City Market Sign
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Eclectic eats
“From the crab and kale mac and cheese to the Red Velvet Chicken N Waffle, BQE knows comfort food, cocktails and a good time. From Wednesday to Sunday they offer brunch, and on Wednesdays they present weekly comedy shows. Two more popular Black-owned restaurants are Roc South Cuisine in Brookhaven, a suburb of Atlanta (try the Seafood Dip, the catfish and smoked gouda grits topped with a cajun crawfish sauce, and Norwegian Salmon Cakes), and Twisted Soul Cookhouse and Pours, where chef Deborah VanTrece will get your taste buds dancing with dishes like the Dirty South Fried Chicken Omelet, Jack Daniels Honey Pecan Wings and Black Eye Pea Salsa.” —Erica Key, 31, food blogger, Eating With Erica

“Negril Village offers authentic Caribbean cuisine and live music in a gorgeous old firehouse setting. If you want Mexican food, go to No Más! Cantina. And if excellent vegan food is your thing, head to Tassili’s Raw Reality for amazing kale wraps. Of course, you can stop by Atlanta’s world-famous eateries like the Varsity for burgers and fries or Paschal’s for soul food.” —Stacey Taylor aka “The SistahChick,” 51, blogger and social influencer

Group of friends drinking wine at a bar
Courtesy Georgia Tourism

Nightlife, cocktails and culture
“Few places will make me gas up the car and brave traffic. One of them is City Winery. While sipping fine wines, you can catch a great show in an intimate space and get up close and personal with some of your favorite musicians.” —Cassandra Sinclair, 47, personal chef and cooking instructor

“For a great meal and great live music, check out Sage Woodfire Tavern. It’s a perfect spot for date night or a girls’ night out.” —Rosalynn Daniels, 35, photographer

“To watch the game in a place where everyone is united in their love for the Atlanta Falcons, check out Sports & Social at Live! At the Battery Atlanta. They have good food and drinks, plus games to play during halftime.” —Rosalynn Daniels

Self-care central
“My ritual is getting a massage at One Touch Healing Hands. Talk about getting all the kinks and crooks out of my body!” —Traci Fields

“One of my favorite hideouts is Jeju Sauna [featured on The Real Housewives of Atlanta]. Located just minutes from Atlanta [in Duluth], the traditional Korean public bathhouse [is] open 24/7 and furnished with hot tubs, saunas, an ice room, heated mineral rooms and a swimming pool. Try the Korean Demadi body scrub!” —Jackie O. Asare, 50, entertainment publicist

Atlanta Ferris Wheel lit up at night
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With easy access to attractions like the Georgia Aquarium and the nearly 20-story SkyView Atlanta Ferris wheel in Centennial Olympic Park, I’ll add that the artfully designed and moderately priced Hotel Indigo Atlanta Downtown is a centrally located pick. The hotel features a curved, glass-and-steel lobby staircase and sleek guest rooms designed by local architect John Portman.

Or splurge with a stay at the five-star Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta in the heart of Midtown, the city’s bustling business and arts epicenter. The hotel is popular for its serene spa, hopping Bar Margot and proximity to Piedmont Park and the High Museum of Art.