In the mood for designer clothes, artsy side-street galleries or some quirky, irresistible gifts? Then Atlanta should top your travel list. It’s a city as famous for hospitality as for its suburban sprawl. Luckily, much of the best shopping (and tourist attractions) can be found within the metropolitan area. Two of the region’s finest malls are only an intersection away from each other. Art haven Castleberry Hill is often referred to as a “precommercial SoHo of the South.” And a dozen places in between bring the city’s melting-pot vibe—plus eclectic shopping options—to life. Just remember, this ain’t a walking town. Blocks are long and “neighborhoods” stretch for miles. So buckle up. And bring your wallet.
Since the 1980s, artists and other urban pioneers have been converting the livery stables and packing plants of this historic downtown district into loft apartments, art galleries and lounges. The result is nothing short of a southern revival. At the scrappy Art House Co-op, you can mull over collaborative art projects like a recent “open-call” photo show that used the internet (and cheap disposable cameras) to draw more than 300 participants (309 Peters St.; 404-584-7967). Krause Gallery offers its white-walled space to everything from fashion-design launches to high-gloss art installations (291 Peters St.; 404-522-6205). Over on Walker Street, grab a sandwich, free Wi-Fi and the odd weekend yoga lesson at the sun-filled Tilt Coffee Shop (274 Walker St.; 404-688-4284). If you’re in the mood to mix and mingle, visit during the 4th Friday Art Stroll, a monthly, neighborhood-wide open house with gratis wine pours, gallery tours and unlimited art talk (castleberryhill.org).
Three miles north of downtown you’ll find the city’s unofficial design district, centered on Fourteenth Street and Huff Road. Any textile lovers on the hunt for antique damask, raw silk and more will appreciate Lewis & Sheron, an industry favorite operated by the same family for 60 years (912 Huff Rd., 404-351-4833). While you’re there, don’t miss source-within-a-source StaceAge. Run by great granddaughter Stacey Sheron, this ultra-mod showroom carries hip fabrics, edgy wallpapers and more (404-350-3233; staceage.com).
A mile north, Horizon Home Furniture is a good spot for embroidered throw pillows, Indonesian canopy beds and South American nesting tables. Root through the floor samples to find designer chairs for a fraction of the retail price (1611 Ellsworth Industrial Blvd.; 404-351-8090; horizonhomefurniture.com). Hungry? Pick up a mozzarella and pesto panini at Toscano & Sons Italian Market in the neighboring Brickworks shopping development.
By day, visit Star Provisions gourmet market for foodie finds (locally made cheeses, fresh quiche, exotic chocolate) and goodies like etched Roost glassware and old-fashioned book plates. By night, the back of this renovated factory space is home to Bacchanalia, one of the city’s best high-end dining destinations (1198 Howell Mill Rd.; 404-365-0410).
Sid Mashburn’s design stints at Tommy Hilfiger and J. Crew left their mark on his eponymous menswear boutique. It’s an impeccable source for tailored Sartorio shirts, made-to-measure suits, English luggage and more (1198 Howell Mill Rd.; 404-350-7135).
At Savvy Snoot, an upscale consignment boutique, you can find anything from a 1950s-era punching bag to vintage Louis Vuitton luggage. Call in a request and the shopkeepers will keep an eye out for a specific piece you have your heart set on (1187 Howell Mill Rd.; 404-355-1399).
Just before the northern suburbs lie the mansion-lined streets of Buckhead. Lenox Square Mall and Bloomingdale’s are just the beginning of this affluent neighborhood’s fashion options. A fresh crop of specialty stores (Diesel, the Apple Store, Kiehl’s) make the area a shopper’s dream. Lenox Square’s new Neiman Marcus wing merges top luxury brands (Hermès, Cartier, Ralph Lauren) with boutique fashion outposts like Zara and True Religion (3393 Peachtree Rd.; 404-467-8707). From Neiman’s parking lot, it’s a short walk to Shops Around Lenox, a semi-circle of boutiques (Rhinoceros, Tootsie’s, Merino, Pella) that keep Atlanta’s social set in vogue all year long.
Cross the intersection of Peachtree and Lenox roads to Phipps Plaza (3500 Peachtree Rd.; 404-262-7802), an upscale mall anchored by Nordstrom, Belk and Saks Fifth Avenue. You can travel the world in a single store at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and get a fashion fix at Tiffany & Co., Jeffrey, Bally and Jimmy Choo. A two-mile drive west, check out the latest cult beauty products and services for men and women at Entebello Modern Apothecary & Spa (324 E. Paces Ferry Rd.; 404-477-2933).
Buckhead isn’t just about fashion. The string of antiques shops and galleries found along Bennett Street offer all sorts of fine European furnishings, from Chippendale chairs to French daybeds (bennettstreets.com).
INMAN PARK, VIRGINIA HIGHLAND and MORNINGSIDE
Just a short drive east of downtown, Inman Park is a pedestrian-friendly (though hilly) neighborhood of restored Victorian mansions, clothing shops and sidewalk bistros.
Start by smelling the orchids at indie flower shop Adaptation Floral Design (316 N. Highland Ave. N.E.) before heading next door for cocoa nibs at Cacao (312 N. Highland Ave. N.E.). Then find the perfect Herman Miller chair at City Issue (325 Elizabeth St. N.E.).
Virginia Highland and its sister district, Morningside, both offer superb weekend people-watching. Among the shopping highlights are Bill Hallman, a clothing boutique and scenester favorite; the superbly curated Providence Antiques; and socially conscious Urban Cottage, selling Angolan bead necklaces, antique chests and more.
In the old days, Coca-Cola was this city’s main claim to fame, along with the Varsity—the “World’s Largest Drive-in Restaurant”—and the opulent Fox Theatre, one of the grand movie palaces of the 1920s, currently undergoing a longterm renovation process. (All three are within a train stop of one another, incidentally, and perfect for scooping up last-minute iconic souvenirs to mark your trip.) But Atlanta has come a long way since then. And it’s got the shopping to prove it.
EATJCT KITCHEN & BAR
Sophisticated Southern dining, which
translates to farmstead greens, shrimp
and grits, and frequent singer-songwriter
performances on the upstairs patio lounge.
1198 Howell Mill Rd., West Midtown;
404-355-2252; dinner for two, $80*
TAQUERIA DEL SOL
Tasty, inexpensive tacos, margaritas and a
signature salsa trio keep this local favorite
busy all week long. 1200 Howell Mill Rd.,
West Midtown; 404-352-5811; dinner
for two, $20
NM CAFÉ AT NEIMAN MARCUS
The sleek, upscale-casual cafeteria is a
perfect stop for mint julep iced tea, Niçoise
salads and style-watching over a glass
of wine. 3393 Peachtree Rd. at Lenox
Square Mall, Buckhead; 404-279-5850;
lunch for two, $40
BELLY GENERAL STORE
A sunny corner shop, Belly General Store
is a great spot to grab a cup of grits, locally
sourced jellies, or a piping hot empanada.
(In a rush? Order from the sidewalk to-go
window.) 772 N. Highland Ave., Virginia
Highland; 404-872-1003; breakfast or
lunch for two, $20
Insalata mista, wood-fired pizzas and an
enticing brunch menu make this a city
favorite. Neighboring sister restaurant
Sotto Sotto is a bit more hearty and
upscale. 309 N. Highland Ave., Inman
Park; 404-880-9559; dinner for two, $35
*Prices cover a meal for two, not including drinks, tax or tip.
RCI-AFFILIATED RESORTS NEAR ATLANTA INCLUDE:BIG CANOE*
GOLF CLUB VILLAS AT BIG CANOE
PETIT CREST VILLAS AT BIG CANOE
*Big Canoe is about an hour north of Atlanta.
For more information, visit RCI.com or call
NON-RCI-AFFILIATED HOTELS:STONEHURST PLACE
An eco-conscious, five-room B&B in
Midtown. 923 Piedmont Ave.;
doubles from $200
A 127-room modern update of the
historic Winecoff Hotel, which burned down.
176 Peachtree St.; 404-523-5155;
ellishotel.com; doubles from $159
W ATLANTA BUCKHEAD
This country-club-chic 291-room
hotel is home to acclaimed chef
Jean-George Vongerichten’s Atlanta
iteration of Market restaurant.
3377 Peachtree Rd.; 678-500-3100;
starwoodhotels.com; doubles from $200
After a $38 million rehab, this 517-room
hotel offers classic Ritz luxury with a
refreshed face. 3434 Peachtree Rd.;
doubles from $299
THE GLENN HOTEL
This slick, 110-room hotel has sexy,
well-appointed suites and panoramic
city views from the rooftop bar.
110 Marietta St.; 404-521-2250;
glennhotel.com; doubles from $169
NOTE: Information may have changed since publication. Please confirm key details before planning your trip.