Three Unique Atlanta Experiences: A Garden of Delights

My first flight since February 2020 jetted me to Atlanta in May 2021. Other than having to wear a mask at the airport and on the plane, the travel felt normal. The purpose of the trip was to visit family, but I was able to escape to a few must-sees, must-dos, and must-eats, think gardens, art, and amazing Italian restaurants. Thanks to my cousin and his on-point choices. (I think he follows me on social media and is keen on my preferences.)

Three Best Things to Experience in Atlanta: A True Garden of Delights

If your notion of Atlanta is based on the 1939 Academy Award Best Picture winner, Gone with the Wind, you are in for a big treat. Atlanta is sophisticated, vibrant, home to some of America’s iconic corporations (Coca-Cola, anyone?), and fabulous restaurants. The Big Peach also boasts provocative art installations and a must-see botanical garden.

Image 1: @AnnTran_ perched behind an old-school kissing booth with a 25¢/kiss price tag.              Image 2: @AnnTran_ sitting on a swing with tall and colorful lollipop looking art pieces behind her. Photographer: Tu Vo

Always a safe bet, let’s start with a bite to eat.

Not your garden variety restaurant

The Garden Room, a gem of a restaurant located at the St. Regis property/Buckhead Plaza, refers to its cuisine as New American. The Flaming Hot Cheeto Chicken dish is a perfect illustration. The food is delicious and the service first-class. The icing on the cake, as it were, at the Garden Room is the gorgeous setting.

ALOE VIEUX17 Ketel One Vodka, St-Germain Liqueur, Aloe Vera Juice, Blueberries, Mint, Lemon Bitters, Raventos Cava

The “garden” is a multi-colored floral motif. Wrought iron tables and chairs with flowered linens, and the burnished wood and the thick glass of the building complete the picture. It’s easy to see why the adjective gracious often is used to describe the southern lifestyle.

You will need to get reservations a month ahead of time, however, you can show up early and they will seat you at the bar or one of the tables. It may not be a VIP table, but you will still get a great view at any of the seats.

A picture is worth 1,000 words, so a video must equal 1 million. I ordered the Lobster Roll — Parker House roll, miso, sesame, and shiso — and my cocktail was the best. Love the little rubber duckie.

The Garden Room was so great, I returned, and I enjoyed both visits. On my second go-round I opted for the brunch, quite the treat. I highly recommend it.

Here’s the address: 88 West Paces Ferry Road NW, Atlanta.

Atlanta Botanical Garden is always in bloom

You’ve heard of the ancient Hanging Gardens of Babylon, right? I wonder if their wonder matches the 25-foot sculpture Earth Goddess, created by Mosaïcultures Internationales de Montréal. Truly awe-inspiring with her flowing locks and out-held hand spilling with water. Thankfully, Earth Goddess became part of the Garden’s permanent collection after the exhibition closed.

Earth Goddess installation

Here’s a tip: During Garden Lights, Holiday Nights, Earth Goddess becomes an Ice Goddess when her hair shines bright thanks to the thousands of lights crowning her. The 2021 Garden Lights, Holiday Nights opens Nov. 18, and tickets go on sale Oct. 1. Would love to see that. I hope you can see it, too.

For you IGers, make sure to bring a second outfit or two for a wardrobe change. There are many photo ops. Be prepared to walk. (Read: comfy walking shoes.) For all visitors, do order a cocktail while there and enjoy the gorgeous peaceful view. I think a Fall visit will be a treat since they will be adding new gardens to their venue.

I purchased a one-day pass, but I should have bought a seasonal ticket since I will be back in July. Although the ticket is time stamped, they will still let you in. Tickets can be purchased online, and I suggest the earlier the better. Atlanta Botanical Garden Tickets.

Atlantic Station Mall for the Art Installations

Looking for some fun photo ops at a mall? I went shopping and found a fun activity for me and my cousin. I am not sure if it was fun for him, but he was the photographer for me at this location. I think he enjoyed it. Atlantic Station Mall is a mixed-use area of commercial and residential buildings. The Millennium Gate Museum and the Robert C. Williams Paper Museum are also part of the neighborhood.

Image 2: @AnnTran_ sitting on a swing with tall & colorful lollipop looking art pieces behind her. Image 3: The author in black dress surrounded by giant peaches, some hanging and some on the floor.

Dining pleasures abound in Atlanta

If you are looking for Italian food recommendations, I gotcha covered. Who knew there would be so much excellent Italian food in Atlanta? Abbondanza!

Forza Storico: I like their patio dining, make sure to make reservations weeks ahead. My bar seat provided a perfect view for people watching. Great conversations with the bartenders, too. (Oh, that southern charm.) Forza Storica is in the Westside Provisions District.

Campagnolo Restaurant + Bar: I scored an outdoor dining spot. Love the pace and the food was exceptional. Campagnolo Restaurant + Bar is on Piedmont Avenue NE in Atlanta.

Bellina Alimentari: Along with the fine dining, I enjoyed some great shopping, too. The to-go meals are popular, maybe I can try one on my next visit. Bellina Alimentari is in Ponce City Market.

I am heading back to Atlanta in July and will be sure to update you with new dining finds, adding two speakeasy spots to my itinerary.  Stay tuned …

And the journeys will continue

Atlanta was the perfect destination to ease back into post-COVID traveling. Not too far, lots to see and do with plenty of delicious food. Plus, I was with family. Like I wrote earlier, the actual travel was pretty much the same other than the masks.

How are your travel plans shaping up? Where are you headed? Is your passport up to date? Vaccination card handy? There are a lot of bargains out there, make sure you are ready to take advantage.

Photo by Lien Le

Stay safe and travel well. See you soon!

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