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In the Neighborhood: Your ultimate guide to downtown Atlanta

Once the heartbeat of the city’s financial, legal and business community, downtown Atlanta has evolved into a hip, diverse, cultural and, frankly, fun district.

By Mary Welch | December 6, 2023

Ask any local and they’ll tell you that you can’t leave Atlanta without exploring the city’s downtown area. It’s the perfect place to hang out, see a game, enjoy the city’s culinary and cultural diversity and delight in watching the beluga whales at the Georgia Aquarium.


The neighborhood has celebrated restaurants with renowned chefs as well as casual venues that are budget friendly. Try:

- Aviva by Kameel: Don’t let its location in the mall at Peachtree Center fool you. This is one of downtown Atlanta’s best lunch spots, serving chicken shawarma, falafel and other Mediterranean classics.

- White Oak Kitchen & Cocktails: This elegant-yet-casual modern restaurant serves dishes rooted in Southern ingredients and flavors, while its bar focuses on wine, bourbon and whiskey — served neat for the purists or in creative cocktails.

- By George: One of downtown’s top-rated restaurants, this elegant dining room serves contemporary locally sourced seasonal cuisine alongside craft cocktails and an extensive wine list. Signature dishes include creamy risotto with wild mushrooms, peas and truffle oil and rosemary marinated grilled lollipop lamb.


Mind-blowing museums, exciting professional sports and parks perfect for picnicking are just the beginning when you spend time in downtown Atlanta. Visit:

- Centennial Olympic Park: Pack a picnic and find a comfy stretch of grass at this 22-acre (9 hectares) park, perfect for people-watching and listening to local musicians.

- World of Coca-Cola: This interactive museum tells the story of this Atlanta soda company founded in 1886. See the vault where the secret formula is housed and sample products from around the world.

- The Georgia Aquarium: As the country’s largest aquarium, this iconic attraction is jaw-dropping for both kids and adults alike. Explore all eight exhibits, each one imitating a different aquatic habitat with sharks, penguins, beluga whales and more.


Shop for the latest streetwear, step up your shoe game or pick out fashion designs found only in Atlanta. Browse:

- Walter’s Clothing: Known as Atlanta’s first sneaker boutique, this downtown staple attracts some of the city’s top musicians, elite athletes and famed actors who love the store’s coveted footwear and streetwear apparel.

- Wilbourn Sisters Designs: Continuing their family’s legacy of fashion that spans more than 50 years, sisters Janice and Carolyn Wilbourn offer unique high-end apparel for women and men, including one-size-fits-all wrap dresses and runway-worthy jackets and tops.

- The Fan’s Wear: A sports fan’s dream shop located in downtown’s Peachtree Center and packed with sports apparel, gifts and accessories celebrating your favorite teams.

No longer closing up shop at 5 p.m. like in its business-centric heydays, vibrant downtown Atlanta has a new vitality that’s exciting for everyone who visits.

Mary Welch is an Atlanta-based freelance writer who specializes in travel and lifestyle stories.