The weekend of October 11-14, I flew down to Atlanta to visit a friend from college. It was such a great weekend!
There’s a lot I want to cover in this post – my flight, where I stayed, everywhere we went to eat, all the activities we did, and some of my travel trips! So without any more delay…
I flew Delta for the first time + really enjoyed it despite some words of caution from friends + family! I have always flown Southwest + if you fly enough, you know that each airline has a little bit different process. Unlike Southwest, Delta has so many different classes for passengers + a different policy on baggage. To keep my flight expenses down, I flew Basic Economy (the lowest class) + only brought a carry-on.
So I know Basic is not most people’s first choice; however, it made a difference in cost + was able to choose a seat at check-in.
I downloaded the Delta app so that I could check-in on the app 24 hours before my flight time. I highly recommend downloading the app! When I built my account before buying my ticket, I was able to put my seat preference (middle, window, aisle). I think this helps your initial seat assignment depending on what seats are available when you check-in. Flying down, I was able to change my seat to be about 10 rows up – I like sitting by/in the emergency rows over the wings! Flying home, I was not able to change my seat. Ultimately, for such a short flight, seating is not a concern for me! If I were flying internationally, I would have sprung for a higher class. I also want to note that it depends on the aircraft because on a smaller plane – the seats for the higher classes were still pretty cozy compared to the rest of the seating.
I brought a carry-on + did not check a suitcase. I went to Target + picked this little one up. For Delta, your first checked bag is $30 (you can still do one personal bag + one carry-on for free!). I’m so used to Southwest being first bag free! However, I opted to buy a new carry-on (instead of paying for a suitcase) for future travels. Also so I could just run off the plane + not wait at the baggage carousel! Unfortunately, since I was at the end of the line to board, they ran out of space in the overhead bins so I had to check my carry-on (for free, luckily). Also luckily, the bags were all out by the time I landed in ATL so checking my bag only added a few minutes max.
Circling back to the Delta app… It’s fantastic + so user friendly! It has a map of the airport you are in + gives updates as your bag is checked, loaded, unloaded + arrives at the carousel. As I said previously, I used it to check-in + change my seat assignment. It also notifies you if your gate changes. It stores a mobile boarding pass that you can use throughout the airport.
So I am extremely brand-loyal to Marriott + it is my first choice every time I travel. I love how clean all of their hotels are + how welcoming the staff is. Marriott has a massive portfolio of luxury (ex: St. Regis), premium (ex: Westin), select (ex: aloft), + long stay (ex: Residence Inn) brands.
Being a rewards member has all kinds of perks. Thankfully, my full time job requires a bit of travel so I was able to quickly reach Gold Elite (I’m desperately trying to reach Platinum!). This means I can check-in via the mobile app in advance, receive complimentary wifi, late check-out, complimentary room upgrades, 25% bonus points on all stays, + a welcome gift upon arrival (varies by brand). Also through Marriott, you can purchase tour + event passes to earn points! I am going to Philadelphia at the end of the month + will be experimenting with this feature while I’m there!
So specifically for my trip to Atlanta, I stayed at the Ritz-Carlton. I’m all about a good deal + I definitely got one! Marriott offers various rates – AAA/CAA, Corporate, Senior, Government + Military, Group. For Government + Military, you can use these rates while on travel for leisure – which is honestly incredible! The rate I used was the same at all Marriotts in Atlanta so I figured the obvious choice was to stay at the most luxurious option!
Truthfully, I ended up dropping the ball on taking pictures because it looks exactly as it does in the pictures on their website. Everything was impeccably clean + House Keepings’ attention to detail in the rooms was amazing! The staff was so welcoming + attentive throughout my stay as well! I’m telling you – Marriott is the way to go!
We purchased Atlanta CityPASSes which I highly recommend doing. It was $76 for tickets to World of Coke, the Georgia Aquarium (below), CNN Studio Tours, the Atlanta Zoo or the National Center for Civil + Human Rights, and the College Football Hall of Fame or the Fernbank Museum of Natural History. We opted for the National Center for Civil + Human Rights + College Football Hall of Fame. You can have it stored on your phone to scan at the ticket booths at each venue or you can print the ticket + keep track of it that way! It’s also great because Coke, the Aquarium, Civil Rights, CNN, + Football Hall of Fame are all walking distance from each other in downtown Atlanta!
We went to the World of Coca-Cola on Sunday + it was so fun! You are allowed into the main lobby in waves. When you first come in you have the choice of a free regular Coke, Diet Coke, + two others. I’m so picky about Coke – I only drink regular! Once everyone gets their Coke, you are lead into a room with hundreds of historic artifacts from throughout the history of Coca-Cola! There was a gold bottle from the Beijing Olympics, an old road side shaped like a 12foot bottle opener, + so many other items! After that, you are lead into a theater to watch a montage of people enjoying Coke products. Once you watch the video, you go into the main atrium where you can see the bottling process, meet the polar bear mascot, + the true highlight – drink Coke products from all over the world!! I drank so much! I really wanted my picture with the Coke bear but honestly, the line was insanely long + we were doing all of the activities in one day so time was limited.
Overall, I would definitely recommend World of Coke! It was so fun + I would say to allow for 1.5-2 hours if you want to not be rushed.
We also went to the College Football Hall of Fame. This was fun because when we scanned our CityPASS, we received a lanyard with a badge on it – very game day official feeling! Once you go inside, you can scan your badge + choose your team. There is a wall of helmets + the school you choose lights up on the massive wall for everyone to see! After that, you can walk around the museum to see the exhibits. There were a lot of interactive things to do + so much historical information – the evolution of football uniforms, tailgating, + rivalries! At the end, you can go down on the turf field + do field goal kicks + other football training exercises. We didn’t do that because there was a big group in front of us, + again, time was limited.
Personally, I’m not wild about college football so this was not a priority for me but the guys wanted to go. It turned out to be interesting but if your time in Atlanta is very short, I don’t think this would be a top priority!
We also went to the National Center for Civil + Human Rights. I’m a huge nerd + this was so interesting to me. I highly recommend going if you visit Atlanta. It featured a sizable exhibit about Martin Luther King Jr, which I learned so much from. It was interesting to see the civil rights issues that we as society have faced over the years + how so much has improved but we still have so much work to do!
We unfortunately did not have time for CNN studio tours. The last tour of the day had just left + it was 50 minutes. The two locals of the group needed to run back to their apartments to let their dogs out before dinner. Also, there was a protest march going past so we didn’t stay. I’ve heard great things about the tour though!
Last on the CityPASS but certainly not least, the Georgia Aquarium! It’s the largest aquarium in the US + 2nd largest in the world. It’s home to 4 whale sharks, otters, dolphins, + so much more! When you walk in, there is a central atrium that breaks off into the different exhibits + a food court + gift shop. We started with seeing the sea otters but they were sleeping. After that, we did the tropical fish, dolphin show, the belugas, a touch tank with little shrimps, + then since we were all getting so hungry, we went to the whale sharks as the last stop! There’s a moving sidewalk through a portion of the tank where the fish, whales, + manta rays swim over you. It was so cool! We did a pretty quick tour through but I could have easily stopped at every single tank + watched all of the different species for so long. If you are big into marine life, I definitely recommend giving this 2-3 hours to really see all the aquarium has to offer!
My friend + I also went to the Jimmy Carter Presidential Museum + Library. Every time I travel somewhere, I try to mix in historical/political activities so in addition to the National Center for Civil + Human Rights, we stopped here! Also, they have an exhibit with props + costumes from various movies + TV shows filmed in Atlanta! The very picturesque fountain + gardens out front were having renovations done so unfortunately, I couldn’t get a picture of that. However, there is a set-up of the Oval Office from Jimmy Carter’s time as president. I also thought it was so interesting to see the wall of declassified documents from his term.
The movie exhibit had the living room props from Stranger Things + one of the Captain America costumes. I’m a huge fan of Stranger Things + it turns out the show was filmed in Atlanta, stores in the surrounding towns + suburbs, + the homes in the show are peoples’ real homes!
Food + Drinks
I want to start by saying these restaurants, bars, + breweries are in no particular order!
We stopped at Sublime Doughnuts + these donuts were insane! I had the A-Town Mocha + Oreo. They were as big as my hand + sooo fluffy! I definitely recommend stopping here! My friend got an A-Town Mocha as well + I believe it was $13 for the 3 – which considering they were massive + so fresh that price was fine by me!
One night, we went to SweetWater Brewery. The venue is massive! Unfortunately, we just missed the last tour of the day so we just sat at the bar + drank beer! I definitely prefer sours + pale ales so I got The Pit + The Pendulum which was so good! This was light, sour, + a little plummy! I highly recommend!
SweetWater also had a super tasty looking snacks menu but we had come from dinner so we didn’t order any food. They also sell so much cool merch! I ended up buying a couple of stickers. I love collecting stickers + snagging paper coasters (always the one I use) from breweries!
On Saturday morning before going to watch the USC/UGA game, we stopped at Kale Me Crazy. I ordered the Vegan Wrap (kale, quinoa, cabbage, carrots, pickled red onions, avocado and hummus wrapped in a spinach tortilla and served with tahini) + the Kale-licious smoothie (kale, spinach, apple, banana, almond milk, flax seeds). Kale is one of my favorite vegetables + since we were at Kale Me Crazy, I figured now was the time to over-indulge in all things green! Personally, it ended up being too much kale at one time for me but everything was so good + so fresh! My friend ordered the Recovery smooth (banana, cherries, cashews, coconut yogurt, almond milk, vegan protein) + Avocado toast (Ezekiel bread, avocado, organic hard boiled egg, dijon mustard, scallion mix). Everything was so tasty + I recommend stopping at one of their locations if you are in ATL!
Another food stop was Punch Bowl Social. This is located in The Battery, which is right outside SunTrust Park where the Braves play. My friend ordered the Superfood Grain Bowl (crispy farro, quinoa, kale, radishes, sprouts, pickled chiles, shiitake mushrooms, poached egg, + miso ginger vinaigrette) which is pictured below on the left + I ordered chips + guac with a Fresh Strawberry Daiquiri (Cruzan Rum, house-made strawberry syrup, + fresh lime juice) which is pictured in the middle below. We went again another night with the rest of the group to have drinks + play some of the games. The venue is pretty big – it’s two stories with a bar to seat roughly 20 people, a couple bowling lanes upstairs, a room with arcade games (below), a room with a pool table, + then also actual tables + booths for seating. It’s a great hangout spot with the gang or an awesome date spot because there’s so much to do!
We also explored Ponce City Market before going to New Realm. Ponce City Market is a two-story market with a couple dozen retail + food vendors. I highly recommend checking this place out because there were so many tasty looking (+smelling) food vendors + all of the retail was so fun + unique! Also, right outside Ponce City Market is a City Winery, Soulcycle, J. Crew, + several other restaurants + retailers!
The beers in the flight were…
- Lemon Pucker (Sour)
- The Commissioner (Belgian Blonde)
- Phantasia Kolsch (Kolsch)
- Belga Rose (Belgian Blonde)
- Smoothie as She Goes (Gose)
- Perun (Pale Ale)
My favorites were Lemon Pucker, Phantasia Kolsch, and Belga Rose. Smoothie as She Gose was a thick texture very similar to a smoothie. So it was a little startling at first! This was too sour for me. I don’t typically go to pale ales which is why I wasn’t crazy about Perun. The Commissioner was too lemon-y for me which I think is why I didn’t prefer that one.
Overall, I had such a great weekend in Atlanta! It flew by + I definitely want to go again because there is still so much left to see! Have you been to Atlanta before? Share your favorite restaurants + things to do in the comments below!