December 4, 2017 • Atlanta Store, BOOKS, Southern Travel
DJ on the Road: Emily Giffin’s Guide to Atlanta, Georgia
With the recent opening of Draper James Atlanta, we wanted to put together a city guide to this Southern city.
But since we’re new to “Hotlanta,” we went to an expert to give us the lowdown.
Emily Giffin, #1 New York Times bestselling author of eight novels, is a resident of Atlanta, Georgia, and the perfect person to show us around town.
As a longtime Atlanta resident, I’m thrilled to welcome Draper James to our town!
Atlanta is so many things to so many people. It’s one of the country’s biggest cities and busiest travel hubs; it’s a foodie destination featuring both established and rising young chefs; and it’s the southern capital of hip hop (just to name a few!) But what I love most about A-town is that despite its size and prominence, it has also retained a certain hominess—and in many ways, feels more like a collection of colorful neighborhoods each with its own unique flavor and identity.
Here are a few of my favorites, as well as city highlights to share with fellow Draper James girls!
I’ll start with the area around the BeltLine, a massive civic project to convert an abandoned railway corridor into a series of funky, walkable trails and green spaces.
Specifically, I love the Eastside Trail, which starts in Old Fourth Ward and stretches up through the Inman Park neighborhood before winding its way through Virginia Highland and Midtown, ultimately ending at the entrance to Piedmont Park (Atlanta’s version of Central Park and home to our beloved Botanical Gardens).
Not only does this part of the BeltLine connect some of Atlanta’s coolest neighborhoods, but its beautiful pathways allow pedestrians and bikers to meander through a colorful mix of street art, skate parks, and high-end bars and restaurants. Likewise, the Martin Luther King Center, Jimmy Carter Library, and Ebenezer Baptist Church are all within blocks of the trail, offering easy access to must-see historic sites.
Two main attractions on either end of the Eastside Trail are Krog Street Market down by Old Fourth Ward and Ponce City Market in Midtown, both of which comprise industrial-spaces-turned-dining-and-shopping complexes. Krog is the more laid back of the two, with a focus on street food offerings (be sure to try Fred’s Meat & Bread and Gu’s Dumplings).
Ponce City Market is grander in scale, combining its storefront and communal dining areas with a soaring rooftop bar, mini-golf, and its own winery. It is also home to Holeman & Finch Burger, one of the city’s best!
The BeltLine, Krog, and Ponce City Market all exemplify Atlanta’s newfound ethos for reclaiming unused industrial spaces and turning them into creative and aesthetically stimulating multi-use structures.
Another great example of urban revitalization is the Westside Provisions district in West Midtown. Built in 2007, the Provisions district is a converted warehouse and meatpacking station that now houses a wide-ranging mix of shopping, dining, and music/art venues, as well as trendy residential spaces for in-city living.
Whether you’re looking for a lazy weekend brunch at West Egg, buying handmade goods from local artists at Crafted, or having a nightcap at Northside Tavern (an old school dive bar where famous musicians still take the the stage for an impromptu set), the Westside has it all. This area also happens to feature two of my favorite restaurants in the city: The Optimist (don’t miss the oysters and champagne happy hour. Tell Mike the bartender I sent you!) and JCT Kitchen (where I held the after-party for the “Something Borrowed” movie premiere).
If you want something a little grittier, head down to Little Five Points. If it’s inexpensive, authentic ethnic food you’re after, take a tour of Buford Highway. Feeling sporty? Just swing Downtown, which offers both the College Football Hall of Fame and the spectacular new Mercedes-Benz Stadium (Rise up, Falcons!).
And for the literary crowd (we all know how much Reese loves books!), one of the country’s premier book festivals in the country takes place every Labor Day weekend in Decatur. While there, stop by Leon’s Filling Station or The Iberian Pig—two of my favorites!
Last but not least, I can’t talk about Atlanta without mentioning Buckhead, home to the current Governor’s mansion, the Atlanta History Center, and the Swan House—a perfectly maintained Depression-era Atlanta estate. Known as the “Beverly Hills of the South,” Buckhead also offers a sea of premier restaurants, hotels, and shopping (the highest concentration of designer boutiques in the country). It also happens to be where I live with my husband, three children, and golden retriever named Dolly…
So I LOVE that Reese and Draper James chose the Shops Around Lenox, right up the street from me! With Nashville flair, Reese’s trademark charm, and the cutest clothes anywhere, Draper James has made Hotlanta feel totes complete!!!!
Hope to see you there soon! Thanks, y’all!
Emily Giffin is a graduate of Wake Forest University and the University of Virginia School of Law. The #1 New York Times best-selling author of eight novels–Something Borrowed, Something Blue, Baby Proof, Love the One You’re With, Heart of the Matter, Where We Belong, The One & Only, and First Comes Love–she currently lives in Atlanta (Buckhead) with her husband and three children. Giffin’s ninth novel, All We Ever Wanted, is scheduled for release on June 26, 2018. You can visit her at emilygiffin.com.
Photography: Elizabeth Blank Photography