Date taken: October 5, 2013
Atlanta has long been known for its place along the South’s Bible Belt. While many churches have left Atlanta’s downtown in favor of the suburbs, many still hold a prominent place in the urban landscape, including Martin Luther King Jr.’s Ebenezer Baptist Church. But other faith traditions also have a presence in the metro area — from the tiny First Existentialist Congregation in Candler Park to the Buddhist Drepung Loseling Monastery in Brookhaven to the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Atlanta in Lilburn, the world’s largest Hindu temple outside of India. No matter your faith, there’s likely a sacred space for you here.
Location: Uncle Shuck’s Corn Maze
Date taken: October 12, 2013
Once you enter the giant (yes, more than 4 miles of paths) corn maze at Uncle Shuck’s, you mind be tempted to pull out your smartphone compass. But really, where’s the fun in that? Wander around, hit the checkpoints, check out the views from the raised platforms, get lost and have fun next to corn stalks growing 12 feet tall. Uncle Shuck’s is just one of many corn mazes dotting the North Georgia landscape in the fall. You can find haunted corn mazes, trivia corn mazes, kids corn mazes (made from berry bushes) and all sorts of fall activities (hay rides, funnel cakes, pony rides, etc.).
Location: Atlanta Pride Parade
Date taken: October 13, 2013
It is easily the longest (about 2.5 hours) and most elaborate parade in Atlanta each year. Thousands of people line the streets for the Atlanta Pride Parade — one of the highlights of the annual Pride festival. Local businesses, politicians, corporations, places of worship, community groups, nonprofits and more create elaborate floats, don costumes and wave rainbow flags in support of equality for the LGBTQ community. It is, all at the same time, celebratory and emotional.
Location: Mack Aaron’s Apple House
Date taken: October 12, 2013
Cooking apples. Eating apples. Dried apples. Apple pies. Apple cider. Apple donuts. Apple slushies. Apple butter. Do you prefer a Jonagold? Mutsu? Honeycrisp? September Wonder? Rome Beauty? Pink Lady? Take a short day trip north to Ellijay, Ga., and you’ll find as many apples and apple goodies as you can carry home. October is the prime time for traveling to apple country, primarily because the Georgia Apple Festival is held that month. So, if you go, get an early start and know that the apple houses with kids’ activities (hay rides, apple picking, petting zoos, pig races, etc.) are the most jam-packed. Looking for a quieter, more relaxed and personal apple shopping experience — try one of the smaller houses.
Date taken: Nov. 11, 2013
There’s really only one thing you need to know about the first annual Atlanta Cheese Festival — grill cheese meltdown! Yes, eight local restaurants put their best grill cheese forward for festival goers to enjoy and vote on. High Road Creamery got my vote with its creative take — french toast grill cheese with vanilla ice cream. Of course, no cheese fest is complete without pimento cheese, mac and cheese, beer cheese soup and dozen of cheeses to taste and buy.
Location: Atlanta Greek Festival
Date taken: October 5, 2013
It’s the only festival I know of in Atlanta with a drive-thru and god of napkins. Yes, if you don’t have the time to park and walk around the annual Greek Festival, located at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral off Clairmont Road, you can simply drive through the parking lot and pick up your Greek meal. I recommend the pastries. Honey fritters — just the name made my mouth water — wedding cookies and baklava sundaes are all an integral part of this festival, which will appeal to your tastebuds more than your other senses. The entertainment lineup (dancing, music, etc.) is enjoyable, the tour of the cathedral is fascinating and the jewelry vendors might peak your interest, but you’ll likely come back for the food.
Location: #WeLoveAtl Mobile Photo Gallery
Date taken: October 5, 2013
It started as one art show. Now, it’s a ongoing exhibit with dozens of new photos added next week. #WeLoveAtl showcases Atlantans’ photos of their city and love of their city. Atlantans — those on Instagram — have been sharing their photos of skyline views, resident portraits, landmarks, neighborhoods and even various modes of transportation. #WeLoveAtl’s photos are now available for purchase, with proceeds going to the Atlanta Community Food Bank. Want to participate? Just grab your camera or smartphone, and snap a photo of your favorite Atlanta spot — don’t forget to hashtag #weloveatl.
Location: Wall Crawler Rock Club
Date taken: October 6, 2013
Intimidated by giant rock climbing walls? Don’t know where to put your hands and feet amid all the colorful holds? You like the sound of the word “belay” but have no idea what it means? Follow the smell of cookies baking (yes, there is a cookie factory just across the train tracks) to the Wall Crawler Rock Club on Dekalb Avenue, and you’ll find a intimate and laid back climbing gym. The walls are tall, but the learning curve feels a little smaller here. Of course, this is by no means a beginners only spot — there’s a crew of neighborhood regulars who call Wall Crawlers their home gym. Stop by, and you might become one of them.
Location: Dawsonville, Ga.
Date taken: October 12, 2013
It’s easy to pick up a pumpkin from your local grocery store, but if you really feel like embracing the Halloween spirit, head to a pumpkin patch. Pie pumpkins, white pumpkins, mini pumpkins, fairy tale pumpkins, gourds — the options are plentiful. And don’t forget your camera and your adorable toddler. A pumpkin patch makes a great fall photo backdrop.
Location: Kirkwood Wine Stroll
Date taken: September 27, 2013
Atlanta is home to numerous wine and beer festivals throughout the year, but none have quite the enthusiasm (and complimentary food!) of the Kirkwood Wine Stroll, which is held every September. In the heart of Kirkwood, a small commercial stretch along Hosea Williams Drive, all the businesses — from the car wash to the local pizza joint to the paint store — participate in the wine stroll. In addition to offering samples of wines, each stop serves up appetizers, pizza slices, bbq, desserts and other goodies to strollers. It’s a wine stroll brimming with neighborhood pride — and lots of glasses of wine.
Location: Star Provisions
Date taken: September 23, 2013
You’ve heard about the cronut — the croissant-donut hybrid that took New York City by storm earlier this year. Well, Atlanta has a few of its own forms of this tasty pastry. At Star Provisions on the Westside, it’s called the “dossant” and is available certain days of the week. At Sublime Doughnuts, you can indulge in a frosted croissant — and more than a dozen other genius donut creations.
Location: Chukkar Farm
Date taken: September 15, 2013
Nestled among the horse farms and golf courses of Alpharetta, Chukkar Farm in many ways feels like a step back in time — the green barn, rocking chairs, laid-back atmosphere and beautiful horses. The farm is family owned and run and has been for decades. Events and weddings are often held there. And, on Sundays when the weather is warm, the farm hosts polo matches and welcomes guests to bring a blanket, bring a picnic and come watch. Don’t know anything about polo? Find a friend who does (mine explained to me the unique qualities of a polo pony). Or, chances are you’ll be greeted at the farm by a Chukkar Farm family member, who will happily answer your horse-related questions.
Location: PRCA Rodeo
Date taken: September 13, 2013
Cowboys. Cowgirls. Lots of kids trying to find their boots. If you want to say honestly and accurately, “This isn’t my first rodeo,” then you might want to spend a weekend night at one. Typically, rodeos feature events such as steer wrestling, bareback riding, team roping, saddle bronc riding, tie-down roping, barrel racing and bull riding. And on a Friday night in the tiny town of Hamilton, Ga., the rodeo featured a kids’ boot race, with dozens of kids racing from one end of the dirt arena to the other to find their missing boots amid the pile. But watching isn’t all there is to do at a rodeo — you can enter a gun raffle, buy a rhinestone belt buckle, mingle with cowboys, pet some calves or dine on boiled peanuts and sweet tea. When you leave, just make sure your kids’ boots are the ones they came with.
Date taken: August 18, 2013
It looks like a movie set — the farmhouse, rolling fields, people on horseback, walking paths and a neighborhood of charming houses. Venture an hour south of Atlanta to Serenbe, and you’ll find yourself among acres of picturesque Southern farm land. Some make their homes at Serenbe, and others head there for a weekend getaway, retreat or special event. Whatever your reason for visiting, you’ll discover the air is quiet and clean, the landscape is lush and green and the porch chairs are perfect for sitting still.
Location: Westside Provisions
Date taken: August 6, 2013
The directional signs sprinkled throughout the Westside Provisions District read, “Really good stuff ,” and the statement is true. From the dessert case at Star Provisions to the guacamole at Taqueria del Sol to the gorgeous furniture at Room & Board to the stylish clothing of Sid Mashburn, Westside Provisions has become a dining and shopping destination. The Howell Mill block of brick buildings has come along way since its days as Atlanta’s first modern meatpacking facility (hence the pig logo).
Location: East Atlanta Village Criterium
Date taken: August 17, 2013
The streets around East Atlanta Village close down, and the bikes take over for one Saturday afternoon every August. Criterium implies a short course, usually less than a mile, and the EAV Criterium lives up to its name. Find a spot along the course, and you’ll see cyclists zoom by about every minute or so — they race on a small rectangle of a course around the main stretch of the neighborhood. Locals, family and friends and cycling enthusiasts cheer on the racers, starting with youth early in the day and ending with the veterans who compete for a cash prize. If you can’t make the EAV race, check out other criteriums nearby — Grant Park, Athens.
Date taken: July 25, 2013
Location: Bocce ball courts at Midway Pub
Bocce ball — an Italian game that you can play with a beer in one hand and a ball in the other. Through the Atlanta Bocce League dozens of teams are competing at Atlanta bars and parks on any given weeknight (and Sunday). The game’s objective is much like horseshoes or corn hole — get your ball as close as you can to the one, smaller white ball (also known as a pallino, jack or snitch by Harry Potter fans). A little hand-eye coordination may be necessary to post a win, but athleticism is not required. What is required is a cheesy team name that includes a bocce pun: Chewbocce, Invasion of the Bocce Snatchers, Love is a Boccefield, The Big LaBocce, The Lawn Rangers, FreeBallin … you get the idea.
Date taken: July 26, 2013
Location: Melody 2
For those of us born without an ounce of musical talent, a night of karaoke can sounds quite terrifying. But when your solo is limited to a group of your closest friends, karaoke becomes a little less intimidating. Among the international flavors of Atlanta’s Buford Highway sit several private room karaoke clubs. Rent a room. Bring your friends. Order drinks. Select a song, and sing your heart out. There are books and books of songs. Make your selection, enter it into the room’s iPad and soon you’ll be singing your favorite rock song, love song, country classic, ballad or cheesy 80s hit. And, if you’re lucky, your song will not only feature lyrics but an entertaining video as well (don’t be alarmed if you start seeing the same actors over and over).
Date taken: July 14, 2013
Location: Big Psychic Fair
Enter the big, blue barn at Harmony Place, and you’ll find rows of small tables set with pairs of chairs. At each one sits a psychic ready to offer insight into the past, present or future. At the Big Psychic Fair in Roswell, two readings can be purchased for $25 and attendees can choose from a long list of psychics. Tarot cards, dream interpretation, crystals, aromatherapy, massage — there’s a little bit of everything at this monthly event.
Date taken: July 13, 2013
Location: Dacula Briar Patch
Growing up in Atlanta, my family would often head a few miles north on Georgia 400, park on the side of the highway and pick the blackberries that were growing wild. Yes, things were different then. 400 was vastly different then. Now, picking your own fruits and vegetables has been so popular that there are websites devoted to helping people find farms. In the Atlanta area, there are plenty of places to choose from. I love picking blueberries — there are no thorns or brambles and in one strategic grasp you can grab a handful of the summer berries. Of course, one of the perks of picking your own fruit is eating as you go. And, nothing tastes better than a blueberry cobbler made with the berries you worked so hard to pick.
Date taken: July 13, 2013
Location: Dick Lane Velodrome
It’s a hidden gem tucked away in East Point. The Dick Lane Velodrome features the second steepest concrete track in the country (36 degrees). The velodrome, built in 1974, offers classes and training opportunities for kids and adults. And, on a few select Saturdays during the year the pro series comes to the track. For just $5 spectators are treated to an evening of diverse (and creative) races — and are encouraged to bang on the boards to cheer on the racers. There’s the traditional scratch race, with a mass start and set number of laps. There’s the unknown distance race, which is just what it sounds like — riders don’t know how long the race will be and wait for the bell to signal the final lap. In the Keirin, cyclists follow the draft of a motorcycle, and in the miss and out race, the last rider on every lap is eliminated. But the crowd favorite could be the Madison, where teammates grab hands and sling each other forward.