City Heydays

Hit the pallino


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.

Sing your heart out


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).


See what the future holds

Psychic fair

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.

Fill your bucket with berries


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.

Bang on the boards


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.

Dine in Southern style

Blue Willow Inn

Location: Blue Willow Inn

Date taken: July 6, 2013

You might say that the Blue Willow Inn is off the beaten path — from Atlanta you head east on I-20, wander a few miles down a country road, then drive through the tiny downtown of Social Circle until you reach a stretch of historic Southern mansions. But for people who love traditional Southern food or tourists in search of a unique meal, the journey to the Blue Willow Inn is well known and well traveled. The inn’s now famous Southern buffet has been written about in Southern Living, USA Today and numerous other publications. But if you want a detailed review, just find someone who’s eaten there. Here’s mine: “Best mashed potatoes I’ve ever eaten. I piled my plate high with Southern veggies — collards, sweet potatoes, green beans, fried green tomatoes. I tried chicken livers for the first time, which not surprisingly taste like fried chicken. And, the best benefit of a buffet is you get to sample lots of desserts — buttermilk pie, lemon meringue pie, coconut pie, peanut pie, peach cobbler, banana pudding. Yum.”

Stand in a field of sunflowers

Sunflower festival

Location: Sunflower Farm Festival

Date taken: July 6, 2013

Atlanta may be home to dozens and dozens of festivals each year, but if you venture a few miles (or 40) outside the city limits, you’ll find an array of unique festivals — including the Sunflower Farm Festival in Rutledge, Ga. Ever wanted to walk through a field of sunflowers? Pick a bucket full to take home? Pose for flower-filled photo op? Drink your weight in sweet tea (check out Bayou Billy’s Dixie Sweet Tea)? Or eat a funnel stick? Held the first weekend in July, the Sunflower Farm Festival features a festival atmosphere amid a field full of sunflowers — some standing more than 15 feet tall.


Walk a straight line


Location: Circus Arts Fitness

Date taken: February 19, 2013

Read all about it

Neighborhood News

Location: Oakhurst

Date taken: January 19, 2013

Embrace your neighborhood’s style.

Avondale Estates

Location: Avondale Estates

Date taken: January 19, 2013

Discover a new view of the city

City view

Location: East Lake

Date taken: January 19, 2013

Drive past a local landmark

Big Chicken

Location: The Big Chicken

Date taken: August 9, 2012

See a fabulous show

Fox Theatre

Location: The Fox Theatre

Date taken: January 14, 2013

Head to class

Agnes Scott

Location: Agnes Scott College

Date taken: January 19, 2013

Discover a new view of the city

Atlanta marker

Location: Druid Hills

Date taken: December 31, 2012

Take your tastebuds to the market

Underground market

Location: Atlanta Underground Market

Date taken: January 6, 2012

My tamale was filled with sweet potatoes, coconut and raisins. It was an interesting combination of ingredients, but tasted quite good. The Atlanta Underground Market is where foodies come to dine and local cooks come to show off their newest creations. The website calls the monthly events “food adventures,” and they certainly are. Find out the secret location, pay $5 at the door, then go exploring to discover and taste what some of your fellow Atlantans have been cooking at home. The portions are small (and only a few bucks), so bring your appetite and adventurous tastebuds.

Watch the planes come and go

PDK Airport

Location: Peachtree-Dekalb Airport

Date taken: January 4, 2012

Go as fast as you can

Go karts

Location: Andretti Indoor Karting and Games

Date taken: January 7, 2012

I don’t know how fast I was going as I drove my go-kart around the track at the Andretti Indoor Karting and Games center in Roswell. I do know that I was glad I was wearing a big, heavy helmet. I know the track’s curves were giving me some trouble … I slowed down each time I neared one for fear of crashing. I also know that a whole lot of people were passing me. I fared better at skee-ball and basketball in the arcade section of the center. But I didn’t fare as well on the rope course — my fear of heights got the best of me. But the Andretti center proved a good way to test my skills (and fears) and not a bad way to spend a cold, January afternoon.

Host a party at a historic place


Location: The Solarium at Old Scottish Rite

Date taken: December 31, 2012

Founded in 1919 as the Scottish Rite Hospital for Crippled Children, the building served 50 children from its location in the Oakhurst neighborhood of Atlanta. Now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the old Scottish Rite hospital was built with sun and light in mind — buildings face South and each wing featured a large sun room/play room. One hundred years later,  the hospital campus no longer serves children (Scottish Rite Hospital moved to the north side of the city in the 1970s), but instead is home to a community center, offices, Oakhurst’s seasonal jazz nights and a special events spaces.

Make your way through history

History Center

Location: Atlanta History Center

Date taken: January 8, 2013

The sounds of Celine Dion’s “Power of the Dream” fill the Olympic exhibit room at the Atlanta History Center. If you were in Atlanta in 1996 for the Olympic Games, the music and all the memorabilia, including street banners, autographed equipment, uniforms and collectible pins, might take you on a trip down memory lane. Has it really been 16 years? The exhibit is just one of several permanent ones at the city’s primary history center, which is tucked away on West Paces Ferry Road and down the street from the governor’s mansion. If you are in the mood for a traditional museum tour … check out the exhibits on the history of Atlanta, golfer Bobby Jones, the Civil War and Southern folk art. On Tuesday evenings in January, the museum is open for free from 5:30-8:30 p.m.

Cross the city limits

Atlanta marker

Location: Lake Claire

Date taken: December 31, 2012

See how things change

Margaret Mitchell House


Location: The Margaret Mitchell House and Museum at 10th Street and Peachtree Street

My middle school Social Studies project was titled “When Atlanta’s Past Meets the Wrecking Ball.” One Saturday afternoon, my mother drove me around town in our family’s mini-van so I could take pictures of historic Atlanta buildings that had at one time been threatened to be demolished (like the Fox Theatre) or were currently in such a state (like the house where Margaret Mitchell wrote “Gone With the Wind”). If I remember correctly, I think my project received a decent grade, and fortunately, in the past few decades Atlanta has done a much better job of preserving its historic buildings. This is thanks in part to organizations such as the Atlanta Preservation Center and Georgia Trust and citizens who see value in the city’s historic landmarks.

Touch a sea star … and a stingray


Location: The Georgia Aquarium

Date taken: December 17, 2012

The Georgia Aquarium is the one place in Atlanta (and the Southeast) where you can touch a stingray, sea star, sea urchin or sea anemone. The aquarium remains a top destination for tourists and Atlantans, so I recommend getting there when the doors open to beat the crowds. You’ll get an up close look at otters, whales, jellyfish and those adorable clown fish. Stare awhile at the giant walls of fish. Crawl through a tunnel to see the penguins. Watch dolphins propel themselves through the air. Take a family photo on the moving walkway. And, don’t forget the giant gift shop on your way out — stuffed sea animals are pretty cute, too.

Be the welcoming committee

Welcome to Atlanta

Location: Ponce de Leon Avenue

Date taken: December 31, 2012