Posts tagged “Atlanta Heydays

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

Head to class

Agnes Scott

Location: Agnes Scott College

Date taken: January 19, 2013

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

Mark Basehore and James McConnell

Mark Basehore and James McConnell

Location: Beep Beep Gallery

Date taken: January 26, 2013

In 2006, Mark Basehore and James McConnell put together their first art show with a few friends. The show, which doubled as an open house party for their friend’s new Oakhurst home, featured art of people they knew hung on the empty walls of the house.

“I remember receiving lots of feedback about that event,” said Mark. “But people didn’t tell us to host another party. They said ‘You guys should host another art show.”

Mark and James followed their advice. After a few more arts shows at the Oakhurst home and one at a restaurant, the two friends, who met while working together at Aurora Coffee, opened Beep Beep gallery in its present location on Charles Allen Drive in August 2006.

From the beginning, Mark’s and James’ vision for Beep Beep has been to focus not on the desire of customers, but on the needs and creativity of artists, specifically emerging artists.

“Beep Beep’s purpose has to do with providing a place for artists who might not be established to show fresh art,” said Mark., a native of Danielson, Conn., who moved to Atlanta in 2001 to attend graduate school. “Our shows give artists an opportunity to learn some of the basics of a show, what things look like on a wall or what sells.”

Their partnership has expanded from Beep Beep’s monthly art shows to Artlantis, an annual arts festival held the first weekend in June, and now, to opening a bar on Edgewood Avenue. Mark and James both recently resigned from their full-time jobs to focus on Beep Beep and opening the yet to be named bar this year.

“Our partnership works because we avoid talking about the stuff we aren’t actually going to do. We focus on the ideas that we want to see to completion,” said James, at native of Atlanta. “And, I think we balance each other well. The things one of us is good at … the other might not be.”

While both Mark and James grew up with an appreciation for art, Mark has spent a good deal of his adult life making art in some form and searching out new forums for creative expression, including hanging shows at Beep Beep. And, James talks passionately about the value of creating and managing their own projects and visions.

“There is something about being your own boss and creating something people like and respect,” said James. “We’ve created opportunities for ourselves because we could create them for ourselves. And now, with the bar, we are trying to add to it.”

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

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

Atlantan William Shaheen with Sugar

Atlanta Humane SocietyLocation: Atlanta Humane Society

Date taken: December 26, 2012

William Shaheen

The numbers speak for themselves: 87 staff members, 800 volunteers, 7,500 adoptions a year. The Atlanta Humane Society is caring for Atlanta’s cats and dogs every day, and providing leadership to the organization’s dedicated staff and volunteers is William Shaheen, who served on the Society’s board for 12 years before becoming its president in 2011.

Initially, when I was offered the position, I viewed it as life’s second half transition,” said Shaheen, who worked in industrial real estate before becoming the Society’s president. “But I love this organization, and I wanted to do something meaningful with my life. This is a mission-driven organization. You can see the good being done on a daily basis, whether it’s the rescue of an animal from a bad situation or a family walking out the door with a new pet.” 

In the past year, the Atlanta Humane Society has made quite a few changes, including opening a new facility in Alpharetta, extending the low-cost neuter program to five days a week and getting rid of the cages in the puppy room.

There are a lot of great non-profits in this city that serve people, but for some reason, maybe because they can’t speak for themselves, I feel drawn to take care of animals,” said William. “I want to be an advocate for their welfare.” 

Williams’ first childhood pet was a Saint Bernard. As an adult, he fell in love with Rottweilers and has always owned at least one, including the three he has now – Hannah, Cane and Lilly. William’s friends often tell stories about his love of animals, including the fact that at social gatherings they are most likely to find William off somewhere playing with the host’s pets. 

There’s a lot of joy in owning a pet,” said William. “You can have a rough day and your dog is still glad to see you. The stress of the day melts away when you play with a pet. For me, my greatest clarity comes when I go run with my dogs. Without them, the clarity isn’t there. There is something about the connection you have with a pet that goes beyond words.” 

Learn about the resources and services offered by the Atlanta Humane Society at

Answer the question ‘What’ll ya have?’

The Varsity

Location:  The Varsity

Date taken: December 17, 2012

No Atlanta blog or list of places to visit is complete without The Varsity. The restaurant has long been a favorite of visitors, Georgia Tech tailgaters and natives (yes, my grandparents used to head to The Varsity when they were dating). When you step up to the long row of registers, know you’ll be asked “What’ll ya have?”. And, I recommend placing an order for a Frosted Orange, onion rings and chili dog (the grilled pimento cheese is pretty good too). Opened in 1928, The Varsity has been a unique place for many reasons — the world’s largest drive-in, the addition of the “lunching pad” and rooms set up with televisions before they were commonplace in homes or businesses. If you dine at The Varsity, you’ll walk out with a little taste of Atlanta history and maybe your very own paper Varsity hat.

See the sites, see the lights

Holiday lights

Location: Atlanta Botanical Gardens‘ Garden Lights, Holiday Nights

Date taken: December 9, 2012

Holidays are all about traditions. Your Atlanta tradition might be seeing the lighting of Macy’s Great Tree, picking up a tree from the same lot each year, buying tickets to the Fox Theatre’s Nutcracker or touring Christmas at Callenwolde. Growing up in Atlanta, our family tradition was heading to the downtown Rich’s store to ride the Pink Pig. The Pink Pig is now a train ride in a tent at the Lenox Mall parking deck, but back then it was a monorail style ride located on top of the Rich’s store. We would climb the stairs up to the roof, hop aboard a small pig car and circle the base of Rich’s Great Tree, admiring its surrounding Christmas village. When the ride was over, we stuck our “I rode the Pink Pig” stickers on our coats and wore them proudly for the rest of the day. If you are looking for a new holiday tradition in the city, check out the Atlanta Botanical Garden’s Holiday Nights event, which is now in its second year. There’s no sticker at the end of the tour, but the lights are bright and plentiful and the event is great for all ages.

Atlantan Josh Woiderski

Josh Woiderski

Location: Edgewood Avenue

Date taken: December 15, 2012

Socks. Josh Woiderski recommends always having a pair of extra socks at your office. That’s the one thing that’s usually forgotten when packing for a long trip or in Josh’s case … a trip to work. Josh is a run commuter. He runs approximately five miles every morning (then again every evening) from his home in Kirkwood to his job downtown at the Department of Justice. The commute takes him about 40 minutes.

“It’s a lot of fun,” said Josh, a Michigan native who has lived in Atlanta since 2004. “Being able to get to work without having to rely on an automobile or public transportation gives you a sense of accomplishment. At first, that’s the mental hurdle to overcome, knowing that you can do it. For me, it’s a way to exercise daily without sacrificing family time. And, running is the best way to explore Atlanta. You can stop and check things out, have conversations with people and stumble upon interesting things.”

Josh, who has two young sons, started running regularly while he was in the Army. Previously, a bike commuter, Josh saw run commuting as an opportunity to get a great cardio workout doing something he was going to do every day anyway — commute. “For awhile, my co-workers did think I was weird for doing this, but now they are used to it,” said Josh.

So how does the practical part of run commuting work? Josh irons and folds his clothes and packs them in the backpack he runs with. He recommends leaving shoes and belts at the office for less weight to carry. Once arriving at his office, Josh changes clothes and washes off (using a combination of soap, water and baby wipes) and starts his work day.

Josh estimates that there are around a dozen run commuters in Atlanta — people who might use some form of transportation (car, bike, MARTA, etc.) but make running a part of their way to get to work each day. Washington D.C., with it’s flat landscape and great public transportation, is the nation’s top city for run commuting. In Atlanta, Josh is working to help others figure out how to run commute effectively and easily. He started The Run Commuter blog, where 10 contributors from across North America offer tips, advice and stories. For example, listing the best waterproof backpacks and reminding people to pack socks.

Check out Josh’s The Run Commuter blog for tips and ideas on run commuting.

Hear a concert in the park

Atlantic Station concernt

Location: Justin Townes Earle concert at Atlantic Station

Date taken: December 2, 2012

Concerts. Bed races. Beach volleyball. Beer festivals. Food festivals. Cirque du Soleil. The 138 acres now occupied by Atlantic Station have seen a lot of changes in the past 100 years. Opened as the Atlantic Steel Mill in 1901, this Westside neighborhood is now a tourist destination for shopping (only IKEA for hundreds of miles) and dining. And, for locals, it’s a space to live (buy or rent) and work (Creative Loafing’s offices are here) and attend a variety of events. If you can navigate your way in and out of the massive parking deck, it’s a great place to spend an evening.