Atlanta is one of the most convenient cities to fly to, and, of course, it has no shortage of fine hotels. The Buckhead area in the north of the city remains the prime place to stay, shop and dine. Reynolds Plantation, in Greensboro, is about a ninety-minute drive from central Atlanta on I-20 east and halfway to Augusta. Sea Island is best reached by plane to Brunswick-Golden Isles airport, fifteen minutes away (both Sea Island lodging options offer transportation), via a short flight from Atlanta's Hartsfield International Airport—or fly to Jacksonville, Florida, or Savannah, Georgia, both about an hour's drive from the island.
Sprawling, transient Atlanta isn't everybody's cup of sweet tea, and the traffic can be a nightmare, but the Gateway to the South has much to recommend it. The politically and socially minded should explore both the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site (404-331-5190) and the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library & Museum (404-331-3942); the latter contains not only artifacts from the Georgia native's presidency and his Nobel Peace Prize but also a magnificent Japanese garden with a fine view of the downtown Atlanta skyline. Gone with the Wind fanatics can take in the Margaret Mitchell House & Museum (404-249-7015), while theater buffs and architectural buffs alike will enjoy the historic Fox Theatre (404-881-2100). Thirsty for more local culture?Check out the World of Coca-Cola (404-676-5151), with everything you ever wanted to know about our star-spangled beverage. High-end shopping can be found in abundance in Buckhead at Lenox Square and Phipps Plaza (catty-corner to each other at Peachtree and Lenox Roads) and at Miami Circle, a cul-de-sac that's home to interior designers' showcase boutiques as well as more than a handful of antique shops. In the heart of midtown you'll find the Atlanta Botanical Garden (404-876-5859) and its new Fuqua Orchid Center, featuring one of the world's largest permanent orchid displays. Another high-minded midtown endeavor is the High Museum of Art (404-733-4444), which will be showcasing French works borrowed from Moscow's famous Pushkin Museum starting April 5 through June 29.
Elsewhere, the focus is on taking advantage of all the offerings at the resorts, because there's certainly not a flurry of activity in their surrounding rural areas. This is a compliment, of course: What is the charm of the drawl, after all, but its unhurriedness?Near to Reynolds Plantation is the historic town of Madison, the heart of the Antebellum Trail and one of the few towns left intact on Sherman's March. Visit the Madison-Morgan Cultural Center (706-342-4743) for an overview of Southern life pre-1900 and the Rogers House (706-343-0190) for a lovingly restored example of the Piedmont Plain-style architecture seen throughout the rural South. Not far from Sea Island you'll find the port city of Brunswick, which once upon a time was decreed one of the five ports of entry into the colonies by George Washington; its antique and specialty shops and art galleries all connote a simpler way of life.