The Most Over-Rated Things in Atlanta
The things to see, do, and eat in Atlanta which, unfortunately, don't live up to their hype.
The sprawling southern city of Atlanta has become a backdrop for many TV shows and movies, as well as a mecca for young professionals from all countries. It's no surprise, given the city's charm and spate of great eats and attractions. Among these offerings, though, there are some things that don't quite live up to their hype. We've listed them here for you, but know that it's allright: for every overrated activity found in Georgia's capital, there are several worthy alternatives to see instead.
1. The Varsity
This landmark Atlanta restaurant has been around for eons and is often a must-see spot for visitors. You can expect chili dogs, hamburgers, french fries, and onion rings galore. This is where the magic of this place begins and ends, though: at the end of the day, it's a typical greasy spoon. If great wings and comfort food is what your heart desires, there's exponentially better fare at J.R. Crickets in Midtown, the birthplace of sorts in Atlanta for buffalo wings, which also has burgers, ribs, steak, Philly cheesteaks, and seafood.
2. The World of Coke
Ah, Atlanta: the Coke capital of the world. But while the all-new World of Coke museum is beautiful in its own right, and will give you a well-rounded history of the company and even an opportunity to taste Coke from cities all over the world, it's a bit cliché. And often, the best place to learn about the goodness of Coke is when you have a frosty glass paired with a great burger and fries. Head to some of Atlanta's best burger spots, such as Holeman and Finch in Buckhead, the Vortex Bar & Grill in Midtown, or Brick Store Pub in downtown Decatur.
3. Underground Atlanta
Historic storefronts, freshly roasted peanuts, some unique (yet cheesy) souvenirs, and a food court are the components that constitute Underground. Want a better feel of what characterizes Atlanta? Stroll around Piedmont Park, or explore Little Five Points, a hybrid artsy, music epicenter with great pleaces to eat. (Tip: don't drive to Little Five Points; take the city's transit system).
4. Atlantic Station
Just another run-of-the-mill open air shopping center, Atlantic Station is in the Midtown area of Atlanta. Although there are a few locally owned stores that are worth a look, perhaps the coolest feature of Atlantic Station is its regular programming that changes seasonally, so skip the usual draws and focus on the area's events instead. During the summer, for instance, movies are projected on a huge screen as attendees watch from the lawn on blankets. During the warmer months, vendors sell merchandise there: anything from sweet-smelling essential oils and lotions to handmade jewelry.
5. Lenox Square Mall
For some reason, this sprawling mall in Buckhead, with its many designer stores and regular celebrity sightings, tends to be a stomping ground for Atlantans and out-of-towners alike. There's no real appeal to this mall, and many will tire of its jam-packed parking lots before even stepping inside. Lots of crowds await inside, too, and for someone who is truly looking for unique finds, Fab'rik, a local boutique with several locations throughout the city and with one adjacent to the mall, is a more promising, less crowded option.
6. Skyview Atlanta
It's been two years since a Ferris wheel appeared in the skyline of Atlanta, just feet away from Centennial Olympic Park. And many still can't say why such an eyesore was needed.
7. The Georgia Aquarium
Yes, this aquarium has one of the largest single habitat aquariums in the world, more aquatic life than any other aquarium in the world, six galleries, and more than 60 exhibits. But, in the end, it's a large building dedicated to looking at fish. Skipping it would not be a total loss.
Nneka M. Okona lives in Atlanta and covers the city for Travel + Leisure.