By Allison Entrekin
December 16, 2013

Three ways to get your Southern fix in and around Atlanta.

The Sanctuary: Piedmont Park
Honking horns give way to birdsong in Piedmont Park’s dense hardwood forest—made more accessible by a new set of footbridges and paved trails. Next year the leafy 200-acre park, set among Midtown’s high-rises, celebrates its 110th anniversary by opening 12 1/2 more acres, plus open-air classrooms for courses on sustainability. Save some time for a stroll through the adjoining Atlanta Botanical Garden, where asters, goldenrods, and other fall blooms are opening this month.

The Neighborhood: Old Fourth Ward
History meets hip in the O4W, the birthplace of Martin Luther King Jr. A short walk—but worlds away—from MLK’s National Historic Site is kitschy bar Sister Louisa’s Church, where Owen Wilson and Lady Gaga have been spotted playing Ping-Pong. At local favorite 4th & Swift ($$$), chef Jay Swift puts an upscale spin on comfort food (pheasant-confit mac-and-cheese; pork loin with bourbon peaches). Need a pick-me-up? Head to Dancing Goats Coffee Shop (pictured) in the new food-centric Ponce City Market.

The Day Trip: Greenville, S.C.
This former mill town two hours northeast of Atlanta is a bastion of Southern charm. But it doesn’t lack for big-city appeal: the old master paintings at Bob Jones University Museum & Gallery are so impressive that Louvre curators have flown in to see them. Burn off the baked goat cheese from Passerelle ($$) with a bike ride on the Swamp Rabbit Trail; rentals are available at Pedal Chic. Head north for nine miles until you reach Café at Williams Hardware ($$), where pumpkin pie and lemonade await.

Restaurant Pricing Key
$ Less than $25
$$ $25 to $75
$$$ $75 to $150
$$$$ More than $150