Every now and then we need a bit of Southern charm—and we’ve currently got Georgia on our mind. Atlanta has it all, and so this year we suggest you take a jaunt down there. In Atlanta, residents enjoy mild weather, quaint neighborhood shops, and delicious Southern comfort food. Since some of our Glam team members spent their college years in the good old ATL, we consider ourselves experts. We recently spent a few days cruising around the city in the 2014 Lexus GX 460 to explore Buckhead, Midtown, Downtown, and the Virginia Highlands. The luxury utility vehicle has a third row with sufficient room for our posse and generous cargo space to stow our purchases from Lenox Square and Phipps Plaza malls. And so we were able to comfortably drive around in style and experience a few of our favorite spots.
Where to Stay and Spa:
The Ritz-Carlton, 3434 Peachtree Road NE, 404-237-2700
Located in the heart of Buckhead, the Ritz-Carlton offers easy access to all the shops and restaurants you’ll have to hit during your stay (see below). You can always count on the Ritz for an elegant experience, and the Buckhead location is no exception. It features rooms with gorgeous views of Atlanta, fine restaurants, and exceptional spa services—what more could you want? Plus…the valet took particularly good care of the car.
St. Regis, 88 W. Paces Ferry Road, 404-563-7900
Tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Buckhead traffic, the luxurious St. Regis hotel is a complete haven. The grand entrance features a gorgeous staircase that leads to a comfortable seating area for tea, and the chic high-tech rooms will make you feel like royalty. Within walking distance are Whole Foods, Flywheel, and Drybar, so rest assured that you’ll have access to anything you need throughout your stay. Relax at the spa, hit the gym and venture down to Chops Lobster Bar for the complete St. Regis experience.
GlowDry, 3722 Roswell Road NE, 404-549-8007
Atlanta’s latest iteration of the blow-dry bar incorporates a little bit more into your experience. Here you’ll have several updo options if you want something a little bit fancier than a simple straight look. The salon even offers makeup and eyebrow services, which makes this place a one-stop shop for your pre-party prep.
Carter Barnes, 3220 Paces Ferry Place, 404-848-0047
This sophisticated salon is an Atlanta go-to for the most beautiful ladies and gents in the area. Recently relocated from its original home in Phipps Plaza, the shop still has the same street cred it’s always had. Whether you need a cut, color, facial, wax (they’ll work wonders on your brows!), makeup, or body treatment, Carter Barnes has you covered from head to toe.
Sugarcoat, 1602 St. Charles Avenue NE, 404-249-0013
Whether you’re still into nail art or just want a damn good manicure, Sugarcoat is the place to go. With talented nail technicians who do amazing nail art, and a polish collection to boot, this nail salon will revive your tired hands and then some.
Where to Brunch:
Buttermilk Kitchen, 4225 Roswell Road, 678-732-3274
Sustainable and local is the name of the game at this neighborhood gem. Rustic biscuits, fresh yogurt, decadent pancakes, French-press coffee, and heavenly potatoes will all find a place on your table—and you and your brunch buddies will definitely have to find a way to share.
Murphy’s, 997 Virginia Avenue NE, 404-872-0904
Murphy’s serves as the epitome of Southern brunch, doling out endless amounts of mimosas alongside fluffy eggs and French toast each weekend. Iced-coffee aficionados will appreciate the fact that instead of using ordinary ice cubes to chill its brew, Murphy’s makes coffee ice cubes so as to not dilute your hangover cure.
Highland Bakery, 655 Highland Avenue NE, 404-586-0772
This is truly where brunchers go to indulge. Hefty portions of eggs, potatoes, and biscuits might overwhelm you, but the famous peanut butter French toast topped with bananas takes the cake. (Tip: Share this.) Speaking of cake, you probably won’t be able to leave this place without one of the decadent desserts, the most famous of which are, of course, cupcakes.
Where to Squeeze in a Workout:
Flywheel Atlanta, 102 W. Paces Ferry Road NW, 678-702-5684
To work off your brunch binge, the Flywheel Atlanta team, made up of athletes and spin fanatics, are sure to kick your butt into overdrive. Stop by for a sweat-it-out spin session, or reimagine your idea of a bar at the barre. Football players and actors alike (achem—Jake Gyllenhaal—achem) are known to frequent this swanky studio.
Pure Barre, 3145 Peachtree Road NE, suite 169, 404-550-8542
This ladies’ lair is popular across the country, and it’s a workout hot spot in Atlanta. The full-body workout uses the ballet barre to target and tone your entire body—yes, even the muscles you didn’t know existed. With small movements and a variety of positions, your muscles will surely shake—and that’s just what you want to see.
What to Do:
Stone Mountain, 1000 Robert E. Lee Boulevard, Stone Mountain, Georgia, 770-498-5690
For an outdoor activity with an exercise edge, hike Stone Mountain, the historic site that features the world’s largest bas-relief (it depicts three famous figures of Confederate America: Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee, and Jefferson Davis). The five-mile trail is a tough one, but the views (and Instagram-able photos of said views) from the top are totally worth it.
Phipps Plaza, 3500 Peachtree Road NE, 404-261-7910
Phipps gives new meaning to the phrase “shop till you drop.” Boasting some of the most high-end stores, Phipps Plaza is truly a mall to be experienced if you (like we) have an unhealthy obsession with shopping. Ogle the Louboutin display at Jeffrey, peruse the sale rack at Intermix, and visit Saks Fifth Avenue if you have time to spare.
Atlanta Botanical Gardens, 1345 Piedmont Avenue NE, 404-876-5859
If you happen to be in Atlanta for the holidays, you’re in luck. The botanical garden features the Garden Lights Holiday Nights extravaganza through January 4, and it’s truly a site to be seen. Featuring more than a million lights, the garden is illuminated with brilliant colors, and it makes a perfect winter-evening activity.
The Cutest Cafes:
Parish, 240 N. Highland Avenue, 404-681-4434
This quaint cafe serves delicious food and coffee and is known to be a favorite of several cast members of The Vampire Diaries. Enjoy a quiet afternoon seated on rustic tables and benches with homemade pastries, or take your market meal to-go.
Dancing Goats Coffee Bar, 650 North Avenue NE, 404-874-0370
Head over to Dancing Goats for some cozy coffee time and maybe even a fancy design on your latte. The shop is modern and has comfortable sofas and chairs to make your coffee experience that much more special. Even if you’re on the move, you’re going to want to stop and smell the roses at this downtown dream.
Alon’s Bakery, 1394 N. Highland Avenue, 404-872-6000
Alon’s is more than just a neighborhood market. Go here for a quick snack, a bite of dessert, or a full-blown meal—you’re sure to find something to satisfy whatever you’re craving. From chopped salads and delicious coffee to prepared foods and cookie bites, Alon’s has it all covered, along with charming parklike benches and chairs to enjoy.
Holeman and Finch Public House, 2277 Peachtree Road, 404-948-1175
Burger lovers, rejoice—but still make sure to get here early. At 10 o’clock, Holeman and Finch serves 24 (only!) of its famous burgers to the lucky patrons who had the most patience and the best timing. To secure a burger, get to the restaurant on the early side and enjoy a drink. Put your name down for a table and a burger when you check in to make sure you have one reserved when burger time rolls around.
Antico Pizza Napoletana, 1093 Hemphill Avenue, 404-724-2333
It looks like your average pizzeria, but it is so much more. Antico Pizza is a casual joint filled with benches and tabletops that cranks out pies like clockwork all day, until the dough runs out. The place pretty much serves only pizza, but because you’re seated right next to the ovens and can watch your pizzas being handmade, you really won’t want anything else.
JCT Kitchen and Bar, 1198 Howell Mill Road, 404-355-2252
For some comfort food with a side of trend, JCT Kitchen is the place to try. With Southern delights like fried chicken, collard greens, and shrimp and grits, this restaurant puts a modern spin on the classics. Its laid-back, homey vibe makes this place a great destination for groups—but, surely, the food would taste just as delicious at a table for one.
Best Spots for a Drink:
Brick Store Pub, 125 E. Court Square, 404-687-0990
In the heart of Atlanta’s Decatur neighborhood sits a pub with excellent beer, great food, and a relaxed atmosphere. For a low-key evening filled with comfort food and plenty of booze (and no dress code), Brick Store is your best bet.
W Midtown’s Whiskey Park, 188 14th Street NE, 404-724-2559
The W Hotel in midtown is home to this chic lounge, which boasts indoor and outdoor seating. The oversize chandeliers add to a glamorous environment, where people get dressed up for a night out.