Keeping the connection to the city we all love

Q: A co-worker of my husband took the virtual ghost stories and food tour through “Unexpected Atlanta” and loved it. Could you tell me more about this?

A: The tour was Unexpected Atlanta's ATL Ghost Stories + S'mores.

Owner and founder of Unexpected Atlanta Akila McConnell said this was their first virtual tour born as a result of the pandemic. It covered stories from the Oakland Cemetery to the Grant Mansion with an optional [add-on] ATL treat box from a local entrepreneur along with a few other goodies.

McConnell’s background in law and global travel experiencing a wealth of exotic places and food led her to take a road less traveled back in 2015, resulting in her brainchild Atlanta Food Walks.

“My idea was to really tell the stories that people don’t tell,” she said. “People thought I was crazy.”

Her history tours came three years later as a result of suggestions from past guests.

“2020 was our fifth anniversary and we expected to do a lot more outreach. Of course, COVID-19 hit throwing a wrench into everything,” McConnell said.

The team created a package that shared food and stories of the city: ATL Food Tour Box. Feedback from those who had purchased the box stretched their vision.

“People wanted something where they could feel that they were virtually traveling and with a small budgetary amount that anybody could do.

“We created a product that includes food and the history for under $25,” she said. “To each story we bring in the immersive element by adding the food and a hands-on activity. Cycled every two weeks, a new topic and treats from one of our local vendors are offered.”

McConnell is the historian that digs deep. A one-hour tour takes 40-80+ hours to research from direct resources many times going back hundreds of years in history. Her tour guides are the storytellers.

The company partners with small business entrepreneurs they feel are inclusive to Atlanta. Every virtual tour includes a short video from the food vendor sharing their story.

“We are seeing a lot of families gathered around the screen. We do these hands-on activities. You can interact with our guide. You’re not just sitting there watching a video,” McConnell added.

The virtual tour is taken through Zoom and costs $10 per screen plus an optional treat box. Upcoming virtual tours: Street Art & Sweet Tea (June 25-July 11), followed by Atlanta Food & Biscuits, and Civil War & Hoe Cakes.

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