Staying home this summer? There are plenty of ways to stay busy around town, from learning a new game to trying a new restaurant.
Go Dancing. There are plenty of places to cut a rug, starting with Johnny’s Hideaway, the retro club on Roswell Road that plays everything from Sinatra to the Bee Gees. Check out Trivia Night on Mondays and Ladies’ Night on Wednesdays. For a younger, hipper scene, MJQ Concourse, is a high-energy, late-night club on Ponce de Leon. Also try the Sanctuary Nightclub, a long-running Latin club in Buckhead.
Make a splash. With 692 acres of shoreline, Lake Lanier offers plenty of things to do on — and in — the water. Rent a boat and zoom around viewing the wildlife or take out a paddle board for quiet lake time. There are plenty of beaches and places to swim and work on your tan.
Tour a winery. North Georgia is gaining a reputation as a wine destination and for good reason. Start your tour at Wolf Mountain Vineyards & Winery whose wine won Best in Show at the San Francisco International Wine Competition in 2020.
Drive fast – legally. Take a three-day Skip Barber Racing School course in driving Formula, GT and Touring cars at Road Atlanta. Or try the NASCAR Driving Experience at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. And the Porsche Driving Experience, which recently added a new west track, is an incredible way to spend the day zipping around in a Porsche.
Treat your taste buds. Dining in Atlanta has never been better, so dress up and have a night out. Marcus Bar and Grille, a funky restaurant on Edgewood Avenue, was just opened by celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson whose dishes are a blend of elevated comfort classics and signature dishes such as Poppa Ed’s Shrimp & Grits. Deborah VanTrece, whose Twisted Soul Cookhouse & Pours is a local favorite, opened La Panarda, an Italian restaurant on Cascade Road. Or try the Deer and the Dove on Sycamore Avenue in Decatur. Chef/owner Terry Koval is a 2023 James Beard Award finalist for Best Chef: Southeast.
Do free stuff. What’s wrong with being cheap? Atlanta offers a variety of activities free of charge — and we’re not talking about sitting in a park. The Battery Atlanta hosts Xfinity-sponsored outdoor movies every Friday. The High Museum of Art has UPS Second Sundays, when admission is on the house (or maybe technically UPS). Colony Square offers free yoga on Wednesdays. Enjoy a free standup comedy show at the Punchline Comedy Night at Avalon in Alpharetta on the first Monday of the month in Palmer Plaza.
Pamper yourself. A staycation is a great time to focus on your wellness. Treat yourself to a personalized facial at Heyday Atlanta, a salon that specializes in treatments for the face with several locations including a new one in Buckhead. Or sweat out those toxins at Perspire Sauna Studio, an infrared sauna facility with four locations in the metro area and another opening soon in Midtown. Your chi will thank you.
Get some fresh air. Atlanta is home to scores of great parks. A staycation is a good time to visit some new to you. On the shores of Lake Burton in Clarkesville, Moccasin Creek State Park’s flat terrain makes it easily accessible for RVs, children’s bikes and wheelchairs. It also has a fully accessible fishing pier open only to visitors 65 and older, 11 and younger or those with a Georgia disability fishing license. Chattahoochee Bend State Park in Newnan is another lesser-known gem that offers great facilities for campers.
Pet a porcupine. Yes, the Georgia Aquarium is world renowned and for good reason. But 22 miles east of Atlanta is SeaQuest Stonecrest, a land and sea adventure where you can touch, feed and interact with porcupines, wallabies and sloths. Enjoy a variety of encounters with aquatic creatures, too, including having your feet exfoliated by fish nibbling away your dead skin cells.
Credit: PAULA BOND HELLER
Credit: PAULA BOND HELLER
Shop at a Farmers Market. Take a culinary trip around the world at the 140,000-square-foot Your DeKalb Farmers Market, chock full of international delicacies. Or visit one of the scores of neighborhood farmers markets across greater Atlanta like Flowery Branch Farmers Market, held 3:30-6:30 p.m. from May through September.
Feed Your Mind. With the Decatur Book Festival on hiatus this year, book lovers itching to chat up some authors have to look no further than their local bookstore. Check websites for a list of upcoming events. FoxTale Book Shoppe in Woodstock hosts David Sedaris June 4. Virginia Highland Books presents Terry Sargent, who will sign copies of his book “Vegan Barbecue,” on June 3. Libraries also have literary events. Check out “Book Talk: Black Candle Women” with author Diane Marie Brown June 8 at the Duluth branch of the Gwinnett County Public Library.
Escape your geographic comfort zone. The smaller towns that make up greater Atlanta have changed dramatically over the years. Town centers have been refurbished, culinary scenes have flourished and charming boutiques and quaint B&Bs have opened. Town centers have been refurbished, culinary scenes have flourished and charming boutiques and quaint B&Bs have opened in cities including College Park, which is home to Virgil’s Gullah Kitchen & Bar, serving Gullah-Geechee cuisine including crab rice; or Duluth, where you can cheer on the Georgia Swarm, the state’s premier professional indoor lacrosse team.
Learn a new game. Bowling is old hat. Try your hand at fowling at the Fowling Warehouse on English Street on the Westside. It’s the only place in Georgia to play the game that combines elements of football, bowling and horseshoes. Confused? So are we! But it’s great fun and, all you really need to know is that the first team to knock down 10 pins wins. To help lubricate your play, a wide selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages are available from the Mystery Beer Machine that fills your glass from the bottom up.
Feel the thrill. Head over to Six Flags Over Georgia and try out the new KID FLASH Cosmic Center, a coaster with two trains that run on parallel dueling tracks allowing guests to compete and race to the finish. Or cool off at Malibu Norcross where you can enjoy Buccaneer Cove, a super-sized, five-level-high water play area that boasts more than 1,000 feet of waterslides, as well as wet tunnels and spray loops.
Credit: Courtesy of Visit Lake Oconee
Credit: Courtesy of Visit Lake Oconee
Decompress at a resort. Don’t want to travel but want the resort experience? The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds at Lake Oconee has recently undergone a significant renovation, most notably the Lake House now offers new amenities that include a cottage concierge and a private pool overlooking the lake.
Hear live music: Atlanta attracts a variety of acts from hip-hop, rock, pop and country — and they’re all coming soon. For nostalgia, try out Duran Duran or James Taylor at the State Farm Arena or rock groups like Weezer at Ameris Bank Amphitheatre. Virginia-Highland’s Blind Willie’s has live blues wailing most nights while Eddie’s Attic in Decatur boasts a calendar full of singer-songwriters.
Go to a museum. Take a tour of Atlanta’s world-class museums. Check out “Joylanta” at the High Museum of Art. The eye-popping immersive exhibit located beneath a canopy in the Woodruff Arts Center’s Carroll Slater Sifly Piazza was created by Tanya Aquiñiga and opened May 14. Or celebrate sloths, hedgehogs, bearded dragons and more in the “Survival of the Slowest” exhibit opening June 10 at Fernbank Museum of Natural History.
Walk the Beltline. Is the Eastside Trail too crowded for your tastes? New segments of the Beltline are under construction or being completed. Opened less than a year ago is the Westside Trail, including the north section, a 1.22-mile-long pedestrian and bike-friendly track that runs from Law Street to Huff Road along Marietta Boulevard. Be sure to make time to stop, shop and have a bite along the way.
Order room service. You don’t have to travel to enjoy the perks of a hotel stay. Many local hotels offer weekend staycation packages featuring reduced prices or special deals. Midtown’s Kimpton Shane welcomes four-legged friends with its Pampered Pooch package. Pets get plush beds and water bowls while humans get a bottle of Champagne. Guests at the Omni Hotel at the Battery Atlanta can enjoy the See Truist Park package including breakfast and a guided behind-the-scenes tour of Truist Park.
Take a guided tour. Act like a tourist and take a tour. You just might learn something. There are tours to suit every interest, including movie and television show locations, culinary tastings, pub crawls, Black history and the Civil War. Try Civil Rights Tours Atlanta for insight into the city’s rich civil rights history or explore the dark side of Midtown with Atlanta Ghosts.