Insert all the usual excuses for my absence here. I’ve been busy. Ideas are percolating. I’m actually in Washington (state) but my mind is on home. Well, Atlanta – my home when I’m not somewhere else. I grew up just south of Atlanta, spent my teen years goofing off around there when I should have been in school, and spent many adult years passing through there wishing traffic would just GO. As my son got a little older, visits “home” gave us a chance to get to know the fun activities that Atlanta has to offer it’s estimated 43 million yearly visitors and just over 5 million residents. We did all the usual stuff the Georgia Aquarium, World of Coca Cola, the High Museum, the Natural History Museum, etc.
But these days, I treat it more like a layover than a destination even though there is so much more to do and see. Until recently, I hardly explored any new places and haven’t revisited any of the major attractions since my kiddo was a kid. But I’m changing that this fall, and I’m happy to admit I’m just a little excited about it. Last week I popped home to see some super important people, eat the best tomato sandwich ever, and also take a ride on MARTA (that’s Atlanta’s mass transit train/bus system) to be a tourist for the day.
Why? Because when you treat any portion of your life as a layover, waiting for the next thing, you aren’t living. There is too much to see and do and explore. Too many interesting people to meet (or just watch if you are an introvert!). Too many things to taste and hear.
I’ve been inspired even more to ditch the car and do this exploring by public transit thanks to my friend Pattie Baker. She’s a liver of life and a writer that uses her camera and her words to show the stories of people and things she encounters on her daily bicycle commutes in and around Atlanta. Through her lens, I’ve seen parts of Atlanta that I didn’t even know existed, much less offered any reason for me to actually explore. Here’s the link to what was published in the LDN and below is the ‘behind the scenes’.
So that first “scouting” trip to Atlanta I met up with my mom at the southern end of the MARTA gold line and we made our way to the Arts Center station. True to form, I am always happy to find budget friendly ways to enjoy the sights and attractions so I can save my money for food! This day was no exception – and the High Museum of Art accommodated us nicely with their 100% discount for veterans plus one guest. We explored the few blocks around the museum (thanks to Pattie’s suggestion) and found some cool murals at Colony Square, plenty of shady rest spots along the busy plaza, food trucks and enough outdoor art and novelty that had we not actually gone into the museum I still would have been happy with that excursion.
Not quite done, we hopped back on MARTA and headed south to Centennial Olympic Park (where we would have arrived sooner if I wasn’t running my mouth and missed our stop!) to catch the Atlanta Streetcar for a ride to Sweet Auburn Market. This was probably the highlight of my day. I’ve been to markets all over the US, but this one was perfect – like a farmer’s market, but open 7 days a week with just enough fresh and prepared food offerings to satisfy any appetite. And all the vendors are local independent business owners. We picked up some yummy pralines and really tried to convince ourselves we could eat something else, but the Food Trucks had filled our bellies earlier. We made our way back around to Olympic Park to enjoy a chilled beverage and watch the kids playing in the fountains then parted ways.
It was a great day, but it was just a start. In my research (one hour on google maps and my usual quick searches for cheap fun stuff to do), I discovered that the National Park Service has a webpage with itineraries to explore places listed on the National Register of Historic Places! Who knew!?!
So, if you haven’t googled your city for fun stuff to do lately, perhaps you’ll be surprised at what you didn’t know was right there. Let me know what you discover!