Deej Does The ATL

Like 39 million other Americans, my wife and I have just returned from traveling on the long July 4th holiday weekend. We made the five hour trip up to Atlanta, so that she could could take part, and I could spectate, in the annual Peachtree Road Race. Oddly enough, however, the race itself was not until our day of departure, which left four full days for us to explore, and eat, our way around one of my favorite cities.

Centennial Park AtlantaThe view from Centennial Park

We arrived in the ATL right at noon, and after five hours of driving and 76 "Are we there yets" from my wife, I was both desperate to be out of the car and starving. And so it was that our first stop of the trip would not be our hotel, but rather an Atlanta and The World of Deej institution...The Varsity. There is enough history and personal stories on this place that The Varsity will soon have its own post here, but needless to say after enjoying this spread, I was in a much better mood and had officially arrived in Atlanta.

The Varsity Atlanta
My usual at The Varsity - #1 with Rings and a Coke

While the greater Atlanta area is the poster child for urban sprawl, there are three main sections that we tend to spend all of our time in the city; Buckhead, Midtown, and Downtown. For this trip we decided to stay at the W in Buckhead (more on that later) as the starting line for the Peachtree was less than 100 yards from the hotel. Buckhead is the Upper East Side of the ATL, and as such is home to some of the finest hotels, restaurants, and much to my wife's pleasure, shopping. With nothing planned for our first afternoon in the city, and Ann Taylor Loft's 40% off sale, we simply HAD to walk over to the Lenox Square Mall and blow our travel budget in the first hour.

Highland Bakery Atlanta French ToastThe Highland Bakery French Toast

The next morning began with a short walk to The Highland Bakery, where I enjoyed the finest French Toast of my life. This stuff was so amazing, that I insisted that we have breakfast there the remaining 3 mornings, and of course I ordered it every day. I was pleased to learn there are multiple locations throughout the city, and I'm certain proximity to one will factor into where we stay on future trips to Atlanta. After breakfast, we hopped on the MARTA train Downtown, so that my wife could check in for race, and buy some well deserved gear at the race expo.

Centennial Park AtlantaCentennial Park
Downtown is home to some of the most popular attractions in Atlanta. The CNN Center, World of Coke, Georgia Aquarium, and my favorite, Centennial Olympic Park, are all located within walking distance of one another. While I have never taken the tour at CNN, I have visited the World of Coke and the Aquarium twice, and can attest that both are definitely worth a visit. On this day, however, the enormous crowds in line at both steered us clear, and instead we enjoyed the gorgeous afternoon strolling around Centennial Park. That is until I'd had enough of the heat and said it was time for our obligatory lunch at Hard Rock.
The World of Coke AtlantaThe World of Coke

There is something about Atlanta in July that the heat is simply oppressive, with this coming from a guy from Florida. I think it must have something to do with the ever present haze that hangs over the city like a greenhouse roof. After venturing out in it for two days, all I wanted to do on day three was sit by the hotel pool, where at least I could cool off every now and then. After a few hours of listening to our fellow loungers complain about the price of drinks, we got ready for dinner, and hopped on MARTA to Midtown.
One Georgia Center Midtown AtlantaOne Georgia Center - Midtown

Over the last few years, Midtown has become the "new" Buckhead, with hotels and restaurants alike deciding that to be relevant they simply must have a location in each. As we made our way to the restaurant, I began to think that I may actually prefer Midtown over Buckhead. To me, Midtown has a much more metropolitan atmosphere, and gives one the feeling of being in the city. Whereas Buckhead, in my opinion, lacked that feeling, and seems a bit detached from the heart of Atlanta. Then again, it could just be that the buildings are taller in Midtown.

Peachtree Road Race Start Atlanta
Watching the crazies from the W.

Finally, after four days of exploring, and eating mostly, it was time for the wife to take on the Peachtree Road Race. I must say, this was quite an event, with 60,000 runners making it the largest 10k in the world. While the wife waited for her start time, I stood outside our hotel and watched as pack after pack of 2,000 runners each made their way past the hotel. To give a bit of perspective, there are so many runners in this race that the first corral likely finished the 10k run fifteen minutes before my wife's corral even started...and there were at least ten groups still behind her's. The race ended at beautiful Piedmont Park in Midtown, and despite the heat and difficult logistics in getting there, being at the finish for my wife, and taking part in such an important event to the city, was a great way to end our trip.

Piedmont Park After Peachtree Road RacePiedmont Park Post-Race

This was our third trip to Atlanta in the last 5 years, and each has provided some great memories. From the Gators winning college basketball's Final Four, to Paul McCartney in concert at Piedmont Park, and now my wife's successful run in the Peachtree. It seems that Atlanta on the 4th is going to be a new tradition for us, but it will be interesting to see if I view future trips in the same positive light, given I committed to run in next year's race....

~Insert Dude-like Closing Here~