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The hidden gems of Atlanta

If you’re anything like me, the hardest part about going out is choosing where to go. My Saturdays are spent arguing back and forth with my boyfriend about whose turn it is to choose what we do, and most of my hangouts with my friends end up being a trip to the West Paces Starbucks. I need to break this cycle. Atlanta is such a diverse city; on every corner there’s an amazing restaurant, a beautiful mural, and other hidden gems waiting to be uncovered. To try and broaden my horizons, I decided to interview a diverse and interesting spread of people on campus to see their recommendations for the best spots in Atlanta, as well as a few of my own. I narrowed it down to three categories–the great outdoors, the best eats, and a day on the town to give you the perfect guide to Atlanta.  

If you’re tired of your normal route on Kosh or you’re a cross country Cat looking for a new training course, these two trails are the perfect fit for you. Starting with a recommendation from the Eco Club’s president, junior Lily Hernandez told me about her favorite trail right by Westminster, the East Palisades.

“There’s so many different paths that you can walk around,” said Hernandez. “They can lead you to smaller, more quiet trails that have great viewing spots of the river. It’s become a very peaceful place for me, I always see so much wildlife there, there’s deer, frogs, ducks, and more.” 

Moving on to a recommendation from Westminster’s favorite biology and biodiversity teacher, Jason.Vuckovic gave me the scoop on his favorite hiking trail. 

“Kennesaw Mountain has a number of great hikes, some short and some long, and you can make your way up and around the mountain.” 

If you’re willing to make the drive a bit up north to reach this mountain, your efforts will certainly not be put to waste. All the trails are lined by beautiful wildflowers and diverse wildlife, and, if you traverse far enough into the trails, you’ll see some of the artifacts preserved from the Civil War. As for my recommendation, I have to agree with Mr.Vuckovic in this category. Kennesaw Mountain has been a staple in my family since COVID, and it’s my favorite place to enjoy nature, especially with my dogs. 

Doing one of these hikes is a sure-fire way to work up an appetite, but before turning to Chick-fil-A or Chipotle to subdue your hangriness, I suggest you take a look at this list first, especially if you feel like continuing your adventurous spirit. 

When I thought of this category, the first person that came to mind was my former English teacher Brandon Thomas. If you’ve had him as a teacher, you know that his class teaches you as much about food as it does writing. I went into this interview with high hopes and his recommendations certainly did not disappoint.

“I go to this place, the Municipal Market, which is kind of like the OG food hall of the city,” said Thomas. “It has a lot of old standing diner-type restaurants as well as some great Ethiopian and Caribbean spots, both not nearly as hipsterish as some of the stuff they have at Krog and Ponce.”

Moving on to a suggestion from a Spanish and Hispanic food and cuisine teacher, William Carvajal told me about one of the restaurants he takes his JanTerm class to in order to experience authentic Mexican cuisine.

“I really recommend this place called Guelaguetza, they have a lot of indigenous foods with the ingredients they use in Mexico,” said Carvajal. “You have to be open minded to everything on the menu though. I would recommend a dish called flor de calabaza–it’s squash blossoms in a tortilla with lemon, it’s a very interesting flavor.”

Guelaguetza and the next recommended place are located on Buford Highway, an area in Atlanta known for its diverse and authentic cuisines. If you happen to catch one of these restaurants on a day they’re closed, try any of the places next door, I promise they won’t disappoint. When I heard junior Julia Gibney talk about this place, I had to know more.

“I love going to this place called Pho Dai Loi #2. This is a very important place for me,”  said Gibney. “I’ve been going there since I was a baby, and it’s something that always brings my family together.” 

Moving on to what I think is one of the best restaurants in Atlanta, Bocca Lupo’s welcoming atmosphere and exquisite menu is the recipe for a perfect evening. While everything on their menu is of course amazing, it would be a waste of a trip if you didn’t have the tasting menu. Changing seasonally, this four-course meal highlights the restaurant’s range of talents and cuisines. A word to the wise, make a reservation well in advance, they fill up fast. 

Last but not least: a guide to the perfect day out on the town. Starting off with a classic, art department chair and southern folk art teacher Ben Steele gave a glowing recommendation about his favorite place to go to experience some of Atlanta’s art scene.

“They just completed a new section of the BeltLine– they continued to develop it further down south into a section that feeds right into Krog Street Tunnel,” said Steele. “When you walk out of the Krog Street tunnel there is this street filled with huge murals.”

If the creative spirit compels you, your next stop should be the Sandler Hudson Gallery, a renowned art gallery that features our very own art teacher Michael Reese. This next spot is definitely a hidden gem, both literally and figuratively. If you find yourself in the Grant Park area, wandering around aimlessly and looking for the yellow brick road back to Buckhead, you might stumble upon this hidden delight. 

“The Beacon is this spot in Grant Park that’s pretty hidden,” said Reese. “There’s an amazing coffee shop, a yoga studio, a fresh market, independent bakeries, bowling alleys, and breweries. Just a lot of cool, unique things that you couldn’t find in regular stores.”

Variety is the spice of life–don’t waste your time thinking that your usual places are going to magically get better. Instead, choose to push your boundaries, get out of your comfort zone, and give one of these spots a try! 

Edited by James Rhee

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