From its thriving art community and unparalleled music scene to its rich legacy in civil rights, Atlanta has become a top destination to visit. Centennial Olympic Park, The Georgia Aquarium and the World of Coca-Cola are all at the top of the must-see list. But locals have a few places they want to keep all to themselves. From large water reservoirs and unique parks to small music venues and local watering holes, here are 15 places locals don’t want you to know about.
Old Fourth Ward Park
Nestled in the heart of historic Old Fourth Ward sits a beautiful, 17-acre area locals want all to themselves. Officially opened in 2011, the park’s centerpiece is a two-acre stormwater retention pond. Old Fourth Ward Park is off Atlanta Beltline, a former railway converted to a urban trailway and features a skate park, waterfalls, a playground and splash pad.
A hip cafe serving American fare during the week and an even more hip music venue on the weekends, 8 Arm is where locals go to sip on rosé and listen to music. This hidden gem sits across from Ponce City Market and features a patio with a walk-up bar created out of a converted shipping container. Starting in April, the patio opens for its weekly weekend dance parties.
Originally a local teen hangout just west of midtown, the Bellwood Quarry has been closed since 2007. The abandoned quarry was a filming location for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, Netflix series Stranger Things and AMC’s series The Walking Dead. It is currently being transformed into the largest greenspace in Atlanta that will include a lake. The 280-acre greenspace won’t be completed until 2019, but locals are excited about the playgrounds, fields, walking trails, and a direct connection to the Beltline’s Westside Trail.
Founded in 1992 by Eddie Owen, Eddie’s Attic is a local live music venue where many successful musicians have launched their career. Located in Decatur, the venue’s famous lineup has included Shawn Mullins, Sugarland, John Mayer and Justin Bieber.
On the patio of a local Vietnamese restaurant, So Ba, sits a graffiti-walled ultra hip spot that boasts late night bites and cocktails such as the Hemingway Collins. The Octopus Bar doesn’t open until 10:30 pm, but the eclectic menu features Spanish octopus, oysters and lobster rolls.
Named after the founder of the Coca-Cola Company and former Atlanta Mayor, Asa Griggs Candler, Candler Park is a destination where Atlanta residents escape the touristy crowds. The 55-acre park features a nine-hole golf course, a swimming pool, a football, soccer field, a basketball and tennis courts. The greenspace boasts trails that wind past outdoor art installations and is adjacent to Freedom Park.
Located in the Castleberry Hill area of Atlanta, Elliott Street Pub is a neighborhood spot the locals want to keep secret as long as possible. Opened over 12 years ago, the neighborhood watering hole is a music venue and is known for having the “best sandwiches in the city.”
Located in the hip East Atlanta Village, The Earl acts as both restaurant and an alternative music venue. Opened in 1999, the eclectic bar has been a local favorite for years. Their menu is Irish bar fare with a twist and their musical lineup features local stars including Mastodon.
As old as Atlanta itself, the historic Castleberry Hill district in Atlanta was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985. Originally an industrial transportation hub full of warehouses, the area is now thriving with retail shops, restaurants, lofts and condos. Known for its trendy art strolls, locals love the neighborhood feel of the district.
Minutes from Atlanta, sits a beautiful series of cascading waterfalls and creeks in a park known as Sweetwater Creek State Park. The 215-acre reservoir is popular for fishing and provides a peaceful setting for feeding ducks and picnicking.
Priding itself on a unpretentious barbecue joint, Fat Matt’s is where the locals go for beer, BBQ and live blues music. Located in Piedmont Heights, the no frills rib shack is always crowded so be prepared to stand in line.
A local dive bar that blasts alternative music and serves baked wings, Jack’s Pizza and Wings sits in historic Old Fourth Ward. The walls are covered in graffiti, the crowd is diverse and drinks are strong and cheap.
A paved path through a wooded forest will lead you to Rottenwood Creek. Popular with locals because of its close proximity to the city, the creek features a cascading waterfall, a hiking trail and wildlife.
Located in the trendy downtown Kirkwoord, Le Petit Marche brings French flair to Atlanta. Opened in 2008, the market boasts a wide array of fresh breads, cheeses, pestos, unique sandwiches, soups and salads. The name translates to “a little market,” but Le Petit Marche reminds the locals of home.
The locals’ favorite Mexican restaurant located in the hip Little Five Points area is Elymr. Not your typical Mexican restaurant, the divey cantina boasts creative takes on classic Mexican fare with a hip atmosphere and strong drinks.