Photo Credit: Photo Credit: Steve Kelley aka mudpig
Atlanta Travel Guide: Experience The South's Black Mecca
Known as the “Black Mecca,” Atlanta is an amazing city full of Black excellence.
Atlanta is the perfect destination for those fascinated with the rich history, cuisine and culture of Black America. As the cradle of the Civil Rights Movement, travelers are exposed to iconic sites, such as the National Center for Civil and Human Rights. They also can enjoy the thriving arts and culture scene that highlights African and Caribbean art.
The bustling city boasts a diverse culinary scene and a range of exciting activities to do for every visitor.
Atlanta, Georgia Quick Travel Facts
- Best time to travel: March to May, September to November
- Time zone: Eastern Standard Time (EST)
- Noteworthy: Atlanta Film Festival (April), Dogwood Festival (April), Atlanta Jazz Festival (May), Juneteenth Parade (June), AfroPunk Festival (September)
- Best for: Music & Concerts, Art Festivals, Foodies, Couples Trip, Friend Trip
Play: Things To Do in Atlanta
Atlanta’s Black History and Civil Rights Tour
On Atlanta’s Black History and Civil Rights Tour, travelers will experience a wealth of cultural and historical landmarks. A local tour guide will drive visitors around town and highlight Atlanta’s Black community’s hotspots.
This half-day tour is the perfect way to explore vibrant neighborhoods and key landmarks. It’s a small group tour that will have you excited to learn about the past and embrace the future of Atlanta’s food, art and culture scene.
3-Hour Atlanta Beltline Food, Street Art and History Tour
This 3-Hour Atlanta Beltline Food, Street Art and History Tour is led by a knowledgeable local guide on the Atlanta Beltline. The tour guide will take travelers to sample some of the most delectable and mouth-watering Southern cuisine at some of Atlanta’s best local restaurants. From savory dishes to sweet treats, this tour offers a diverse array of flavors to satisfy everyone’s taste buds.
The tour also takes visitors on a sightseeing journey. They will see stunning street art from local artists and get an insight on the area’s current cultural scene.
iwi fresh Garden Day Spa
This Black women-owned local gem is a testament to how natural beauty can be found in the midst of nature. The garden spa environment creates a fresh and botanical vibe that permeates throughout your experience.
The spa’s philosophy is to “feed your skin the truth.” All of the products used are made with raw vegetables, fruits and herbs from the farm. Each product is also stored in glass containers.
Ponce City Market
The Ponce City Market is a popular destination that features a variety of shopping, dining and entertainment options. The market is housed in a historic building recognized by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and located in the Old Fourth Ward neighborhood.
There’s a variety of Black-owned businesses at Ponce City Market. The restaurants, event venues, boutiques, ground-floor shops and rooftop amusement park elevates a deeper understanding of the city’s diverse history, culture and community.
Summer concerts and festivals make Piedmont Park a popular route for any Atlanta traveler.
Whether you want to get your exercise in with weekly classes in the park or shop at the Green Market for local foods and artisan goods, this is the perfect place for you. This 185-acre park is home to the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, and there are guided history tours and gardening classes available for everyone to take.
During the summer, travelers can enjoy the renovated Piedmont Park Pool at the Aquatic Center or reserve the Greystone, a 9,000-square-foot LEED-certified event space.
Gourmet: Best Black-Owned Restaurants in Atlanta
Tassili’s Raw Reality
Tassili’s Raw Reality is a vegan restaurant that will inspire any carnivore to try a new take on an internationally-inspired dish. Foodies can enjoy creatively delicious raw vegan appetizers, like Moroccan couscous, sweet coconut corn and curried plantains. Some of the entrees include customizable kale or spinach tortilla wraps and pad thai noodles.
No one can forget about dessert. African carob cake and banana coconut cream pie are just two of the many options that the establishment offers.
Mary Mac’s Tea Room
Tea rooms were established across the Atlanta area after World War II with widowed and disenfranchised Black women at the helm. Mary Mac’s Tea Room is the only establishment remaining out of the sixteen that took root. The tea room has been serving the local Black community and eager travelers for over 75 years.
Mary Mac’s Tea Room serves Southern cuisine, such as golden-fried hush puppies, fried chicken and waffles, shrimp and grits, Georgia peach cobbler and old-fashioned banana pudding. The walls are adorned with pictures that tell stories that span across the decades. Celebrity visitors and cultural icons, like Congressman John Lewis, James Brown, Beyoncé and former President Jimmy Carter, are all featured on the walls.
Founded by NFL Quarterback Cam Newton and his brother Cecil Newton Jr., FellashipATL is a fantastic experience for any sports fan. This Atlanta eatery offers a unique experience of authentic Southern cuisine mixed with high-end vibe events. There are four different menu varieties that range from an elegant brunch to an amazing dinner. Patrons can enjoy deliciously creative cocktails and wine with each meal.
Be mindful that there is a strictly enforced dress code. In the business casual chic atmosphere, people cannot wear ball caps, athletic sneakers or lounge wear. Sports jerseys are acceptable attire on Sundays.
The Busy Bee Cafe
This Black woman-founded restaurant is owned by self-taught cook Lucy Jackson. She was inspired to feed her local community and brought heart to every delicious dish on the menu. Today, Busy Bee is more than a restaurant. It’s a piece of Atlanta’s history.
It was a popular gathering spot for activists, like Martin Luther King Jr. and Maynard Jackson. The menu features mouth-watering classic Southern, like fried chicken, pork chops, fried shrimp and catfish. There are also homemade desserts, such as sweet potato pie, blackberry cobbler and banana pudding.
Desta Ethiopian Kitchen
Owned by Ethiopian-born and Atlanta-raised Ash Nega and Titi Demissie, Destas Ethiopian Kitchen is a place to share African culture and history. Through authentic Ethiopian dishes and drinks, the restaurant brings high-quality ingredients, great service and authentic flavors to Atlanta.
If you’re looking for a taste of Africa, the Desta Ethiopian Kitchen is the perfect way to enjoy an unforgettable dining experience.
Gocha’s Breakfast Bar
Gocha’s Breakfast Bar serves locally sourced southern-style pescatarian and vegan-friendly dishes located a few miles north of Midtown Atlanta. At this eatery, travelers will get Instagram-worthy food and drinks. There are also menu specials offered every season.
Stay: Best Places to Stay in Atlanta, Georgia
Luxurious MidTown Home with Majestic Rooftop Views
This Atlanta stay will have you feeling like you’re living a life of luxury from the moment you walk in. On the rooftop, visitors can bundle up by the fire pit and watch a movie on the outdoor large screen TV. The fully equipped kitchen has an air frying stove, full coffee station, rice cooker and functioning dishwasher to make it your home away from home.
If you’re staying in Atlanta to reignite that creativity, this is the perfect solace away from the bustle of the big city. It’s a spacious one-bedroom home with two full bathrooms, a separate office, a dining room, a charming front porch and a gated backyard. The home has a vintage charm to it and is within walking distance of the Atlanta Beltline.
The Shed ATL
The Shed ATL is within 15 minutes of Olympic Park, Ponce City Market and more. It’s a cozy tiny home equipped with a kitchenette and full-sized fridge. There is a queen size bed, a spacious bathroom and a common area. The large private front porch is a great place to indulge in the Southern lifestyle of sun tea in the afternoon.
Get Away: Getting To and Around Atlanta, Georgia
Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport is at the center of the city and connects to most major cities worldwide. With over 2,500 daily flights, it’s important to plan your next trip ahead of time for the most affordable and convenient options.
Consider the season you travel before making any plans. Atlanta’s peak tourist season is from May to August. During those months, the airfares may be higher, and there will be more crowds.
Atlanta is a large and sprawling city, so driving is one of the most common ways to get around. However, traffic can be heavy during rush hour. Be aware of toll roads along Georgia 400 tollway and the I-85 express lanes as you’ll need either cash or a Peach Pass to pay as you go.
While driving is often the most convenient way to get around Atlanta, public transit is available. The MARTA system includes buses and trains. It is an affordable and stress-free option, if you don’t mind taking your time to see the area.
Explore Atlanta On Foot
Exploring Atlanta on foot can be a great way to soak up the city’s unique culture and atmosphere. Make sure to wear comfortable walking shoes as you trek the city. Atlanta has beautiful parks and green spaces, which are perfect for walking and exploring.
If you choose to explore Atlanta’s natural beauty, make sure to be safe. Plan the route beforehand and share that plan with family and friends.