Okay, Atlanta, we think the coast is finally clear for you to come out now. We know a winter with historic snowfall and random days with 30-degree swings might cause pause, but the weatherman has assured us that there’s a steady stream of clear, comfortable days approaching.
One thing we’ve noticed with the seasonal changes: as the mercury spikes, so too does the number of openings around town. Read on for the spring shower of places to go and things to do we have forecasted for foodies, travelers and staycationers.
Look in any direction around the metro area and you’ll see an exciting new hotel project blooming. Downtown, The Ritz-Carlton, Atlanta is undergoing a massive renovation that wraps up at the end of the year, but you can get a sneak peek: several floors of refreshed guest rooms are ready for you to check in.
The brand’s longest-operating hotel is injecting classic accommodations with a modern look. The hallways and rooms have greens inspired by Piedmont Park and steely purples and silvers take their cue from surrounding buildings. Bathrooms are bathed in soft blue and lavender hues and have inlayed-lit mirrors.
The cranes have been busy near Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Solis Two Porsche Drive opened in November. A brand under the respected Capella Hotel Group umbrella, this first Solis property is driving to be the premier hotel option for business travelers staying near the airport, which sits a comfortable eight minutes from the lobby.
And while its biggest draw may be convenience, the 214-room hotel that overlooks the 1.6-mile track at the Porsche Experience Center proves to be quite the charmer, too. Bedside lighting is shaped like a car muffler. Headboards have been laser-cut into images of car rims. Colorful murals of vintage Porsches line the walls in public spaces. It’s a minimalistic marvel of sportiness and sophistication. Plus, it’s the site of the only Porsche boutique that’s open to the public.
Apron, Solis’ signature eatery, welcomes everyone who has a taste for light Mediterranean fare (see: grilled branzino or potato gnocchi). And on the eighth floor, you’ll encounter the aptly named Overdrive Lounge, which opened in early April. Head here for dynamic views of Porsche 911 GTS’ hairpin turns, planes landing on the runway and sips of the rum- and peach-infused Pecan Dandy.
Another new in-town gem is The Whitley, A Luxury Collection Hotel, which rebranded from The Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead in December. (Fun fact: more than 230 employees from the former hotel elected to stay on with The Whitley, thus helping the transition go even more smoothly.) Though the 507-room property is aiming for a full renovation over the next year, there are already exciting examples of the direction it’s planning to go. Trade Root is the March-opened restaurant where you’ll find chef Marc Suennemann’s fun, flavorful takes on Moroccan-spiced salmon, braised lamb shanks and other global goodies.
Not a two-minute drive from The Whitley is Mandarin Oriental, Atlanta. While far from a new addition to the city’s hospitality scene, the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star escape is trumpeting a overnight package that will lure you in for a spring visit. The Distinctive Atlanta offer grants you elegant accommodations, daily breakfast for two, a promotion-filled The Shops Buckhead Atlanta global access card and tickets to the Michael C. Carlos Museum, one of the city’s most underrated attractions.
Pizza isn’t the first dish you think about in Atlanta, but if The Local Pizzaiolo has its way, more people will start having margheritas on the mind. The January-debuted spot has already become one of our favorite Westside hangouts due to its fresh ingredients and distinctive preparations — the Montanara’s dough is flash fried before the mozzarella, basil and tomato sauce are lovingly placed atop it. Sprinkle in cute shelves of take-home goods and a delicious array of gelati and you have yourself a recipe for a wonderful outing.
Across town, one of Georgia’s favorite chefs, Hugh Acheson, recently opened Achie’s inside the new Omni Hotel at The Battery Atlanta. Acheson, a big-time Braves supporter, and executive chef Alex Bolduc wanted to give baseball fans a cool spot to nosh on elevated Southern favorites before or after a game. With hot pickled collard greens, shrimp and grits, and pimento-cheese-topped lamb burgers, the culinary team may have hit this one out of the park.
In Sandy Springs, a suburb roughly 20 miles north of downtown Atlanta, residents are getting giddy about the gastronomic changes coming its way, too. Organizers for City Springs, a 14-acre, multi-use development coming in a few months, just announced its restaurant lineup: Café Vendome (French pastries), Flower Child (vegetarian), The Select (contemporary American) and Nam Kitchen (Vietnamese). The decidedly healthy roster gives City Springs even more green to go along with a four-acre natural space already allotted for the project.
Nothing says “Springtime in Atlanta” quite like a good festival. And this season, it won’t much matter if you’re into crafts (Inman Park Festival, April 28 to 29), clanking percussions (Shaky Beats Music Festival, May 11 to 13) or cuisine (Atlanta Food & Wine Festival, May 31 to June 3), the ATL has something on the calendar for you. If you’re looking for something different, try the Malcolm X Festival (May 19 to 20), an eye-opening cultural celebration filled with live music, local vendors and some of the finest curry goat you’ve had outside of Kingston.
Fox Theatre’s movie festival won’t arrive until the summer, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pop in for a visit right now. Upcoming events range from an R&B legend’s final shows (Anita Baker, May 10-11 and 13) to a theatrical phenomenon’s first trip to the city (Hamilton, May 22 to June 10). Starting on May 17, the Fox makes itself even more enticing with the opening of the Marquee Club, a $10 million expansion for members that includes enhanced dining space, concierge guest services and a climate-controlled rooftop terrace.
An icon-in-the-making can be found a few miles over with Westside’s The Painted Duck. A close cousin to Buckhead’s popular The Painted Pin, this new fun zone has one major difference — the main attraction here is duckpin bowling, a variation on traditional 10-pin bowling that employs smaller balls and gives you three rolls per frame. Admittedly, it’ll take a few attempts to get used to the quirks. But once you do, you and your crew will be in for a great time.
The space itself has a distinguished hunting lodge feel. A 50-foot mural of migrating birds, stone walls and leather chairs help set a mood where you almost feel like lacing up a pair of hunting boots as opposed to bowling shoes. A variety of other obscurely fun activities — snookball, deck shuffleboard and toad in the hole — give competitive types something else to do between strikes.
And speaking of games, the kitchen plays none with its fare. Chef Thomas Collins’ tempura onion rings and duck nuggets are good enough to be paired with the finest pinot. And the cocktails taste as if the bartender actually cared about the gin-to-ginger-beer ratio when he was making them. When was the last time you said something like that about the drinks at your bowling league?