When frequent travelers think of Atlanta, three things likely come to mind: CNN, Delta and wining and dining in Buckhead. At least Buckhead was trending last time I was there, which sadly was a long long time ago until this month. I was invited to be a guest of the Social Media Strategies Summit, focused on the travel and foodie market in the heart of Atlanta. It was the first year they held the event, so it was small, but frankly intimate events are now my favorite given how many event gems started that way and grew to be so big that they lost their value because connections were lost in the noise.
The idea behind the event, shortened and hashtaged to #SITsum and #SITsumATL of course, was to engage as a community about the industry, both from the content provider and brand’s perspective. Talks like “What’s Next for Social Media Marketing and Your Brand” to “How to Negotiate the Value of your Influence” to learning about new social media tools (Stefanie Michaels aka @AdventureGirl touted Flipagram as a new platform she likes, so et hem, I’m not on it), and experiencing the best of Atlanta, from art and design to food and nature. It was after all, co-hosted by the Atlanta Tourism Board and players like Delta Airlines and local restaurants participated.
We stayed at the W Hotel Midtown, which was vibrant and fun and centrally located along 14th Street, a stone’s throw from the picturesque Piedmont Park. It is also a short walk from Woodruff Arts Center, which is where the majority of the sessions were held. What was great about the event was its combination of knowledge and actual activities across a variety of interests, from driving a Porsche, drinking local beer, diving into history and the public art scene to cycling through the city’s neighborhoods and food.
A fun walking tour that took a few landmarks, history and architecture was just the thing to get reacquainted with Atlanta’s up and coming neighborhoods. We meandered past Castleberry Hill, historical hotel row, 5 Points passing the classic well renowned Richs Department Store before venturing into Fairlie Poplar (the hip and trendy neighborhood that is growing in popularity among millennials) and Sweet Auburn, which is the African American part of town. Join me on the journey, which will start with architecture and art. Of course they have traditional fountains like every city….
But…it’s when you cross over Mitchell Street Bridge and look down into an area they call the GULCH, that you get the cultural and edgy glimpse of Atlanta. The Gulch area is at ground level, while the streets that surround it are elevated — they were originally elevated in the early 20th century so that traffic could more easily flow above the railroad lines passing through Downtown Atlanta.
These railroad tracks that separate the northern and southern sections of Downtown, paralleling Alabama Street are most well known for the spot where they have shot several movies and TV shows, including Walking Dead, Hunger Games and Marvel’s Captain America 3 to name a few.
Streets nearby as we transition neighborhoods….
I loved the architecture throughout the various neighborhoods – urban, edgy and old. Some of the buildings were dilapidated and yet they still added something rich to the city walk.
We discovered some interesting art installations in and out of buildings, as well as compelling street art and graffiti.
Below shots are taken in the Castleberry Hill neighborhood, one of our first stops on our city walk tour.
A brick building facade on the corner of Auburn Avenue and Bell Street in Atlanta’s Sweet Auburn neighborhood remains untouched. It shows the Gold Dust washing powder ad, which was apparently popular in the 1890-1910 time period.
Nearby, more street art depicting historical and cultural stories of this rich east coast city.
Belgian street artist Roa painted the crocodile on the brick building in south city. Note the original hotel signs from a very different era in Atlanta — yesteryear times!!
The food scene in Atlanta is fabulous and yes, I mean beyond the regular tourism spots and night light in Buckhead. Be sure to check out Fairlie Poplar, 5 Points, South City, and Sweet Auburn. Be sure to read my write-up on the walking tour we took which covers 12 different Atlanta Restaurants & Eateries in some off-beat neighborhoods.
Below is a mixed green salad from Sweet Auburn Seafood Restaurant.
Classic Atlanta peach tea in Just Add Honey Tea Shop.
Coffee in the food market.
Pie & Mash, also in the Market.
Inside the funky and fun BBQ joint The Smoke Ring.
More eclectic and architecturally interesting shots.