BREAKFAST: Start the day at West Egg Cafe ( www.westeggcafe.com) with a cup of locally roasted Batdorf & Bronson coffee and several cupcakes by acclaimed pastry chef Chris Marconi. While the diner at Howell Mill Road and Brady Avenue is named for the locale of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Great Gatsby, there’s nothing old-fashioned about this sleek place with free Wi-Fi.
10 A.M.: And you’re not too far from Centennial Park, where there’s a full day of attractions. Start at CNN ( www.cnn.com/tour), and take the $15 Inside CNN Studio Tour. It shows you the workings of the network’s global headquarters.
LUNCH: Take the short walk over to Ted’s Montana Grill ( www.tedsmontanagrill.com), the restaurant chain started by CNN founder Ted Turner whose love of the West includes eating bison – which you can order here as short ribs, meatloaf or ground and paired with a beef patty into a 6-ounce burger.
2 P.M.: Head back to Centennial Park and into the Georgia Aquarium ( www.georgiaaquarium.org). The layout is nonlinear; from the central court you can visit the six major exhibit areas in any order you wish. The show-stopper is Cold Water Quest, where a quartet of beluga whales glide inside a 880,000-gallon tank. Other displays at the aquarium are filled with fish and other animals from both warm and cold natural environments.
DINNER: Just a couple blocks away at 300 Marietta St. NW, chose from a quartet of cuisines: Der Biergarten ( www.derbiergarten.com) offers German fare and suds; Max ( www.maxsatl.com) features pizza cooked in a coal-burning oven; Rise ( www.risesushilounge.com) is a sushi bar; and Stats ( www.statsatl.com) is an upscale tavern/restaurant with entrees including grilled salmon and barbecue beef brisket and more.
BREAKFAST: Thumbs Up Diner ( www.thumbsupdiner.com) is an Atlanta culinary landmark; that it has five locations in the metro area points up the popularity of fresh-squeezed orange juice and such dishes as the Skillet Heap, chicken and waffles, fried catfish and grits.
9:30 A.M.: Off to Zoo Atlanta ( www.zooatlanta.org), just southeast of downtown, where since 1999 the stars have been giant pandas. Five of the rare and endangered shy Chinese giants live there now – Lun Lun, Yang Yang and their three offspring. Don’t miss the gorillas – 21 in all, in four separate habitats – the largest collection of gorillas in America.
LUNCH: The original Varsity ( www.thevarsity.com), off I-77 near North Avenue NW, may or may not be “The World’s Largest Drive-in Restaurant,” but it’s been cranking out chow since 1928. Two miles of hot dogs are prepared daily at this location, which can seat 800 inside and 600 cars on its 2-plus-acre parking lot. Car hops? You bet.
2 PM: Back to Centennial Park for World of Coca-Cola ( www.worldofcoca-cola.com) or over to the historic and historically black Sweet Auburn neighborhood The former traces the history of Coke, its place in pop culture and global reach in a tech-friendly 2007 facility. The latter holds the heart of the 23-acre Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site ( www.nps.gov/malu/index.htm), which includes King’s birth home, the Ebenezer Baptist Church where King and his father preached, and the MLK gravesite. It’s also the site of the King Center ( www.thekingcenter.org), with displays about the civil rights leader and the civil rights movement..
DINNER: Head up to EATS, at 600 Ponce de Leon ( www.eatsonponce.net), for a different kind of meat-and-two or meat-and-three. EATS is famed for its chicken – lemon pepper, barbecued and especially its Jamaican-style jerk; veggie sides range from corn on the cob to collards.
WRAP UP: All walked-out? Drive out to Turner Field, where you can see the Atlanta Braves when they’re playing in town. sometimes for as little as $15 (if you’re a real fan, a good seat can easily top $100). Check beforehand to make sure their schedule ( www.atlanta.braves.mlb.com) aligns with yours; order tickets before you go.
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