I looked at myself in the mirror and frowned. Ripped jeans, suede shoes, asymmetrical top, impossible-to-ignore hat… there was no way around it. My hipster transformation was complete. I knew my friends in Brooklyn would be proud. I knew my brother would mock me.
As a self-proclaimed hipster, I cannot authentically write a blog post about the aquarium, Olympic Park, or Stone Mountain. And not just because I didn’t go there, but because that would be too, as they say, “mainstream.” And we all know that anything mainstream is a hipster’s worst nightmare. Instead, I’ve decided to put together a list of my favorite off-the-beaten path activities from my time in Atlanta. Hipsters… rejoice! No one will think twice if you have a mustache or drink a dangerous amount of drip coffee in these eight locations.
The Beltline Trail
Okay, so this one is by far the least hipster destination on my list, but I thought I would ease you into it. The Beltline is on pretty much every “things to do in Atlanta” list you will come across, but for good reason. This 33-mile network of trails stretches in all directions and offers walkers some great views of Atlanta. Plus, you’ll find lots of funky and exciting art along the trail (from photography installations to a giant floating whale). Check out this link for information about performances and other happenings along the Beltline.
Ponce City Market
Off of the Beltline’s Eastside Trail, there is an old building that sat abandoned for years. As of last week, the doors were opened and the completion of the Ponce City Market was announced. Similar to the Chelsea Market in New York City, this is an indoor marketplace full of hip shops, daring restaurants, and breathtaking architecture. I was introduced to the Ponce City Market through Party at Ponce, but I went back during the day and found it to be just as exciting without all the pomp and circumstance.
Across the courtyard from Ponce City Market is a Goorin Bros.. They can be found in 36 cities across the U.S., but don’t worry, they are only in “the cool ones”. At least, that’s what the cashier told me. Between the musty room and the elegant hats at Goorin Bros., I felt as though I had stepped into Gatsby’s closet. While the hats are a bit pricey, they do offer a discount on Thursdays from 5-8. Even if you don’t intend to buy a hat, I recommend visiting during Happy Hour and enjoying a cocktail while listening to the salesman insist that you really can pull off hats. It’s good for the self-esteem.
Around the corner from all of this is a coffee shop very popular among the hippest Atlantans. The cafe’s shopfront only has a few bar-stools, but a few feet away they have a massive detached seating area with a waterfall and an eclectic array of chairs. When I saw the crowd at Dancing Goats, I thought for a second that I was in Silicon Valley, what with all the short-sleeved button ups and tablets surrounding me. It is a great place to get some work done. Plus, they make a darn good chai. I hear their coffee is noteworthy as well.
For those who need more than just coffee to fuel them, Star Provisions was my favorite lunch stop. One of the chefs practically forced me to order the falafel sandwich and I cannot thank him enough. It quickly made the list of top 3 falafel sandwiches I have ever had (and I’ve had a lot of falafel sandwiches). The communal tables are a great place to chat with your friends, catch up on work, or meet new people. The natural, minimalist decor has a very “too cool for school” vibe that hipsters will love. Or, you know, pretend to feel indifferent about.
Westside Urban Market
Star Provisions is located in a shopping center called the Westside Urban Market. The sign identifying the shopping center is just a giant wrought-iron pig. Need I say more? While they do house a few well known brands that hard-core hipsters may be averse too, they also have a collection of awesome off-the-beaten path shops which sell things like a mustache grooming kit, a cannabis cookbook, and anything else you might need to maintain your hipster appearance.
Atlanta Contemporary Arts Center
Anyone who has traveled with me knows that museums and galleries aren’t really my thing. I get bored quickly and I never quite feel like I’m doing it right. I would usually rather be outside. However, I love contemporary art galleries. I’m sure some of my Gallatin friends would laugh at my responses to modern art (let’s just say I still don’t get the draw of a canvas with a bunch of stripes on it), but I still get a kick out of it. I get especially excited by the modern art nowadays that makes a bold political or social critique about consumer culture, which was present at the Atlanta Contemporary Arts Center. It is tucked away and hard to happen across, but the Atlanta Contemporary Arts Center is worth a detour. It’s totally free and though small, houses some pretty cool work.
For another form of modern art without the white walls and drafty rooms of a gallery, take a self-guided Living Walls tour through the city. Living Walls is a group that has decorated the streets of Atlanta with provocative, intriguing, and skilled street artwork. They are a cool organization trying to (as their website states), “promote, educate and change perspectives about public space in our communities via street art”. Check out their website for a map of all the Living Walls locations in Atlanta.
Less talk, more travel!
For the best version of Atlanta, stop reading and start moving! There’s a whole big city out there and it’s time you got to explore it. Let me know what you think of these locations or what other places you discover in the comments below.