Situated between Downtown and Buckhead, Midtown Atlanta is the quintessential city-center. Home to the Woodruff Arts Center (High Museum of Art, Alliance Theatre, and Atlanta Symphony Orchestra), financial and business districts, and dozens of condos and restaurants, this neighborhood is booming with activities for just about anyone. In addition to the excitement of Midtown’s main streets, you can also relax or get some exercise in Piedmont Park, Atlanta’s version of NYC’s Central Park. For entertainment, check out the Fox Theatre for Broadway shows and concerts or the Center for Puppetry Arts offering a unique theatre experience and Jim Henson’s puppets!
Let’s get something out of the way. Midtown is a specific neighborhood with real boundaries. Google it, then learn them and love them.
I make this rant because I’m so tired of seeing every other apartment complex and store in Atlanta claim to be located in Midtown. But who can blame them for wanting to be part of the in-crowd? Midtown is amazing. It’s not Manhattan, but it is Atlanta’s own version of ideal urban living. Depending on where you live, it’s possible to be carless here.
The area from Juniper Street west tends to be highrise and busy, while the neighborhood east of Juniper is mostly single family homes with some condo buildings thrown in. Atlanta’s current nightlife district is centered around Crescent Avenue, and the intersection of 10th and Piedmont is ground zero for the city’s gay community.
A large part of the neighborhood’s appeal is Piedmont Park, which is relaxed most days but buzzing when one of the large festivals is going on. Shopping is a bit limited in the immediate area (most people go to Atlantic Station, Ansley Mall, or Ponce de Leon Ave) but that should change in the future. There are grocery stores, offices, public transportation, and cultural activities within easy reach.What’s awesome
Piedmont Park, the gay scene, restaurants, 3 MARTA rail stations, energetic vibe, the Woodruff Arts CenterWhat’s not so awesome
People who party, trash the place, then leave; decreasing affordability; shopping; sketchiness south of 5th Street
Midtown Atlanta is a microcosm of the midtowns of larger cities like NYC and Chicago . There is a mixture of office buildings, museums, clubs, bars, restaurants, and it’s one of the first places tourists go. Although I will say the restaurants are bit less kitschy than what you would expect of a midtown area, and there are almost no chains
Stretching from 17th street to Ponce De Leon Ave, Midtown is a bit larger than most of the areas in Atlanta. It lies next to Piedmont Park (Atlanta’s Central Park) and the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, which has inspiring exhibits and a children’s garden that includes giant plant, insect, and amphibian statues and a treehouse.
A general breakdown of the nabe would go something like this:
Starting from the north going south…
16th St.-14th St.: Arts District. You will find the Woodruff Arts Center, which is actually sharing a border with Ansley Park, and the 14th St. Playhouse. Also there is a good bit of clubs here too including: the W Hotel Midtown (ya it functions like a club), Casma Lava, and Opera.
13th St.-10th St. (also perpendicular streets Piedmont Rd. and Juniper St.): Gay Town. You will find some good eats here, the Outwrite Bookstore, and skyscraper-condo buildings.
8th St.-Ponce De Leon Ave: Fox Theatre is the main attraction here, a venue for concerts, broadway, opera, ballet, and in the summertime classic movies. This section begins to feel like a neighborhood with mansions and houses split into apartments.What’s awesome
Restaurants, People Watching, Arts, WalkabilityWhat’s not so awesome
Your Art Teacher Would be Proud
Feeling a bit under-cultured? Well grab your beret or top hat and head to Midtown. Some residents call Midtown “the heart of the arts”, a well deserved nickname. This nabe is home to the Fabulous Fox Theatre, Fulton Public Library, The High Museum of Art, The Museum of Design Atlanta, and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. So, as you can see there is no excuse not to get your culture on. This nabe is filled with plenty of pretty, rich people so if you are a pretty and rich person, or enjoy observing them in their natural habitat, Midtown is your place.
After you spend the day soaking up the art, you can spend the night soaking up the booze. Midtown is home to an insane amount of bars and clubs where you can show off your newly acquired knowledge of the art world.
Midtown also includes Piedmont Park, one of my favorite places in the city. It’s a great big green oasis in the middle of Midtown, and a great place to run, or eat a picnic while watching others run. Piedmont Park hosts a concert series every summer, along with countless festivals. If you happen to drive by around six in the morning you’ll be sure to spot a disturbingly large amount of people doing jumping jacks being yelled at by a Vin Diesel look alike. Don’t freak out, it’s just boot camp. That’s right, these people lay to wake up at an unnatural hour and sweat.What’s awesome
lots of cool stuff to do
plenty to see and do
My favorite thing ever about Midtown is the “Street Food Thursdays” that have started taking place (and have even started on Mondays now). There’s usually a dozen trucks at the Woodruff Arts Center, plus 2 at 10th and Peachtree and a pop-up chef across the street at 999 Peachtree.
Piedmont Park is of course a close second to $2 Korean BBQ tacos. There is plenty to see and do in the park, including the Botanical Garden. The orchids here are absolutely amazing and alone worth the admission cost. This year marks the return of Music Midtown, which will be taking place in the park.
The work being done on the Midtown Mile is exciting to watch. Some of the new additions have been a CB2 store and a Lowes hotel. There are plenty of new restaurants, with some still in the works (I’m looking at you, STK that has been covered with signage for what feels like years.). If you head further down Peachtree, there are plenty of boutiques and other restaurants and bars, including the less intimidating for office workers location of The Vortex. Don’t even try bringing your kids in there.
Nightlife is all over Midtown, but the area around Crescent Street is the most concentrated. Here you’ll find Opera, the typical venue for a big name DJ coming through Atlanta. There are a a couple of smaller clubs in this area too.
The Cypress Street area is also home to a couple good lounges and bars and is worth checking out too.
Art is big here, possibly indicated by the previously mentioned Woodruff Arts Center. The High Museum of Art is worth a visit, especially if there is a special exhibition of interest to you. Last year they had one called “Allure of the Automobile” and it was amazing. There are also some art galleries, and of course, the fabulous Fox Theatre. They do tours on certain days, and they are entirely worth the time.
Only downsides? It can be pretty packed with traffic. Despite there being numbered streets, you won’t find that street numbers match the blocks. If you park in a metered space, you better be there when your time is up, because PARKAtlanta will be happily waiting to ticket you. There are 3 MARTA stops through Midtown, so it’s your best bet.What’s awesome
Piedmont Park, Street Food ThursdaysWhat’s not so awesome
addresses don’t match the blocks like a normal city, dealing with PARKAtlanta
Stranger in a Gay Land
I’ll be straight with you. This area is gay. And it’s awesome for it! Imagine, if you will, that Bravo TV decided to dump all of its contents amidst a crowd of skyscrapers and then not film the resulting reality show: This is Midtown.
Real housewives walk shoulder to shoulder with the chic executive men down the sidewalk of this haute culture area. You have the museum folk who dawdle with their Calvin Klein-ed kiddies at the High Museum and the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, your gay joggers who (I have an inkling) run shirtless even if they know they won’t be sweating, and finally you have your university students who make their way to Caribou Coffee to play Angry Birds on their iPads.
The area is not much of a medley, and one thread seems to link everyone together: Affluence is the tie that binds. Nobody is here without a MacBook or a Kindle, and few are audacious enough to step out without a well-tailored Armani piece. Of course, we gay men sometimes feel the need to migrate, so young families are starting to feel comfortable enough to move into the area. Strollers are now a reasonably common sight in the early weekend mornings, while visitors to Blake’s and the various other bars stay in to nurse their hangovers.
The standout point of Midtown, however, is perhaps not the people, but rather the food. Look to your left, and you have a pan-Asian cuisine available to you. To your right, classic Americana and all sorts of the modern obsession with fusion tapas. And behind you? Everything else. Midtown is the place to throw a stone and find good eats. Just beware of throwing that stone and hitting a jogger; I’m pretty sure that’s considered a hate crime.What’s awesome
Practically everything, but mostly the food.What’s not so awesome
Nobody will make eye contact with you. Nobody.
The High Museum and More!
If you’re looking for some place a little more quite then the downtown, this is the right place to be. Give yourself some luxurious time walking around the museums, parks, and just the quite neighborhood!
Here you’ll be able to visit the Atlanta’s famous High Museum of Arts. The High Museum of Arts is one of the landmarks of Atlanta and is one of the must-see of the area. It has a whole building of permanent collections – of paintings, sculptures, vases, silverware, furniture, and modern artworks – and two more buildings for special exhibitions such as the Da Vinci and the Dali. The High is right next to the Woodruff Arts Center where they present plays as well. You might want to check it out if you enjoy them. If you prefer more art, then you can also go over to the Museum of Contemporary Art nearby.
Other places nearby include the Puppetry Museum.
Shopping is a great plus. The Atlantic Station is near the area, on the other side of the High Museum. You will find shopping a joy with H&M, DSW, Victoria’s Secret and etc. They also have a Cinema and a little square where you can rest. Publix and Target are both present for shopping groceries or even some food. However, good, let me correct myself, GREAT food is not hard to find. Atlantic Station has variety of food to offer you from well-being, healthy, to Asian, to Steaks, and to sweet desserts. You will find it all.
Not far from Atlantic Station is IKEA. This place is accessible by a free shuttle that runs from the Arts Center MARTA station to Atlantic Station and then to IKEA and back. Just look for the Free Shuttle sign.
If you’ve done enough looking at buildings and skyscrapers, why not talk a walk in the Piedmont Park? Get yourself some fresh air and a moment to look up to the sky. You can roll down the hills, walk around the waters and watch the ducks and geese play, maybe give them some snack. Or you can have a moment of romance on one of the benches in the park – what I like to do.
Right next to the park is the Botanical Garden. If you are in for some exotic flowers and trees and other amazing experience, it is worth your time. Your children will have fun and learn the magic of the greens.
Oh, and don’t forget. Margaret Mitchell house is also in Midtown.What’s awesome
The High Museum, Piedmont Park, Atlantic Station