Hi, my name’s Ashley, and I’m a second year Global Health student at Rollins. After having been raised in a Detroit suburb and going to undergrad in small-town Ohio, I was ready to live in a place that had more to offer. Luckily, Atlanta has been the perfect place for me, and I hope it will be for you, too!
I’ve found that there’s something for everyone in Atlanta and have tried to take full advantage of everything going on – especially free things! I’ll be sharing some of my favorite places and things to do in Atlanta through a series of photos to help you picture what your life could look like when you aren’t at school! Huge shout-out to the awesome friends I’ve made at Rollins who are always willing to take these adventures with me.
Food & Drink
If you’ve never visited Atlanta, it’s helpful to know that the city has a number of neighborhoods, each with their own unique charm and character. Some of my favorite neighborhoods for food and drinks include Virginia Highlands, Midtown, and Little Five Points.
My friends and I enjoying ice cream in Downtown Decatur, about 10-15 minutes from Rollins.
Chido & Padre’s in Buckhead – super delicious Mexican food with super cute scenery.
Krog Street Market in Inman Park is a West Coast-Style market with a number of different restaurant, and The Vortex in Little Five Points has some of the best burgers I’ve ever had!
New Realm Brewing Company in Old Fourth Ward serves delicious craft beer with some Rockstar skyline views (a picture of the view at New Realm comes later!), and Alon’s Bakery in Virginia Highlands has baked goods that taste like they came straight from a grandmother’s oven.
While there are way too many restaurants and bars/breweries to name, the last one I’ll mention is Ponce City Market in Old Fourth Ward. Similar to Krog Street Market, Ponce has a number of specialty restaurants to satisfy even the food-snobbiest of your friends!
If there’s anything I love more than food, it’s being outside. Unlike a lot of other cities that I’ve visited, Atlanta has quite a few outdoor opportunities both within and just outside the city. If you’re able to, I would also highly recommend traveling 1.5-2 hours to the North Georgia mountains!
Right by Rollins
Right across the street from Rollins is the Lullwater Preserve at Emory University. This is a great place to come to walk or run, or just hangout and take a break from school! Even though it’s right next to Rollins, it quickly feels like you’re far away from the stress of grad school life. This past year, it snowed quite a bit, and the preserve was SO beautiful!
Depending on where you live in relation to Rollins, Piedmont Park and the BeltLine are close enough to be a part of your everyday routine. Piedmont Park in Midtown has walking/jogging paths, basketball courts and soccer fields, and so much green space if you ever want to play pickup sports with your friends. From Piedmont Park, you can easily access the Atlanta BeltLine, a project currently underway to connect the city by a 22-mile loop of walking, jogging, and biking trails. There’s always beautiful creative installations to be found along the BeltLine; I would also argue that restaurants and breweries along the BeltLine can be considered beautiful creative installations!
Thirty Minutes Away
If you’re looking to get a bit further away from campus but don’t want to dedicate a whole day to driving a few hours north, there are a number of great outdoor activities around 30 minutes away from Rollins (in different directions).
When the weather’s warm, you can “Shoot the Hooch,” or tube, kayak, and fish along the Chattahoochee River. You can rent gear from a local company or bring your own!
Also along the Chattahoochee River is the East Palisades Trail – one of my favorites! This is a perfect Saturday morning trail that can be done individually or with friends. I love this trail because there are always so many dogs, and at the northernmost end of it is a Bamboo Cove. It felt like I was stepping into an entirely different world, but I was barely 30 minutes from home!
About 30 minutes east of Rollins is Stone Mountain, and it’s just like it sounds; it’s a mountain of stone. At the top after the mile ascent, you can see the various skylines of the city. A perfect place to bring friends and family from out of town to get active and see the city in a new way!
Last but not least is Cascade Springs Nature Preserve, southwest of downtown Atlanta. While this preserve doesn’t provide skyline views like some of the other outdoor activities, it’s a great place to take an easy walk and get outside.
In North Georgia, about 1.5-2 hours away from Atlanta/Rollins, there are so many opportunities for hiking and being in the mountains.
Black Rock Mountain State Park and Tallulah Gorge are some classic must-visit places in North Georgia, in addition to Amicalola State Falls, Preacher’s Rock, Brasstown Bald, and more that aren’t pictured.
Places Your Instagram will Love
If you haven’t already been convinced about the insta-worthiness of Atlanta, these next places will hopefully change that! Some of these places have already been mentioned in other sections, but that’s because they have so much to offer!
If you’ve seen the Walking Dead, you might recognize this view of the Atlanta skyline. The Jackson Street Bridge is a classic Atlanta photo spot. As you can see, it looks good during the day and at night!
Mentioned earlier in the food section, New Realm Brewing Company has an awesome skyline view from their patio. It looks even prettier during the daytime! There are also a number of other rooftop/patio bars near New Realm with equally as stunning views.
One of those other rooftop venues is the rooftop at Ponce City Market (mentioned in Food & Drink), Skyline Park. Filled with games like skeeball and mini golf, Rose slushies, and beautiful skyline views, Skyline Park is a perfect weekend activity with friends from Rollins or friends and family just visiting.
If you’re outside at Piedmont Park in Midtown, make sure to take a pit stop at Lake Clara and snap a few pics of the Midtown cityscape!
Near Krog Street Market mentioned earlier is the Krog Street Tunnel. Filled with all kinds of urban art, there’s bound to be something new each time you visit. Just be careful – it’s still a pretty heavily-trafficked street and drivers in Atlanta can be quite aggressive!
In Downtown Atlanta, you’ll find Centennial Olympic Park and Pemberton Place. This is also in the same area as the World of Coca-Cola, the Georgia Aquarium, and the Center for Civil and Human Rights.
If you’re looking for selfies rather than skylines and cityscapes, West Midtown near Georgia Tech has a TON of fun wall murals that are bound to make anyone’s insta feed look amazing. (Hopefully if you decide to adventure there for some pictures, you have a wider range of poses in mind!)
In 2017, The Mercedes-Benz Stadium opened, and is now home to the Atlanta United Major League Soccer team and the Atlanta Falcons National Football League team. Growing up in metro-Detroit, I thought Michiganders had pride for their home teams – but nothing really comes close to the atmosphere at the Mercedes-Bez Stadium for an ATL United soccer game!
Also newly completed is SunTrust Park, where the Atlanta Braves Major League Baseball team plays. Around the stadium is “The Battery” for Braves fans before and after the game. There are restaurants, shops, and music in an easily-walkable area to make the most out of your time at the Braves game!
Art, Music and More!
All across Emory, there are so many opportunities to participate in special lectures and events. I’ve attended lectures by the former director of the United States FBI, politicians, authors, and other community activists, all of which have been free!
Free events aren’t just limited to Emory, either. Last year, CARE International held a Scale by Design event at the High Museum of Art. They invited 15 teams from around the world to pitch their ideas for a chance to win grants and allowed audience members to vote for who they thought should win as well. This event gave me an opportunity to connect with others who also care about social issues as well as see the HMOA!
Next door to Rollins is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This not only presents amazing opportunities for students academically and professionally, but the David J. Spencer Museum is free to the public! The museum shares about the history of the CDC, major initiatives and health issues the agency has addressed, and has an exhibit that rotates every 6-8 months. When I visited, they had a special exhibit about the Ebola outbreak in 2014.
Another way to be involved in the community is to volunteer. Atlanta is home to a number of non-profits and small, community-based service organizations. One that I’ve personally been involved with is MedShare, an organization that recovers surplus medical supplies and redistributes them to countries and communities that need them.
If you’re interested in science and history, visit the Fernbank Museum of Natural History, located about 10 minutes from Emory, and the Georgia Aquarium – one of the largest in the country!
Lastly, for all of the music lovers out there – there are numerous free concerts on campus through the Emory Music Department, as well as at other venues around the city. Eddie’s Attic in Downtown Decatur provides a more intimate space to enjoy live music fully.
I hope you’ve enjoyed getting a glimpse about what my life looks like and that you’ve started to picture what yours could look like here as well! As cheesy as this may be, I must admit my favorite thing about being in Atlanta isn’t the food, views, or things to do (although those are all pretty awesome!), but the friendships I’ve made and life I get to share with some pretty awesome world-changers.