Jessica, OHNY’s program manager, continues her exploration of the South with a visit to Atlanta, GA. The city is probably best known for being the birthplace of Martin Luther King, Jr., having the world’s busiest airport, hosting the 1996 summer Olympics, and is the headquarters for some major companies including Coca-Cola, The Home Depot and UPS.

Centennial Olympic Park

Before heading to Atlanta, I was told that the city is very car-centric and traffic can be a nightmare maneuvering in six-lane highways as well as the weather can be temperamental in the winter which is why it’s known as the “London of the South.”

We began our tour of the city by going to downtown Atlanta to meet with Amy Stinson, Marketing Communications Manager at Portman Holdings to get an inside look at AmericasMart. Normally closed to the general public, AmericasMart was designed by architect John C. Portman, Jr. and first opened in 1957. The Mart is made up of four buildings and is reputed to be the world’s largest permanent trade center for wholesale buying and selling. The buildings are interconnected through enclosed pedestrian bridges, which I imagine can be especially useful during extreme weather conditions.

Amy then took us over to the Hyatt Regency and the Marriott Marquis designed by architect John Portman. Both hotels feature soaring, dramatic atrium and signature glass elevators.

The Marriott Marquis was used as the office headquarters of the International Olympics Committee for the 1996 Olympic Games.

Our final stop was to the Westin Peachtree Plaza also designed by John Portman & Associates and up to the Sun Dial Restaurant Bar & View, which features a revolving restaurant and lounge and offers amazing views and a 360-degree panorama of the Atlanta city skyline.

The major highlight of my trip to Atlanta was the Georgia Aquarium! Situated just north of Centennial Olympic Park, it’s the world’s largest aquarium, and has an impressive collection of unique fish and animals including the Great Hammerhead and bottlenose dolphins.

We must have spent at least three hours exploring the various exhibits and petting the sting rays and star fish at the touch tank stations.

While in Atlanta, our home base was the Midtown neighborhood. After a very overly filling breakfast at the Flying Biscuit one morning, we walked over to Piedmont Park to get a better view of the Midtown skyline. The park serves as a terrific green space to have in the middle of a bustling town for recreational activities or just to have a picnic on a warm, sunny day.

On our last night, we dined at South City Kitchen in Midtown. Because it wouldn’t be right to leave Atlanta without sampling the shrimp and grits!

My thanks to Alex and Amy at Portman for the tour and all the great suggestions of what to see and do while in Atlanta!

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