Being a Tourist at Home in Atlanta

If I had my way, I’d travel as much as my bank account would allow. But at this point in my life, that’s not entirely practical, so I have to find ways to ease the pain in betweeen trips. Recently my friend Tim from North Carolina and his boyfriend came to visit me for a weekend in Atlanta, and I realized that it can be fun to be a tourist at home. I didn’t get to go with them to the Georgia Aquarium, the biggest in the world, because I had to work. However, I was able to meet them for dinner at Vortex, a restaurant known for juicy burgers and an eclectic mix of waitstaff and customers, and a no-nonsense attitude. There are two locations, but for the full experience, I highly recommend the Little Five Points location.

The next day we went to the Varsity for lunch. Their website says they are the world’s largest drive-in restaurant, but if you prefer not to eat from a tray hanging off your car window, there is more than enough seating inside. When you walk inside, you will be greeted by the sound of a dozen or so employees enthusiastically yelling “What’ll ya have?!” and waiting to take your order. Don’t come here expecting to eat anything healthy. The Varsity sells greasy hamburgers, hot dogs, chili dogs, and all the traditional sides. They even sell a dessert called fried pie – I’m not sure how that works exactly. My favorite item on the menu is the frosted orange, which is sort of like an orange slushy but thicker and very tasty.

From there, we decided to get a little culture and visited the High Museum to see the Dali exhibit. I don’t know a lot about art, but since Dali was from Spain I’ve learned a little about him in Spanish classes. The exhibit was his late work, which included a lot of pieces I wasn’t familiar with but were definitely intersting. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to take any pictures because they don’t allow any photography in the Dali section. Try to get there early because they assign time slots for the Dali section, and our mid-afternoon arrival meant waiting almost 2 hours to get in. The exhibit is at the High through January 9, 2011.

Dali exhibit at the High Museum in Atlanta

We finished the day with dinner at Loca Luna for tapas. There were 7 of us at the table, so there were definitely enough dishes to go around. Several of us also tried the drink special that night which was some wonderful tropical drink served in an actual coconut. Delicious! The restaurant has a great atmosphere complete with fun Latin music and a big inviting porch.

Sometimes it’s easy to forget how many great things there are to do in your own city. For those of us who can’t travel as much as we’d like, going somewhere new at home can help you get by in between trips. A big part of traveling is breaking out of your comfort zone, and when you can’t hop on a plane, you can try a new restaurant, go to a museum, or play tour guide to an out of town friend to do something out of the ordinary.