As much as iSo14below the blog is about me, it’s also about the community of people that travel and living in NYC for the last nine years has created for me. I honestly get sick of hearing my own voice/thoughts/opinions, so this year, iSo14below will expand on the “Six Questions With” vid series with guest City Guides posts from friends and fellow travel bloggers. First up, one of my fave people on earth Mike Muse, the guy behind the pop culture site, The Man, The Muse. Keep reading for a bird’s eye view of his Atlanta.
As a transplant to Atlanta from DC in 2006, it took me a minute to find a good groove here. While the district is technically below the Mason Dixon line, we still don’t operate like southerners. So coming to Atlanta was a culture shock for me after living in a DC bubble for my entire life. Naturally, I gave the city a hard time but fast forward 10+ years and I can honestly say that Atlanta played a significant part in my maturation as a man.
I’m here to guide you through the pulse of the south known nationwide as Hotlanta – FYI no one here refers to the city as that. It’s a sure fire way to get you side eyed or cursed out.
Joystick: If you’re a nerdy alcoholic like me who is accustomed to an adult beverage with a side of Mortal Kombat, then this is the place for you. One of the most unique bars in the city, Joystick, stands out by hipsterizing the fun of a Dave & Busters and repackaging it with its own brand of cool. The vintage feel of the inside screams 90’s arcade. Couple that with cleverly crafted cocktails and their tongue-in- cheek titles to match and you have a recipe for non-stop fun. They even pay homage to Catwoman in vodka form with her own drink. How can you not love this place?
Whether you’re a hardcore gamer, a connoisseur of cocktails, or even just someone tired of the normal dive bars, this barcade has something for everyone. Sidebar no matter how much I’ve had to drink, you can’t see me in Tekken. That’s all.
Top Golf: Atlanta is pretty much a club city, it’s embedded in the city’s DNA so even if you are trying to stray away from bandage dress wearing, free before 12 crowd, at any given time a popular activity based outing like “Top Golf” can feel like the middle of Gold Room during the BET Hip Hop Award weekend.
Thanks to gentrification, West Midtown is starting to cater to a “new” audience; therefore, an adult fun zone centered around the game of golf that was originally reserved for the outskirts of the city popped up in the middle of town. Ranging in skill level from beginner to Tiger Woods, Top Golf is a nice alternative for date night or group fun in the city. With the fully stocked bar and five star restaurant quality food, this is a one stop shop for all.
Negril Village: Being the hood booger from Southeast D.C. that I am, I’m obsessed with businesses that exude the spirit of a family cookout within their doors. Sunday Brunch at Negril Village is just that. Putting a Caribbean spin on African-America’s new found hobby (slash excuse to day drink), Negril Village, gives you live music, good food, the major key that is bottomless mimosas, and – if you went out on Saturday night – a chance to see potential bae again cause they’ll definitely be there. With gogo music basically in my blood, all I need is a band doing covers of today’s radio hits and I’m sold!
Did I mention that the curry goat is bomb enough for you to smack your West Indian Grandma back to a small island? Hmph, it’s that good.
Edgewood: I mentioned this gem earlier and yes she’s just a street name, but this street is about four or five blocks of proprietary partying every day of the week forever and ever amen. It’s lined with bars full of Lower East Side vibes and LIT!!!! Every night is a block party and there is a constant rotation of something to get into daily. Stumble of out of Department Store for an impromptu open mic and head over to Café Circa for a rooftop shindig overlooking the city.
Hungry? Cool! Harold’s Chicken & Ice Bar is open all night on the weekend and the kitchen doesn’t close until the fat lady sings… karaoke. This is the promised land for the hip and happening so it’s a must have on any youngins Atlanta bucket list.
Sweet Auburn Festival: When the Spring hits in this city it’s basically one big party until winter hits in mid to late October (good weather lasts that long in Atlanta for the most part). What that means is coochie cutters, big bodied cars beating the block down with booming stereo systems, and a line-up of free festivals that keep the historic parks and neighborhoods of ATL on tilt for about 4 months straight.
Yearly, there are the Dogwood and Jazz festivals but the most recent one to hit the streets is the Sweet Auburn Fest. Tucked away between the historic Auburn Ave. (the famous street that houses the place MLK grew up in) and the new breeding grounds of all millennial black hipsters, Edgewood Ave – food vendors, music and thriving black businesses both old & new all come together to turn the streets into a sea of culture. Another thing that warms my heart is the opportunity to go outside and play in the neighborhood and run into familiar faces partaking in the same fun foolery all in the name of a specific part of the city.
In DC they have Georgia Ave Day. New York has a parade for every nationality represented at the table of the UN. Atlanta has Sweet Auburn.
Center Stage: Midtown is a lot of things. It primarily serves as the downtown of the city since the true downtown is over run with tourists and people who have no idea what they really should be doing here. Right there at the corner of 17 th and West Peachtree is Center Stage, A three prong concert hall (Center Stage, Vinyl, and the Loft) that features some of the hottest artists in a setting so intimate that concerts become kickbacks. I’ve been here with my fellow stans and concert buddies pretty much twice a month every month for the past few years since I moved back.
Tinashe, Ciara, Jasmine Sullivan, SZA, Dumblonde, Partynextdoor, Tank, Teedra Moses and many more make this their go-to auditorium when they tour Atlanta and the concerts are ALWAYS less than $40. I legit have never paid more than that to see anyone here. If you’re a music lover and don’t want to pay the Philips Arena or Georgia Dome ticket prices just to enjoy some live music to accommodate your drink and your two step, never fear, Center Stage is here.
Everything Black + Excellent
Civil Rights Museum: As the newest addition to Centennial Park’s many adjacent tourist attractions, the National Center for Civil and Human Rights sits next to the Coca Cola factory and across from the Georgia Aquarium smack dab in the middle of downtown Atlanta. Fully equipped with sit-in demonstration simulations – you can literally, as an black American in 2016, sit at a “Whites only” restaurant and in a virtual interactive experience get transported back to yesteryear to undergo the treatment that your grandparents once received. Sounds intense but I promise you will come out with a new appreciation for how far we’ve come and an understanding of how far we still have to go. I’ve been VERY black my whole life but this is the most in depth walk thru of all things Civil Rights that I’ve ever gotten.
City of Ink: If you take away the drama, in-shop sex scandals, relatively ratchet connotation of the show, City of Ink is Atlanta’s version of VH1’s “Black Ink”. Some of the most talented tattoo artists in the area work here under the tutelage of the incomparable Miya Bailey. With a signature style and a cult following, City of Ink is where Rick Ross and Wiz Khalifa come to get their artwork when they are in town. Black and Excellent in every category, Miya even turns one of the two shop locations into a small art stroll every once in a while to showcase the artistic talent and visual arts that the tattooing team has to offer. This is not a shameless plug at all but all of my work has been done here.
Get you a piece.
Sweet Auburn Seafood: Once upon a time there were two brothers from the AUC that were gifted a restaurant named Sweet Auburn Seafood to run by their dad. The outcome was some of the tastiest morsels this side of the Mason Dixon. Shrimp Burgers, Salmon Hash, and Seafood Scrambles and a slew of other tantalizing dishes comprise this menu. Also found on Auburn Ave, this restaurant is top five on my Atlanta foodie list for sure. One of the best dishes on the ever changing menu is the Sweet Savant – but I’m a sucker for lamb lollipop so I’m a little biased.
Thanks for checking out Muse’s Atlanta! Stop by some of the places on his list and be sure to give me your own personal review. For more from Muse, head over to his site, The Man The Muse, and hit them follow buttons on Twitter/IG!