21 Other Reasons to Come to Atlanta for the User Conference, Besides the Obvious...


Friday, June 24th, 2011 at 6:45am -- Holly Wright


As an Atlanta native, I sometimes forget about the amazing attractions our city has to offer visitors, such as the great improv comedy theatres, boutique shopping, midtown nightlife, signature southern dining, and our very own dinosaur museum, among others! If you’re already traveling to Atlanta for the 2011 User Conference, why not come early or stay an extra day or two and enjoy our beautiful city? If that’s not an option, you could still catch a show, squeeze in some down south comfort cuisine, or sneak over to the midtown bars if you time it just right.

Here are 21 of my personal recommendations for taking in the sights if you find a little spare time before, during or after the conference (in order of proximity to the hotel, by my judgment):
  1. Georgia Tech vs. Kansas home football game (Saturday 12:30 pm) – If you can’t get a ticket to the game or you get into town after it starts, just step outside the hotel and enjoy some game day festivities with a bunch of Yellow Jackets! :)
  2. The Varsity – an Atlanta trademark and the world's largest drive-in, The Varsity is well known for its dogs, although my personal favorites are the frosted orange and the onion rings! Mmmmm!
  3. “Wicked” at the Historic Fox Theatre (Sunday 1:00 pm/6:30 pm or Tuesday at 8:00 pm) – the Fox is by far my favorite venue in all of Atlanta and is definitely worth a visit!
  4. Mary Mac’s Tea Room – delicious, classic southern cuisine just a couple blocks from campus.
  5. Midtown bars – Front Page News (which also has a fantastic Sunday brunch), Deadwood Saloon, Flip Flops, Opera, Ri Ra, Cypress Street Pint and Plate, and Halo are excellent places to start if you're looking for nightlife with half a mile of the hotel!
  6. Piedmont Park and the Atlanta Botanical Gardens – located side by side, the park is a great place to jog or people watch, and the Botanical Gardens hosts spectacular exhibits throughout the year; both are beautiful!
  7. Friday Night Jazz at the High Museum of Art (Friday 5:00-11:00 pm) – see the permanent collection as well as any special exhibits while you enjoy live jazz and cocktails.
  8. “Into the Woods” at The Alliance Theatre (Sunday 7:30 pm or Tuesday 7:30 pm) – see the Tony Award-winning musical at this Tony Award-winning venue, adjacent to the High Museum
  9. World of Coke Museum – not just for kids!  Free samples included.
  10. Georgia Aquarium – visit the largest aquarium in the world and see the impressive Beluga Whales! 
  11. CNN Center – take the Inside the Studio Tour and see what they do behind the scenes at CNN (daily 9:00 am-5:00 pm).
  12. Falcons vs. Philadelphia Eagles at the Georgia Dome (Sunday 8:20 pm) – don’t even think about going unless you plan to cheer for the Falcons…I’m serious …
  13. Braves vs. Mets at Turner Field (Sunday 1:35 pm) – ditto about the Braves…
  14. Atlantic Station – shopping, dining and upscale bowling at Ten Pin Alley (Diddy-style, for real!); for free transportation, take the Tech Trolley
  15. Whole World Improv Theatre (Friday 9:00 pm, Saturday 8:00 pm/10:30 pm, or Tuesday 8:00 pm) – just a short cab ride away and you'll be laughing all the way home!
  16. Zoo Atlanta – GIANT PANDAS!
  17. Decatur Square – Go to Brick Store Pub if you’re interested in draught beer and food that is made from scratch.
  18. Shopping at Lenox Mall, Phipps Plaza or Boutiques Around Lenox – Drop into Tiffany’s for some high-end shopping at Phipps Plaza or Fab’rik if you prefer the buckhead boutiques.
  19. Virginia Highlands – shopping, dining, and nightlife; be sure to hit up my favorite highlands restaurant Noche for tapas and sangria!
  20. Fernbank – that’s the dinosaur museum I was talking about before! Exhibits haven’t been announced for September yet, so check back.
  21. And last but not least, my hometown rock: Stone Mountain – watch the spectacular laser show on the side of the mountain (Saturday 8:30 pm) or just enjoy an up-close view of the largest natural granite formation in the world; if you have a few hours, climb the mountain!

Most of these are walkable or MARTA-ble, with the last few likely requiring a taxi. There are many other art museums, concert venues, playhouses, and comedy venues that have not announced their fall schedules yet. When it gets closer to the User Conference, I will update this list to include a few more shows and exhibits.

If you have any questions or want to add a day to your hotel stay, please contact Chris Armistead at info@hannonhill.com and he'll be happy to take care of the arrangements for you. Additionally, if you have any other suggestions for places that people might want to visit or things you’re planning to do in Atlanta during the conference, please comment on them below.

Finally, if you haven’t signed up for the User Conference yet, please click here to do so today! 

----UPDATES----

As I receive additional suggestions, I will publish them here:
  1. Birthplace/Museum for Martin Luther King, Jr. – Check out this site for information about and to plan a tour of MLK's birthplace! (Thanks, Joel Dixon)
  2. TacoMac – How could I forget!? Try the TMI (Three Mile Island) buffalo sauce on some wings and enjoy a beer from their extensive array. The original is in the Virginia-Highlands area but the closest one to the User Conference is about 5 blocks away and carries 140 beers on draught and 200 in the bottle! Read the story of the chain's founding and see the menu here. (Thanks, Christine Russell)

Keep the suggestions coming my way! :D


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