Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Peachy Atlanta

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Peachy Atlanta

Article excerpt

Whether it's all those blooming peach trees or all that Southern charm and hospitality, spring is in the air in Atlanta. Adding to it these days is the remarkable regeneration of the city's downtown area, with an incomparable new aquarium already pulling in visitors from around the world, and many more exciting projects in the works. Modish new hotels and world-class restaurants are popping up all over the city, and there's a general sense that much like her fabled daughter Miss Scarlett O'Hara, this gal will never go hungry again.

Atlanta's strong and vibrant gay scene has long made it the heart of the homo Southeast, and its mayor, Shirley Franklin, is a huge friend to the community. Though Atlanta's place on the national gaydar may have taken a hit after a number of city ordinances restricting bar and club hours went into effect in 2004, ending the 24-hour hedonism that had become its de facto queer tourism calling card, this town that revels in rising from ashes is currently bouncing back big-time via a ground swell of sassy style and sophistication. Forget your daddy's Hotlanta--this is the new Haute-lanta.

DAY 1

SEA TO SHINING CNN: Put on your tourist cap and hit Atlanta's top mainstream attractions. Start with a splash at the Georgia Aquarium (225 Baker St., 404-581-4000, Georgia Aquarium.org), the world's largest. Boasting 100,000 animals (including five beluga whales) in 8 million gallons of fresh and marine water, the aquarium is sure to fascinate even the staunchest of landlubbers. Next, head next door to the sweet universe of another famous liquid, the new World of Coca-Cola (Baker St., exact address to be announced, 404-676-5151 or 800-676-COKE, WOCCAtlanta.com), opening May 24, which promises to present a bubbly array of Coke-related artifacts, theatrics, pop art, and global drink samples. On to CNN Center (One CNN Center, 404-827-2300, CNN.com/tour/atlanta), where you'll tour the heart of the Turner broadcasting empire.

DAY 2

EAT, ART, DRINK: It's a heavy day of midtown consumption for the body, mind, and soul. Start with an early brunch at Einstein's (1077 Juniper St. N.E., 404-876-7925, EinsteinsAtlanta.com), a midtown institution occupying three 1920s bungalows. Weekend brunch includes their famous (and fiery) Bloody Mary bar. But just one will do, Einstein, as you've got a full day ahead, commencing with the High Museum of Art (1280 Peachtree St. N.E., 404-733-HIGH, High.org). The heralded Richard Meier-designed base was enhanced in 2005 with three new structures by famed Italian architect Renzo Piano, the addition having more than doubled the museum's space. Through October 2009, the High is enjoying an unprecedented partnership with Paris's Louvre Museum whereby "Louvre Atlanta" plays host to hundreds of the French institution's works. After angling through the huge High, slip next door to Table 1280 (1280 Peachtree St. N.E., 404-897-1280, Table1280.com), a restaurant and tapas lounge where real men eat quiche as part of its Louvre-inspired prix fixe menu. If you're visiting during the weekend of April 13-15, walk over to Piedmont Park for the Dogwood Festival (Dogwood.org), which began in 1936 as a commemoration of spring's blooming dogwood trees and has since morphed into one of the city's most lively arts, food, and music fests. For dinner try Trois (1180 Peachtree St., 404-815-3337, Trois3.com), the latest from sizzling Atlanta restaurateurs Bob Amick and Todd Rushing. …

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