Now that many of us have gotten the vaccine, it seems that we are finally emerging from the dark cloud of COVID. God help you if you have been trying to date during all of this - I can't even imagine - but I'm sure it will get easier now.
If you are looking for the perfect place for a date, and want to stay outside to avoid any COVID variants, the Atlanta BeltLine is it. From an abundance of street art to skyline sunsets to chef-driven cuisine, you are sure to impress your significant other.
Here are some ideas for a great date night at some of my favorite sites and restaurants on the Atlanta BeltLine.
Grab a coffee or drink
If you are meeting for a first date, and just want a quick drink to see if there's chemistry, there are several paces to go.
Kroger. Since its renovation, Kroger has become a hot spot for a drink, co-working or just relaxing. With beer and wine starting at $4 from their window, and a Starbucks, you can chill on their patio overlooking the Atlanta BeltLine. This is a popular spot for musicians to set up, so you might have some ambient jazz on your date (although you can't predict when they'll be there). Where to park: Kroger has free parking in its lot and garage. There is also paid parking for people exploring the BeltLine. Once you park, head up the stairs or escalator to the store and exit onto their patio.
New Realm Brewing. You can't beat New Realm's local brews, and their beautiful patio on the BeltLine is the perfect place for a date. When my boyfriend and I started dating, we went here on a fall weeknight and shared a pizza on their patio as the sun went down, and then walked back to my place on the BeltLine. You can get an amazing view of the Atlanta skyline, and possibly a gorgeous sunset behind it, from their upstairs roof deck. Or chill out on the patio below. Where to park: New Realm has valet parking. Enter from the driveway next to Telephone Factory Lofts on Ralph McGill Blvd.
Krog Street Market. For a low-key O4W vibe (that's the Old Fourth Ward neighborhood to non-locals), this is a great place to grab a beer from Hop City, a margarita at the bar at Superica, or a coffee from Little Tart Bakeshop (which has authentic French pastries as well). The vibe at Superica is my favorite, as you will see a mix of locals and tourists. They have a long bar, and if you go on a weeknight, you may be able to find a spot. On weekends, there can be long waits. Where to park: Krog Street Market has valet parking and free self-parking in its lot on Lake Street. Note: If the lot is full, you can sometimes find street parking on Waddell Street.
Ladybird's outdoor patio is an adult playground. With clusters of tables, firepits and a camper bar, it draws large crowds on weekends, which is why you should do like the locals, and go on a Tuesday or Wednesday night. With a prime location on the BeltLine, it's a great place to people watch. There is a long bar right on the BeltLine for front-row viewing. And their charcuterie plate is a great date-night snack. Where to park: Behind Ladybird in their lot off Sampson Street (look for signs for Cotton Docks).
If you want to keep the date going, walk a bit on the BeltLine afterward. From Ladybird, turn left and check out the artwork by @jenevieve713 under the bridge, sponsored by Art on the Atlanta BeltLine, along with various street art and graffiti.
Above, Ladybird's patio draws large crowds on weekends
The Atlanta BeltLine is known as the South's largest outdoor art exhibition, and there is lots to experience, whether it's officially sponsored by Art on the BeltLine or spontaneously created by graffiti artists.
Where to park: Ponce City Market, which has paid parking. Helpful hint: Download the Park Mobile app in advance and enter your payment info. It will notify you when your time is up, so you can extend time from the app (this will come in handy if your date is going really well)!
Starting at Ponce City Market, wind your way south.
The North Avenue bridge has a mural by Lotus Eaters Club, with whimsical creatures driving cars. Called That's My Traffic Jam, it is interactive if you scan the QR code located on the left. To me, it definitely represents the insanity of Atlanta traffic! This bridge is also a great photo opp with the skyline in the background.
If you have time, take the stairs/elevator down to North Avenue for a look at the new mural by Brandon Sadler @risingredlotus. An Atlanta artist, his work has been picked up by numerous brands and was featured in the film "Black Panther." (Read my previous blog post about this mural).
Back on the BeltLine, a short ways down on your left is the Angier Springs Monumental Work by sculptor Tim Frank. With columns rising into the sky, it represents a city in a forest, and has a bench inside - the perfect place for a couple to escape for a moment.
Next, across from New Realm Brewing, is a spontaneous Black Lives Matter mural - on the fence and sidewalk - that sprung up during last summer's protests. Complementing it is a newer mural of various panels, called A Reflection of Change, painted by artists of color. (See my previous blog post about this mural).
Continue until you cross over the next bridge, which is Ralph McGill Boulevard. After the bridge, on your right is Iron Column by Phil Proctor @philproctorsculpture, made entirely of railroad pieces (a nod to the BeltLine's revamp of a railroad corridor).
Across from the column, on the Freedom Lofts building, is a playful portrayal of nature by @olive47.
You will then pass the Historic Fourth Ward Skatepark on the right, and the next bridge underpass, John Lewis Freedom Pkwy., is a rotating gallery of street art. Currently, there are tributes to rapper DMX (by @ape_inc) and Congressman John Lewis (by Chris Veal, a well-known Atlanta artist, @caveal). On the back of the bridge, there is an homage to Baby Yoda (another one by @caveal). The art changes constantly, so you never know what you'll find next.
Just past the bridge is a rhino sculpture by David Landis @landissculpture, called Northern White. It represents the northern white rhino, which is nearly extinct - there are only 4 left in existence.
Now veer off the BeltLine at the rhino statue to Elizabeth Street. Walk a block until you hit North Highland and have a glass of wine at Barcelona Wine Bar (you can't go wrong) or a cocktail at Little Spirit (their cocktails are works of art).
Where to park: Ponce City Market. See parking details above.
Start at Ponce City Market, and walk across North Avenue to the Historic Fourth Ward Park. This park is unlike any other in Atlanta. It is built on three levels and has picnic areas, a fountain and waterfall and revolves around a pond stocked with fish, turtles and a blue heron who visits frequently. You can stroll around the pond and take some selfies, as you might see other people doing. There is an amphitheatre above the pond, a great place to sit and talk, or enjoy a quiet moment at the base along the pond.
Then head across the park to Buena Vida Tapas & Sol, on the ground floor of North & Line apartments, and share some tapas on their patio. It has a relaxed, beachy feel. I recommend the gambas, and I fell in love with the cocktail Pretty in Pink, made with cachaca, St. Germain, ginger beer, lime, simple syrup and blackberry.
Lastly, cap the evening by watching the sun go down behind the Atlanta skyline. Head up the stairs and across the BeltLine to Estrella Rooftop, above Bazati. Note: They are closed Monday and Tuesday. I also recommend making a reservation. With an all-white interior and open air setting, I feel like I'm in the Caribbean when I'm here. Relax with a cocktail, and if your timing is right as the sun goes down, you might get lucky.
And see a spectacular sunset, of course. What did you think I meant?
An Atlanta native, Nicole Gustin is the founder & CEO of BiteLines, which offers walking food tours on the Atlanta BeltLine. She considers the BeltLine her backyard, and is excited to see how Atlanta is reinventing itself. The BiteLines blog features art, restaurants, happenings and weirdness on the Atlanta BeltLine. Share story ideas and pics at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Or follow on Instagram @bitelinesatl.
Note: We have paused our tours during the pandemic, but plan to ramp up again in 2021.