You won't find restaurants every few feet. Or women showing off their pretty dresses. You won't be swearing at scooters nearly running you over.
As much as I love the Atlanta BeltLine's Eastside Trail in all its craziness between Dekalb Avenue and Piedmont Park, there is another BeltLine in Atlanta. And it's worth exploring.
It's the Westside Trail (including the West End Trail). It's where the BeltLine starts (at mile 0), and was the first segment completed in the 22-mile loop. But it's so different from its sister in the east that you would almost think it's not even the BeltLine at all.
It is peaceful and serene, as it winds through residential neighborhoods, over a creek, down sidewalks, around parks and under historic railroad bridges. You will see a few joggers, walkers and cyclists but not the crowds from Inman Park. Where in the world is this? you might ask. Because if you didn't grow up in one of these neighborhoods, you might never have cause to go there. Yet, the West End, located southwest of downtown where I-85/75 and I-20 meet, is Atlanta's oldest historic neighborhood and is on the National Register of Historic Places. With houses similar to those in Virginia-Highland at lower prices, it is of course, gentrifying and a few years ago, was named "the hottest neighborhood in Atlanta."
And as the BeltLine's Westside Trail has crept along in the past few years, a few breweries and restaurants have filled vacant warehouses, making it a destination. Monday Night Garage was the first to locate on the BeltLine four years ago, offering exceptional brews in an industrial-chic warehouse with a movie screen and a wall you could write on (I did).
Others soon joined. Now, you can find a lineup of breweries on "Warehouse Row" (now the Lee + White development) - with Wild Heaven, Best End and Hop City joining in. Some of these breweries even brought their own restaurants: Fina tacos inside Wild Heaven and Boxcar upstairs from Hop City. Best End has live music on their patio every Saturday night, along with restaurant popups and themed food nights like West Wing Wednesday. But first, do a tour and tasting at ASW Whiskey Exchange (remember, "liquor then beer, never fear.") After dinner and drinks, try a new flavor of Honeysuckle Gelato next door in their test kitchen.
More is coming. Developers of Lee + White have announced plans for a live/work/play community, including a food hall, offices, housing, retail, public spaces and more. And what we know from the Eastside Trail is people bring restaurants, which bring more people, which bring more...well, you know. So enjoy the relative quiet over here while you can.
Besides eateries and drinkeries, there is plenty for your other senses. The historic railroad bridges are beautiful, and artists have added their flair. You will find both street art and official Art on the Atlanta BeltLine.
Near the trail's current stopping place (where it will soon meet the Southside Trail), there is a sobering exhibit showing photos of black men and women who died at the hands of police. As much as you think you know, this shows you what you don't know.
Then there is this magestic phoenix, made entirely of railroad pieces by sculptor Allen Peterson. Called Phoenix: Atlanta’s Railroad Rebirth, that's exactly what it is: a nod to Atlanta's origins as a railroad town and our rebirth "as a pedestrian-friendly city." (Although I might argue that point when crossing the street).
And I'm sharing this mouse mural, one of my favorites, although I admit that I found it a few years ago near Kroger on Cascade Road, and don't know if it's still there.
Below, a railroad bridge painted over with modern art, inside and out.
So how do you get to the Atlanta BeltLine's Westside Trail? You can drive to Lee + White, if you plan to eat or drink there, and park in their large lot. Another way to see the Westside Trail is to drive to Adair Park, park on the street, and walk a block until you hit the BeltLine. For a longer route, start near Kroger on Cascade Road. You can also access the trail from several MARTA stations (Ashby, West End, Oakland City), which you can't do on the Eastside Trail.
If you've never had a reason to go to the Westside of Atlanta, now you do. Art on the BeltLine. Restaurants on the BeltLine. A peaceful bike ride or stroll...Hope to see you out there.
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: email@example.com. Or follow on Instagram @bitelinesatl.
Note: We have paused our tours during the pandemic, but hope to ramp up again in 2021, as soon as it’s safe.