September 26, 2018 at 04:30AM
If you’re looking for the perfect mix of Southern hospitality and incredible food, Atlanta’s got you covered.
As home to one of the busiest airports in the US, chances are good you’ll find yourself in the ATL at one point or another—and if you’re planning to see more than the airport while you’re there, you’re going to need to know where to get your wellness fix.
A-town is in the midst of a boutique fitness boom, with some of the nation’s buzziest new studios opening their doors within its city limits. And while the notoriously car-centric town is still pretty dependent on its vehicles, there’s plenty of space to bike, run, and scooter underneath the country’s densest urban canopy, too.
Coupled that with a culinary scene that’s adding more and more clean-eating establishments to its offerings, plus some pretty unique entertainment options (ping-pong emporium, anyone), and start to get a sense of what makes the place so charming. Planning a trip to the ATL?
Keep reading for a city guide of Atlanta’s healthiest places to sleep, eat, and play.
It’s been a rocky road for Hotel Clermont. Once a swanky motor lodge, the 95-year-old building had fallen into serious disrepair—so much so that it was shuttered by county inspectors in 2009. Now under new ownership, it reopened for business this summer and has quickly become a go-to hangout for tourists and townies alike. There’s a coffee shop in the lobby, an upscale restaurant downstairs, and a rooftop bar with amazing views of the city. Despite having a lot going on, the vibe remains ultra-relaxed—thanks in part to the ‘70s living room-meets-Tiki Bar aesthetic. In other words, it’s as weird and wonderful as the city of Atlanta itself.
The Ellis, conveniently located downtown, takes luxury to the next level by adding personal touches you won’t find at any other boutique hotel. Case in point: There’s a women-only floor with a separate entrance—perfect for a girls’ weekend—where everyone is handed a swag bag full of L’Occitane products upon arrival. The Ellis also recently introduced wellness rooms, which boast top-of-the-line touches like Kenko air purifiers, full-spectrum lamps, and waterfall systems.
If history is what you’re after, you’ve come to the right place. The stunning Beaux-Arts building dates back to 1911 and has played host to guests such as Calvin Coolidge, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and the cast of Gone With the Wind. But the hotel’s interior has plenty of modern touches too, and, perhaps most importantly, there’s a pool to take the edge off the city’s sweltering summer temps. In the mood for some entertainment? The Georgian is right across the street from Atlanta’s beloved Fox Theatre, where you can catch concerts, sing-a-longs to classic films like Funny Girl, and whatever Broadway show happens to be in town at the moment. (Sorry, y’all: Hamilton’s run just ended!)
You could eat here regularly and still never sample all of the treats this sprawling food hall has to offer. There are food stands and restaurants offering everything from Szechuan chicken po’ boys to ricotta toast-flavored ice cream, plus healthy options like the paella at Bar Mercado. If you’re looking for something a bit lighter, Recess is a veggie-forward option that serves hearty grain bowls, plus salads and sandwiches that are as healthy as they are tasty. Be forewarned, Krog Street can get pretty crowded, so come early (and hungry).
During the day, the front half of this former train depot operates as Muchacho, a sunny, Mexican wrestling-themed coffee shop serving tacos, protein bowls and homemade pastries. At night, the back of the building—AKA the Golden Eagle Diner’s Club — opens for business. There’s an extensive signature cocktail list; an eclectic menu featuring everything from crab rangoon to ricotta gnocchi; and spot-on retro decor that would make Don Draper feel right at home.
This westside spot serves New American food with a southern twang. It’s the brainchild of James Beard-nominated chef Steven Satterfield (AKA the Vegetable Shaman). The menu changes weekly, so it’s more of a box-of-chocolates approach to fine dining, though, you should consider skipping dinner and heading here for lunch, which is the only time you can order its house-made ice cream.
This superfood café in midtown is your go-to for healthy fast-casual options: Smoothies, gluten-free sandwiches, and acai bowls are all on the menu. The ATL outpost of this Cali company is the perfect combo of clean eats and southern charm.
If you believe a workout is only as good as the beat driving it, Poundfit is for you. These innovative cardio dance classes incorporate weighted sticks to help you tone up faster—and make you feel like you’re an extra in Stomp, which, let’s be real, is about as badass as it gets. Caution: After taking Poundfit, there’s no going back to regular old Zumba.
The trainers at SculptHouse know that variety is the spice of life—and the key to an effective workout. Their signature, 50-minute cardiosculpt class begins with a 25-minute routine on a manual Woodway Curve treadmill, followed by another 25 minutes on the Megaformer, which has been described as a Pilates reformer “on steroids.” In other words, prepare to sweat—and feel super-sore in the morning.
The BeltLine, which will eventually encircle the city, is an ambitious urban development project aimed at democratizing Atlanta’s green spaces and fundamentally changing the way its residents get around. The full 22-mile loop won’t be completed until 2030, but right now, the 11 miles of trails that are open make for some of the best walking, biking, jogging, and people-watching the city has to offer. The paths are lined with public art projects and more and more BeltLine-adjacent businesses are popping up every day, which means you can hop on your bike to meet up with your besties instead of Ubering to brunch.
This 24-hour Korean spa (seriously, you can sleep there) boasts hot and cold baths, a swimming pool, and a variety of saunas designed to address different health concerns (e.g., jade, which is said to improve circulation and increase metabolism, and rock salt, which is said to give your cardiovascular system a boost). A day pass costs just $25, but if you’re after additional pampering, you can add on treatments like a body scrub. Once you’re all spa-ed out, don’t forget to hit the (extremely tasty) Korean food court for traditional dishes.
For a night-out experience unlike any other, head to Little Trouble on Atlanta’s Westside. You’ll be greeted by neon—lots of it—which lends the space a surreal, futuristic vibe. Snack on Asian Fusion tapas like crab cake bao between sips of your Suntory Sunset, a refreshing (and dangerously drinkable) mix of Japanese whiskey, St. Germain, yuzu and lemon soda.
Atlanta United Game
Sure, Atlantans love their Falcons, Braves, and Hawks, but nothing has brought the city together quite like its MLS team. (For proof, count the number of Atlanta United jerseys, hats, and signs just about everywhere you go.) Last summer, United’s soccer games were drawing an average of more than 46,000 fans per game—that’s more than any other team, in any other professional sports league, in the country. The team’s home field isn’t a bad place to hang out, either—Atlanta United plays at the brand-new Mercedes-Benz stadium, which offers way-above-average stadium fare, including a Biergarten, a Japanese-Southern fusion restaurant, plus local favorites like Delia’s Chicken Sausage Stands.
This church-themed dive is definitely one-of-a-kind. Visitors can don choir robes if they so desire, and enjoy drinks with names like “Spiritual Sangria.” Upstairs, there’s a ping pong table, and on Wednesdays, people gather on the second floor for organ karaoke. Church can get crowded, especially on weekend nights, but if you don’t feel like waiting in line, you’re just down the block from all the other nightlife Edgewood Avenue has to offer, including Joystick, a bar/arcade hybrid and the Georgia Beer Garden, which boasts a ton of outdoor seating and an impressive list of craft brews.
The Center for Civil and Human Rights, which opened its doors in 2007, is a powerful look at how the Civil Rights Movement continues to inform the struggle for human rights today. The museum uses audio and video from the mid-20th century to put visitors in the shoes of the era’s activists. The exhibit isn’t easy to get through, but it’s an experience that will stay with you long after you’ve left Atlanta.
Atlanta isn’t the only city with healthy hotspots. Here’s where to get your wellness fix in Miami and San Francisco, too.