Like many Delta Airlines fliers, I had been in Atlanta dozens of times but I had never been TO Atlanta. That changed over the last year, with two trips to Atlanta, GA. On my most recent trip, I was based in the Buckhead neighborhood, a mostly high-end place I briefly called home.
Buckhead is perfect for exploring other Atlanta neighborhoods. Downtown Atlanta, with the Georgia Aquarium and Centennial Olympic Park, a fab, FREE attraction, is a short drive away. The World of Coca-Cola, a museum devoted to soda, is also in downtown Atlanta.
You can also walk or drive around Peachtree Road in Buckhead to find plenty to do closer at hand.
The Heart of Buckhead
Buckhead Atlanta has been catering to a high-end clientele for years. The Lenox Square Mall, which opened in 1959, features Tiffany & Co., Gucci, Burberry, Fendi, and Prada boutiques, along with the Neiman Marcus department store. Lenox Square Mall is the third largest in Georgia.
The luxury factor has been ratcheted up with the redevelopment of Phipps Plaza. This deluxe lifestyle destination has Alexander McQueen, Tom Ford, Valentino, and Versace shops along with a food hall, a new deluxe wellness center, and a village green. And it is right next to the exquisite Nobu Hotel and Nobu restaurant.
If you miss the cobblestone streets of New York, Buckhead Village District has more high-end shopping, restaurants, and yes, cobblestone streets. Watch those Louboutins! Buckhead Village District also has evening art strolls and other special events.
Buckhead is surrounded by some of the most expensive real estate in the city of Atlanta: Chastain Park, Brookhaven, Tuxedo Park, and Argonne Forest.
Where to Eat in Buckhead
The Nobu Restaurant at the Nobu Hotel has many of the same menu items from Nobu New York, including the famous black cod miso and impeccably fresh sushi. Although I’m a vegetarian, I appreciated the restaurant. Even a simple dish like edamame was perfection; the exact right amount of salt, the edamame cooked to the exact moment of tenderness.
And the welcoming atmosphere, with highly professional, yet friendly service, made me feel cosseted.
If you walk along Peachtree Rd or cut through Phipps Plaza, Ecco offers Italian classics like pasta and pizza. I had a light dinner here of local lettuces and roasted mushrooms with black garlic and truffle. It was all delicious.
Citizens Market Food Hall has a variety of food kiosks, and open breakfast through dinner. I couldn’t find Southern favorites like grits, but I did have delicious loaded avocado toast from Ella Mia, which also has great pastries, sandwiches, and salads for lunch.
There is also Soom Soom, falafel, and other Mediterranean food, on pita or as a salad.
If you didn’t have your fill of sushi at Nobu, Krispy Rice has hand rolls and Maki rolls. Other choices at Citizens Market include burgers, wings, and the Southern specialty, Nashville hot chicken.
If you’re in search of nightlife, the market has evening watch parties for the Atlanta Braves, DJ dance parties, and happy hours with live music.
Alon’s Bakery, on the other side of Phipps Plaza, is the best bakery in Atlanta according to friends who live there. I had some of their homemade bread and cookies, which were excellent and worth a splurge. The bakery’s market also has cheese, coffee, and specialty food items if you need a gift. Like for the husband who wasn’t invited on the trip.
Where to Stay in Buckhead
As long as you don’t mind dropping a lot of money, your luxury hotel choices in Buckhead are virtually unlimited. Nobu Atlanta has a Porsche Experience package that includes a suite, dinner, breakfast, parking, champagne, and a take-home Porsche robe.
But even a ‘regular’ room here makes you feel special. My large king room had a great bed, a robe, a well-appointed bathroom, and black-out shades to ensure a good night’s sleep.
There is also a rooftop pool and a well-equipped gym. I ran through the Garden Hills Buckhead neighborhood since Peachtree Road and Lindbergh Drive had too much traffic,
Waldorf Astoria Atlanta Buckhead has a large spa, soaking tubs in even the smallest rooms, and a private garden. There is live music in the lobby on Friday evenings.
The newly renovated J.W. Marriott Atlanta Buckhead connects directly to the Lenox Square Mall via a private entrance. It offers free electric vehicle charging.
All rooms at The St. Regis Atlanta have floor-to-ceiling windows. The St. Regis has a spa, an outdoor pool, and nightly champagne sabering.
Breaking a Sweat in Buckhead
If you want to fit into the designed clothes you see at Lenox Square Mall, you need to counteract all that eating with some exercise.
Life Time Fitness, a lifestyle gym, wellness center, and co-working space, offers day passes so even on vacation, you can take classes, swim, work, or work out.
From top to bottom, everything at Life Time Fitness screams luxury. The urban country club’s rooftop pool, dubbed a Beach Club, has cabanas that you can rent, a bar, and lots of lounges. But if you want to exercise, you can swim laps. I took a pool yoga class as the sun set, a great way to unwind after the day.
There is a gigantic gym, with every type of equipment. And there are studios with classes, from a dedicated Pilates room to a spin studio. I took a bootcamp class in yet another large workout room.
If you need to rejuvenate, Life Time has a full-service spa. You can get a haircut, have your nails done, indulge in a massage or facial, or all of the above. The Zen space is definitely conducive to relaxing. Even a 10-minute chair massage left me feeling blissed out.
Life Time has a hot tub in each locker room, a cafe with healthy snacks, and a bar for post-workout. Then there is a floor with co-working spaces. If you are away and need to Zoom, you can reserve a private office
Note: There is another lifetime in Sandy Springs, 8 miles north of Buckhead. The Sandy Springs location has an indoor pool in addition to one outdoor, and pickleball courts.
The Green at Phipps Plaza
Right outside the mall and the food court, The Green has live music many nights, tables and chairs, and Adirondacks chairs where anyone can come sit.
I ate my breakfast from Alon’s Bakery here.
Life Time also offers free Yoga on The Green, on the third Saturday of every month.
For the Kids
Life Time has lots of activities for kids, from daycare to fitness classes.
The LEGOLAND Discovery Center in Phipps Plaza is another fun way to spend a morning or afternoon. Besides building with LEGOs, there are ramps where you can race the cars you’ve built, a Kingdom Quest adventure ride, and small climbing structures. There are workshops, a Duplo Park for younger builders, a 4D theater, and a VR Experience.
But best of all is Miniland. This recreation of Atlanta, in miniature, is a cool way to see the city built with LEGOs. If the plastic city inspires you, you can shop away at the LEGO gift shop.
If you stay at the Nobu Buckhead, you can get a free ride, in a three-mile radius around Bickhead, in one of the house cars, a Porsche.
But if you want to drive a Porsche yourself, you have to go to the Porsche Experience Center. We had to leave the Buckhead cocoon to go to the Porsche headquarters, which is right next to the airport.
A driving instructor rides shotgun in the performance car telling when to speed up, turn the steering wheel, or hit the brakes. Good thing because the mirrors are turned away. The idea is to enjoy these cars without petty distractions like rearview mirrors.
You don’t just drive fast on a race track. You also get to see how these finely built vehicles perform in wet areas, off-road, and around cones so you can practice sharp turns.
We got to drive a turbo-charged Porsche 911, a Boxster, and the electric Taycan.
There is a museum dedicated to the history and production of Porsche vehicles at the Porsche Experience Center. It is free and if you are traveling with someone who doesn’t want to drive a Porsche:
- Rethink your travel partner
- Suggest s/he check out the museum
- Send your friend to the Simulator Lab to ‘drive’ a Porsche from a stationary position
More to Do: Beyond Buckhead
Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park
The Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park, is across the street from the Ebenezer Baptist Church in downtown Atlanta, The Black Civil Rights leader and his wife, Coretta Scott King, are buried here. There are exhibits here. And guided tours of King’s birth home.
Atlanta Botanical Garden
The lush gardens, a huge green space in midtown Atlanta, showcase rose gardens and a wonderful Children’s Garden. The Rose Garden is like a formal English garden, with heirloom and rediscovered roses
Be sure to allow time for the Canopy Walk, where you stroll on elevated walkways through the woods. In the Skyline Garden, you can see Midtown Atlanta past all the greenery.
The Conservatory showcases rare and endangered tropical and desert plants and an Orchid Center has two orchid houses.
The Atlanta Botanical Garden has one of the largest permanent collections of works by Dale Chihuly in a botanic garden. The garden is within Piedmont Park, which is the largest American public park.
Ponce City Market
A converted Sears store, Ponce City Market, near midtown Atlanta, has restaurants, take-out shops and local boutiques. The mixed-use space includes offices and apartments. Ponce City Market, the largest brick building in the south, has excellent pho, Vietnamese noodle soup, and Southern biscuits from Hop’s Chicken. For dessert, try French Broad chocolate or French pastries from Saint Germain.
You can walk right out to The Beltline from Ponce City Market. I was there in the rain, but on a nice day, you can see murals, street art, and interesting views.
The Beltline is great for running and biking, too.
Getting Around Atlanta
No matter how luxurious your Buckhead Atlanta stay, there is no avoiding the traffic in Atlanta. I took a Lyft to the airport (the Nobu Porsche won’t take you that far) and wished I had taken Marta. The car ride took 55 minutes, while Marta, the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, takes about 50 minutes.