This civic project started as a Georgia Tech Grad Student's (Ryan Gravel) thesis over 20 years ago. The goal is to connect Atlanta neighborhoods over the city's old railroad corridor. The end result will be 33 miles of continuous multi-use trails, filled with art installations.
When I moved to Atlanta in 2012, I lived across from Piedmont Park, which was the only real outdoor attraction in the city. The Beltline was just becoming a reality, and the Eastside Trail had yet to break ground. You can read more about the Beltline’s impact on Atlanta through their Annual Report
On a more sour note, there has been considerable debate about the Beltline's affordable housing plan. Only a small percentage of the 5600 houses and apartments originally slated to be built as affordable, have been built.
While this brings up all kinds of community arguments and discussions on gentrification, we won't dive into those topics here. You can read more about the affordable housing problems in this 2017 AJC article
Today, the Beltline is full of life, with over 2 million people using the paths, with the majority of traffic and development on the Eastside Trail. In comparison, The High Museum of Art, one of Atlanta's biggest art attractions, had about 500k visitors last year.
Your best bet is to start your day at Piedmont Park, and head over to the corner of Monroe and 10th Streets near Park Tavern. Cross over Monroe Street and you'll find the beginning of the Beltline Eastside Trail. As you start your Beltline journey, you'll go under a bridge with some cool art installations and graffiti.
As you walk another half mile, you'll get to a bridge over Ponce de Leon Ave. You'll see Ponce City Market on your right in the distance. Paris on Ponce, an antiquities warehouse with a beautiful event space is on your left, just before the bridge. Unfortunately it fell victim to a fire in 2019, and has relocated its event space downtown Atlanta.
Ponce City Market
Cross over the pedestrian bridge and take a break from your walk, run, or ride, and head into the Market for a drink or bite to eat at one of the more than 30 food stalls and restaurants. You can walk around the market with alcohol, and City Tap serves up to-go beers which is a nice place to start. Hit up El Super Pan Latino Sandwiches for a shot of tequila or make your way to Minero for a burrito. See a full listing of eateries and bars here.
For your shopping fix, I recommend perusing the upstairs level. Citizen Supply is great for overpriced but high quality plants, rugs, clothes, and artisan goods. Cobbler Union has an awesome selection of bespoke-inspired French and Italian leather shoes, belts, and accessories. Other stores upstairs worth checking out include Chubbies and Modern Mystic Shop,
You can also take an elevator to the roof for carnival-like games, and additional food options, but I find it touristy and not worth the $10 admission. For a cooler environment with a better view of Atlanta, check out the roof bar at Hotel Clermont for your evening plans (about 10 minute walk East).
Head back down to the Beltline and you'll continue south towards Old Fourth Ward and Inman Park neighborhoods, passing by New Realm Brewery, Bazati Restaurant, and Two Urban Licks Restaurant on your left.
Old Fourth Ward Skate Park and Inman Park
I've spent many quarantine weekends at the O4W Skate Park and fields. This is a great open space designed for athletics, sunbathing, picnics, and skating.
You'll find people playing soccer, volleyball, frisbee, CamJam, and Spikeball. Groups with coolers are prevalent, and I've certainly enjoyed my fair share of Wrecking Bar's Tampa Timeshare Grapefruit Basil Gose while suntanning with friends. You'll also find a public restroom here.
Back on the path, you will cross under Freedom Parkway underpass, usually filled with artists, musicians, and plenty of fresh paint. You've reached a crossroads....You can continue straight on the Beltline, veer hard left onto the Freedom Park Trail Connector Path, or select the middle path into Inman Park.
If you decide to take Freedom Park Trail and head East, you will find the Carter Center on your left, and ultimately cross Moreland Avenue and reach Freedom Park. Jimmy Carter was Georgia's only president, and The Carter Center is a world-renowned NGO, known for advancing democracy and helping to solve global disease.
Inman Park was founded in 1889 and is the oldest planned in-town Atlanta neighborhood. Home to many prominent Atlanta natives, like Asa Candler, founder of The Coca-Cola Company, Inman Park features many Victorian style homes with large lots, wrap around porches, and leafy streets.
As you enter Inman from the Beltline, you'll see a beautiful row of brick commercial buildings, including King of Pops retail window, Melrose & Mcqueen Salon, and City Issue Home Decor. Once you get to the four way stop, I recommend heading right.
You're now in the middle of the action and will find one of Atlanta's hottest restaurant scenes, bars, and patios. Food Staples include Barcelona Wine Bar, bartaco, BeetleCat, MF Sushi, Hampton & Hudson Sports Bar, The Albert, and Parish (grab a coffee at their downstairs market right off the Beltline). Retail stores like Bill Hallman and wine store VinoTeca are fun to shop. Walk around for an hour and enjoy the people watching.
Krog Street Market and Beyond
Once you've gotten back on the Beltline, you'll pass by a few more art installations, and some cool patio spots like Ladybrid Grove and Mess Hall. You'll reach a pedestrian cross walk, and if you make a left onto Lake Ave. Krog Street Market will be on your right.
Krog Street Market is more of a food hall, full of restaurants and stalls. We won't go into reviews here, but I will call out Fred's Meat and Bread having one of the best cheese steaks in town. Superica is also a very fun and tasty TexMex restaurant that you should check out.
Get back on the path, and keep walking towards Lake/Irwin St.
If you decide to make a right on Irwin Street, and walk for about 1/4 mile, you will reach Irwin/Boulevard. Make a left onto Boulevard and you will run into the MLK Visitor's Center.
To read about the MLK Sites, please see our Blog Post: Things To Do In Atlanta - MLK Sites
If you cross the pedestrian crosswalk at Lake/Irwin St., you will come up on even MORE food and restaurant options on your right (shout out to Nina and Rafi's).
Ultimately, you'll curve towards a stoplight which means you've reached Krog Street Tunnel. Definitely spend a few minutes admiring the spray paint art and messages in the tunnel. Go through the tunnel and you can either:
-Head left and follow the Beltline for another mile or so to Memorial Dr. which is the end of the Eastside Trail (for now).
-Head right onto Wylie Street and walk towards Carroll Street, which is a hipster section of Cabbagetown with some unique people and neighborhood bars. I recommend checking out Oakland Cemetery and spending a few hours here as well.
It should take you about an hour If you start your tour from the Beltline Piedmont Park entrance and walk to the MLK sites using the path aforementioned. With stops along the way, I would plan for a 3 hour walk, and then another 2 hours to take in all the history in Sweet Auburn neighborhood and the MLK sites. I hope this guide helps you plan your day!
Also, if your legs get tired after a long day, try using some of our CBD Relief Salve on achy joints, knees, shoulders, and feet!