Satisfy Your Artistic Side or Dine with One of the Best Chefs in the Country

AtlantaSavor: Dine with one of the best chefs in the country, Kevin Rathbun, who has taken fine dining up a notch with his namesake restaurant located at 112 Krog Street. Atlanta’s elite consider Rathbun’s a home away from home, and along with his fabulous wine bar (The Krog Bar, also on the premises), you’ll discover a wonderful spot to celebrate a promotion, reunion or first date! The menu at Rathbun’s is unique and creative — and nothing disappoints. The small plates or appetizers set the pace, with tapas such as Yaya’s eggplant steak fries loaded with confectioners sugar and the hot smoked salmon tostadas, habanero. Pair them up with an excellent glass of wine and you’re on your way to a fantastic evening. Moving on to the big plates, the egg battered lemon sole and the braised beef short ribs are highly recommended. Want to go for broke? Order an item from the “second mortgage” plates, which include an exquisite lobster taco and some divine cuts of beef. Kudos to Kevin.

Sample Local Life: “What’ll Ya Have, What’ll Ya Have?” The historic Varsity drive-in is an Atlanta must-see. The downtown location is the world’s largest drive-in, and a visit to this dynamic eatery lands you in hot dog and hamburger heaven. (The frosted orange shakes are also amazing!) This mammoth establishment feeds more than 30,000 hungry people on football days; the parking lot holds 600 cars. Too tired to walk in and order? No problem, that’s when curbside service comes in! A carhop will bring you a tray, just roll down your window and start talking. Learn the lingo first: What’s a naked steak? Want to walk a dog? Or how about a PC and a bag of rags? It’s fast, but the food is made fresh daily; founder Frank Gordy wouldn’t have had it any other way. The original (and largest) Varsity is at 61 North Avenue, but there are four others in Atlanta.

Shop/Sightsee: There’s no better way to spend a free afternoon or evening than walking through Atlanta’s friendly Virginia-Highland neighborhood, where you’ll find trendy restaurants, spas, chic boutique shops and hip bars. Just five minutes from downtown, it’s a popular area for all ages and especially vibrant when a festival is in gear. Don your summer clothes and stroll; grab a pizza at Everybody’s or some tapas at Noche. A wonderful and affordable Italian meal can be had at Osteria 832 and if you want to dress it up a bit, Murphy’s and VINE are two fabulous options. Going casual? Head for Moe’s & Joe’s on Tuesday nights for a deal on Georgia’s own Sweetwater beer. If you’re a fan of blues music, Blind Willie’s is a must-see.

Souvenir: You’ll always remember your visit to Atlanta if you swim or dive with the largest fish in the world at the largest aquarium in the world! The whale sharks, known as the “gentle giants,” are welcoming guests for up-close-and-personal visits into the Ocean Voyager exhibit at the Georgia Aquarium. Even if you’re not prone to swimming with sharks, the aquarium is a captivating collection of sea creatures displayed in magnificent exhibits. The beluga whales and the penguins are travelgirl favorites, and if you’re in town on a Friday night this summer, Jazz Journeys at the aquarium (7-9:30PM) add musical flair to a visit.

Salute: Satisfy your artistic side with a stop at the Fay Gold Gallery at 764 Miami Circle and see works by renowned artists like Sir Arno Rafael Minkkinen, Robert Mapplethorpe and Herb Ritts. Fay Gold is the maestro behind the city’s most prestigious art gallery, which just happens to bear her name. Gold is Atlanta’s art expert and a consultant for private and corporate collectors including Coca-Cola. She champions pioneering and cutting-edge work by emerging southern artists and is known the world over for her participation in art fairs held in forward-thinking, art-loving cities such as Basel, Paris, Miami and New York. If you have the time, call Fay for a private consultation on painting, sculpture and photography — and don’t worry, not everything is out of reach.

Side Trip: Take a drive just an hour southwest of Atlanta and you’ll find yourself blissfully free of city cares at Callaway Gardens, in Pine Mountain, Georgia. A new lodge and the 13,000-square-foot Spa Prunifolia have added a layer of luxury to this nature retreat that is especially stunning in the fall and springtime seasons. Golf and bicycling are popular activities, and whether you’re with the kids or without, save time for some peace and quiet in the butterfly conservatory, where 1,000 tropical butterflies can help you recharge your batteries.

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