Atlanta is a sprawling metropolis, so it can be difficult to see it all, especially if you're short on time. Sometimes overlooked by travelers, the neighborhoods around Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport have so much to offer. Enjoy the local restaurants, tour a few quirky museums and learn about the companies that call this area home.
Test drive a Porsche at Porsche Experience Center
(📷 Courtesy of Porsche Experience Center Atlanta)
Thrill-seekers will enjoy the Porsche Experience Center Atlanta in Hapeville, home to the luxury German manufacturer's North American headquarters. Inside, you'll find a test track where you can drive a Porsche, an auto simulator, exhibits on the company's history with vintage vehicles and a fine dining restaurant that overlooks the track and airport runways. There's even a hotel on the campus, the Kimpton Overland Hotel.
Sip a craft beer at Arches Brewing
Atlanta is known for craft beer, but did you know that the Southside has a brewery, too? Arches Brewing in Hapeville is a popular hangout for local residents, especially for the brewery's large tap room and backyard with firepits. Owned by a group of friends and former home brewers, Arches favors beers inspired by European brews, including the Queen's Weiss hefeweizen and Southern Bel', a Belgian pale pilsner.
See vintage airplanes at Delta Flight Museum
(📷 Melissa McAlpine)
In College Park, visit the Delta Flight Museum in the airline's historic hangar. Inside, you'll see vintage aircraft and uniforms from over the years. Don't miss the 747 purchased by company employees, the simulators and the exhibits on Delta's corporate partnerships and sponsorships, which include the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. See it all on your own or join one of the guided tours.
Cycle at the Dick Lane Velodrome
Constructed in 1974, the Dick Lane Velodrome was inspired by one constructed for the Munich Olympics. The concrete track is banked 36 degrees and is the only velodrome to feature a park in the middle. It's been used for many races and events over the years, including as the training facility for the Atlanta Olympics. The velodrome is also the site of one of the races for Spin the District, a multi-neighborhood cycling event.
Browse for produce at the Atlanta State Farmers Market
Wander the sprawling aisles of the 150-acre Atlanta State Farmers Market in Forest Park. Here you can find just about everything, including fresh Georgia-grown produce, plants and everything in between. The market is open 24/7 with both wholesale and retail sections and has a permanent restaurant inside.
See a movie at the Starlight Drive-In Theatre
There's no better movie experience in the city than a drive-in movie at the Starlight Six, which has been in South Atlanta since 1949. The four screens now have modern digital projection systems and have two shows nightly. The entry price is $9 for adults and $1 for children, a price that gets you into both showings. Bring your own food or visit the snack bar. The drive-in also holds weekend flea markets.
Play a round at the Historic College Park Golf Course
Located just one mile from the airport, the nine-hole Historic College Park Golf Course was built in 1929. With a par 36, the facility has a driving range as well as practice greens. You don't need tee times in advance and the dress code is laid back.
Catch a concert at Cellairis Amphitheatre at Lakewood
Opened in 1989, the Cellairis Amphitheatre at Lakewood has gone through a number of name changes over the years, but has always hosted big-name acts and festivals. Past shows featured Phish, Spice Girls, and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. It can hold 7,000 concertgoers in the seats and another 12,000 on the lawn.
Take a behind-the-scenes tour at Chick-fil-A headquarters
One of Atlanta's most well-known companies, Chick-fil-A, started in the 1960s as the Dwarf House in Hapeville. Visitors can tour the headquarters to learn about the national chain during the Chick-fil-A Backstage Tour. You'll visit the history museum and perhaps see the production kitchen, where Chick-fil-A cooks up new recipes.
Chow down on authentic Cuban fare at Mami's La Cubana
This humble Hapeville eatery is packed for lunch with airline and other corporate employees. Mami's La Cubana is known for its authentic Cuban cuisine, including ropa vieja, empanadas and media noche sandwiches. It's small on space, but well worth the wait and best enjoyed with a strong coffee.
Caroline Eubanks is a writer, author and metro Atlanta native. You can see her work on ThisIsMySouth.com and CarolineEubanks.com.