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As we approach one year of being in some state of lockdown and having our travels either limited explicitly by government regulations or simply strongly discouraged by health officials, the travel bug is biting at many of us – urging us to get out of town. Fortunately, Atlanta travel can also provide the illusion of “getting away” without actually leaving the city.
Over its nearly 200 year history, Atlanta has attracted residents from far and wide, especially since the city was born because of its strategic location as the crossing for two major railways. It’s a city of travelers, and Atlanta travel is a major industry now that plays host to millions of air passengers everyday in Atlanta’s Hartsfield Jackson Airport (aka “the world’s busiest airport.”)
There are several places in the city to really soak in that international flavor, and they come, like Atlantans, in a variety of styles, shapes and sizes. Whether eating is your favorite activity, you crave cultural experience, or you’re just looking for something sensory and fun – you can have a global experience without even leaving the city. If you’re looking to get further away take advantage of all that Atlanta travel has to offer by visiting some of the more worldly attractions scattered throughout the city.
From the 1960s to the 1990s, waves of immigration brought new Atlantans to town hailing from Korea, Vietnam, China, Mexico and Central America. During this time, many of these international families settled along Buford Highway, which stretches from intown Atlanta near Buckhead all the way northeast to the suburbs ending around Buford.
Over the past 20 years, restaurants flourished in this area and showcase the native cuisines of these new communities. The entire road stretches nearly 50 miles, and along this length are some of the best multicultural restaurants in Atlanta. Some standout spots include Canton House for dim sum, Rincon Latino for Latin American flavors, Lee’s Bakery for banh mi, and Bismillah Cafe for Indian and American takeout or delivery.
Dekalb Farmers Market
Growing from just a produce stand to a global market that receives international shipments of incredible food, Dekalb Farmers Market has expanded over the past 43 years and now delivers a global foodie experience right in Atlanta. This unique market combines some of the best market products from around the world, without crazy luxury or import markups.
Come for the buffet and salad bar, huge fresh seafood section, fresh coffee, baked goods and fresh flowers – and that’s just a sample of what’s offered in the warehouse-sized space. You can get whatever you need for your most interesting and worldly cooking projects at this market, or just sit down for a unique lunch or coffee.
BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Atlanta
You may be surprised to find that the Atlanta area is home to one of the country’s largest Hindu temples – the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir. This temple opened in 2007, and at the time it was the largest of its kind in North America. The temple was built with more than 34,000 pieces of stone hand-carved in India, shipped to the United States and assembled on site. Turkish limestone, Italian marble and Indian pink sandstone are the primary materials of the temple which was built over 17 months with 1.3 million volunteer hours.
Typically this unique construction – which is reminiscent of Hindu temples in Asia with five tall pinnacles, 86 decorative ceilings, 116 archways and 340 columns over 30 acres – is open to the public, free of charge. Visiting is more restricted now during the pandemic, but you can still visit the Shayona Cafe and admire the temple from the outside for the time being. It’s a beautiful addition to Atlanta travel that will make you feel like you’re in a whole different part of the world.
High Museum of Art
To see a stunning collection of international art in a modern and architecturally impressive home, visit the High Museum of Art, which has brought acclaim to Atlanta for its world class collections and accessible art since 1905. Its current home is a 135,000 square-foot building in Midtown designed by American architect Richard Meier, who won the prestigious Pritzker Prize for its design in 1984.
Outside the museum, you can see an Auguste Rodin statue from the late 19th century, donated by the French government. Inside hosts significant collections of African art, American art, folk art, modern art, photography and European art, among other fascinating rotating exhibits. The High’s photography collection is one of the leading programs in the US and contains a thorough historical record. Visiting the High is a must during any Atlanta travel, but it will also give you a dose of the European city feel that frequent travelers might be missing in these times of sticking closer to home.
If you’re itching to explore the world during the pandemic, there are some great options right here in the Atlanta area that will make you feel like you’ve gone much further away. Whether it’s the cuisine or the cultural experiences that you’re craving, you can find some of both by taking advantage of the Atlanta travel scene.
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