While we were in Knoxville visiting my in-laws this spring, we took a side trip down to Atlanta to visit some dearly missed friends. This was our third trip to Atlanta together – and I’m honestly amazed we survived the first trip which is still, five years later, our scale for how bad of a hangover you have (because nothing is or has been worse than a day you can’t even manage the energy to eat a quesadilla).
Our friends live right near The Battery in Smyrna, home of the Braves’ new ballpark (as always, we were too early to see any baseball), so our first stop was the Terrapin Taproom and Fox Brothers Bar-B-Q in the Battery. I’m not much for BBQ, despite growing up around the corner from the owner of Dinosaur, but I will never say no to mac and cheese. And this mac and cheese was worth it. SO GOOD. I ordered entirely too much chicken and only ended up eating about half of it – I won’t pretend I didn’t eat that entire container of mac and cheese or that whole cornbread – and enjoyed a delicious Terrapin brew.
We were all kind of out of it after a day of driving (for us) and a long work week (for our friends), so we headed over to Rev Coffee to properly caffeinate ourselves, and then took a skip and a hop over to Stout Brothers in hopes of doing a tasting and maybe grabbing a couple beers and walking around the market area it was in. Because we were on vacation, and our friends work in the restaurant industry, we all forgot it was Sunday and thus they were closing their bar shortly after we arrived. But no worries… we still got our Genny Cream… ha! I couldn’t even write that with a straight face. Genny Cream Ale is one of the most disgusting things I have ever tasted, and though he fancies himself a beer snob, it’s one of my dad’s favorite beers (for some reason I will never understand). And, since it’s an “Upstate” NY beer, it always makes me laugh to see it in places that aren’t New York State. But I am a self-respecting beer drinker, so we got a couple growlers – at least one of which was from Atlanta’s Creature Comforts Brewing – and a six pack of one of my top-ten-but-please-don’t-actually-make-me-pick beers, Cigar City Jai Alai IPA. I fell in love with this beer when we went to Tampa in 2015, and promptly never lived in its distribution area (though I did have one last time we were in NYC) so… when in Cigar City’s distribution area, I’m gonna get some friggin’ Jai Alai. I also somehow cut my thumb at some point on this trip, because hashtag clumsy. After picking up the beers, we headed back to our friends’ house, ordered some pizzas, waited for the rest of the friends to come home, and enjoyed a relatively chill beer-pizza-games-and-sweatpants night with the Atlanta crew.
Our friends all had to work late morning Monday, so those of us who were available went to West Egg Cafe for brunch, a Southern cafe with a ton of amazing cocktails and food, and I’m a sucker for anything that references The Great Gatsby. I had some amazing bourbon and chai cocktail, along with a huevos rancheros-type breakfast special, and Max got the fried chicken biscuit which was TO DIE FOR. If you are in Atlanta, I HIGHLY, highly recommend checking out West Egg Cafe. I mean… look at those plates!
We were on our own after lunch, so we decided to head into downtown Atlanta. I am a giant Olympic Nerd and since we didn’t get to see much of the Olympic stuff in Salt Lake City, I wanted to go check out the Olympic Park in Atlanta.
Womp womp. Turns out half of the park is under construction. Why y’all gotta thwart me, Olympic sites?!
Regardless, we still walked around the park area and took a bunch of pictures:
We still had a bunch of hours to kill before our friends were out of work, so we decided to head over to the Georgia Aquarium to see how ridiculous the cost would be. Surprise! Military members get in free on Mondays (and their family members get a 10% discount) so it was actually incredibly affordable to go to the aquarium. That said… after we spent a few hours there, I would say it is absolutely worth paying full price to see. They have this amazing feature where you are basically in a tunnel going through one of the large exhibits which is absolutely incredible:
A HUGE viewing area:
A million places where you can get up close and personal with the animals:
My spirit animal (featuring my ridiculous face):
Lots of majestic sea flap flaps:
and a constant sense of wonder, even approaching 30 years old:
And oh yeah….PENGUINS!!!!
Penguins are my favorite animals, and they had this little area where you could crawl through a tunnel and stand up and your face would be in the penguin exhibit. Based on the size of the tunnel, it was clearly meant for children…but I am small, and I love penguins, thus it was made for me, right?! I was so happy I almost cried. While I still haven’t accomplished my life goal of holding a penguin, this was the closest I’ve ever been (and someday, I will manage it, somehow). I’ve been to a handful of aquariums – I lived nearly within walking distance of the Mystic Aquarium for two plus years – and I really loved this one. I even bought crap I didn’t need from the gift shop, that’s how much I enjoyed it.
After the aquarium, we headed back out to Smyrna to meet back up with our friends for dinner. Once everyone got home, we Uber’d over to Ponce City Market, a market in the old Sears Roebuck & Co. building. We began at The Tap on Ponce to get some beers, walked around the market and got food at assorted places within the market (I had some delicious food from Marrakesh, some people grabbed sandwiches from Bellina Alimentari Italian market, some people got food from El Super Pan…and then we got macarons from Saint Germain)…naturally, consuming plenty of beer and wine along the way. I also had my first ever create-your-own edible cookie dough experience at Batter, which was AMAZING… like, I won’t pretend I don’t eat raw cookie dough while I’m baking, but this is actually intended to be consumed and it was SO. GOOD. We finished off the night by heading over to Argosy for some snacks and drinks, and then Uber’d back to Smyrna.
We were headed back to Knoxville in the morning, so we said our goodbyes as everyone rolled out to work, and then we started our journey. We ate breakfast at Goldbergs Fine Foods in the Battery (delicious bagels, not so great coffee). A couple of Navy friends from Connecticut had moved down to Georgia (and had a baby!) so since we were in the area, we wanted to meet up with them for lunch. We met up at a pub that I can’t for the life of me remember the name of in the Marietta area, and it was so good to get the chance to catch up with them and to get to meet their little one.
We headed back to Knoxville after lunch – after following a car for “Bhrett J. Pizza Law” for many miles (I Googled it, that’s actually his name) which made us laugh profusely.
Time to be sappy: one of the hardest things about Navy life is being separated from many of the people you love, and I won’t pretend like that hasn’t been a massive struggle for me since we moved across the country from everyone we know. But it’s also really, really magical when you get to see those people again and it’s like you haven’t missed a day. I’m so thankful we have the ability to travel so much, and I am so incredibly happy we managed to make this trip to Atlanta happen. /sappy
Coming up! A short trip to Kansas City, a weekend getaway to Las Vegas, California summertime, wine tours, baseball (finally!), concerts, and much more. See you soon!