Hidden Gems in Atlanta for Your Student Group
Your student group can experience Atlanta like never before by discovering its lesser-known attractions and hidden spots. Your trip will surely bring out its bright side! And there are several hidden gems in Atlanta to consider.
Noni’s Deli in Reynoldstown offers cozy trattoria-style food and drink, named for owner Matt Ruppert’s grandmother Noni. Order a beer from their expansive list, while taking pleasure in bar food with an innovative edge.
1. Dekalb Farmers Market
Your Dekalb Farmers Market stands apart from chain markets by being unique an one of the hidden gems in Atlanta. Instead of carefully planning and orchestrating profits-maximizing transactions, this unique market features organic and natural foods with no restrictions placed upon them; plus it boasts an impressive generational history as exciting as its food offerings!
The market first opened for business on Medlock Road in Decatur in 1977, quickly becoming a favorite with locals seeking unique food and beverages they couldn’t find elsewhere. By the mid-1980s, owner Robert Blazer realized it was time to expand; purchasing 100 acres along East Ponce de Leon Avenue and spending three years designing and overseeing the construction of his own facility was finally on his mind.
Today’s market is an oasis of activity and an essential stop for both newcomers and frequent travelers looking to discover something special. It offers fresh, local, organic fruits and vegetables along with vegan- and gluten-free products aplenty; in addition, seafood offers plenty of wild-caught choices, while bread and pastries fill out its bakery section.
Other highlights include the live crab and lobster tanks, the kombucha bar, and the frozen yogurt shop – it’s even popular among locals looking for an unusual lunch spot!
Once you’ve experienced Atlanta’s main attractions, it’s time to uncover its lesser-known treasures. These lesser-known locales can be found throughout the city if you look carefully or follow local recommendations – for instance, sports fans should definitely visit College Football Hall of Fame which may not be as renowned as its counterparts such as High Museum or King Center but is an absolute must!
2. Old Atlanta Prison Farm
As Atlantans may know, city-owned prison farms were once common throughout southeast DeKalb, near the South River, creating different hidden gems in Atlanta. One such farm known as Old Atlanta Prison Farm or Honor Farm operated for approximately 90 years from 1920 onward, providing food for prison systems across Atlanta.
Purchased originally as a Confederate cemetery, the land was later sold to the city for use as an Honor Farm – an initiative that allowed convicts deemed worthy to work off their time by farming its fields or participating in municipal construction projects.
Scott Petersen has made it his mission to ensure the Prison Farm remains an unsung gem in Atlanta and to offer hike tours of it to urban explorers interested in its history. Now that the city has launched a process of community input and pre-planning on protecting green space in Southeast Atlanta and southwest DeKalb County (of which Honor Farm is an integral component), Petersen hopes that Prison Farm and Constitution Lakes may one day combine into one larger regional park.
The ruins of Georgia’s prison are still crumbling, providing a window into its justice system and its incapability of providing equitable treatment to those incarcerated. Archival research on Key Road’s site reveals reports of overcrowding, “slave conditions,” no healthcare access or healthcare provision, labor strikes, and unmarked pauper graves as its legacy remains an emblematic reminder of deep-seated racism present within modern prison systems.
3. Rhodes Hall
Today’s Peachtree Street might seem out of place with its high-rise office buildings and fast-moving cars; yet its fortress-like mansion remains standing thanks to the Georgia Trust–an historic preservation association that oversees it–and is unlikely to disappear anytime soon.
Built by furniture maker Amos Giles Rhodes in 1904 and designed to outdo its Peachtree Street counterparts in terms of prominence, opulence, and display of wealth, Rhodes Hall was inspired by European castles visited on his honeymoon trip in 1890. Situated atop a small hill at a bend in the street, Rhodes Hall aimed to attract attention with its prominent presence, luxurious features, and display of wealth.
In 1934, when the Rhodes estate was deeded to the state for preservation purposes by its sons, their goal was to ensure it would continue as one of Atlanta’s premier attractions and wedding and event sites. Since then it has become one of its most beloved tourist spots – often serving as the site for special celebrations such as weddings or receptions.
Though The Georgia Trust is doing an exceptional job managing our home, they still need our assistance to be successful. You can support their work through volunteering or donations; click here for more details and tax deductibility.
4. Ponce City Market
Ponce City Market, a tremendous one of the hidden gems in Atlanta, is one of Atlanta’s lesser-known gems that may have passed you by without your noticing it. Once a Sears and Roebuck distribution center, today it hosts high-end shops as well as a food hall featuring some of Atlanta’s top chefs (such as James Beard winner Linton Hopkins) as well as popular brunch spot Biggerstaff Brewing Company.
This upscale mall and shopping center are within walking distance to downtown, several neighborhoods, and the Atlanta BeltLine Eastside Trail – providing locals a prime place to shop, dine, work, relax, and unwind in this historic neighborhood.
Though some may find the price steep, this trendy warehouse-esque spot is well worth exploring. The central food hall features restaurant stalls and full-service restaurants from some of the area’s acclaimed chefs, featuring pasta and sushi to burgers, tacos, and even ramen.
PCM offers many restaurants and shops, as well as fun activities for both children and adults. Take the freight elevator up to The Roof for an urban playground with boardwalk-style games, 18-hole mini golf, classic carnival fare, classic carnival games, and much more. Plus it is the ideal spot for hosting music, dining, and entertainment events throughout the year!
College football fans simply must visit Atlanta without visiting the College Football Hall of Fame – an absolute must! This impressive museum includes a 95,000-square-foot indoor stadium and 45-yard replica field as well as more than 50 interactive and engaging exhibits that explore its history in the South.
5. Atlanta History Center
Atlanta is a vibrant metropolis combining Southern culture with Civil War heritage. Visitors of all ages will find attractions that cater to them throughout Atlanta; but tourists may miss the Atlanta History Center – a 33-acre museum dedicated to Georgia’s rich heritage with comprehensive exhibits, historic homes, gardens, trails, and miles of gardens to explore.
This museum boasts one of the nation’s largest collections of historical materials, such as documents, manuscripts, and rare items. Its research library and archives contain over five million items making it one of the largest archives in Southeast. Notable exhibits at this institution include 18th Century Georgia Pioneer Gallery and Pink House as well as a Civil War artifact donation from 2005.
Visitors to the Homeplace Exhibit can explore historic log cabins and compare their own houses to these wood structures in a Homeplace Exhibit. Step back in time at Smith Family Farm where visitors can see how a family lived during the 1860s with daily activities such as blacksmithing and cooking taking place there; visitors may even experience daily blacksmithing sessions! In addition, Cyclorama, which is currently being restored is located here as well.
Kids of all ages will enjoy exploring the Tellus Science Museum, with exhibits ranging from dinosaurs to space, hands-on activities such as fossil digs and gem panning, as well as its peaceful grounds featuring trees, tumbling waterfalls, forest vegetation, and an onsite restaurant for lunch. Kids may also appreciate visiting Atlanta Botanical Garden which boasts 19 waterfalls and ponds as well as tree sculptures and breathtaking scenery – plus it hosts events throughout the year such as Daffodil Festival and Daylily Colorfest!