© Photos by Sherri Tilley
Gladys Knight, Recording Artist
Dance to the beat of your own drum.
Atlanta, Georgia | The City in a Forest
In her song
The Need to Be, Gladys Knight melodically professes a desire
to fulfill the need to be who I am in this world is all I ask. Born in Atlanta and fondly known as the
Empress of Soul, this seven-time Grammy Award-winner has attained outstanding success as an R&B and pop recording artist on her own and alongside her band The Pips whose hits have included the well-known
Midnight Train to Georgia and
I Heard It Through the Grapevine. Gladys Knight has recorded more than 38 albums over the years and is quoted as saying,
I want to be a good person, I want to be right to my fellow men and love them like we're supposed to.
When visiting Atlanta, plan to stay in the affluent uptown Buckhead area for an ultra-chic leisure experience. Known to many as the
Beverly Hills of the South, Buckhead is a mecca of high-rise buildings, world-class hotels, fine dining, high-end art galleries, and the highest concentration of upscale boutique shops in the United States with Lenox Square, Phipps Plaza, and The Shops Buckhead Atlanta being premier destinations for shopping excursions.
The area's forested setting sits in juxtaposition to its thoroughly-urban vibe thereby showcasing a variety of historic landmarks like the Georgia State Capitol & Museum and entertainment venues such as the Fox Theatre which features live shows and 60-minute guided tours of the facility. The World of Coca-Cola and the CNN Studio near Centennial Olympic Park are definitely major local tourist attractions, although we found that a visit to the Georgia Aquarium paired with a late-afternoon stroll through the Atlanta Botanical Garden was better suited to our particular tastes. For additional upscale options, consider visiting the High Museum of Art, enjoying a classical music concert by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, or taking a summit skyride to the top of Stone Mountain.
Although Atlanta is known for a variety of innovative culinary dishes and renowned photo-worthy establishments like The Sundial Restaurant, Bar, and View, we recommend two specific dining spots for contemporary Southern cuisine. Our must-do-again breakfast at Empire State South consisted of the most delectable fried chicken biscuit that we have ever eaten and included thick flavorful bacon, creamy pimento cheese, and a just-exactly-right scrambled egg.
This community restaurant features courtyard bocce ball along with an extensive coffee bar and is within short walking distance of the Margaret Mitchell House, a turn-of-the century Tudor Revival home where the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Gone With the Wind was written. The highly-acclaimed South City Kitchen, voted the Best All Around Restaurant in Atlanta, also takes a sophisticated spin on traditional Southern favorites like fried green tomatoes, garlic collards, and shrimp and grits, with their homemade banana pudding and signature pecan pie being standouts for dessert.
The five-star Mandarin Oriental Atlanta exceeds expectations in creating a notably peaceful and intentionally tranquil environment. Blending southern hospitality with exotic traditions, the luxury hotel welcomes visitors with a personally-customized experience. The building's feng shui design invites positive energy from the moment you walk into the lobby which is decorated with beautiful locally-curated artwork, plush upscale furnishings, and the property's unique hand-painted signature fan which depicts the Oriental heritage of the esteemed global brand. The hotel's signature Peaches and Cream spa treatment is ideal after a long day of shopping and sightseeing, and our appointment for this indulgent 1-hour and 45-minute journey soothed tension with a series of blissful relaxation techniques that swiftly melted away stress.
The annual Atlanta Jazz Festival is one of the country's largest free jazz festivals and takes place each Memorial Day weekend in Piedmont Park. Celebrating local culture and music legends along with the very best in up-and-coming young talent, this outdoor festival features performances by over 100 of the nation's best jazz performers from local artists and regional performers to national greats.
Take some time to relax thoroughly and pamper yourself with luxury when you visit the elegant Buckhead neighborhood in Atlanta. With a grand assortment of high-rise hotels, distinctive shopping boutiques, modern art galleries, fine dining and chic bistros, the Buckhead area provides a safe haven for a host of deliberately-scheduled serene activities by which to attain a more peaceful state of body and mind.
Our full review of the Toyota Avalon Hybrid Limited, which was driven on this 3,000-mile trip through six southern states, examines ten unique aspects of the practical yet elegant upscale sedan.
The Toyota Avalon delivers an upscale interior environment of well-designed furnishings and meticulously-crafted surfaces throughout. Sophisticated touches and subtle design motifs feature soft-touch materials, French stitching, and beautiful walnut accents along with well-placed ambient lighting throughout the cabin. The highly-adjustable standard leather-trimmed front seats are matched with ample space in the back seat area as well. Rear passengers are afforded plenty of legroom, an adjustable leather armrest with integrated cup holders, rear magazine pockets, individual illumination, and a power rear sunshade which keeps the interior cool in warmer months. The Avalon Limited also offers heated rear seats and three-zone climate control so that rear passengers can adjust air temperatures directly.
For more information about Atlanta, Georgia, please visit:
Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau