Over 5,000 alumni live in the greater Atlanta area, this weekend’s host for the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Games. Thousands of Wolfpack fans will arrive in the city hungry for an NC State win against the Tennessee Volunteers, so we asked several Atlanta Wolfpack alumni what visiting fans should see and do while in town for the weekend.
Some of Atlanta’s most well-known attractions are great for first-time visitors. Chris Gilmore ‘08 recommends the Atlanta History Center, World of Coca-Cola, CNN Center and the King Center. Pam Jones ’78 also likes the Georgia Aquarium.
According to Jeannette Johnson ’86, the best place to see the city is at the Sundial Restaurant, Bar and View at the top of the Westin Hotel in downtown Atlanta. “I love taking out-of-town friends to the Sundial…[for] great views of Atlanta” she says.
Dan Houck ’00 recommends several places in Midtown Atlanta.
“Piedmont Park is an important cultural center for Atlanta, whether that be the finish line for the Peachtree Road Race, a venue for Paul McCartney or the host for a family picnic,” Houck says. “Also, come see the Fabulous Fox Theatre. Tour the building to see the Moorish architecture and stay for a world-class show. Go across the street for drinks at the Georgian Terrace Hotel if you have time.”
The Jimmy Carter Library and Museum is just a few minutes from downtown Atlanta and the Georgia Dome. “Seeing the mementos President Carter received from the heads of state during his time in office and the full-size model of the Oval Office makes the visit unique,” says Robert Mays ’97.
The best burger in Atlanta is up for debate. One of the most famous Atlanta burger joints is The Varsity, located near Georgia Tech’s campus. The Vortex , Yeah! Burger, Grindhouse Killer Burgers and Bocado are also popular places.
“But if you have some time, head over to Holeman & Finch,” says Gilmore. “They only serve 24 burgers each night at 10 pm, so you have to get there around 8:30 to reserve a burger.”
Mays recommends one of Atlanta’s most unique restaurants for the best burger in town. Ann’s Snack Bar was rated the top burger in the U.S. by the Wall Street Journal and CNN Travel.
“Ann’s Snack Bar is an institution here in Atlanta, serving the world-famous Ghetto Burger I love. The burger is not the only reason to go though,” he says. “The small, eight-seat restaurant cannot hold Miss Ann’s personality (think Soup Nazi from Seinfeld), which pushes the experience to unforgettable.”
No Atlanta experience is complete without sitting in a little traffic. With the Auburn versus Clemson Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game on Saturday night, the Atlanta Braves at home all weekend against the Philadelphia Phillies, Dragon*Con and the NASCAR race at the Atlanta Speedway, visitors will need to allow extra time to get around. Mays recommends stopping at The Varsity for a Frosted Orange drink until the traffic clears on the Downtown Connector.
For those looking to escape Atlanta’s busy attractions, area suburbs and the North Georgia foothills and mountains provide a peaceful atmosphere with beautiful scenery. “Visit downtown historic Roswell shops and great dining,” says Lisa Renko ’87.
But no matter what NC State fans do for the rest of the weekend, Mays says this is what’s important: “…Seeing the sea of red in the Georgia Dome and knowing it won’t be University of Georgia fans. Enjoy your time here, but save some energy for those Vols. Go Pack!”
Our stories from Atlanta this week were reported and written by Betsy Rhame-Minor, an Apex, N.C., native who grew up an NC State fan because her grandfather was an alumnus. She attended NC State for graduate school, earning a MA in English in 2006. Betsy is a writer and editor in Atlanta. When she’s back in Raleigh she enjoys seeing the Wolfpack women’s basketball team play in Reynolds Coliseum.