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  • Carrie Cochran

Exciting Things to Do in Atlanta: Explore the Beltline and Ponce City Market!

Hello, fellow travelers!

I must say, the more I visit, the more I'm falling in love with the state of Georgia. I've visited some incredible places throughout the state over the past couple of years, and I'm continually finding more to explore. Even as I write this post, I have a brand new adventure planned in Atlanta tonight and another tomorrow! And each experience I've tried has been entirely unique!

But today, I'd like to share the details for a wonderfully relaxing afternoon in downtown Atlanta. I shared a few pictures of this on social media over Thanksgiving, but now I'd like to actually tell you about the Atlanta Beltline and Ponce City Market!

The Atlanta Beltline

On our last trip to Georgia, I read about the Atlanta Beltline and was immediately intrigued. This city project is taking 22 miles of old railroad tracks and turning them into broad, multi-use trails that connect all the neighborhoods in between in a large loop. People can walk, run, or bike along these smoothly paved paths for exercise as well as easy in-city transportation.

People can access the Beltline from several different points, including parks, and traverse through various distinct trails in the loop. The city also offers free fitness classes along the circuit as part of a health initiative for all levels!

But what makes the Atlanta Beltline really cool in my eyes is the art! In the east and southwest portions of the loop, Beltline visitors can enjoy a variety of outdoor artwork as they travel!

The art includes murals on walls, a variety of sculptures, intricate graffiti, and even woven patterns on bridges.

On our trip, we stuck to the east trail and enjoyed a beautiful 1-mile walk from the Piedmont Park entrance to the Ponce City Market. Thankfully, Piedmont Park offers some free street parking, so we didn't have to pay in the city! It was a nice bonus.

On the Beltline, my favorite artwork was a beautiful mural by Brandon Sadler called "A New Light Shines Beyond the Darkness." It was one of the first pieces we saw, but it stuck with me the whole trip. This lovely mural under a bridge depicts a dark circle of koi fish surrounded by swirling lines and Japanese calligraphy. When we returned after dark, the lack of traffic allowed me the opportunity to enjoy it even more by the light of a spotlight under the bridge.

Further down the trail, a variety of raised bicycle sculptures lined the path while our first glimpse of the Ponce City Market appeared in the distance.

A few more of my favorite sights included a 3D mural of a dog created using the back of a building and its surrounding fence to advertise a dog-sitting service, some low walls decorated with aliens, and an impressive graffiti-style mural covering an old brick building.

After about thirty minutes of walking, we reached the Ponce City Market, an old Sears and Roebuck warehouse renovated into a chic mall atmosphere with lofts, rentals, and even a small amusement park on the roof.

We did explore the area just past the Ponce City Market as well to see a couple more colorful murals and a set of metal leaf sculptures representing all the different leaves found in the Atlanta area.

Ponce City Market

Finally, we were ready to enter the Ponce City Market.

The east entrance requires you to walk through a tunnel-like garage, past premium parking and a dog valet, as well as a vintage piano named Cornelius that is its own piece of artwork.

Just after Cornelius, the garage opens up to a tree-lined wooden walkway that leads to the Ponce City Market's third-story entrance. The restored brick exterior of the building is impressive, stretching up about seven stories above.

From here, you can enter directly into the central marketplace with artisan food and unique shopping experiences, or take the stairs down to the lower levels and outer shops. We chose to head directly downstairs and work our way through the Market from the ground up to ensure that we didn't miss anything.

From the staircase to the lower levels, you can appreciate the industrial support beams that criss-cross around the ceilings and pillars. They're undoubtedly rustic, yet they fit perfectly into the modern aesthetic of the mall.

The lowest level has a large area of shops in an outdoor square, each with a beautiful storefront. Here you'll find popular stores like Alex and Ani and Anthropologie, along with cute, eclectic boutiques and bookstores. Small booths and decorative trees occupy some of the open space, while more industrial beams criss-cross the air in place of a ceiling.

The Roof at Ponce City Market

Down in this area, you'll also find the admissions booth for the rooftop amusement park! Tickets start at $10 a person for access to the rooftop and go up from there based on the activities you want to enjoy.

After purchasing your ticket, you proceed to the large industrial elevator, which ascends the ten floors up to the rooftop where you'll find the amusement park, a restaurant, a cocktail bar, and even a seasonal ice rink!

The seasonal Skate the Sky event allows visitors to experience a covered-ice rink with a beautiful view of the Atlanta skyline! You can even rent out a private igloo for your party. General tickets are $25 and include access to the rooftop games!

On the opposite side of the lobby, the Skyline Park spreads across the significant remainder of the roof. Here, guests can play Skeeball, mini-golf, water shooting games, a slide, and more. Along the back portion of the park, the Nine Mile Station serves up food with yet another view of that classic Atlanta skyline.

Although a bit crowded, Skyline Park has a wonderfully fun and bright aesthetic with lots of fun things to do. Even if you don't want to play the games, a stroll around the rooftop is also a satisfying experience. Gorgeous panoramas of Atlanta lay before you on two sides, and the restored clocktower above is a lovely sight as well.

Food Hall

Back on the ground floor, you can access the center of the Ponce City Market, the Food Hall. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing this already-charming space decked out for Christmas with lights, garlands, and bows. Colorful banners wrap the center support columns, and bright orange paint adds vibrancy to the beams overhead.

Despite its name, you'll also find a wide range of shopping here as well. The Food Hall covers two large floors of the building and is absolutely stocked with goodies of all kinds! You can check out this directory for a full list of shopping and dining on each floor.

Daniel and I particularly enjoyed strolling through the artisan bakeries, candy shops, and ice cream parlors along the way. Just look at these delicious goodies!

I also had fun observing sewing shops, clothing stores of all types, and boutiques.

You could easily spend several hours here if you wanted to check out every store. Even if you don't buy anything, the aesthetic of the shops at the Ponce City Market is so fun and inviting, you'll have fun just taking it all in! I know we certainly did!

After you explore the Market, just retrace your steps back down the Beltline to your car. It is about a mile back, so don't wear yourself out too much shopping! But with free parking and a beautiful view of Atlanta, it's worth taking the Beltline stroll a second time.

We had such an amazing day with this itinerary, and I hope you will, too! The best part is, it can cost as much or as little as you want it to since parking and entry to the Beltline and Ponce City Market are all free. You can pick and choose what to eat, buy, and play to fit your tastes and budget, which I love in any itinerary.

If you have questions or comments, please feel free to post them below! If you enjoyed this post, be sure to give it a like and share it with another travel lover or Atlanta adventurer!

Happy travels!

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