Eating out in Atlanta is a sensory explosion, and visitors with a taste for excitement and variety won't be disappointed. One of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the United States and the third largest city in the country, Atlanta caters to the tastes of its sophisticated patrons.
From traditional Southern cooking such as fried chicken, shrimp, fish, and okra to the legendary peaches, pecans, peanuts, and Vidalia onions that Georgia is known for, the food in Atlanta is second to none. Visitors should be sure to sample some peach cobbler and a slice of pecan-nut pie for good measure.
Buckhead offers trendy eateries and good home-cooked food, while Decatur, Midtown, and Virginia-Highland can't be beaten when it comes to international cuisine. Most of Atlanta's finest restaurants require reservations and it is customary to tip waiters about 15 percent though, in expensive restaurants, tipping anything up to 20 percent is the norm.
Atlanta has excellent shopping malls, boutiques, and markets that are diverse enough to meet every shopaholic's needs. Travellers should visit Buckhead to discover the trendiest boutiques, which can be found in Decatur, Virginia-Highland, and Little Five Points.
Some of Atlanta's best buys can be found at Lenox Square, which is anchored by Bloomingdale's, Neiman Marcus, and Macy's, featuring almost 250 specialty stores and a number of restaurants for weary shoppers to rest their legs.
For budget buys, shoppers should head to the North Georgia Outlets, where just about anything under the sun can be found for a bargain. Most people won't leave without buying something. In addition to countless shopping malls, Atlanta also has some wonderful flea markets, where haggling is the order of the day.
Most shops in Atlanta are open from Monday to Saturday from 10am to 9pm, and on Sundays from 12pm to 6pm. The sales tax varies by city and state in the US and ranges from 4 to 15 percent. This is added to the price of goods at the point of purchase. There is no system for refunding non-US visitors in Atlanta but large and expensive purchases are often tax-exempt if they are shipped from outside the state they are bought in.
Atlanta has some of the best nightlife in Georgia, with Buckhead being a good place to start discovering what's on offer. The area has a festive night scene with a line of nightclubs, dance clubs, and pubs, though most venues close at 3am. Downtown has some chic lounges and cocktail bars, especially in the large hotels. The Virginia Highlands in particular hosts young professionals in stylish clubs. Small venues scattered around the city are perfect for some southern baritone blues, and Atlanta's hip-hop scene comprises many clubs where rising and returning stars perform.