Look Before You Book: A Sustainable Travel Guide to Atlanta, Georgia

July 24th, 2023
Reading time: 13 minutes
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Whether interested in history, culture, outdoor adventures, or simply indulging in delicious cuisine, Atlanta has something to offer every visitor. Located in Georgia, Atlanta is often referred to as “The City in a Forest,” with abundant lush parks and green spaces. Atlanta should be at the top of your list if you’re seeking an eco-friendly travel destination.

 

Lowering your footprint: Getting here and getting around

Home to the busiest airport in the world, Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta serves as a portal to hundreds of international and domestic destinations. From the airport, MARTA provides direct rail connection to city neighborhoods, with a low price of USD 2.50 to reach downtown Atlanta.

MARTA is the principal public transportation system serving Atlanta and its surrounding metropolitan area, providing a network of bus and train options for residents and visitors. Using MARTA can be a cost-effective and environmentally friendly way to explore Atlanta. It allows visitors to access popular attractions, cultural institutions, shopping districts, and dining areas without needing a car or dealing with parking hassles.

Alongside MARTA, you can find the streets of Atlanta populated by an abundance of electric vehicles, such as scooters and bikes. Companies like Bird, Lime, and Spin operate sharing programs where you can rent these vehicles through smartphone apps and easily travel around the city for a minimal fee. Additionally, as many neighborhoods in Atlanta are pedestrian-friendly, walking is a great way to explore these areas and enjoy the city’s architecture and hidden gems.

 

Sustainable hotels

Choosing the right hotel can be a hassle, especially when looking for sustainable options. Here are a few suggestions for the best eco-friendly hotels in Atlanta, Georgia.

Stonehurst Place: Location: 923 Piedmont Avenue Northeast, Atlanta, GA 30309
About the space: If you want to splurge, Stonehurst Place is one of Atlanta’s top sustainable hotels, winning the prestigious EarthCraft Home and Southface Renovation Project of the Year award in 2008. This mansion was built in 1896, serving as a bed and breakfast and featuring eight unique rooms and suites. While keeping its historic feel, the space is praised for its modern amenities and exceptional daily gourmet breakfast- offering vegan and vegetarian options. Some of the property’s sustainability efforts include implementing solar thermal panels that efficiently heat water, an in-room recycling program, a dedicated system for collecting and purifying rainwater for drinking purposes, and a greywater recycling system that preserves water for irrigation of the property’s beautiful gardens. If you’re looking to explore this option as a future destination, keep in mind that there is a waitlist for reservations due to its high demand.

Ellis Hotel: Location: 176 Peachtree Street Northwest, Atlanta, GA 30303
About the space: Ellis Hotel is a fan favorite if you want a mid-budget option. The building is a chic boutique-style hotel, perfectly blending designs of city sleek and southern comfort. The hotel resides just over half a mile from the center of Atlanta, providing easy access to some of the city’s best attractions, including Centennial Olympic Park and the Georgia Aquarium. The space has implemented many sustainable means, such as using 100 percent energy-efficient lighting, installing water-saving fixtures, and using nontoxic, biodegradable housekeeping products. 

Georgia Tech Hotel and Conference Center: Location: 800 Spring Street NW, Atlanta, GA 30308
About the space: This hotel serves as another mid-budget, eco-friendly option. Located in the heart of Atlanta’s Technology Center Complex, this hotel is on Georgia Tech’s campus, close to some of the area’s main points of interest. While incorporating tech-savvy amenities, the hotel also partakes in many sustainable practices, such as water-efficient faucets, temperature sensors, recycling programs, and many more. If you’re looking for a place to stay that embodies a contemporary feel, I highly recommend this option (especially if you’re a fellow Yellow Jackets fan). 

Atlanta Marriott Northeast: Location: 2000 Century Boulevard North East, Atlanta, GA 30345
About the space: This is the cheapest option on the list but remains a solid choice. This hotel is a short 10-minute drive from shopping and dining in Buckhead, where you can visit some of the city’s popular shopping sites, including Lenox Square and Phipps Plaza. This hotel also offers many amenities, such as an outdoor pool and a fitness center. The Atlanta Marriott is praised as one of TripAdvisor’s Gold Level GreenLeaders, using energy-efficient light bulbs, water-efficient shower heads and faucets, purchasing organic and fair trade food for their restaurants, and other green practices. 

 

Sustainable shopping

Atlanta offers a wide range of shopping experiences. From high-end boutiques in luxury shopping districts to trendy independent shops in local neighborhoods, there are options for every taste and budget. 

 

Clothing

Labels: Location: 3208 Paces Ferry Pl NW, Atlanta, GA 30305
About the space: If you want a shopping option that leans slightly more high-end, look no further. With their slogan being “fashion + art + sustainability = you,” Labels is a luxury consignment store that provides a unique second-hand shop experience where you can purchase pieces you can’t find anywhere else! There are a few Labels locations throughout Georgia, but two storefronts in Paces Ferry are a must-visit for fashion lovers.

Rag-O-Rama: Location: 1111 Euclid Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30307
About the space: Rag-O-Rama is a popular site in Atlanta for people to buy, sell, and trade their wardrobe. Selections offer a variety of gently used vintage and current clothing, accessories, and jewelry. Rag-O-Rama is the go-to place in Atlanta for embracing your unique style, offering a wide range of vintage treasures and obscure finds that will perfectly capture the weird and wonderful essence of the ATL.

Citizen Supply (Ponce City Market): Location: 675 Ponce De Leon Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30308
About the space: Ponce City Market is one of Atlanta’s most renowned sites for its aesthetics and sustainability efforts. This market is the largest adaptive reuse project in the Southeast, implementing many green practices that have led to the earnings of various awards. Within Ponce City Market, you can find many places to shop, but Citizen Supply on the top floor of the food hall is a must-visit. Citizen Supply is an artisan marketplace showcasing handmade and sustainable goods crafted by local vendors and small businesses. What you’ll find at Citizen Supply includes luxury streetwear, custom hats, hand-picked vintage pieces, and many more unique creations. 

 

Other fun options

Little 5 Points: Location: Little Five Points, Atlanta, GA 30307
About the place: Known as one of Atlanta’s hippest neighborhoods, Little Five Points is crowded with things to do. From vintage clothing stores and record shops to unusual goods sold at Junkman’s Daughter, this area provides a unique shopping experience. Little Five Points is also praised for its live music scene, street art, and overall alternative and lively atmosphere. 

High Museum of Art: Location: 1280 Peachtree St NE Atlanta, GA 30309
About the space: The High Museum of Art is Southeast’s largest visual arts museum. With tickets starting at $18.50, you can view over 1,200 paintings, sculptures, drawings, and prints made by artists working within the United States between 1780 and 1980. This museum makes it its mission to care for the planet as much as they do its art collections. In utilizing sustainable practices, the High Museum is actively lowering its carbon footprint as it educates its visitors on current environmental crises. This experience is encouraged to all with their missions in creating an accessible space regardless of age, gender, race, or disability.  

 

Sustainable dining

With its vibrant culinary scene, Atlanta offers delicious and diverse dining experiences. From traditional mouthwatering Southern cuisine to features of international flavors worldwide, visitors will surely have an all-encompassing experience. Here are some of my top choices.

 

Coffee/Tea

Le Bon Nosh: Location: 65 Irby Avenue NW Suite 103, Atlanta, GA 30305
About the space: If you’re looking for an aesthetic spot with amazing vibes, Le Bon Nosh is the place to go. With its emphasis on sustainable practices, Le Bon Nosh offers an all-day dining menu full of locally sourced food focused on seasonal showcases. This spot also provides extensive coffee and tea options that pair significantly with the delicious treats featured in their bakery.

Hodgepodge Coffeehouse: Location: 720 Moreland Ave Se, Atlanta, GA 30316
About the space: Hodgepodge Coffeehouse is another fantastic choice if you’re looking for good tea and coffee. From signature concoctions to simple staples, Hodgepodge offers a one-of-a-kind menu. In addition to delicious coffee and homemade goods, Hodgepodge provides an eccentric experience, taking up 3000 square feet and working as a gallery space for local artists and a consignment program with local merchants. Its mission to provide a communal space leaves tourists and residents returning for more.

 

Drinks

The Garden Room: Location: 88 West Paces Ferry Road NW, Atlanta, GA 30305
About the space: The Garden Room offers innovative cocktails and a full bar in a beautiful environment decorated by lush florals that warmly welcome you. This establishment practices sustainable sourcing, establishing strong local partnerships, and avoiding single-use plastic, all while elevating its dining experience. This plant-filled space is worth going for the aesthetics alone, offering a one-of-a-kind immersive garden bar experience.

Virginia Highland District: Location: Virginia-Highland Atlanta, GA 30306
About the space: The Virginia Highlands area is populated with some of the best bars in the city. From neighborhood and sports bars to underground nightclubs called “The Drunken Unicorn,” this district has a spot fitting any occasion. While the neighborhood itself does not have specific sustainability practices, many residents, businesses, and organizations in Virginia Highlands actively engage in environmentally conscious activities such as recycling and waste reduction efforts. 

 

Food

Krog Street Market: Location: 99 Krog St NE, Atlanta, GA 30307
About the space: This market is praised for its award-winning dining establishments and is considered one of the world’s best food halls. From authentic southern barbeque to some of my personal favorites, Sichuan cuisine, Krog Street Market is bound to have something to please everyone’s taste buds. The building was restored in 1889 and has been preserved to celebrate Atlanta’s rich history, offering a unique communal space to relax and dine. The space also offers special events such as “dinner and a movie” nights, so check their website and plan accordingly!

Politan Row at Colony Square: Location: 1197 Peachtree St NE, Suite 150, Atlanta, GA 30361
About the space: Politan Row at Colony Square is another of Atlanta’s great food halls. It features food from 11 different local vendors offering a variety that highlights Atlanta’s diverse culture. This food hall features vendors such as the famous “Pretty Little Taco” and allows you to try bites from menus that express individual creativity. Alongside its fantastic food lineup, the space offers a design-forward private event space, a patio bar, and its hidden cocktail lounge across a 20,000-square-foot complex. 

Brown Bag Seafood: Location: 1201 Peachtree St NE Colony Square (14th & Peachtree) Atlanta, GA 30361
About the space: Also located in Colony Square is Brown Bag Seafood. This restaurant offers a seafood-driven menu, only serving seafood approved by Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch. Its sustainable practices include powering its restaurants using wind energy and striving to be a zero-food waste restaurant. In addition to its traditional menu, this restaurant allows you to design your meals, from tacos to salads, offering a variety of delicious protein options.

True Food: Location: 3393 Peachtree Rd NE Ste 3058B, Atlanta, GA 30326
About the space: True Food Kitchen is one of Atlanta’s popular culinary destinations rooted in nutritional science that ensures all of its crave-able dishes and drinks work to increase the longevity of its people and the planet. Their mission is to transform super foods into comfort foods, providing unique dishes such as edamame dumplings and spaghetti squash casseroles. These dishes are created by sourcing with integrity and partnering with growers who share their green values. If you’re looking for a spot with all the classic favorites, try True Food’s creative takes.

Le Colonial: Location: 3035 Peachtree Rd NE, Atlanta, GA 30305
About the space: Le Colonial is an upscale French-Vietnamese restaurant that offers a unique dining experience, combining French cuisine’s elegance with Vietnam’s vibrant flavors. At Le Colonial, it’s hard to order a bad dish. The menu ranges from appetizers – such as fresh spring rolls and crispy imperial rolls – to flavorful salads to main course options, including traditional Vietnamese dishes and French-inspired creations. Beyond the delectable food and drinks, the space offers a lavish setting accompanied by a veranda that offers Parisian-style sidewalk café seating, adding to the overall charm and ambiance of the restaurant. At Le Colonial, they believe a restaurant’s value goes beyond pleasing the palate and is measured based on its positive impact on the community, sourcing ingredients from locally owned farms in each of their locations.

 

Get Outside

Atlanta offers ample opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts to immerse themselves in nature while enjoying the city’s beautiful surroundings. With its mild climate and abundant green spaces, outdoor activities are plentiful.

Piedmont Park: Location: Atlanta, GA 30309
About the space: A midtown staple- Piedmont Park is a 200+ acre greenspace in the heart of Atlanta. While this space is perfect for casual picnics and communal gatherings, the park offers a calendar of events, including weekly farmer’s markets and trivia nights. Furthermore, the park also offers bike clubs and gardening classes that allow you to embrace the lush environment of Atlanta. Throughout the space, you’ll also find various food and drink options for visitors to relax and unwind.

The BeltLine: Location: Eastside Trail, Atlanta, GA 30308
About the space: The Beltline is among Atlanta’s most popular destinations and is one of the most extensive urban redevelopment programs in the United States, stretching up to 22 miles. Their missions include being the catalyst for making Atlanta a global beacon for equitable, inclusive, and sustainable life, hosting a plethora of activities and events. You’ll find many shops and restaurants on the Beltline, but they also offer bike tours, free fitness classes, and a walking trail to explore the city. In visiting the Beltline, you’ll experience the captivating fusion of art, culture, and nature, creating an immersive experience that showcases the city’s vibrancy.

Botanical Gardens: Location: 1345 Piedmont Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30309
About the space: The Botanical Gardens is known for its renowned plant collections, beautiful displays, and spectacular exhibitions. Spanning over 30 acres, the garden is home to a diverse array of flora, including rare and exotic species from around the world. Depending on the season, the garden also hosts special exhibitions and events throughout the year—such as light shows and concerts. In addition to its natural beauty, the garden is dedicated to conservation, education, and research and actively promotes environmental awareness and sustainable practices through various programs and initiatives.

Swan House: Location: 130 W Paces Ferry Rd NW, Atlanta, GA 30305-1380
About the space: If you want to take some good photos, the Swan House is the place to go. The Swan House is a historic mansion built in 1928 and is situated within the Atlanta History Center, showcasing the city’s rich heritage. One of the standout features of the Swan House is its stunning formal garden, showcasing a blend of geometric patterns, fountains, and lush greenery. Its beauty has even captivated the creators of many popular films and shows. If you’re a fan of the Hunger Games series, make sure to check this place out, as it was featured as the residence of the character President Snow.

While one of the biggest metropolitan hubs in the American South, Atlanta has become a center for sustainable development and boasts more green space per person than any other major U.S. city. Through this, Atlanta offers visitors an experience like no other, hosting a plethora of unique establishments nestled beneath a canopy of trees. This city embraces its history and culture, forming a refreshingly diverse urban landscape where community thrives and creativity flourishes. So, if you’re looking for a travel destination that perfectly combines elements of vibrant city life and rich greenery, consider adding Atlanta to your list of future destinations.

Elisa Park Headshot
Elisa Park
Marketing Intern

With a background in interactive designs in media, Elisa is a student at the Georgia Institute of Technology, where she explores her passions in digital communications, media, and culture. Using these passions and her love for writing, Elisa enjoys creating and researching content that aids Brightmark in exploring the depths of relevant environmental conflicts and solutions. When she’s not spending time on her studies, you can also see Elisa on the sidelines as a member of the Georgia Tech cheerleading team. 

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