Designers’ Guide to Sightseeing in Atlanta

Five Atlanta-based FLOWER showhouse interior designers share their favorite attractions and neighborhoods to explore in The ATL.

Atlanta, Georgia is a sprawling metropolis. Metro Atlanta remarkably covers more than 8,000 square miles. That’s a lot of exploring to do on your own, so we asked five local designers from the FLOWER showhouse to give us suggestions for Atlanta sightseeing. Tish Mills Kirk, Nina Long, Melanie Millner, Mallory Mathison Glenn, and Beth Webb share their favorite Atlanta attractions and neighborhoods to explore.

Dale Chihuly sculpture in fountain at the center of the parterre garden at Atlanta Botanical Gardens.
Atlanta Botanical Gardens. Photo by Jason Getz

Tish Mills Kirk of Tish Mills Interiors

I really love the Atlanta Botanical Garden because the exhibits they do are so special like the origami one right now that I’m dying to see. I also love to go to the aquarium—you never outgrow the Georgia Aquarium! I could sit and look at the Beluga whales all day long! We are concert fans so we like Chastain Park and we just saw Keith Urban at State Farm Arena. Most of my children are theater kids, so we go to every theater in Atlanta and of course there’s nothing like a performance at the Fox Theater.  We also love the Alliance Theater, which gets some amazing shows.  We love the High Museum of course and we like to go to celebrations at Piedmont Park like the Dogwood Festival.

When people are visiting, I always drive them around to see our historic homes. I travel Peachtree Battle every day and I never get tired of it—the wide road with the big medians. Obviously any street in Tuxedo Park where the showhouse is located is a must. And everything around the old General Store, which is my neighborhood, is a treat to drive.  One hidden area that I love is Avondale Estates where I lived years ago. It’s like Atlanta’s version of Mayberry. It’s an adorable little town within the city. It has this different energy and the minute you drive into it, you are transported some place else. The houses are not huge, but there are these beautiful Tudor homes, and it has this great lake. I take people to Inman Park near downtown for the historic homes. You can really get a good snapshot of the city when you drive around.

Marquee of the Fox Theatre in Atlanta, GA
Fox Theatre. Photo by f11Photo

Nina Long of Mathews Design Group

One of our favorite things to do is go to Piedmont Park or walk on the Beltline on a beautiful day! There are so many good lunch spots along the way or you can grab a drink at so many spots, and the person watching is always super entertaining. Nature inspires me a lot and there’s so much if it right here in the middle of the city, Atlanta is known for all its trees! I also love walking around Chastain Park with friends and our babies. I’m lucky to be nearby so many parks and trails because walkability is so important to me.

I’m not a huge museum person but the High Museum is obviously pretty incredible. I’ll go see a show at the Fox Theater every few years or so, I need to do it more often! Also, there are so many beautiful lakes within a few hours drive from Atlanta and we love to take a long weekend to North Caroline or a little further, we drive to 30A at least once a year to reset and relax on the beach.

I live in an old home and love its character. I don’t think I could ever live in a new house again! There are so many special in-town neighborhoods with amazing history and charming homes from Buckhead to Midtown including Ansley Park, Collier Hills, Inman Park, Virginia Highlands, Druid Hills-I could go on and on!

People riding scooters and walking on the BeltLine near the Old Fourth Ward
Atlanta BeltLine at the Old Fourth Ward Park. Photo by Blulz60

Melanie Milner of The Design Atelier

Swan House is an Iconic Atlanta estate that is now part of the Atlanta History Center. It is a local favorite and a must-see when visiting. The High Museum of Art has world-class exhibitions, like the current Rodin exhibit, which is not to miss! MODA is a much smaller museum across the street from the High and is similar to the Cooper Hewitt Museum in NYC. They always have interesting exhibits that do not take a lot of time to see.

Tuxedo Park and Peachtree Battle are one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in Atlanta. The winding, tree-lined streets paired with the beautiful estate homes, transport you to a dreamy, great Gatsby era that is indicative of great Southern Architecture. My own neighborhood, Brookwood Hills, is located just south of Buckhead with entrances off Peachtree Street. It is filled with bungalows and cottages from the 1920s and is a great neighborhood to raise children.

Blue banners over main entrance of the Atlanta History Center.
Atlanta History Center

Mallory Mathison of Mallory Mathison Inc.

We love to go to Piedmont Park—the best! And I love going to the Westside—so many clothing and home shops, restaurants, and ice cream parlors—there is something for everyone there. One of my favorite florists is there, Le Jardin Francaise, and it’s right next door to Perrine’s, a wonderful French wine shop. And we are so lucky we have the Beltline. We go over there with our kids and other families, and they’ll get on their scooters and bikes and have some outdoor fun.

Atlanta, Georgia skyline, midtown seen from the park.
Midtown Atlanta skyline from Piedmont Park. Photo by f11Photo

I’m sure everyone says this, but the High Museum is a treasure; we love going to the Center for Puppetry Arts with our twins, and we go to the Fox Theatre occasionally. One enjoyable outing for the day is in nearby Sandy Springs.  It has a great little cultural arts center and a fabulous little chic restaurant called The Select. There are smaller concerts and things for kids— a safe small downtown area to explore, which is only 15 minutes away and off the beaten path from Buckhead. Its also lovely to walk around the Swan House, a historic home that’s really important to Atlanta and have lunch at the Swan House Coach House or the Souper Jenny’s adjacent to the Atlanta History Museum which we also like to explore.

There are so many great pockets of neighborhoods—Inman Park is wonderful and walk-able; the Westside is fun; Virginia Highlands is so charming and walking up and down Peachtree Battle, and its side streets is probably one of the best ways to look at beautiful homes. The lots are smaller and the houses are closer to the street. You can really get a good look at the landscape, the front door, the lighting, and other up-close details. I love driving on Manor Ridge—it runs almost parallel to Peachtree Battle. Chatham and Tuxedo roads have some really pretty homes as well.

Sol LeWitt painting in the Robinson Atrium of the High Museum of Art
Robinson Atrium of the High Museum of Art

Beth Webb of Beth Webb Designs

When I have time for walking, I often go to Bobby Jones, Chastain Park and of course the Beltline. There are so many beautiful neighborhoods to explore—Tuxedo, Valley Road and Cherokee Road—so many iconic properties—Buckhead the Beautiful! And I love Ansley Park, Brookhaven, and Brookwood Hills. I always take out of town visitors to the Swan House—I’m a big Schutze devotee.  When designers’ come to town, they always end up at the Swan House—it’s such a gorgeous property.

Autumn lawn with steps leading up to the Swan House in Atlanta, GA.
The Swan House. Photo courtesy of Atlanta History Center