By: Lindsay Ruhlin, 1st year HPM
One of the main reasons I chose Rollins was because just after one visit, I immediately got the feeling that this could be my next home. Some gut feeling inside was telling me that I could definitely see myself living and loving life at Rollins and in Atlanta. Well that gut feeling was right. It is most definitely an understatement to say that I have fallen in love with Atlanta and Rollins. I felt completely at home here within such a short amount of time, it was so easy to know that I made the right decision. Not only do all of my friends and the overall Rollins community make Atlanta so homey to me, but this beautiful city itself has truly won me over.
I am originally from New Jersey so the cities I was used to were Philadelphia and NYC. I had never considered myself to be a city person and was anxious to see how I would adjust to life in Atlanta. Easy to say it didn’t take long for me to become Atlanta obsessed. This city has so so so much to offer!!! The biggest tip I can give to everyone new to the area is:
From food to festivals, night life, outdoor adventures, parks, shopping, markets, music, brunch spots, historical sites, sporting events, concerts, and so much more, the list of things to do in Atlanta really never ends. Atlanta is also in a great location in respect to other places in Georgia. I have yet to take any weekend trips but have some planned for later in the spring and hopefully in the summer. Places such as the Blue Ridge Mountains, Savannah, Athens, and Augusta and are within a relatively close driving distance.
What makes Atlanta so great is how diverse the city is. Atlanta is made up of multiple neighborhoods/areas. There’s Midtown, Downtown, Buckhead, Decatur, Inman Park, Old Fourth Ward, Edgewood, and Candler Park, just to name a few.
Through exploring lots of different neighborhoods/areas my first semester, my friends and I quickly discovered our favorite areas. One of my absolute favorite, and the whole reason behind this blog post, is Virginia Highland, aka The Highlands or VaHi. Something about the atmosphere, character, and charm makes it one of my go-to areas in Atlanta. With so much to offer, The Highlands is one of the reasons why I so quickly feel in love with Atlanta and feel so at home here.
The Highlands includes a variety of delicious places to check out. There are still several on my list which I have yet to visit, but some of my favorite include:
–Murphy’s: this nicer restaurant offers a variety of American based cuisine. Everything is absolutely delicious and fresh and the service is always impressive. This is a great place to take friends or family visiting Atlanta for a nice dinner out. I have not gone to brunch there yet, but I hear that too is awesome.
–The Original El Taco: This Tex-Mex restaurant was on the top of my list to visit and most definitely lived up to all of its reviews. The Highlands has their very own restaurant week in October where multiple restaurants offer great specials every night. When I heard that this place was participating, my friends and I went that week. I recommend trying their queso, quac, and margaritas (and basically everything else they make).
–Goin Coastal: When my parents came to visit, we wanted to try something new. Usually seafood restaurants are not super common here in Atlanta so we wanted to check this place out. It did not disappoint. It’s on the smaller side so dinner there on the weekends is best with a reservation. Definitely worth a try.
–Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit: This addition to VaHi arrived here in late December and people are obsessed. Originally from Charleston, SC, Callie’s is known for their to die for biscuits. From biscuit sandwiches, to daily specials, and their signature variety of flavored biscuits, I recommend everything they make. Their adorable little restaurant/café makes you feel like you’re walking into one of your family member’s kitchens. A mix of quaint and delicious have made this place a hot spot (and it’s even open late night!!! Such a score on Friday and Saturday nights out).
Some other spots to mention include Harry & Sons Sushi (I have not personally been but multiple friends of mine say their sushi is great), The Family Dog, Rosebuds (both of these were recently sold by the owner but have been bought up, and fingers crossed will be just as good as they were before. Overall when it comes to food, you really can’t go wrong in the Highlands.
Most weekends when my friends and I can’t make a decision on where to go, we usually end up in the Highlands. For the most part it is pretty laid back, with crowds in their 20s and early 30s at most of our favorite spots. It also has multiple great spots all within short walking distance of each other, so if you’re not feeling one bar, it is easy to hop to another. The Highlands is just a short ride away from most places where Rollins students live. A roughly 10 minute Uber ride. Some of our favorite spots include:
–Dark Horse: this place is such a go-to. It’s always packed with great music and good priced drinks. It’s worth making your way through the crowd around the bar at this place. And then…. There’s a hidden treasurer downstairs that we just discovered this semester. It’s called 10 High, and when you walk downstairs it’s like you enter a whole different world. It’s a karaoke bar and people take it seriously, you will feel like you’re at a real rock concert and it’s amazing. Just my opinion, but I think it should be on everyone’s bucket list to sing at 10 High before you graduate from Rollins. So don’t miss this place.
-Hand in Hand: another great place just down the street from Dark Horse. This place is pretty big so it’s usually easy to not feel too crowded in there. When it’s warm out this is a great place to hang because they have a gigantic outside patio. It’s also right next to another bar called Neighbors which is equally as fun. Hand in Hand also has some pretty good food, so even if it’s not a Friday or Saturday night, it’s a good spot for lunch or dinner or brunch on Sunday. They also have trivia Wednesdays.
-Atkins: I went here for the first time this semester and I wish I had known about it sooner. It’s another great spot. They also have really good snack food which they sell until the bar closes. Atkins is on the same road as Hand in Hand and Dark Horse, so it’s super convenient to move around to all three within the same night.
My Other Favorites in the Highlands
–The Homes/Architecture: it might just be because I’m weirdly obsessed with architecture and real estate, but the Highlands has some gorgeous and unique homes. It’s definitely worth just a drive around the neighborhoods to see all of the homes. To me, it’s so beautiful to see such large, old, homes in green rolling neighborhoods when the big skyscrapers in downtown Atlanta are just 10-15 minutes away. Really just google Virginia Highlands homes and you’ll be impressed. They even do a house tour in December, I wasn’t able to make it this past year but it’s on my list for next year.
–Shops: North Highland Avenue, the main road which runs through the Highlands, has a stretch of adorable shops. There’s boutiques and home décor stores, outdoor apparel, and more. Savory Spice is one of my favorites. It is a local spice shop which makes all of their products here in Atlanta. They have just about everything you can think of, it makes awesome gifts for anyone who likes to cook, and it smells heavenly. The Cacao Atlanta Chocolate Co. has a store on North Highland Ave. They sell gelato and delicious Atlanta chocolate. North Highland Woodworking is also a pretty cool place to check out. The name describes it, it is a wood working store, and even though I probably will never buy anything in there, it sorts of makes you feel like you’re walking back in time or in a small mountain town. All it takes is an afternoon to stroll up and down North Highland Ave. to discover all of the great spots the Highlands has to offer.