Open and growing since 2006, Atlantic Station (tel. 404/876-2616; www.atlanticstation.com) is a mixed-use development, much of which includes shops with everything from books and boots to furniture and furs. Covering 138 acres, it's as ambitious a development as any this country has seen, and includes 1 million square feet of open-air retail and entertainment venues, including a two-story movie theater. You can easily spend a full day browsing the stores, which include American Eagle Outfitters, Ann Taylor and Ann Taylor LOFT, City Sports, Dillard's, DSW Shoes, Express, Gap, Nine West, Old Navy, West Elm, and Z Gallerie. It's also the location of the city's first IKEA, a shopping experience in itself. This is not only the first branch in the Southeast, but also the first in the world to serve grits and sweet tea in its restaurant. Once you shop 'til you drop, stop in at the Grape, a casual wine bar with outstanding small-plate gourmet fare and a great variety of wines from around the world. Find a new one you really like? Pick up a bottle from its wine shop right next door. There are several locations around the city, so visit www.yourgrape.com for more information and scheduled wine tastings.
Atlantic Station is located on 17th Street, just west of I-75. To get here, take MARTA to the Arts Center station, then hop a free shuttle to Atlantic Station. Shuttles stop at various points throughout Atlantic Station and make the rounds every 20 to 30 minutes.
The stamping ground of well-to-do Atlantans, Buckhead is the ultimate shopping area, with two major malls and lots of little boutiques, antiques shops, and galleries. If you're serious about shopping, this is the place to start. Even though the area has an upscale reputation, don't let that stop you. There's lots of variety, and the competition can mean excellent bargains.
The hot spot for the best of Buckhead is at the corner of Peachtree and Lenox roads, where two major malls -- Phipps Plaza and Lenox Square -- face off against each other. If your time is limited, pick one of these malls and spend the morning or afternoon there. For about $7, you can park in the "up front" lot, right outside the main entrance.
If you have more time and are interested in art, antiques, or decorative accessories, head straight to Bennett Street, where you'll find a healthy concentration of stores in a 2-block strip. There are also many options in Buckhead West Village, near the intersection of Peachtree and West Paces Ferry roads. Shops also line the rest of Peachtree Road as well as smaller side streets. Serious interior decorators will want to make the trip to Miami Circle.
Bennett Street -- Located just off Peachtree Road on the south edge of Buckhead is a quaint little street that's become one of the most interesting shopping destinations in the city. Once a supply path linking Atlanta to the surrounding countryside during the Civil War, Bennett Street evolved into a thriving warehouse district around the turn of the 20th century. Those warehouses have been transformed into a handy concentration of shops and galleries specializing in art, decorative accessories, and antiques.
Exploring the street makes for a pleasant afternoon ramble, but if you don't have time to wander the whole strip, check out the Stalls and the Interiors Market, both of which house many dealers in one location. Most shops are open Monday through Saturday from 10am or 11am to 5pm, and a few are open Sunday from 1 to 5pm. Bennett Street -- little more than a dead-end alley -- is only a couple of blocks long, but it's built on a hill, so wear comfortable shoes. It's just off Peachtree Road between Collier Road and Peachtree Battle Avenue. To get here from downtown, take bus no. 23 from the Arts Center MARTA station to the 2100 block of Peachtree Road.
Miami Circle -- Most design centers are open to the trade only, and this street of showrooms and warehouses started out that way. But now, most of the nearly 100 merchants on Miami Circle in Buckhead are open to the public. It's a virtual smorgasbord of furnishings and accessories -- from fine European and American antiques to country and primitive pieces. There's antique and reproduction pine, painted furniture, antique statuary, heirloom wicker, fine artwork, majolica, custom and antique rugs, antique books and bookcases, clocks, antique chandeliers, and at least one warehouse of designer fabrics.
This is not a quaint street suitable for a pleasant stroll, but it is a great place to browse for serious merchandise. Most establishments are open Monday through Saturday from 10am to 5pm, and some are open on Sunday as well. If you need something shipped home, it's not a problem. Miami Circle is off Piedmont Road, just a half-mile south of Peachtree Road and about 1/3 mile north of the Lindbergh MARTA station.
West Village Of Buckhead -- The intersection of Peachtree and West Paces Ferry roads is the heart of the original Buckhead community. On the east side of Peachtree Road is the center of Buckhead nightlife; the retail shops are on the west side of Peachtree Road, where you'll find everything from art and antiques to women's apparel. The West Village, as the area surrounding the intersection is called, is bounded by West Paces Ferry Road, Roswell Road, and East Andrews Drive. If you're navigating the city via public transportation, use the Buckhead MARTA station to access shopping in this area.
There are a couple of places to stop for a snack or lunch as you wander through the neighborhood. You can stop in at Fadó, 3035 Peachtree Rd. (tel. 404/841-0066), an "authentic" Irish pub that serves commendable Gaelic fare; especially good is the boxty (filled Irish potato pancake) and the corned beef and cabbage.
Chamblee's Antique Row
Antique Row (www.antiquerow.com), on New Peachtree Road at Broad Street and North Peachtree Road, is a quaint collection of shops located in historic buildings, some dating from the 1800s. Nearby, there are a few antiques malls, which conveniently house many dealers under one roof. The largest is the Broad Street Antiques Mall, 3550 Broad St. (tel. 770/458-6316), which has around 100 dealers.
In the assorted shops and malls, you'll find antique American and European furniture, glassware, pottery, Victoriana, Orientalia, wicker, collector toys, quilts, Coke memorabilia, jewelry, architectural antiques, Olympics collectibles, and crafts items. Hours vary with each store. Most are open Monday through Saturday from 10am to 5:30pm, Sunday from 1 to 5:30pm. It's a little tough to get here if you don't have a car, but you can take a MARTA train to the Chamblee station, which is about 3/4 mile from the shops. On weekdays, take the no. 132 Tilly Mill bus from there; on weekends, walk or take a taxi.
Decatur is finally getting some respect as a destination for dining, entertainment, events, and even shopping. With dozens of small boutiques and galleries, Decatur can hold its own when it comes to shoppers looking for one-of-a-kind buys, fine art, and great bargains. From clothing and shoes to books and jewelry, the area has a little of everything and plenty of fun places for a quick bite or full afternoon of wine and noshing.
Little Five Points
An area similar to Virginia-Highland, though a lot funkier and much rougher around the edges, Little Five Points is a happening and offbeat shopping district. There are still authentic hippies here -- and enough young people with wildly colored hair and pierced body parts to give you a '60s flashback. Little Five Points is close to Virginia-Highland, so head over that way if you crave additional browsing; you can cover both areas in a few hours. In addition to the shops, there are a number of taverns and cafes in the area. Plan to have lunch at the Flying Biscuit Cafe, which is about a mile up McLendon Avenue.
Begin your stroll on Moreland Avenue just north of Euclid Avenue, and then proceed southwest along Euclid Avenue. Most shops are open Monday through Saturday from 11am to 7 or 8pm, and Sunday from noon to 6pm. But note this is a very laid-back shopping district, so hours can change on a whim. Paid parking is available on weekends in the expanded parking lot around Junkman's Daughter on Moreland Avenue. Take MARTA to the Five Points station to access this area.
This charming area of town, centered on North Highland Avenue between University Drive and Ponce de Leon Avenue, boasts antiques shops, boutiques, and art galleries. There are three major areas for shopping: North Highland just south of University Drive; the intersection of North Highland and Virginia avenues; and just north of Ponce de Leon Avenue around St. Charles Place. It's about 1 1/2 miles from one end of Virginia-Highland to the other, but it's a nice walk, and there are cafes where you can stop and take a break. For lunch, try Murphy's. If you have limited time to browse, go straight to the intersection of North Highland and Virginia avenues and take in the stores there. This area is accessible by MARTA through the Five Points station.
I Scream for Ice Cream -- If you happen to be in the Virginia-Highland shopping district in the afternoon or evening, stop in for an authentic Italian gelato at the funky Paolo's Gelato Italiano, 1025 Virginia Ave. NE. The place is open during Monday through Thursday 1 to 10pm, Friday from noon to 11pm, Saturday noon to 11:30pm, Sunday noon to 10pm. Its winter hours (Nov-Mar) are the same, but Monday to Wednesday they're open 4 to 10pm. Also in the area, Cold Stone Creamery, 231 18th St. NW (and 13 other metro Atlanta locations), limits its flavors only by your imagination, as you get to choose your ice-cream flavor as well as dozens of delicacies that are mixed in on a cold marble slab (hence the name). If you're not feeling creative, choose from the shop's own combinations, including Chocolate Devotion, Birthday Cake Remix, and Cookie Minster. Open daily from 11am to 11pm. Shoppers can enjoy another favorite, Jake's Ice Cream, located in the Irwin Street Market at 660 Irwin St. Belly up to the ice cream bar for fun flavors such as Brown Shugah Vanilla and Mexican Hot Chocolate. Jake's is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11am to 9pm.
A Little Bit of Italy in Atlanta -- A local chef's love of all things Italian has resulted in one of the country's hottest gourmet food lines. Bella Cucina Artful Food sells handmade pesto -- one of which is highly regarded by none other than Oprah Winfrey -- and fresh pasta sauces, coarse-grain and honey mustards, and fruit preserves prepared with farm produce and beautifully packaged right here in Atlanta. Now you can buy the stuff at the company's retail store, Bella Cucina, 1050 N. Highland Ave. (tel. 404/347-6476; www.bellacucina.com; MARTA: Civic Center).
The West Side
If you want to end your shopping day with dinner at Bacchanalia, be sure to call well in advance for reservations. You can, however, grab a quick lunch at Taqueria del Sol.
To reach the West Side, take I-75/85 from downtown, exit at 14th Street, take 14th Street west to Howell Mill Road, turn right, and go to the intersection of Howell Mill and Huff roads. Don't miss the additional stores on Foster Street, about a block down Huff Road, but note that the artists' studios at the end of the street are not open to the public. (And please don't feed the goats and chickens grazing in front of the studios.) Take MARTA to the Arts Center station to reach this area.
Stone Mountain Village
Stone Mountain Village, just outside the West Gate of Stone Mountain Park (bounded by Second and Main sts. north and south, Lucille St. and Memorial Dr. east and west; tel. 770/879-4971; www.stonemountainvillage.com), is worth a visit. This has been a shopping area since the 1800s, and many of the shops are housed in historic buildings. Antiques, crafts, and collectibles are among the most popular merchandise here, so this is the place to stock up on country furniture, imported toys, dolls, baskets, homemade jams, handmade patchwork quilts and quilting fabrics, handcrafted dulcimers, Civil War memorabilia, and out-of-print books. Hours for most shops are Monday through Saturday from 10am to 6pm; many are also open Sunday from 1 to 5pm. Parking is free at several lots in town.
It's great fun to wander around this quaint village, and there's usually some festive event going on -- an arts-and-crafts fair, live entertainment, and so on. During the Christmas season, the streets are candlelit and the village becomes a magical place populated by St. Nick, elves, carolers, and harpists. Be sure to stop by the Village Visitor Center, housed in a restored 1915 caboose at the corner of Main and Poole streets, to find out about special sales and events. It's open Monday through Saturday from 10am to 4pm, Sunday from 1 to 4pm.
Stop for a meal at the nearby Village Corner Bakery, Tavern, and German Restaurant, 6655 Memorial Dr., at Main Street (tel. 770/498-0329). For breakfast, there are croissants, German apple pancakes, and ham-and-egg platters with homemade biscuits. At lunch, you can chow down on sandwiches, salads, quiche, soups, and home-baked desserts. And the dinner menu features German specialties such as Wiener schnitzel and sauerbraten. Wash it all down with one of the restaurant's German-style beers. The restaurant is open Tuesday through Thursday from 9am to 11pm, Friday 9am to midnight, Saturday 8am to 10pm, and Sunday from 10am to 9pm.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.