This is a city that sizzles after dark, with numerous music clubs featuring jazz, rock, country, and blues, plus a comprehensive cultural scene that includes symphony, ballet, opera, and theater productions. If that's not enough, major artists headline regularly at Atlanta's many large-scale performance venues.
Nightlife turns up all over Atlanta, but the biggest concentration of clubs and bars is in Buckhead (near the intersection of Peachtree and E. Paces Ferry roads); in Virginia-Highland (at the intersection of Virginia and N. Highland aves., and on N. Highland just north of Ponce de Leon Ave.); in Little Five Points (near the intersection of Moreland and Euclid aves.); and downtown near Peachtree Center.
The Buckhead scene is often like a huge, unruly fraternity party, with lots of people and cars cruising the streets. It gets rowdier as the night goes on, and has been marked by violence on several occasions. Scores of complaints from area residents led the Atlanta Police Department to close a couple of roads in the Buckhead area every Friday and Saturday night to discourage some of the cruising. Traffic jams and things have been improving ever since. Virginia-Highland is full of upper-20- and 30-somethings and professionals. Little Five Points is an eclectic mix of wildly, weirdly dressed folks and neighborhood regulars. Downtown hosts many out-of-town visitors and conventiongoers.
To find out what's going on during your stay, consult The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Its "Access Atlanta" section, published every Thursday, highlights movies, plays, festivals, gallery openings, and other happenings for the upcoming weekend. There's also an extensive listing of live music. A calendar of events is published other days of the week, but it's not as complete. The newspaper's website at www.ajc.com allows you to access a week's worth of newspaper features, including the events calendar and "Access Atlanta."
A free newspaper called Creative Loafing, available at hundreds of locations around town (hotels, restaurants, shops, MARTA stations, sidewalk stands, and so on), lists numerous events and has special sections for "Gay and Lesbian Activities" and "Singles." Visit its website at www.creativeloafing.com, or call tel. 800/950-5623 to get a copy of the paper before you visit.
It's often possible to purchase tickets directly from the box office where the event is taking place. In addition, tickets to many performances are sold by Ticketmaster -- call tel. 404/249-6400 (for large performances) or tel. 404/817-8700 (for smaller cultural events) to charge by phone. Online, you can reserve tickets at www.ticketmaster.com. Ticketmaster has more than 100 locations throughout Georgia, including all Publix Supermarkets, where customers can purchase tickets in person, though they must be paid for in cash. If you're staying in a large hotel, your concierge service will usually be able to obtain tickets to even the most popular events.
Day-of-show half-price tickets are available at the AtlanTIX! ticket booth at the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau in Underground Atlanta and at Lenox Square. Customers can see which plays and other live performances have tickets available that day, purchase a voucher for the show, and pick up the ticket at the show's box office before curtain time. Vouchers must be paid for in person; phone sales are not available. Call tel. 404/588-9890, or visit www.atlantaperforms.com for more information.
A quick point before you head out: Forbes magazine has listed Atlanta as the number-one city for singles, noting the city's "hopping nightlife" as one of the highlights, so get out there and groove.
A word of warning, however: Atlanta's nightclubs are frequently gone with the wind with no prior notice whatsoever, so call ahead to make sure your planned destination is still in business.
The Alliance Theatre Company is the major theater company in Atlanta, but there are many other excellent companies with performances ranging from experimental to classic. Most are located near downtown and Midtown, but there are a number in the suburbs. Some of the notables include Actor's Express (tel. 404/607-7469; www.actors-express.com), Ansley Park Playhouse (tel. 404/875-1193; www.ansleyparkplayhouse.com), Dad's Garage Theatre Company (tel. 404/523-3141; www.dadsgarage.com), Horizon Theatre Company (tel. 404/584-7450; www.horizontheatre.com), Theatre Decatur (tel. 404/373-5311), 7 Stages Theatre (tel. 404/523-7647; www.7stages.org), the New American Shakespeare Tavern (tel. 404/874-5299; www.shakespearetavern.com), Theatre Gael (tel. 404/876-1138), Theatre in the Square (tel. 770/422-8369; www.theatreinthesquare.com), and Theatrical Outfit (tel. 678/528-1500; www.theatricaloutfit.org). Check the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Thursday to see what's on during your visit. There are also performances by the Georgia Shakespeare Festival (tel. 404/264-0020; www.gashakespeare.org) each summer and fall.
Major Entertainment Venues
In addition to the venues listed, many stadiums host major concerts from time to time. These include the Alexander Memorial Coliseum and Bobby Dodd Stadium at Grant Field at Georgia Tech, Road Atlanta, Philips Arena, and the Georgia Dome.
The Club & Music Scene
Nightclubs come and go, so it's always a good idea to call ahead. Most clubs are open until 2, 3, or even 4am.
The Bar Scene
In addition to the neighborhood establishments listed, there are some excellent bars in the major hotels, many of them mellow enough for conversation. Two of the best are the Lobby Lounge at the Ritz-Carlton Buckhead, 3434 Peachtree Rd. (tel. 404/237-2700; MARTA: Peachtree Center), and Park 75 Lounge at the Four Seasons Hotel, 75 14th St., in Midtown (tel. 404/253-3840; MARTA: Arts Center). The Sun Dial Restaurant, Bar & View, high atop the Westin Peachtree Plaza, 210 Peachtree St. (tel. 404/589-7506; MARTA: Peachtree Center), and A Point of View at Nikolai's Roof, at the Hilton Atlanta, 255 Courtland St. (tel. 404/221-6362; MARTA: Peachtree Center), have spectacular views of the city skyline. None of the places has a cover charge unless otherwise stated.
Martinis & IMAX, Anyone?
For a different kind of action, check out Martinis & IMAX, a Friday-night event for grown-ups that's held January through November at the Fernbank Museum of Natural History. From 6:30 to 11pm, enjoy a martini or other cocktail, have dinner, watch the films, and listen to a jazz group starting at 6:30pm. To reserve tickets, call tel. 404/929-6400. There is a $7 cover after 6:30pm for nonmembers who do not purchase IMAX or special-exhibition tickets. Martinis & IMAX tickets, which included admission to the IMAX Theatre, are $12 for adults, $11 for students and seniors, and $7 for members.
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.