One Trip, Two Cities: Atlanta and Lake Oconee
A Georgia getaway done right serves up small-town charm and big-city sophistication with a handsome side of Southern hospitality. Whether you seek resort luxury along the peaceful shores of Lake Oconee or cultural exploration in the bustling capital of Atlanta — just an hour’s all-highway drive separates the two — it’s easy to customize your Peach State experience.
Atlanta: Restaurant Eugene
Atlanta is full of top-notch eateries and star chefs, but Restaurant Eugene is always a favorite. This Buckhead fine-dining spot is the original restaurant from James Beard Award-winning chef Linton Hopkins, who has elevated Southern cuisine to an art form. While you can order à la carte from a small, ever-changing menu, the tasting menu with sommelier-selected pairings is the most memorable experience. Regional ingredients come alive in dishes such as north Georgia trout served with benne seed-studded broccoli and Meyer lemon confit, and Carolina Gold Rice pudding with persimmon sorbet. The cocktail menu runs to such fancies as the Doc Hopkins, made with a single-estate rye vodka, gin and Lillet Blanc. 2277 Peachtree Road, restauranteugene.com
Lake Oconee: Da Corrado Ristorante
Da Corrado Ristorante has been delighting locals and Georgia lake country visitors since it opened in 2010. Owner Corrado Corrias hails from Sardinia, Italy, and he, along with his wife, April (the pair met in Rome), have created a casual eatery that honors Italian culinary traditions while using local ingredients whenever possible. Italian purists will find plenty to love among ultra-fresh salads, rustic pasta dishes, wood-fired pizzas and hearty proteins, many of them made using Corrias family recipes. Casual atmosphere, a mostly Italian wine list and friendly service round out the experience. 1061 Village Park Drive, Greensboro, dacorradoristorante.com
Atlanta: Westside Provisions District
Atlanta has long been a shopping destination, but the tightly curated collection of boutiques, galleries and eateries in Westside Provisions District showcases some of its best. Built into a combination of repurposed historic structures and new construction, it’s easy to discover treasures as you wander. Fuel up with a locally roasted coffee at Brash (1168 Howell Mill Road, brashcoffee.com), built in a shipping container, before exploring. Stop in to find unexpected bottles at Perrine’s Wine Shop (1168 Howell Mill Road, Suite B, perrineswine.com) and handmade pottery at East Fork (1170 Howell Mill Road, Suite P12B, eastfork.com), the Asheville, North Carolina, company co-founded by the grandson of Henri Matisse.
Lake Oconee: Downtown Madison
Just 30 minutes northeast of Lake Oconee, Madison is a quaint Southern town founded in 1807, and its charming downtown is a favorite shopping destination for art and antique-seekers. The Madison Artists Guild (123 S. Main St., Madison, themadisonartistsguild.org) showcases works from its membership base of more than 100 local artists, Artisan’s Alley (199 W. Jefferson St., Madison, artisansalleymadison.com) offers striking Native American art and jewelry, and Madison Markets (144 Academy St., Madison, madisonmarkets.com), built in a collection of renovated cotton warehouses, is home to more than 75 antique and home décor dealers. Enjoy the sights as you drive: Downtown’s National Historic Register District is home to one of the state’s largest collections of 19th-century architecture.
Atlanta: Atlanta Botanical Garden
This lush, 30-acre oasis of calm might make you forget you’re in the middle of the state’s biggest city. Guests can choose what appeals most from a host of themed gardens and points of interest among the rambling grounds. There’s the impressive 600-foot Canopy Walk, a walkway suspended 40 feet high in a forest of towering trees. The indoor Fuqua Orchid Center is home to 2,000 exotic species, which have earned it the distinction of being the largest such collection in the United States. Be sure to explore the edible garden of native plants, search for glass sculptures by famed artist Dale Chihuly and stop for a bite at Longleaf, the fine-dining eatery on the grounds. 1345 Piedmont Ave., atlantabg.org
Lake Oconee: The Spa at The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee
Whether you’re sporting sore muscles from a vigorous round of golf or just want a hand slipping into full vacation mode, the recently expanded 27,600-square-foot spa at The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee can help you reach relaxation nirvana. In addition to customized massages, body treatments and nail services, the natural product line ESPA created signature facials to offer radiant results. For something you’ll only find here, The Georgian experience makes use of the region’s restorative red clay and antioxidant-rich magnolia and tea extracts, and the Oconee Rain treatment draws inspiration from the Creek Indians’ belief in the deeply healing power of water. 1 Lake Oconee Trail, ritzcarlton.com
Atlanta: New Realm Brewing Company
New Realm Brewing Company is a star among local beer success stories, including SweetWater Brewing Company, Orpheus and Urban Tree Cidery, thanks to its winning combination of atmosphere and flavor. The massive 20,000-square-foot facility overlooks the Atlanta BeltLine (a former railway corridor being developed into a trail) and features a 3,000-square-foot restaurant, rooftop patio and beer garden. Brewing legend Mitch Steele, formerly of San Diego’s Stone Brewery, wrote the book on IPAs (seriously, he’s the author of “IPA: Brewing Techniques, Recipes and the Evolution of India Pale Ale”), so you’ll want to sample his citrus-scented Hoplandia. 550 Somerset Terrace NE, Unit 101, newrealmbrewing.com
Lake Oconee: Oconee Brewing Co.
Greensboro may be home to just about 3,000 residents, but it’s become a destination for beer enthusiasts, thanks to Oconee Brewing Co. The 6,000-square-foot former mill warehouse where master brewer Taylor Lamm works his magic is open for tastings Thursday through Saturday. Be sure to sample the signature brew, Hey Man, an easy drinking blonde ale, as well as other favorites like Three One Thousand habanero pale ale, Bird in Barley coffee saison and a host of seasonal offerings. 202 N. West St., oconeebrewingco.com
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