Our weekend trip to Virginia-Highland in Atlanta

31 January 2022

One of my (informal) goals for 2022 is to post more promptly after we return from an adventure. The memories are fresher, the details are more crisp, and I’m better able to convey what we loved from our time away (and, if necessary, what could have used a little tweaking). That being said, I’ve still got a few 2021 trips to share before we dive into 2022 fare. Today’s recap: our weekend in Virginia-Highland, an adorable neighborhood of Atlanta!

Virginia-Highland was our stopover on the way home from our week in WaterColor, Florida. It’s about an 11-hour drive between 30A and the Triangle, and Atlanta is situated nicely in between, so we opted to stop over there both on the way down and on the way back. We chose Virginia-Highland because I had heard it had cute houses (can affirm: houses are very cute) and because it was centrally located to our main attraction: the Atlanta Aquarium!

We spent two nights in Virginia-Highland and absolutely loved it – John and I agreed it’s where we’d choose to live if we moved to Atlanta and money were no object, ha! Shall we take a look?

As with our stopover in Decatur, we hoped to live like locals during our time in VaHi, even if just for a short two days – and it did really feel that way! John carefully chose an Airbnb on a quiet street just a few blocks from the restaurants and shops in the center of town; we left the car parked for the most part and walked in on the sidewalks whenever we needed to. The house itself was adorable and sparkling clean – highly recommend! June and Shep shared a room with a bunkbed and they loved climbing all over it with various stuffed animals and vehicles in every spare moment. Here’s our Airbnb, complete with generous front porch:

We arrived on Friday afternoon and, after settling in, walked right over to VaHi Corner (as the center is known) for dinner at Farm Burger. The walk took about 10 minutes and stretching our legs was such a treat after the long drive from Florida! And Farm Burger was delicious! As the name suggests, the burgers are farm-to-table-esque, and they also have yummy fries, salads, and milkshakes (as you saw in Sheptember!). It was busy on a Friday night and filled with young families with strollers – we felt right at home :)

The next morning, we woke up and walked back downtown for sweet treats from Doughnut Dollies. Listen: I love donuts, but I am usually not here for the glamour variety (after a particularly poor experience at a Nashville institution that was all influencer good looks and no real substance). But these doughnuts, despite their excellent branding, were delicious. The four of us sampled several different varieties (they have monthly specials and some staples!) and each one felt special and thoughtfully-made.

After a quick walk back to the house, we hopped in the car and made the short drive to the Georgia Aquarium! We had hyped the aquarium big-time in the lead-up to the first iteration of this trip (scheduled for spring break 2020, whomp whomp), and months later, June was still talking about how we were supposed to go but didn’t, ha. Thankfully, we were able to transfer our spring 2020 tickets to fall 2021, and we were all excited to make our long-awaited visit!

The dolphin show alone was worth the price of admission to me – it was SO COOL, and very fun for the kids. The giant Ocean Voyager tank, filled with manta rays, whale sharks, and colorful fish, was also mesmerizing and beautiful. That being said, we only stayed about two hours – it was pretty crowded, and we had a grumpy two-month-old on our hands.

By the time we left the aquarium, we had not only a hungry baby on our hands, but an entire hungry family. Lest you think every moment of every trip in the Thomas family is perfectly planned – it is not :) We had left this part of our itinerary flexible, assuming that since we were in mid-town it would be easy to find something to eat… but it turns out the area around the aquarium is a bit of a restaurant desert.

After a quick walk through Centennial Park and turning the kids loose on the park playground while we Googled lunch options like mad, we eventually ended up driving to a Mexican restaurant near a BeltLine entrance. The food was fine, but we were mostly happy to have easy access to the iconic city-wide path. We walked for a half-mile or so near the Atlanta Botanical Garden, and though we didn’t pay the admission fee, were able to glimpse a gorgeous art installation through the trees and arching over the path. It was magical. On a return visit, I’d love to go in – I hear they have a great kids area!

After a long day exploring, we headed back to Virginia-Highland and picked up a pizza and pasta takeout dinner from Osteria 832 to eat at our Airbnb (yum!). The next morning, we grabbed bagel sandwiches, pastries, and smoothies from Press and Grind before hopping in the car for the last leg of our road trip. FYI, there’s a Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit location right next to Doughnut Dollies, but I was outvoted :)

There’s so much to explore in a city like Atlanta, but we were glad we kept our radius pretty tight. It made for a fun, easy, and memorable visit – and left plenty to see next time! :)

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January 31, 2022 8:48 am

Love seeing such a fun weekend in my hometown! We sure love it here and but your point about money being no object to live in Va Hi is spot on. It’s such a gorgeous neighborhood and amazing location!

January 31, 2022 7:18 pm

I always love your recaps! Bookmarking this for whenever we go back to Atlanta. We spontaneously spent 5 days there a couple of years ago when we had to evacuate for a hurricane and it turned out to be so much fun! We had an AirBnb close to the BeltLine and we also somewhat felt like locals :) The aquarium was a huge hit with our kids, too! They still talk about the whale sharks and dolphins!