By Tom Lally

I’ve just returned from five days in Atlanta with my father, sister, and brother.  I’ve only ever been through the airport before, so this was my first time actually visiting the city, and I really enjoyed it.

Although it wasn’t why we selected Atlanta for our trip, we do have family there, and we spent our first night visiting with one of our cousins, her husband, and their two year old daughter.  It was nice having their local expertise to rely on.  We shared our rough itinerary and they confirmed we weren’t headed for anything that would be best avoided.

After that we spent our first full day at Stone Mountain, a park just outside of Atlanta.  The “mountain” itself is not exactly what I think of when I hear that word and picture what we have here in New England – it’s really a giant rock with very little vegetation.  It rises 800 feet from the surrounding land, and there’s a mile long walking trail that takes you to the summit.  That walk was quite the workout and took almost an hour, but it was well worth it for the beautiful views of the surrounding area, including Atlanta in the distance.

We spent another day downtown, where a lot of things are conveniently within walking distance of each other.  Centennial Olympic Park is a beautiful park now, but it was also the site of a bombing during the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics.  We went to the Georgia Aquarium, one of the largest in the world, which is home to several of my favorite animal: penguins.  The Center for Civil and Human Rights was incredibly moving and poignant.  It had a heavy emphasis on Martin Luther King, Jr., who was born in Atlanta just a couple miles from the museum.

Another day was spent on the Silver Comet Trail, which goes for almost 100 miles before ending in Alabama.  We didn’t go nearly that far, and I’m glad we didn’t go any further – about 2 miles before returning to where we had parked and rented our bikes, it started to drizzle.  This quickly turned into a full rain and then a total downpour.  By the time we did arrive we were completely soaked.  Although to be dripping wet is much better when it’s almost 80 degrees, which is far warmer than what we would return to in Boston.  And no sooner had we gotten in the car than we were already joking about how that was something we would never forget.

Food is often a highlight of any day for me, and that is no less true on any trip, with an entire variety of new places and regional specialties to try.  We visited a huge farmer’s market in Decatur that had so many foods I had never even heard of, including more varieties of apple than I have ever seen.  We visited a few markets in the style of our own Quincy Market, though with a little more charm and a little less crowd.  My brother is vegan, so we hunted down a few spots around the city that cater to that diet, though with mixed results.  Mostly due to a particular doughnut shop which was closed both times we visited, despite their published hours.  But I count myself very lucky because that closed doughnut shop was just about the only thing that went wrong on the entire trip.

The author of this article is Tom Lally, Wealth Manager Assistant at U.S. Wealth Management.