People Walking in a Shopping Plaza

How to maximize your experience at 3 Atlanta entertainment districts

Some consider these developments hallmarks of the city. Here’s what to know if you plan to visit.

Ask any ATL native how much the city has changed over the years, and you’re probably in for a half-hour rant. Fellow residents have likely noticed the emergence of large-scale developments offering trendy restaurants, retail storefronts, office space, and concert venues in up-and-coming areas of Atlanta. Now, some believe these mixed-use spaces are hallmarks of the city.

With all the new offerings, it can be intimidating to determine how to navigate each of them. This guide takes you through everything you need to know — from the restaurants worth visiting to the parking situations you’ll find — to maximize your experience at three entertainment districts. 

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Ponce City Market (PCM)

Let’s start where every tourist begins: Ponce City Market. Sure, major construction can block views of the city, but the iconic neon signs and unique spots keep drawing visitors back. 

Parking: PCM offers reasonably priced spots on the deck at $2.60 per hour. Street parking is an option if you’re not opposed to searching and then walking down Ponce de Leon Avenue. 

Food & Beverage:  Depending on your vibe, the PCM food hall can be a cuisine wonderland or completely overwhelming. For a standout option, try one Minero’s burritos, loaded with white rice, beans, Oaxaca cheese, crema, poblano peppers, cabbage, cilantro, salsa verde, and avocado. Did we mention they toast the burrito in cheese, creating an irresistible crispy exterior?

For those looking for a luxury lounge experience, the exclusive 12 Cocktail Bar fits the bill. Its craft cocktails, such as the Oaxacan smash featuring Siete Misterios Mezcal, lemon, lime, blueberry, passion fruit, and orange, are sure to impress. Get there before the 5 p.m. opening each day, or make a reservation before your next date night! 

Retail: PCM is home to many big-name retailers like Allbirds, Casper Mattress, and Atlanta’s only Glossier storefront (one of only 11 worldwide). Whether you’re in the mood to splurge or window shop, it’s undoubtedly a fun opportunity to experience online-first brands in their brick-and-mortar store. 

The Krog District

Let’s head south to The Krog District, a fascinating piece of Atlanta’s history, named after notable resident Frederick Krog. It’s been going strong since its redevelopment in 2004, with new additions and old favorites among the ever-expanding mix. 

Parking: The Krog District offers surface lot and garage parking options starting at $4 per hour on weekdays and $6 per hour on weekends (beginning Fridays at 5:30 p.m.).

Food & Beverage: You’ll find two restaurants here that have earned the Bib Gourmand honor in the Michelin Guide. First, there’s the intimate Ticonderoga Club — where you’ll want to opt for a reservation when (and if) you can. The Club rotates seasonal standout entrees, including the catch of the day, served alongside Carnaroli risotto, red grapefruit, parmesan, and fresh chives.

For a more casual spot, Fred’s Meat and Bread offers unbeatable food at a reasonable price. Sample tried-and-true sandwiches like the classic parm and tuna melt, or opt for eclectic creations like the “almost vegetarian” cauliflower and eggplant banh mi. It features pickled carrot, daikon, spicy mayo, jalapeno, cilantro, and a Thai vinaigrette. 

For a nightcap, walk to Brewdog or Pour Taproom, breweries with ample space and plenty of hops.

Retail: The Krog District boasts many unique storefronts as well, including Outdoor Voices, Patagonia, Xocolatl Small Batch Chocolate, and at least a dozen other highly recommended retail spots to hit up. 

The Battery Atlanta

Braves fans are likely familiar with The Battery, which includes Truist Park, home of the Atlanta Braves. In addition to food and drinks, concertgoers also flock to The Coca-Cola Roxy, which features notable comedians, musicians, and other performers. 

Parking: Great news! Self-parking is complimentary at the battery for the first three hours on the red, green, yellow, and purple decks. Not such good news: Event-day parking has a fairly complicated set of new rules. Uber or Lyft may be your best bet.

Food & Beverage: Crowds visit for sports and beer, and those are truly the standout draws. However, Antico Pizza Napoletana and elevated Tex-Mex eatery Superica are excellent choices if you’re seeking a full meal. Regarding drinks, there’s no lack of beer (think $12 tall boys) in every corner. Try Terrapin Taproom for an ice-cold Luau Krunkles POG, a hazy IPA with tropical aromas.

Retail: There’s no lack of Braves swag available, with two different storefronts selling team merch. 

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Shopper browsing items in a small antique shop

These are the far-reaching effects when you shop locally

In honor of Small Business Saturday, we explore how local communities thrive when shoppers support area entrepreneurs.

Sandwiched between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday on Nov. 25 will celebrate its 13th year, benefiting both shops and shoppers. But “buy local” is more than a nice slogan — and is important for the local economy throughout the year whenever you support local businesses. 

This is especially true in DFW, which leads the nation for both small business employment growth and wage earnings growth among U.S. metro areas, according to the Small Business Employment Watch report from Paychex and HIS Markit.

If you need to check people off your holiday shopping list, read on to learn how shopping at small businesses in Dallas can make a big difference for all.  

Building vibrant economies

Small businesses play a crucial role in the nation’s economic landscape, making up nearly half of the American workforce. 

Texas small business employment grew by 47.7% between 1995 and 2019. This surpassed the national small business employment growth rate, according to a recent study by the Small Business Administration. And minority-owned businesses accounted for 20.4% of all businesses in the state in 2021, helping to create a more robust economic engine for all.

Dallas alone is home to 59,000 of the state’s small businesses. Supporting them has far-reaching positive effects. Local businesses are also more inclined to reinvest their earnings within the community, fostering economic growth and stability throughout neighborhoods. 

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A busy outdoor market for small businesses.

One example of this phenomenon happens at Kettle Art in Deep Ellum, owned by Frank Campagna since 2005. The area will have two events on Small Business Saturday, the Sugarplum Stroll during the day and the Dallas Mimosa Walk in the evening. “These events directly benefit the gallery and other neighborhood businesses,” Campagna said.

“When we have an opening or wine walk, people will wander off the street,” he said. “Because of the nature of my business, we’ve got stuff from $5 to $4,000 — all you have to do is break out your wallet and people do.”

By patronizing small businesses, shoppers help build a more vibrant and sustainable local economy at a neighborhood level as well as citywide. 

Small Business Saturday and, more generally, the holiday season is essential for a healthy year for many shops. The extra hours can help employees, too. 

“It’s huge for us — it’s our busiest time of the year for sure, and we’re putting out things we’ve been buying all year, like vintage holiday-related merchandise,” said Jason Cohen, owner of Curiosities Antiques in East Dallas. He added that they increase the number of part-time employees to meet seasonal demand. 

Creating a distinctive vibe

Shopping locally helps build a unique culture both in neighborhoods and cities. Small businesses are often the ones that organize community events and support local charities. They are also the ones that build a neighborhood’s character.

“Customers choose to shop at Curiosities Antiques because what they offer is anything but ordinary,” said Cohen.

“We embrace being a store that focuses on unique merchandise and offers interesting finds, things they won’t find in other places,” he said. “We are 100% independent and have always strived to be different from big-box stores.” 

Campagna reflected on shopping small and his hopes.

“I really wish people would do more [with small businesses]. I tend to think they spend more money at NorthPark than Deep Ellum,” he said. “To support local here means you’re getting stuff you won’t find anywhere else. And not just in my gallery – it’s happening in all of the shops around here. It supports them all.”

Tips for shopping locally on Small Business Saturday:

  • Make a plan for the places you want to visit. Find a local gem right by you to shop on Small Business Saturday or any time of the year. 
  • Make a list. Do you need holiday gifts for the upcoming season? Think about everyone on your shopping list and note the kinds of places that can offer them something unique this year.
  • Leave a review. If you found something you wanted or received great service, a good review can help raise interest and trust in local businesses.
  • Share your experience on social media. Let your friends and followers know about the great places you’re supporting on Small Business Saturday.

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Man Standing in a Pottery Store Browsing Goods

See how small businesses are a big win for Atlanta — and for shoppers

Small businesses are an economic powerhouse for communities, but they’re also the best way to shop.

On Nov. 25, Small Business Saturday will mark its 13th year, encouraging consumers to support independent retailers and “shop small” for products and services during holidays and throughout the year. In 2022, the event contributed $17.9 billion to local shops, restaurants, boutiques, and businesses throughout the U.S. 

The ripple effects of shopping locally can be tremendous for area small business owners, which are a growing and vital part of the Georgia economy. When it comes to entrepreneurship, the state continues to smash records. In 2022, there were approximately 274,000 new business formations, according to the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office. Among these enterprises, many are small business owners, which employ 1.7 employees in the state. In fact, 99.6% of the businesses in Georgia are small, according to the University of Georgia

While thinking through your holiday shopping needs, read on to learn how shopping small can make a big difference for entire communities in Atlanta. 

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Supporting local businesses helps communities, creators, and shoppers

“Supporting a small business keeps money in the local economy, lowers your carbon footprint, and allows for a much more customer-focused buying experience,” says Lynne Tanzer, small business owner and current interim executive director at the Atlanta Contemporary.  “Shopping small, local, or handmade sparks our imagination and creativity. People don’t buy things; they buy stories and experiences.” 

Tanzer has been a gift shop curator at the museum for over two years after gaining valuable experience and building relationships in the local arts community. During her tenure, she has prioritized showcasing pieces from local artists in the museum’s collection, allowing visitors to connect with the gift shop items on a more personal level. 

”If you purchase a mug at a big-box store, you’re buying a vessel for a beverage. If you buy a hand-thrown mug at the shop, made by a girl named Britni, decorated in a glaze that she developed at her art practice, you have an experience every time you use it,” she says.

With a steady influx of new residents and visitors, Atlanta has seen unprecedented opportunities for entrepreneurs to deliver their products to new audiences. Local business owners are capitalizing on the opportunity with a style that’s all ATL — and leads with the customer in mind.

“The entrepreneurs in Atlanta are unique because they aren’t afraid to take risks, are generous with their time, and genuinely care about their customers,” says Tanzer.

Older Man in a Bakery Preparing Loaves of Bread

How to support small businesses now and throughout the year

For those who want to contribute to the thriving small-business scene, there are plenty of ways to offer your support.

  • Find places near your home to frequent for gifts and everyday needs. Visit the directory of small businesses around you and find shops that you may frequent time and time again. While visiting a local bakery or record store is important, you may also find an automotive repair shop or family-owned restaurant that you may come to depend on. 
  • Leave a good review. Small businesses rely on their good reputations to help earn trust and gain visibility in the area. If you visit a local small business, leave a great review and be explicit about what you enjoyed — from stellar customer service to a favorite new product. 
  • Engage online. Social media is another critical marketplace for business owners. Likes, shares, and comments will elevate their digital profile and even introduce new customers.
  • Refer your friends. Even today, word-of-mouth references are one of the most effective ways to help small businesses. Tell your friends, family, and coworkers about a good experience when you have one. That kind of personal touch greatly influences where others decide to shop. 

Tazner agrees that every little bit counts. 

“No one does a community like Atlanta. Everyone is so supportive and welcoming,” says Tanzer. “When I started my PR company, 3 Magpies Creative, I was nervous I wouldn’t have enough work. My clients told their networks about my services, and my business flourished because of the direct marketing to the people who were my ideal clients.” 

“Most everyone I’ve encountered in Atlanta is making the things they wish existed in the world and finding like-minded people to share in their excitement,” says Tanzer. 

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