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Go inside the worlds of art, fashion, design, and lifestyle.

SCAD Paula WallaceSCAD Paula Wallace
SCAD President and Founder Paula Wallace
Courtesy of SCAD
Insiders Atlanta

Paula Wallace

President and Founder, SCAD


Welcome to Atlanta, Georgia, our big, brilliant metropolis of perfect paradox: historic, future-minded, easygoing, entrepreneurial, absolutely cosmopolitan, unapologetically Southern, the hippest and friendliest place on Earth. From the sidewalks of Peachtree, we are a city of glass and steel and design shooting up into the sky, and from the air, you'll see why they call us the City in a Forest.

In Atlanta, imagination grows in the ground. To dig into the contemporary art scene, start at Anne Irwin Fine Art in Miami Circle and then make your way south to Spalding Nix and MINT—all three featuring a trove of Georgia and international artists. At Midtown, new collectors and mavens alike absolutely must visit SCAD Art Sales, featuring the work of new and established artists, and if you're lucky enough to score tickets to an Atlanta United soccer game at Mercedes Benz Stadium, you can also enjoy the MBS Stadium Art Collection curated by SCAD, featuring more than 180 monumental works.

Spend your halcyon days en plein air at dozens of public parks, including one dear to my heart, Adams Park in southwest Atlanta, my childhood haven and an icon of early 20th-century landscape design on the National Register of Historic Places. McClatchey Park in Midtown is a favorite spot for a stroll in gorgeous weather, with tennis courts and plenty of room for children to run and explore.

The newest playground for people of every age is the Atlanta Beltline, a linear park running through the very heart of the city. Start on the Eastside Trail, which runs two miles from Piedmont Park south to Inman Park. Bring your doggos and bikes and Onewheels and run, ride, stroll, skate, shop, eat, and people-watch up and down this reimagined railbed. If public art is your jam, slide over to East Atlanta and take a street art scavenger hunt. For the bookish, the Ivy Hall Writers Series at SCADshow in Midtown is the place to catch the world's greatest authors on tour.

Our city's architecture defies easy labels, from the stately Philip Johnson-design towers on Peachtree, right across from the striking Moorish design of the historic Fox Theatre. For lesser-known design inspo, behold The Villa in Ansley Park, an Italian Renaissance apartment building designed in 1920 by Philip Trammell Shutze. (Those who've spent time in the Eternal City might recognize the Villa's façade as quite similar to Rome's Church of St. Cecilia.) A few miles north, check out the Buckhead Library, a contemporary delight of fish-scale façades and cantilevered canopies created in 1990 by Scogin Elam Architects.

Two of my favorite Atlanta boutiques are Caroline Ruder's studio, Caroline Ann., home to vibrant, flowing fashions (think colorful, swishy dresses with statement sleeves), and Wish, Lauren Amos's shop that pairs international style with limited-edition footwear. I relish the scents and artful floral arrangements at Le Jardin Français at Westside Provisions District and absolutely love to wander through the linen shop Kathryn Leach Home while waiting on takeout from Henri's Bakery and Cafe.

La Grotta is an Atlanta institution of fine, casual Italian dining—Chef Antonio Abizanda has been in the kitchen since 1978, the same year SCAD was born. The restaurant is tucked away in the canopied garden level of a Buckhead apartment building: a perfectly hidden oasis in the city. French steakhouse Marcel and the terrace dining at La Coloniel never disappoint, and I've quickly become a fan of the small plates at Ruby Chows in the Old Fourth Ward. For breakfast and lunch, try Anis Café and Bistro for a petit piece of Provence, and for the freshest grain bowls, head to Upbeet. East Pole Coffee Co. makes an oat milk latte with a loyal following across the city.

Where else to wander? Scott's Antique Market, a city institution, is open monthly, and Foxglove Antiques offers an endless array of not-to-be-missed treasures. Early in my career as an educator, I loved taking my young students to observe the blacksmithing and cooking demos at the Atlanta History Center's Tullie Smith Farm to learn about life in 19th century Georgia. For a taste of 21st-century Georgia, head to Buford Highway, arguably the most multicultural strip of road in the Southeastern U.S., home to Sichuan, Sinoloan, Indonesian, and Ethiopian cuisine and markets that might otherwise require a passport.

Ours is a city of invention and reinvention—Atlanta's motto is Resurgens, to rise and renew—where the place and its people never stop surprising with their creativity, their vitality, and their unfailing love for the new. However long you're here, don't be surprised to find yourself discovering the new in you, too.

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