Virginia-Highland

(Back to About Atlanta)

Places of Interest

Blind Willie's: one of Atlanta's most loved blues bars.
Callenwolde Fine Arts Center: a 1920 gothic-Tudor mansion, once the home of the president of Coca-Cola, now serving as a community fine arts center.
Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum: Designed by the noted Atlanta modernist Henri Jova, the museum showcases photographs and historical memorabilia from the Carter presidency. An exact replica of the Oval Office and gifts received by the Carters are also featured, along with temporary exhibitions.
Olmstead Linear Parks: Detour a few blocks further east of Highland Avenue, along Ponce de Leon Avenue, into the Druid Hills neighborhood to see its linear parks, designed by the firm of Frederick Law Olmstead in 1893. The parks are beautiful today, thanks not only to Olmstead's lasting design but also to a grassroots effort by the Olmstead Linear Park Association launched in 1997 and still enriching them.
The Paideia School: an independent preschool through high school on Ponce de Leon fronting one of the linear parks. The school occupies a cluster of repurposed original mansions and sensitive new structures.

Explore:

1. Neighborhood Vignette
2. Reasons to Visit
3. Neighborhood Map
4. Self-Guided Tour
5. Directions
6. Places to Eat
7. Links

1. Neighborhood Vignette:

The Virginia-Highland neighborhood is one of Atlanta's most popular spots for dining and shopping as well as running or walking the dog. Established in the early 1900's, the neighborhood developed along a trolley line. It prides itself on its independent restaurants, boutiques and nightspots that can be found in seven commercial clusters along the tree-lined North Highland Ave. Once a suburb of Atlanta, it maintains its neighborhood identity with a strong and very visible civic association as well as many annual local celebrations, such as Summerfest and the Virginia-Highland Civic Association holiday tour of "Va-Hi" homes each winter.

The Virginia-Highland neighborhood has its heart at the intersection of North Highland Ave. and Virginia Ave where visitors can find many of the restaurants, bars, and boutiques that the area is famous for. The neighborhood stretches north until one hits Amsterdam Ave and the neighborhood of Morningside and stretches to Ponce de Leon at the south, the border of the Poncey-Highland neighborhood. The seven distinctive and unique commercial districts stick mainly to the ample sidewalks of North Highland but one can wander for hours on the gridded road systems dotted with the homes of the trolley era to the west and east.

Go to top

2. Reasons to Visit:

The Virginia-Highland neighborhood is one of the most walkable in Atlanta. No matter the hour there tend to be people walking around the neighborhood's main thoroughfares of North Highland Ave and Virginia. Two of the busiest intersections —North Highland Ave. at Virginia Ave. and North Highland Ave. at Saint Charles Ave.— feature thriving commercial strips nurtured by the residential swaths around them.

The iconic curved roads at the intersection of North Highland and Virginia speak to the road's trolley line roots. Recently, this intersection was improved through the Virginia-Highland Civic Association's Streetscape II project. The historical curve of the road was redefined as a slip road with a pedestrian island closer to the stop light intersection. Information about this streetscape initiative as well as other traffic calming aims can be found at http://www.vahi.org.

The predominant housing type in Virginia-Highland is the bungalow, and interestingly while these have an enormous number of exterior treatments, the typical plan is six rooms in three pairs from front to back – with, of course, a front porch. Here and there among them you'll see small apartment houses, most of which date from the early years and fit in well (and some of which are unfortunate, featureless 1960's buildings). In recent years the area's desirability has prompted considerable renovation and expansion of many houses – with second stories added, for example – as well as some McMansion style infill. In fact, resistance to those inappropriate houses has led many people in Atlanta to consider infill a dirty word. The neighborhood has a number of small parks, and strong resident involvement in their maintenance and upgrading. The civic association was also able to purchase a long-vacant lot at one of the major commercial intersections. They currently are displaying plans for the new park on their civic association website.

This recent video features an interview with Pamela Papner, President of Virginia Highland Civic Association, focusing on recent developments in the historic neighborhood:


Video courtesy of Terminus Films

Go to top

3. Neighborhood Map:


View Virginia-Highland in a larger map

Go to top

4. Self Guided Tour:

Heading south from the intersection of North Highland Avenue and Lenox Road, the northern border of the Highlands area, visitors come to the first of four commercial strips. This first stop boasts a small collection of local restaurants and shops. Choose from the Oriental fusion of Doc Chey's Noodle House, Alon's European bakery, or a sip of wine at Highland Wine and Crystal. Work your way through the galleries and specialty shops, such as the Eclectic Electric Gallery, which showcases modern art with a glowing twist. On Saturdays, enjoy the modest Morningside Farmer's Market.

Continuing south along Highland Avenue, enjoy a half-mile stretch of one of Atlanta's most charming residential districts, which features a diverse showing of late 19th and early 20th century architecture. You can dip down any of the side roads in this area and wander past charming bits of history and easily find your way back to North Highland Ave.

As you approach Virginia Avenue and the neighborhood's namesake intersection, browse an array of boutiques featuring everything from folk art to high fashion. In warm weather, pause for a lemonade (or one of over 100 beers) on the patio at Taco Mac, which commands a bird's eye view of the busy intersection.

Continuing southward on Highland, another three blocks will land you in the area's busiest section. This strip is chock full of boutiques, bars and eateries that are packed with everything from trivia, sports watches, and karaoke. Of particular interest to music lovers is the diminutive blues bar Blind Willie's near Drewry Street.

Proceed south on Highland to the intersection of Ponce de Leon Avenue, location of the city's first auto-oriented strip shopping center, still thriving. Two blocks south is Manuel's Tavern, a venerable watering hole of journalists and City Hall denizens. Heated tavern debates have included such local heroes as Jimmy Carter, whose presidential library and museum is just another two blocks down the road, in Freedom Park.

Go to top

5. Directions:

Mass Transit:
MARTA Bus Lines:
From Downtown: Route #16 - Noble
From North Avenue MARTA Station: Route #2 - Ponce de Leon
From Midtown MARTA Station: Route #45 - Virginia/Highland
By Car:
From 75/85, Midtown, Downtown: Virginia Highland is located 5 minutes northeast of downtown Atlanta. From either Peachtree Street or the I-75/85 Connector, take 10th Street east several blocks to its end at Monroe Drive. Turn right on Monroe. At the first traffic light take a left on Virginia Avenue. Go to the second traffic light, Highland Avenue, the heart of Virginia Highland.

Walk: Not recommended to walk from the hotel.

Go to top

6. Places to Eat:

Blind Willie's (828 N. Highland Ave./ 404.873.2583) is one of Atlanta's most loved blues bars. After exploring the neighborhood, grab a barstool and order a beer while one of the regulars belts the blues.

Murphy's (997 Virginia Ave/ 404.872.0904) – This is a New American bistro and wine bar with an Irish streak. Murphy's boasts wine, baked goods, and a unique menu but is best loved for its brunch. (Organic Directory Listed)

San Francisco Coffee Roasting Co. (664 N. Highland Ave. & 1192 N. Highland Ave./ 404-876-8816) – San Francisco Coffee is a locally owned, independent coffee roasting company. They serve delicious coffee and specialty drinks along with house baked pastries and cakes.

Alon's Bakery (1394 N. Highland Ave./ 404-872-6000) – Alon's is Virginia- Highlands "from scratch" European Bakery and Market. Some of Atlanta's best bread, pastry, wine, and cheese selections along with diverse prepared meals make Alon's a neighborhood staple. Across the street every Saturday year-round, one can take part in the Morningside Farmer's market, which features local soaps, fruits, vegetables, meats and crafts as well as cooking demonstrations.

Belly General Store (772 N. Highland Avenue/ 404.872.1003) – Nestled near the heart of the Highlands, this is favorite stop for runners, bikers, and neighborhood strollers for breakfast and lunch. They offer homemade- and typically organic- bagels, sandwiches, cupcakes, preserves, and salads. (Organic Directory Listed)

La Tavola Trattoria (992 Virginia Ave / 404.873.5430) – Near the intersection of North Highland and Virginia, La Tavola is the Highland's favorite Italian trattoria. You can get a true taste of Italy in one of many the traditional pastas plates or the night's exciting specials. (Organic Directory Listed)

Pura Vida (656 N. Highland Ave./ 404.870.9797) – This local tapas bar and restaurant using fresh ingredients bought daily at local farmers markets. They offer a very diverse tapas menu, sampling traditions from both Latin America and Spain. (Organic Directory Listed)

George's Bar & Restaurant (1041 N. Highland Ave./ 404.892.3648) – Family owned and run since 1961, George's is regularly voted "Best Burger in Town" or the like by various magazines. They have a sizable list of burger options and toppings, including veggie burgers, along with a menu packed full of American pub favorites.

Everybody's Pizza (1040 N. Highland Ave/ 404.873.4545) - Established in 1971, this joint is an Atlanta staple for great pizza. Enjoy a pie with the whole family over a wide selection of imported beers.

Go to top

7. Links:

Virginia-Highland Neighborhood:
Neighborhoods near Virginia-Highland:Go to top
Back to About Atlanta