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A neighbourhood guide to Virginia-Highland
If you’re looking for a quaint neighbourhood in which to take a stroll, hang out in Virginia-Highland. Often nicknamed “VaHi” or “Highlands”, this buzzing district is located just a few miles from the heart of downtown Atlanta, and a short distance from Midtown’s popular Piedmont Park.
Developed in the early 1900s, the picturesque enclave features renovated bungalows and “McMansions” on meandering streets, hidden among inviting pocket parks. North Highland Avenue, the main thoroughfare, is lined with shops and restaurants nearly all the way to the intersection of Virginia Avenue (the intersection that is the community’s namesake), where benches invite patrons to sit and enjoy afternoon treats from local businesses.
Don’t miss the gelato at Paolo’s where flavours range from Limoncello and lychee to green tea and Nutella. Cacao Atlanta Chocolate Co. is also a must-stop for those with a sweet tooth – the high quality chocolate comes in the form of creatively flavoured truffles and exquisite “Love Bars.”
Before dessert, sit down for a hearty meal at Murphy’s Restaurant, which serves a delightful weekend brunch (think crab cake Benedict and Georgia white shrimp and grits) as well as lunch and dinner. You can also stop by for one of the restaurant’s wine tastings and pick up a favourite vintage in the well-curated wine shop.
For a bite of the Far East, Surin of Thailand and Mali Restaurant are two favourites that blend sushi with authentic Thai cuisine. A killer margarita and tasty taco can be had at The Original El Taco where you might arrive in time for a prize off the spinning Wheel of Taco. From upscale Italian and sustainable seafood to laid-back burgers and beer, you can find it all in the Virginia-Highland neighbourhood.
When you’re all fuelled up, tackle the numerous designer clothing boutiques and specialty home stores nearby. As well as picking up clothes and accessories from a number of independent shops, visit Half Moon Outfitters to check out the paddleboard selection, latest in outdoor fashions and camping gear. You can also pack your shopping bags with stationary from Paper Source and dog treats from Highland Pet Supply.
When the sun dips below the horizon, pedestrian-friendly Virginia-Highland attracts bar hoppers – from college students to young professionals – slinging beers at the popular mainstay Atkins Park and nearby Dark Horse Tavern. Listen to blues at Blind Willies or acoustic guitar, folk and rock n’ roll at Irish pub Limerick Junction. Virginia-Highland also plays host to numerous events throughout the year, one of the most popular being Summerfest, when crowds gather to enjoy art, food and live music.
Written by Giannina Smith Bedford