Travels

5 Days in Atlanta, Georgia: What to Do, Where to Eat | Travel Recap by Jordan Hefler

5 Days in Atlanta, Georgia: What to Do, Where to Eat | Travel Recap | Jordan Hefler

Last week I was able to travel to one of the coolest cities and spend a few days exploring what they had to offer... ATLANTA is awesome, y'all!

I was raised by southern parents in the southwest, but I currently live in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and have grown to really love and appreciate ~The South~ so much more in the past 10 or so years. Atlanta is probably one of the coolest places I've visited- it was the perfect hybrid of big city and charming Southern city, and I definitely fell in love.

I really want to thank everyone who commented on my Instagram post with suggestions of stuff to do! We got some great recommendations and this blog post is literally just a compilation of what all of you told us to try!

My boyfriend had a work convention in Atlanta, so I decided to tag along and we made it a long weekend getaway. For the most part, everything we did I would recommend. Bear with me as I type all of our experience out...this is not going to be a well written blog post, it'll be more like a play by play of what we did. If you want a comprehensive list scroll to the bottom and pin the ATL Bucket List image onto Pinterest!

Something I didn't know about Atlanta (and was surprised to find out) was just how STACKED their tourism opportunities were. We got the City Pass which was $76 and got us entry into the Georgia Aquarium (the largest aquarium in North America apparently) the World of Coca-Cola (which I didn't know Coca-Cola was based in ATL!) CNN Studios (also didn't know that was based in ATL) Zoo Atlanta (they are one of 4 places to see Pandas in the US!) and the College Football Hall of Fame. These were all HELLA touristy places, but still worth visiting and definitely a deal with the City Pass.

The first day we got there, we visited the original Chick-Fil-A location, which is called the "Dwarf House." Still don't really understand that, but anyways... it's a classic diner-style restaurant serving the original items that basically paved the way for what the Chick-Fil-A menu is today. We are dumb and went in the wrong door and just saw the normal Chick-Fil-A part, so we ordered that. Then we went around the corner and saw the OG diner and were like DANG IT. So make sure when you go, you sit at the diner part otherwise it's just a regular ol' Chick-Fil-A (I don't even like Chick-Fil-A so I was a little bummed that we didn't see the diner part first.)

Chick-Fil-A Dwarf House | Things to Do in Atlanta | Jordan Hefler
Chick-Fil-A Dwarf House | Things to Do in Atlanta | Jordan Hefler

We went to the Aquarium that evening because it was one of the few attractions we wanted to do that was open after 5pm. The Georgia Aquarium is pretty epic! We also ate at Antico Pizza which was recommended to us by plenty of people. Understandably so... it was some of the best pizza I've ever had! And it's BYOB (but we bought Peroni there.)

Dolphins at the Georgia Aquarium | Things to Do in Atlanta | Jordan Hefler
Penguins at the Georgia Aquarium | Things to Do in Atlanta | Jordan Hefler
Georgia Aquarium | Things to Do in Atlanta | Jordan Hefler
Jellyfish at the Georgia Aquarium | Things to Do in Atlanta | Jordan Hefler
Antico Pizza | Things to Do in Atlanta | Jordan Hefler
Antico Pizza | Things to Do in Atlanta | Jordan Hefler

The next day, Christian had work meetings all day so I hung around our hotel and worked. We ate dinner at the famous Varsity, which is currently the world's largest drive in restaurant and is SUPER nostalgic. It actually was celebrating 90 years of service that weekend! We then went to Monday Night Brewing, a really cool craft beer brewery and then went to the world famous Clermont Lounge (it's a no-frills, old school strip club that's been open since the 60's and is in the basement of the Clermont Motor Hotel.)

The Varsity | Places to Eat in Atlanta | Jordan Hefler
The Varsity | Things to Do in Atlanta | Jordan Hefler
The Varsity | Things to Do in Atlanta | Jordan Hefler
The Varsity | Things to Do in Atlanta | Jordan Hefler

The next morning we ate at The Silver Skillet, which is a famous old-school diner known for being in lots of movies and TV shows like Remember the Titans and Ozark. It was also on Diners Drive ins and Dives. I had amazing chicken and waffles here and then I had them again at another place on the trip (I love chicken and waffles y'all.)

The Silver Skillet | Breakfast Places in Atlanta | Jordan Hefler
The Silver Skillet | Breakfast Places in Atlanta | Jordan Hefler
The Silver Skillet | Breakfast Places in Atlanta | Jordan Hefler

We then spent almost the entire morning at The World of Coca-Cola which I thought was incredibly interesting and really well done. At the end you get to try over 100+ Coca-Cola products from around the world which was really cool!

World of Coca-Cola | Things to Do in Atlanta | Jordan Hefler
World of Coca-Cola | Things to See in Atlanta | Jordan Hefler
World of Coca-Cola | Things to Do in Atlanta | Jordan Hefler

After that we did the CNN Studio Tour, which I honestly thought was pretty dumb. It was probably actually the worst tour I've ever been on. You don't really get to see anything at all... so because it was included in our City Pass I was okay with it, but if we had paid separately to go I would have been furious. I would recommend walking by the studio and seeing the big CNN letters and maybe walking inside the whole complex because it's pretty impressive, but the tour legitimately didn't show us anything. The whole time we were just walking up and down stairs and being shown "replicas" of cameras and studio setups.

CNN Studios | Things to See in Atlanta | Jordan Hefler

We were able to snag $6 tickets to the Braves game that night which was in their BRAND NEW stadium complex. The Battery Atlanta is the name of the whole shopping and dining complex that's attached to SunTrust Park, where the Braves play. It was really great and full of brand new shops and restaurants! We actually ended up eating at this hole in the wall place on the way up there, and it was phenomenal. Heirloom Market BBQ was suggested on a lot of food lists we looked up, and it was literally a one room operation attached to a gas station market. This place had amazing Korean BBQ and hugeeee portions, so I'd definitely recommend making the trip up north to get it. It was really close to the Braves stadium too!

The Battery Atlanta at SunTrust Park | Braves Baseball Game | Things to Do in Atlanta | Jordan Hefler
Heirloom Market BBQ | Where to Eat in Atlanta | Jordan Hefler

LAWD this blog post is getting long, but if you didn't already notice we tried to cram a lot into our trip and I think we succeeded! The next day we spent most of the day at Zoo Atlanta, specifically to see the panda twins! They are currently 2 years old and it's rare to see pandas in the US. They're my favorite animal so we had to do it (and it was included in our City Pass!) That morning we ate at Thumbs Up Diner, and there was like a 2 hour wait. It was tasty, but definitely be prepared to wait as it's a hoppin place in the Old Fourth Ward, just blocks away from where Martin Luther King grew up and was a pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church. We definitely wanted to see all of that, so we did a little self-guided tour before we headed to the zoo.

Pandas at Zoo Atlanta | What to Do in Atlanta | Jordan Hefler
Pandas at Zoo Atlanta | Where to Go in Atlanta | Jordan Hefler
Ebenezer Baptist Church, Where Martin Luther King Jr. Preached | What To See In Atlanta | Jordan Hefler
The Birth Home of Martin Luther King Jr. | What To See In Atlanta | Jordan Hefler

After it started pouring down rain on us leaving the Zoo, we decided to go check out Ponce City Market to find some food. Y'ALL. This place is insane. It was originally the Sears building back in the day, and it was one of the largest buildings Sears had in the country. This massive brick building has been converted into a mall/food hall of sorts, complete with a rooftop carnival. We didn't get to see the rooftop because the weather was bad, but there were plenty of food and shopping options inside to keep us busy. We had some phenomenal Indian food at Bottiwalla inside, and then some cookie dough afterwards for dessert. I'd definitely recommend checking this place out because it's so unique (at least compared to what we have going on in Louisiana.)

Ponce City Market | Where to Visit in Atlanta | Jordan Hefler

That night we checked out the Sweetwater Brewery and did a tour there (we are big beer people, can you tell?) and then ate that night at The Vortex in Little Five Points, a really hip area that I wish we could have explored more. The Vortex was a cool spot and the food was ok in my opinion. But I'm not a gourmet burger kind of girl (probably would have rather had Whataburger or something, but the atmosphere was cool.)

Sweetwater Brewery | Where to Visit in Atlanta | Jordan Hefler
The Vortex, Little Five Points | Where to Visit in Atlanta | Jordan Hefler

The second half of our trip we were staying at an Airbnb in Inman Park, a historic suburb of ATL that was really charming. Our Airbnb was a dump, but that's a different story. I'd still recommend checking out the Inman Park area, as it was really close to Little Five Points and other cool parts of town.

Inman Park | Where to Stay in Atlanta | Jordan Hefler
Inman Park | Where to Stay in Atlanta | Jordan Hefler

Okay... home stretch y'all. The last day we were there, we ate breakfast at Atlanta Breakfast Club downtown, which was right across the street from the Aquarium and near the College Football Hall of Fame, which we were planning on spending the day at. This breakfast spot was really busy and we had to wait about 40 minutes to eat here, but it was a really great menu and experience! We walked on over to the College Football Hall of Fame (included in our City Pass) and spent a good 3 hours or so there. If you're a football fan, you'll definitely love this place. I had a good time looking at the archives and interactive experiences- the museum is really well done. I happened to wear a dress that day, which was a mistake because at the end you're able to do practice drills and kick a field goal.

College Football Hall of Fame | Where to Visit in Atlanta | Jordan Hefler
College Football Hall of Fame | Where to Visit in Atlanta | Jordan Hefler

We left and went on to Krog Street Market which was literally a block from our (gross) Airbnb in Inman Park. This market was like a smaller version of Ponce City Market but still had lots of awesome food options! The market is right by the Atlanta Beltline, which we kept hearing about... it was like a city-wide walking/biking loop that is its own little highway for pedestrians. There was a lot of street art and public murals along the beltline, especially near the Krog Street Tunnel! (FUN FACT- we passed by the lofts where Queer Eye is filmed in Cabbagetown too! Didn't get a photo, but it's called the Fulton Cotton Mill Lofts.) We walked around for a bit but then had to get to the airport to leave that evening. If we had more time, we probably would have rented a scooter or a bike to do the Beltline and try to see the city more. 

Krog Street Tunnel | Where to Visit in Atlanta | Jordan Hefler
Krog Street Tunnel | Where to Visit in Atlanta | Jordan Hefler
Atlanta Beltline | Where to Visit in Atlanta | Jordan Hefler

The last thing we did on the way to the airport was visit the Jackson Street Bridge and take a picture of the city skyline. This is a really cool view of the city, and then we found out it was the exact view that was used for the Walking Dead (never watched it, but still coo.)

Atlanta Skyline View from the Jackson Street Bridge | Things to Do in Atlanta | Jordan Hefler
Atlanta Skyline View from the Jackson Street Bridge | Things to Do in Atlanta | Jordan Hefler

ALL IN ALL Atlanta stole my heart. Everyone there was so nice and hospitable, and so many parts of the city were charming. There was a ton to do as you can see, and I'd definitely recommend it for both families and couples to go check out!

PIN THE ATL BUCKET LIST OF THINGS TO DO ONTO PINTEREST!

5 Days in Atlanta | What to Do, Where to Eat |Travel Bucket List | Jordan Hefler

P.S. the images in this blog post were taken on my iPhone and edited with the My Chromatic Presets pack! Want to step up your mobile phone photography game? Enroll in my online Do What You Want Workshops!

11 Days in the Wild Wild West | Vegas, AZ and Cali Travel Recap by Jordan Hefler

11 Days in the Wild Wild West | Vegas, AZ and Cali Travel Blog | Jordan Hefler

Okay HERE IT IS. A MASSIVE BLOG POST about a MASSIVE TRIP I did a few months ago with my boyfriend, Christian.

A small recap for those that don't know- I was born and raised in Phoenix, AZ until I was 14. My family is originally from Louisiana so they wanted to move back when I started high school, so I've been in Louisiana for the past 12 years, meaning I've lived in both places for almost half of my life each. I absolutely love the west and miss it so so much, and my boyfriend Christian had never traveled further west than San Antonio up until this point! When he found out there was a conference he could attend for work in Vegas, we hopped on the opportunity to make a giant trip out of it.

We left New Orleans and flew to Vegas, spent 4 days there, then drove up to the Grand Canyon, then drove down through Flagstaff, then down through Oak Creek Canyon (where we almost died driving down the mountain when 2 deer jumped out in front of us), then Sedona to see the red rocks, then down to Phoenix to see my Grandma for a day, then out to Yuma to see my uncle, then over to Salvation Mountain to take photos, then onto San Diego for a day, then up to LA to stay with my friend for 2 days and OMG THIS IS SUCH A LONG SENTENCE but we collectively were gone for 11 days. 

As you can imagine, I took a TON of photos and also spent a ton of money...still working on recovering from that part... but it has taken me so so so long to go through the many photos I took to get a blog post going! Since we did so much during this trip, I'm going to break up this post by place we went and a small list of things we enjoyed doing so maybe you can get ideas for your own trip!

11 Days in the Wild Wild West | Travel Recap | Jordan Hefler
11 Days in the Wild Wild West | Vegas, AZ and Cali Travel Blog | Jordan Hefler

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA

Vegas is the bomb. We stayed at the Paris hotel and casino most of the nights, then the Cromwell for the lsat night and went to almost every other hotel/casino down the strip at some point. We ate at sooo many places and did so much but here are our fave things we did:

um I only sleep at hotels with colors that fit my brand 💁‍♀️

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The hallways at the Cromwell

The hallways at the Cromwell

Beatles Love Cirque du Soleil show- I'm a massive Beatles fan so I had been dying to do this forever and wasn't able to last time I went to Vegas. I highly recommend it! But Christian fell asleep during it so.... opinions are biased. If you like The Beatles you'll like it. We also saw David Copperfield but I liked the Cirque show better.

Neon Museum- My absolute FAVE thing we did in Vegas. A must see if you're into typography, history, or retro stuff in general. We did a joint ticket with the Mob Museum which ended up being a great deal. Definitely recommend this joint venture, and then you're really close to Fremont Street which is a cool older part of town with lots of stuff to do and hip bars and restaurants like Le Thai!

BONJOUR

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Bellagio fountains- we stayed at the Paris hotel and casino which is directly across the street from the Bellagio but wayyyy cheaper to stay at! Honestly we had a great spot on the strip by staying there. The Bellagio fountains are famous for their synchronized shows that go off all day long. If you've seen the last scene of Oceans 11, you know what I'm talking about. It's free to watch!

The view from my breakfast at Terrace Pointe Cafe at the Wynn

The view from my breakfast at Terrace Pointe Cafe at the Wynn

The Wynn was the ABSOLUTE most luxurious thing I think I've ever seen in terms of contemporary architecture and interior. Christian's conference took place at this hotel and casino so I spent a lot of time hanging out there. I had an incredible poolside breakfast by myself at their Terrace Pointe Cafe. Be prepared to spend some $$ but definitely pop in the Wynn at some point to see their beautiful fresh flower sculptures, designer shopping, and colorful decor!

Gold & Silver Pawn Shop (Pawn Stars Shop)- This is the shop from the History Channel show Pawn Stars which Christian is OBSESSED with so of course we stopped there. It's a real pawn shop so you can just go during business hours!

11 Days in the Wild Wild West | Travel Blog | Jordan Hefler

Seven Magic Mountains- I had been dying to go to this art installation ever since I started seeing photos of it pop up all over Instagram! It's just a 30 min drive or so from Vegas so we hit it up on our way out of town. We had rented a car so this made it easy, but I hear it's a hefty Uber fee so find some people to go with to split that cost.

THE GRAND CANYON

South Rim- I have seen the Grand Canyon like 3 or 4 times and every time I think has been from the South Rim (since it's the AZ side.) I'm sure there's so much you can do at the canyon but it never seems to fail that I don't get there until later in the day when you're chasing the sunlight and rushed for time. We literally just went up to the edge and checked it out. It never gets old. Such an epic experience that you have to see at least once in your life!

11 Days in the Wild Wild West | Travel Blog | Jordan Hefler

Plaza Bonita Mexican Restaurant- Throughout this blog post you'll see the many Mexican restaurants I suggest because Mexican food is life. This was a phenomenal one right by the canyon in the small town right before you get there.

11 Days in the Wild Wild West | Travel Blog | Jordan Hefler

FLAGSTAFF

Galaxy Diner on Route 66- We stayed in an Airbnb- The Tranquil Loft on Cherry Hill the night of visiting the Grand Canyon because it's a lot cheaper to drive another hour or so and get to Flagstaff to stay than it is to find lodging near the canyon. We woke up and it was snowing (like, what? We didn't pack for that!) and headed to this Galaxy Diner on Route 66 which was like stepping back in time. I'm a big diner person too so we ate a lot of pancakes on this trip.

OAK CREEK CANYON

Native American Craft Market at Vista Overlook- Oak Creek Canyon is just part of the more scenic route to take when driving from Flagstaff down to Sedona and it's beautiful...but kind of terrifying (especially for Christian who had never seen a mountain till this trip much less driven on one.) You have to be so careful because there are deer and rabbits and coyotes and whatever else running wild...check the horrible photos of the pesky deer that nearly killed us above! There's a great lookout point called Vista Overlook where you can pull off and view the canyon, and then there's usually a little Native American craft market setup where you can buy local Indian jewelry.

11 Days in the Wild Wild West | Vegas, AZ and Cali Travel Blog | Jordan Hefler

SEDONA

Chapel of the Holy Cross- Sedona is beautiful and known for their unique red rocks. It's a super eclectic town where a lot of people travel to for spiritual and healing purposes. The Chapel of the Holy Cross is a chapel built up into the side of one of the mountains and it's a really great lookout point if you're just wanting to get some photos of the town and the red rocks.

Taken and edited on iPhone! Learn how  here .

Taken and edited on iPhone! Learn how here.

On the drive from Sedona to Phoenix

On the drive from Sedona to Phoenix

11 Days in the Wild Wild West | Vegas, AZ and Cali Travel Blog | Jordan Hefler

PHOENIX

Since I grew up in Phoenix, I wanted to show Christian my old stomping grounds. We stayed with my Grandma too so we didn't have a whole lot of time to explore outside of visiting (we only had like 1 day!)

11 Days in the Wild Wild West | Vegas, AZ and Cali Travel Blog | Jordan Hefler

Desert Botanical Gardens- For as long as I lived in Phoenix, I really don't know if I had ever gone to the Desert Botanical Gardens until now (unless it was maybe a childhood field trip for school.) This was such an awesome place to visit! Christian was hell bent on getting a photo with a Saguaro cactus and although they're all over Phoenix, it was great to see them in an isolated, protected space. This took a good couple of hours to tour and it was HOT as you can imagine, so bring sunscreen!

11 Days in the Wild Wild West | Vegas, AZ and Cali Travel Blog | Jordan Hefler

My friend Krystal of A Pinch of Lovely actually just went out to Scottsdale for the first time (Scottsdale is basically just another area of Phoenix) and went here and did a great blog post on other things to do there as well! Linking here.)

11 Days in the Wild Wild West | Vegas, AZ and Cali Travel Blog | Jordan Hefler

Papago Park- These are just some weird rock formations near the Desert Botanical Gardens that the public can hike and climb on. There's this formation called Hole in the Rock where a lot of people go to watch the sunset. We were able to catch it last minute but this required me climbing the mountain quickly in a miniskirt which was quite the scene. 

Four Peaks Brewing Co. in Tempe- We really just randomly stopped by this place and it was cool. We love beer. The end!

Abuelos Mexican Restaurant- A childhood fave of mine. They are a chain but we don't have any in Louisiana which is a sad time. DELICIOUS!

11 Days in the Wild Wild West | Vegas, AZ and Cali Travel Blog | Jordan Hefler

YUMA

Imperial Sand Dunes- My uncle lives in Yuma and there's not a whole lot going on there besides cabbage farming, border patrol, and the Imperial Sand Dunes. Apparently this is where Star Wars was filmed? I don't watch that and we couldn't go to the dunes because you need an off road vehicle but we drove past them and they were beautiful! Looked like you were in Egypt or something.

Mi Rancho Mexican Restaurant- Continuing the Mexican restaurant suggestions with this authentic little place my uncle took us. It was great, as are most Mexican restaurants. 

11 Days in the Wild Wild West | Vegas, AZ and Cali Travel Blog | Jordan Hefler

dripping in finesse but also sweat 🙃 #california #mychromatictravels

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SALVATION MOUNTAIN

This place is just kind of its own thing...- Once again I've just seen tons of photos of this place on Instagram and when I found out we'd be so close to it I was determined to go. I'm still not really sure what it is, there's kind of a weird vibe there but it's this giant colorful art installation in the middle of NOWHERE. Actually it was very close to Coachella which was coincidentally happening that same day which was really crazy to think about.

11 Days in the Wild Wild West | Vegas, AZ and Cali Travel Blog | Jordan Hefler

SAN DIEGO

Airbnb in University Heights- We only spent 1 night here and got there really late, but this was the cute little cottage we got!

Gaslamp Quarter- We got to San Diego so late at night that we could really only walk around this area, but looks like a fun area to hang out and eat!

Konos Cafe- We had breakfast here on the beach. It was super chill and laid back and very much a California surf joint feel.

11 Days in the Wild Wild West | Vegas, AZ and Cali Travel Blog | Jordan Hefler

La Jolla Sea Lions- This is all I really remember about visiting San Diego from when I was a child besides going to Sea World! If you didn't know, seals and sea lions dominate San Diego and are chillin on the beach in public areas. You can view them in the La Jolla area and it's pretty cool. 

11 Days in the Wild Wild West | Vegas, AZ and Cali Travel Blog | Jordan Hefler

LOS ANGELES

We jammed a TON of stuff into our 2 days in LA. Like, so much.

Laguna Beach- We just stopped and got out of the car to check it out. That's about it! It was beautiful!

11 Days in the Wild Wild West | Vegas, AZ and Cali Travel Blog | Jordan Hefler
11 Days in the Wild Wild West | Vegas, AZ and Cali Travel Blog | Jordan Hefler

Santa Monica Pier- A CLASSIC. Only had been here one other time and remembered it being like the ultimate Rocket Power experience. We didn't ride any rides or anything but we went and walked around. There's a cool area at the back that has the history of the pier written on the wall and with old photos. I'm a nerd like that.

El Compadre Mexican Restaurant on Sunset Blvd- Sunset Blvd in general is just cool. We hit up the legendary Whiskey A-Go-Go music venue for a Rolling Stones cover night but of course beforehand we had to eat some Mexican food. El Compadre was amazing and had that classic Hollywood feel. 

Swingers Diner in Santa Monica- We stayed with my friend Katie in Santa Monica and walked to the pier from her apt, but stopped by this awesome diner on the way! Had a very cool retro rock n' roll Cali theme. And the food was delicious, but I'm not hard to please. 

Warner Bros. Tour- Our favorite thing we did while in LA! We were only there for like 2 days and this took up a big chunk of one of them but it was great. We got to tour the studio backlots and sets and see where shows like Gilmore Girls, Pretty Little Liars, Fuller House, Harry Potter, Friends, and so many more were filmed. It was really interesting to hear the behind the scenes aspects to Hollywood!

TMZ Tour- A last min decision we made, but this was a fun one. It starts at the Hollywood Walk of Fame by the Chinese Theatre so you can kill two birds with one stone. This was a really funny tour that brought us around the areas where celebrities are known to hang out. My favorite part of the tour was when they showed us the In-N-Out Burger where Paris Hilton got her first DUI. Oh, obviously In-N-Out Burger is on the list of places to eat too. 

11 Days in the Wild Wild West | Vegas, AZ and Cali Travel Blog | Jordan Hefler

Griffith Observatory- A lookout point where you can see the Hollywood sign and the entire city, this would have been way cooler if LA wasn't so smoggy :(

Venice Beach- Wanted to spend more time here but we barely stopped by for 20 min. There's an OG skatepark there and tons of artistic hippy-types along the beach.

11 Days in the Wild Wild West | Vegas, AZ and Cali Travel Blog | Jordan Hefler

W O W if you made it this far, congrats! This was such a monster blog post! Hope some of this helps if you're looking to head out west- feel free to reach out with any questions about our trip!

11 Days in the Wild Wild West | Vegas, AZ and Cali Travel Blog | Jordan Hefler