Design, Art & Dining in Atlanta

hdl-bannerThis year is not the first time HOW Design Live has landed in The Big Peach. But it’s been awhile: Atlanta last hosted us in 2007 (and THAT was a blast).

After bouncing between Chicago and Boston for the past couple of years, the HOW team was determined to bring the event back to the South. Why?

“[Atlanta] has one of the more robust, active and talented design communities in the country,” says VP/Group Show Director Gary Lynch. “It is very affordable for our attendees. We understand the investment that is required to attend a conference like HOW Design Live and we purposely selected a city where hotel room rates and airfare are relatively low.

“And it is a beautiful city with a lot of interesting and fun things to do. We know exploring the area is important to our attendees. We think they will be as enthralled with the city’s delights as we are. We spend a lot of time thinking about where to hold HOW Design Live. Everyone knows that Chicago and Boston are among the most popular destinations for the show, but we hope to add Atlanta to that list and make it one of our more frequent stops.”

In an article here in January, HOW staffer Natalie Boyd, an Atlanta native, shared her list of 34 things to do in Atlanta while you’re there for HOW Design Live. Which you definitely want to review before you travel.

“Atlanta has a lot to offer in terms of a rich culture, a turbulent history, delicious dining, and a hopping social scene,” she wrote. “I initially jotted down more than 50 places, then whittled it down to 42, and then condensed even more to 34.”

A few high points from Natalie’s great list:


High Museum

The High Museum

The High’s exhibition list for May includes: works from the contemporary photographer, Vik Muniz; rare notebooks created by Jean-Michel Basquiat; I See a Story: The Art of Eric Carle (personally excited about this one. He illustrated and designed childhood books including The Very Hungry Caterpillar.) Find more exhibitions here.

Atlanta History Center

This complex features an encompassing study of Atlanta history. It showcases experiences from the Civil War era to the 1996 Olympics and features Folk Art of the South. And for the literary-minded, this complex contains the apartment where Margaret Mitchell wrote Gone with the Wind. The Swan House, one of the famous houses in the complex, was featured in The Hunger Games movies as President Snow’s residence.

Ponce City Market
Ponce City Market

One of Atlanta’s newest hot spots, Ponce City Market has been called the best food hall in the South, home to 18.21 Bitters, Farm to Ladle, Spiller Park Coffee and more. A renovated Sears, Roebuck & Co building turned into a modern shopping center delight. This is a great place to browse local shops and eateries, all at your convenience. And it’s right off the Beltline, a path that travels throughout the city to various attractions.

Food & Drink


The Sun Dial

Located at the top of Westin Hotel, the Sun Dial is the highest rotating restaurant on the western hemisphere — at a mind spinning 723 feet high. Enjoy their delicious menu while gazing at a 360-degree panoramic view of the city. Or skip the meal for the liquid diet at their also-rotating bar.


In East Atlanta (grab an Uber), this pizza and street food place features global dishes under the Southern influence. Think: The Butternut Pie, a wood-fired pizza with butternut squash, beer-boiled peanuts, and a mean hot dog with housemade pimento cheese.

The Optimist

A temple to seafood, this dining room and adjacent oyster bar hauls in the best raw materials from all over the globe.

Atlanta has a thriving dining scene, with both traditional and modern takes on Southern cuisine. But it’s not just about fried chicken and biscuits (though we could certainly live on those); you’ll find bold Asian restaurants, updated French bistros and great pizza. Check out Atlanta Magazine’s list of 50 best restaurants in Atlanta.

And of course, there are all the local specialties. Check out Thrillist’s 49 Best Things to Eat in Atlanta, including:

But of course, your real reason to travel to Atlanta this May is HOW Design Live: the tremendous lineup of keynote presenters, essential breakout sessions and networking activities. You’ll learn, connect, be inspired. Register now and experience all that HOW — and Atlanta — have to offer.

Looking for more? Check out 34 places to see in Atlanta, complete with an interactive map!