Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" - ONE midtown kitchen

Welcome to Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers", a new monthly series by wanderlust ATLANTA and super-popular food Instagramer atlantafoodie! Our first stop on this 10-restaurant tour is ONE midtown kitchen!

What we believe is a unique spin on Top 10 lists, we're not counting down, but instead we're showcasing some of Atlanta's restaurants with numbers in their name! Some we've been to before and others will be a first-time experience. We're going to make all of them FUN!


Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | ONE midtown kitchen | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | ONE midtown kitchen | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

This series was fully developed in a matter of days. I woke up one morning and couldn't get back to sleep. I started thinking about story ideas for wanderlust ATLANTA and came up with this idea. I immediately thought to partner with Nikki—Instagramer extraordinaire, fellow food lover, and a dear friend—and within 24 hours we had a 10-month outline in place!

I've dined at ONE midtown kitchen since it first opened in 2002—on visits from DC and then regularly when I moved back to Atlanta in 2010. I remember the first time I walked in, it felt like I was in an elegant New York City restaurant...nothing like this had been done in Atlanta, not that I knew of. Nikki has dined here before, as well, but it'd been a few years.


Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | ONE midtown kitchen | Photo: atlantafoodie
Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | ONE midtown kitchen | Photo: atlantafoodie

When we arrived, host Rick was wonderfully hospitable. I told him that I had a reservation, but that I would wait at the bar until my dining companion arrived. He didn't point to where the bar was....he walked me to bar! You rarely get such personal service. We chatted briefly with Rick a couple more times during the evening...super nice!

Nikki arrived before I could order a drink at the bar, but I've many times enjoyed a glass of wine and a cheese board after a long day at work at that bar. It's intimate, but has a clear view of the rest of the restaurant. Highly recommend. 

We went back to the maitre d' stand and Rick immediately seated us. We asked for a table "with good lighting"—the restaurant didn't know that we were coming or would be making photos for this series, but the staff was wonderful about it...zero judgement toward us! 

The restaurant's cocktail offerings rotate daily. Nikki had a Georgia Sour (pictured above: whiskey, lime juice, pecan + brown sugar simple) and loved it! I had the Peach Drop (vodka, elderflower liquor, simple, lemon juice, sparkling wine) and love it, too! I had a delightful Sauvignon Blanc with my dinner. There's a full bar, so they're going to have something you'll love!    


Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | ONE midtown kitchen | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | ONE midtown kitchen | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

We started with the Calamari! I first discovered calamari when I lived in Greece and I order it every chance I get. Nikki loves all kinds of seafood! Gotta love it when you're on the same palate page! 

The calamari were tasty and tender, but it was the accompanying sauces that make the dish stand out...Tikka Masala, Chaat Masala, and Citrus Yogurt. That plate went back empty! I could make a meal of this dish...and probably will at some point.


Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | ONE midtown kitchen | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | ONE midtown kitchen | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

We decided to enjoy a second appetizer—there were three of us. Everything on the menu looked amazing, but we opted for the Wood Roasted Octopus. Wow! Joseph told us it was tender and was it ever! 

It's served over butternut squash curry and a bed of lentils with mint and pickled jalapeno and finished with a sheet of papadum, an Indian "wafer". It's not only a gorgeous dish, it's full of gentle flavors, which was a pleasant surprise given some of the ingredients.

The appetizers were a smashing hit! We were ready for the next course.

Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | ONE midtown kitchen | Nikki, Dan, Travis
Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | ONE midtown kitchen | Nikki, Dan, Travis

Almost immediately after we were seated, Nikki's husband Dan joined us. I've had the pleasure of knowing these two for more than a year. Nikki is not only a fellow foodie, she's a fellow sci-fi enthusiast! I don't get to see Dan as often as Nikki, but we're having a great time when we all get together. The last couple of times the three of us were hanging out included Torched Hop Brewery and Star 94's Jingle Jam.

Our server Joseph kindly offered to make this photo for us (above)...we didn't even have to ask! Look at the size of our entrees!


Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | ONE midtown kitchen | Photo: atlantafoodie
Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | ONE midtown kitchen | Photo: atlantafoodie

It's rare that I share a photo of bread, unless the compound butter it's served with has roasted garlic and Gouda cheese! The pain d'epi (French-style bread shaped like a wheat stalk) was excellent without the butter, but together they're epic! I don't remember there being any left...we all really, really liked it!


Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | ONE midtown kitchen | Photo: atlantafoodie
Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | ONE midtown kitchen | Photo: atlantafoodie

I had the Pork Schnitzel for my entree. I consider myself a savvy diner, but if you asked me what schnitzel was before this occasion, I could not have told you. Now I would tell you it's "Delicious"...full description! 

The schnitzel was as big as my over-sized plate! I definitely wasn't going to leave hungry. It's served over Gouda grits and coupled with smoked thumbelina carrots, lacinato kale and caramelized onions. I"m totally in love with this dish...for so many reasons—at least as many reasons as there are ingredients!

I wasn't able to finish the entire plate—it was a LOT of food! Joseph asked if I would like to take the rest home. Instead of bringing me a box and me have to scrape my food into a container for everyone in the restaurant to watch—so not glamorous—Joseph took my plate and returned with the goodies boxed up and in a handsome paper bag with handles. You gotta love a doggie bag with style! 


Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | ONE midtown kitchen | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | ONE midtown kitchen | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

Nikki had the Wood-Roasted Trout. This is not a filet...it's a whole fish, sans head and tail. A generous portion, it's served on a pool of clam chowder—which Nikki raved about; she loved how innovative the dish was—accompanied by roasted potatoes, salsify, basil oil, and topped with paddlefish caviar and fennel. 

We shared bites of our dishes and I can vouch that the trout is delicious! I'm not a fan of clam chowder, but it was indeed nice. I totally understood why this was Nikki's favorite dish.


Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | ONE midtown kitchen | Photo: atlantafoodie
Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | ONE midtown kitchen | Photo: atlantafoodie

Dan enjoyed the C.A.B. Flat Iron, which is wood-grilled and served with chimichurri and demi. Dan's not usually a talkative gent, but we barely heard a word from him while he was enjoying this dish! He generously offered a taste, but I was already approaching maximum capacity!

The restaurant's menus change regularly, even though there are some signatures dishes that have been on the menu for 15 years!


Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | ONE midtown kitchen | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | ONE midtown kitchen | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

Speaking of staying power, ONE's signature Kit Kat Bar is one that has stood the test of time, and for good reason! The "bar" is dense AND creamy and topped with cocoa nibs. It's plated with swirls of peanut butter and beet caramel—which we think is an adaptation of the original from years hence—and accompanied with butterscotch ice cream. 

You've seen how much food we've had at this point, so you'll be relieved to know that the three of us shared this amazing dessert. Joseph bought us sharing plates without having to ask. Yes, I was stuffed and had part of my entree boxed, but how could one say no to a dish like this. Yes...we demolished the dessert. It will be a challenge to not try something else the next time...this was that good!

"Compliments to the Chef!" And compliments to Joseph and Rick. We had a most delightful evening!

THINGS TO KNOW before going to ONE midtown kitchen:
  • There's no parking lot, but their complimentary valet is quick and friendly!
  • There is a coat check for the cooler months.
  • If you forget your glasses (a friend did on a previous visit), they have readers at the maitre d' stand.
  • Reservations are a good idea, but not required. 
  • Excellent for special occasions and groups!
  • You can't miss the building...you'll see its glowing purple door and sign!
OF NOTE: Bob Amick, founder and owner of Concentrics Restaurants, of which ONE midtown kitchen is a part, won the Georgia Restaurant Association's Lifetime Achievement Award at its 10th Annual GRACE Awards Gala two months ago.  

Here's our planned Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers", one per month in 2017:

ONE midtown kitchen
599 Dutch Valley Road, NE, Atlanta, GA 30324

TWO urban licks
820 Ralph McGill Boulevard, NE, Atlanta, GA 30306

Local Three Kitchen & Bar
3290 Northside Parkway, NW, Atlanta, GA 30327

Bar Margot at Four Seasons
75 14th Street, NE, Atlanta, GA 30309

5Church Atlanta
1197 Peachtree Street, NE, Atlanta, GA 30361

Six Feet Under
437 Memorial Drive, SE, Atlanta, GA 30312

Seven Lamps
3400 Around Lenox Road, NE, Atlanta, GA 30326

8ARM
710 Ponce de Leon Avenue, NE, Atlanta, GA 30306

Nine Mile Station
675 Ponce de Leon Avenue, NE, Atlanta, GA 30308

10th & Piedmont
991 Piedmont Avenue, NE, Atlanta, GA 30309

Disclaimer: If you live in Atlanta or visit on a regular basis, you know how quickly the Atlanta restaurant scene can change. Our lineup is subject to change based on the Atlanta restaurant landscape over the first 10 months of 2017. Also, all opinions are our own and not at all influenced by the restaurant owners, staff or PR firms, whether we treated ourselves or were hosted by the said restaurant.

If you're enjoying this series, please follow:

atlantafoodie on Instagram
wanderlust ATLANTA on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Thank you for coming along on what we think will be a FUN food journey over the next 10 months. Our selection of restaurants is a subjective selection of what we think will be an exciting new way to experience Atlanta restaurants: "By the Numbers". Please, tell your friends and family what we're doing and invite them to also come along for the taste tour!


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

National Naval Aviation Museum

A short distance from Atlanta, Pensacola, Florida is a fantastic vacation...for a night, a long weekend, a week, or even longer! And it's great most any time of year. 

On my last visit, we toured the National Naval Aviation Museum, quite an exciting excursion for me, having served in the U.S. Navy. The Museum is a military and aerospace museum located on the grounds of Naval Air Station Pensacola.

National Naval Aviation Museum | Pensacola, Florida | Photo: Barry Holland
National Naval Aviation Museum | Pensacola, Florida | Photo: Barry Holland

My best friend Barry came with me (Thanks for driving, Barry!). We were going to the wedding of another best friend, MaryJo. Barry and I added a couple of days to our trip so we could play tourist. The top of my wish list was the National Naval Aviation Museum...and hopefully to see the Blue Angels. 

There was something going on that weekend and we did not get to see the Blue Angels, but there are a number of Blue Angels aircraft at the Museum, displayed outside AND they have their own exhibition inside the Museum. We also did the Blue Angels 4D Experience


National Naval Aviation Museum | Pensacola, Florida | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
National Naval Aviation Museum | Pensacola, Florida | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

The mission of the National Naval Aviation Museum, an official Department of the Navy museum, is to "select, collect, preserve and display historic artifacts relating to the history of Naval Aviation". Believe me, that's exactly what they've done and are doing! 

The National Naval Aviation Museum is world's largest Naval Aviation museum, which features more than 150 restored aircraft representing Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard Aviation. Those aircraft are displayed in its more than 350,000 square feet of museum space, and some are displayed on part of its 37-acre complex. When I say "make time" for a great visit, that's why!


National Naval Aviation Museum | Pensacola, Florida | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
National Naval Aviation Museum | Pensacola, Florida | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

There's a lot more at this museum than we could have possibly seen during the five hours we were there, but we gave it a great try and had great fun along the way!

I have a model of Marine One that I picked up when I lived in DC and volunteered at the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum. At the NationL Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, they have a VH-3 Marine One, that you can board! That is the coolest thing ever! That's Barry sanding inside Marine One offering a presidential wave.

In case you didn't know, Marine One is the call sign of any United States Marine Corps aircraft carrying the President of the United States. That aircraft is typically a helicopter operated by Marine Helicopter Squadron One, also known as "Nighthawks". No matter where Marine One lands in the world, the President is always greeted by a Marine! 


National Naval Aviation Museum | Pensacola, Florida | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
National Naval Aviation Museum | Pensacola, Florida | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

While a great many of the more than 150 aircraft on display are relatively modern, the collection dates to the beginnings of Naval Aviation. There must be hundreds of thousands of artifacts on display and I can only imagine what's in their collection that's not on display!

When I volunteered for the Smithsonian when I lived in DC, I learned that only about 2% of their holdings are on display at any given time—in their 19 museums! 

I can't imagine anyone not wanting to immediately want to visit the National Naval Aviation Museum as soon as they learn it exists, but if you need a preview for additional motivation, here's a virtual tour!


National Naval Aviation Museum | Pensacola, Florida | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
National Naval Aviation Museum | Pensacola, Florida | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

I had the awesome experience of volunteering at the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum when I lived in DC, one of the most visited museums in the world—the National Naval Aviation Museum is one of the most visited in the state of Florida! 

Between those two museums, the Delta Flight Museum, a helicopter tour, flights with friend pilots (they let me take the "wheel"), a tour of the Rocky Mountains, and domestic and international travel, I've spent an amount of time in the sky, and that's not to mention when I went skydiving! I love the skies!

Barry and I took a ride on one of the flight simulators—actually more than one—at the National Naval Aviation Museum. A word of advice folks...when they say take everything out of your pockets, just do it. It'll mitigate any unplanned landings. Yes, we had an incident, but the operator, after purging the pod of whatever it was that wanted to go clink, clank, clunk, allowed us to continue our flight. "Thank you!


National Naval Aviation Museum | Pensacola, Florida | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
National Naval Aviation Museum | Pensacola, Florida | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

When I was in 10th grade, I wanted nothing more than to become a helicopter pilot. Due to some family drama (and lack of tenacity), those dreams were dashed, but I never stopped loving helicopters. I would still love to one day learn how to fly them!

It was many years later when I experienced my first helicopter ride...and was it ever so amazing! I was in Las Vegas, a city I and one of my grandmothers loved, on vacation and a friend who was there for a convention treated me to a helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon

We flew over downtown Vegas, over Hoover Dam, Lake Mead, the Grand Canyon and then we LANDED inside the Grand Canyon, had lunch with champagne, had time to explore and make photos and then returned on the same flight path. WOW! What an experience!

Yes, I'm jealous of Navy helicopter pilots, but I also applaud their commitment and service to our country. While exciting, being a helicopter pilot can be dangerous when protecting our country and its allies. "Thank you for your service."


National Naval Aviation Museum | Pensacola, Florida | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
National Naval Aviation Museum | Pensacola, Florida | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

I've been a space geek since I was...well, I remember watching outer space science fiction movies when I was six years old and loving them! Yes, I was born before humans landed on the moon, but I don't remember that first globally broadcast program—Neil Armstrong walking on the moon. But I did get to work for the company responsible for that global broadcast and met quite a few astronauts during my time there.

One of the astronauts I had the great honor of meeting was Pierre Thuot, a graduate of the Naval Academy and an accomplished Navy pilot. He has piloted more than 40 aircraft! 

When I was working for Intelsat, the world's largest satellite communications company, one of my first projects was to organize the 10th anniversary celebration of the rescue of the Intelsat-603 satellite, on a Space Shuttle Endeavour mission—a spacecraft I later got to see up close and personal. 

Pierre, among many other dignitaries, was one of the guests of honor, as were Mission Commander Daniel Brandenstein (also former Navy) and Shuttle Pilot Kevin Chilton. It was one of the highlights of my life, professionally and personally.


National Naval Aviation Museum | Pensacola, Florida | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
National Naval Aviation Museum | Pensacola, Florida | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

My usual souvenir when playing tourist is a book about the attraction or city I'm visiting. One of the books I got on this visit, in their awesome gift shop, was, "National Naval Aviation Museum: The Historic Collection", which includes a section dedicated to Naval Aviation's contributions to our space program.

The above pictured suits are, left to right, the Model 3 (1953); Model 2-A (1954); Mark III (developed specifically for the U.S. Navy) and the XN-17 (1962), an adaption of the Mark IV, which was modified for America's first manned space missions.


National Naval Aviation Museum | Pensacola, Florida | Photo: Barry Holland
National Naval Aviation Museum | Pensacola, Florida | Photo: Barry Holland

I'm still in touch with some of my Navy buddies and might get to see some of them later this year. The base where I was stationed in Nea Makri, Greece, has long since closed, but there's still an annual reunion. This year it'll be in Tampa, next to St. Petersburg where I was born, so that would be multi-purpose trip. I also have some dear friends there. You just might be seeing a post about those cities later this year!


National Naval Aviation Museum | Pensacola, Florida | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
National Naval Aviation Museum | Pensacola, Florida | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

I mentioned that this is a military and aerospace museum. You will see men and women in uniform throughout your visit. Please thank them for your service, when you can. Also, you will have to go through the Naval Air Station's gates, so be ready to show government issued identification. Show respect when on the base AND have a great time!

Just down the street from the National Naval Aviation Museum is the Pensacola Lighthouse, which we visited immediately after leaving the Museum. Be sure to check it out...and yes, you can climb to the top where you'll have a grand vista of the Museum and the beach!

Remember, make plenty of time to explore the National Naval Aviation Museum. There are so many wonderful things to see here and you can lunch there so you can keep on exploring.

Please find LOTS more photos of my visit on the wanderlust ATLANTA Facebook page!

GO NAVY!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

wanderlust ATLANTA's 2016 Photo Review

My annual wanderlust ATLANTA photo review has become my favorite post of the year. It's a time that I get to look back—with great astonishment—at just how fortunate I've been to do so much and to share so many wonderful experiences with friends, new and longtime.

Let's have a look back at 2016...at some of the amazing firsts for Atlanta and some of my annual favorites.


Dragon Con Night at Georgia Aquarium | Superman
Dragon Con Night at Georgia Aquarium | Superman

I went to more conventions this year than ever before...a total of six! My favorite of course is Dragon Con. This was my 7th Dragon Con and my second "Dragon Con Night at Georgia Aquarium". I had the awesome pleasure of hanging out with my friend, Superman! How often does one get to do THAT? David is a fantastic Kryptonian and a pretty awesome human being, too.


Habsburg Splendor | High Museum of Art

In January I was blown away by the "Habsburg Splendor" exhibition at the High Museum of Art. Splendor hardly describes how magnificent this exhibition was. I'm so glad I saw it and all this time later, the wallpaper on my cell phone is still a photo from that exhibition!


WildWoods | Fernbank Museum of Natural History
WildWoods | Fernbank Museum of Natural History

Brand new in 2016 is WildWoods at Fernbank Museum of Natural History. I'd so very much looked forward to this new 75-acre outdoor experience...when I got to see it during its opening week, I was amazed at how incredibly wonderful it is! I can hardly wait to see it in the spring! 

It's connected to the 75 acre Fernbank Forest, which I've not yet to explore, but it's on my 2017 list!


Atlanta Blooms | Atlanta Botanical Garden
Atlanta Blooms | Atlanta Botanical Garden

Speaking of spring, the annual "Atlanta Blooms" exhibition at the Atlanta Botanical Garden was spectacular this year! The vivid colors and range of of species of flowers are mesmerizing!


California Sea Lion Experience | Georgia Aquarium
California Sea Lion Experience | Georgia Aquarium

I had the most wonderful experience of attending the media preview of Georgia Aquarium's new "California Sea Lions in SunTrust Pier 225", as well as other new shows and exhibitions...what an amazing night that was!

In the post that I wrote, all the photos were courtesy of Georgia Aquarium, except for the one above, which was a very serendipitous moment and only possible because I sat in the front row—read: splash zone—when most did not. I love this photo! 


Historic Jewish Atlanta Tours | The Temple
Historic Jewish Atlanta Tours | The Temple

I'd been to The Temple on Peachtree Street many, many years ago, but visiting as a tourist for one of the The William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum's Historic Jewish Atlanta Tours was a wholly new and wonderful experience. 



Mary Pat Matheson put the Atlanta Botanical Garden back on the map when she bought a 2004 Chihuly exhibition to the Garden. I first visited the Garden in 1987, two years before the Dorothy Chapman Fuqua Conservatory first put Atlanta Botanical Garden "on the map". 

When I returned to Atlanta after living in DC for nine years, I was amazed and astonished at what Mary Pat had done...she's a true visionary! And she's not slowing down. 

Part of the Garden's 40th anniversary celebration, she bought back "Chihuly in the Garden", a most spectacular exhibition! The above photo is of my favorite of the 19 installations.



A Suzi Bass Award winning show, "The Toxic Avenger" at Horizon Theatre, was one of my favorite shows of 2016...I've never seen a show as many times as I did this one. And I'm not embarrassed to share that I saw it FIVE times! It was that much fun!



I'd been to the JoeLanta Toy Convention before and was thrilled to learn that new friends were very much interested in attending it this year...so we did! The times I've been before, there's been a huge diorama in the main vendor room. This year it was Star Wars themed, and it was stellar! 



I'm totally bummed that the Atlanta Braves are leaving the downtown area. It totally sucks. But, that being said, I had a wonderful time at this year's "Star Wars Night at Turner Field". The on-field Parade was so much fun! 



It's not often that you get to see an only-one-left-in-the-world. That's one of the wonderful things I love about the Atlanta History Center...you will see artifacts, exhibitions and events that you'll never see anywhere else, like this Stutz Biarritz!



Sweetwater Creek State Park is a favorite place to visit. I usually enjoy a picnic before a long, leisurely walk in the park. I highly recommend visiting every season of the year. 



I'd read and heard about the Doll's Head Trail for quite some time and was rather fascinated by it...and finally got to see what it was all about! 

The annual Phoenix Flies tours, by the Atlanta Preservation Center, offers Atlantans and her visitors unique opportunities, and it's one of the programs I most highly recommend for EVERYONE! 

This is a most wonderful opportunity to experience Atlanta...there's no other opportunity like it! This program offers more than 200 FREE tours of Atlanta attractions, many of them not offered to the general public any other time of year. Take full advantage of this!



Did you know that the Atlanta Botanical Garden has one of the largest collections of orchid species in the United States? That's impressive in and of itself, but they never rest of their laurels. The annual Orchid Daze exhibition is spectacular, showcasing thousands of additional orchid blossoms and several weeks of related programming. Definitely a must-see!


Jackie of Bishoku and Nikki
Jackie of Bishoku and Nikki
Nikki (right) is a dear friend. She introduced me to Jackie, owner of Bishoku, when we went to the inaugural Food That Rocks in Sandy Springs this year. Nikki and I went to Bishoku for their annual Christmas Eve Japanese Buffet...the sushi, and everything else, was amazing!



The Atlanta History Center's "Atlanta in 50 Objects" exhibition was magnificent! Today was the last day on display, so I hope you got to see it. There's always something new at the Atlanta History Center...exhibitions, events, lectures...the list goes on and on!



The Atlanta Botanical Garden's "Scarecrows in the Garden" exhibition is one that I would never miss...it's pure and total fun! That it included these awesome aliens this year was a total bonus for me! 



My friend Maria told me about a special screening of Zorba the Greek at Emory University this past spring. I love a theme, so before seeing the film I went to the Michael C. Carlos Museum for a stroll through their Greek & Roman gallery



If you've followed me for any period of time, you know what a huge fan I am of Atlanta Movie Tours. I've been on most of their tours, some of them multiple times!

This year, I had the AMAZING opportunity to go on a one-time "Captain America: Civil War Tour", days before the film was released on Blue-ray. 

If you didn't know, many of the scenes were filmed right here in Atlanta and on the Atlanta Movie Tours tour, we got to hang out with "Captain America" at one of the film sites!

Not long after that one-time tour they launched their new Hero Tour, so you too can see some of the sights that we saw that super day! 



One of the six conventions I attended this year was "Walker Stalker Con". This was my second year attending this one, but the first I went with my friend Nikki. We had a blast! 

They had a couple of HUGE photo-op screens, the one above being a "figurine" backdrop. Nikki posed and I "plasticized" the photo.


 

I had the awesome pleasure of attending my best girlfriend's wedding this year. I've known MaryJo since 1988 and I love here dearly...it was an honor to attend her Florida wedding.

I went with my best friend Barry and of course we played tourist while out of town. I didn't realize it at the time, but Fort Pickens is a National Park...totally awesome that we went during the 100th anniversary of the National Park system. 



Jim Henson's Labyrinth: Journey to Goblin City is on display at the Center for Puppetry Arts through September 2017. This is a must-see exhibition...even if you don't think you're a puppetry fan, go see it! It's fun, it's magical, it's mesmerizing!



The first of the six conventions I attended this year (I'm blown away every time I realize I went to so many in one year!) was a Star Trek "50 Year Mission Tour". It was a smaller convention, but great fun! I got to meet Gates McFadden!!! 

The above couple I've met before at Dragon Con. They're super nice and have quite a collection of awesome Star Trek costumes!



When Barry and I were in Florida for MaryJo's wedding, we stopped by the Pensacola Lighthouse. I'd never been to a lighthouse and was incredibly excited to see one...so much so that when we arrived with only 15 minutes before closing, I scaled the 177 steps, briefly, yet purposefully, enjoyed the vistas from the top, and returned to the beach-side grounds before they closed. 

What a magnificent experience that was!



I've been to Gibbs Gardens many times and was thrilled to return for this year's Japanese Maple Tree Festival with my dear friend Katie. She had visited when they first opened, but this was her first time to see the Maple Trees that time of year. We had a wonderful visit!



'da Kink in My Hair was fantastic! I went to see it at Horizon Theatre with my friends Nekeisha (left) and Jacquetta (right) and we all got to meet the brilliant local actress Terry Burrell.



My most recent excursion was to see the Chinese Lantern Festival in Centennial Olympic Park...stunning colors! The 200 foot dragon was my favorite.



I'm just a big kid at heart. I've loved The Muppets since I was a kid, as well as everything else Jim Henson ever did. That makes The Jim Henson Collection at the Center for Puppetry Arts a favorite destination. And there's so much more than Muppets there!

I also saw a LOT of fantastic theatre this year...more shows than I can count!

Nikki introduced me to Serenbe Playhouse, which won a bazillion Suzi Bass Awards for Miss Saigon this year...deservedly so! I also saw Carousel, Of Mice and Men, and The Sleepy Hollow Experience. Their 2017 season is going to fantastic!

I also saw lots of other great plays at 7 Stages, Actor's Express and Horizon Theatre, as well as the inaugural Atlanta Musical Theatre Festival (AMTF). I got an interview with Benjamin Davis, Founder of the AMTF, and another interview with local actor Jonathan Horne

I look forward to much more theatre in the coming year!

There you go...a recap of my wanderlusting adventures throughout 2016. I hope you too will explore more of Atlanta in 2017 and if you're a local, my hope for you that you become an expert on just how much and how many wonderful things there are to do in your own backyard—Atlanta!