Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Cover: World of Coke

Historically one of the biggest supporters of the Olympic Games—in the way of sponsorships and advertising—it seems only appropriate to make mention of Atlanta's own World of Coca-Cola at Pemberton Place. Overlooking Centennial Olympic Park, Georgia Aquarium, and the world headquarters of The Coca-Cola Company, the World of Coca-Cola is a tourist's gold mine!

World of Coca-Cola at Pemberton Place
World of Coca-Cola at Pemberton Place
The World of Coca-Cola draws probably one of the most international crowds of all Atlanta attractions, maybe even more than McDonald's. I say that because I had an international guest many years ago—visiting from Cyprus—and we had to stop by McDonald's on the way home from the airport. 

The global presence of brands like Coke carry a lot of influence. Good then for sports enthusiasts that they're a supporter of the Olympic Games.

The museum itself, once housed downtown near Underground Atlanta and the Georgia State Capitol Building, is an experience not to be missed. From the welcoming array of globally themed Coca-Cola bottles (photo), to a unique cinematic experience filled with creatures found only in the imagination, to a photo opportunity with a polar bear to Coca-Cola Freestyle—a Coca-Cola experience even the adventurous will regale for years!

My recommendation...include World of Coca-Cola on your must-see list. You'll learn a whole new way to "Enjoy a Coke."

Enjoy the above pre-sized Facebook Cover Photo of these World of Coca-Cola Coke bottles (they're huge in real life!) and then head over to the wanderlust ATLANTA Facebook Page to see more! Please "Like" the Page while you're there and then tell a friend about it.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Cover: Bog Garden

The Conservation Garden at the Atlanta Botanical Garden, sometimes called the Bog Garden, is unfortunately one of the frequently overlooked features of our amazing Garden. Granted the Garden is 30 acres, but I tell people that it's pretty compact, so it's really (relatively) easy to see nearly everything.

Conservation Garden (Bog Garden) Atlanta Botanical Garden
Conservation Garden (Bog Garden)
Atlanta Botanical Garden
"The Garden has been the recipient of grants from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Georgia Department of Resources since 1998. A mountain cataract bog display complete with native species, rare conifers, pitcher plants, orchids and interpretive signage was created in 2007 with funding from the Wildlife Conservation Society."
 - Atlanta Botanical Garden website

Some know about the Garden's orchid conservation efforts and its amphibian research efforts, but just when I think you know everything the Garden is doing, I learn something new. I'm incredibly impressed with all that they do and that they do it with such passion.

The conservation Garden is especially attractive to kids, too...it often has carnivorous plants or "pitcher plants" and Venus fly traps! And it's wide range of color is attractive as well. Personally, I love that it's one of the most beautiful spots in the Garden...overlooking parts of Piedmont Park, the Atlanta skyline is directly in the background.

Enjoy the above pre-sized Facebook Cover Photo of the Bog Garden then head on over to the wanderlust ATLANTA Facebook Page for more illuminating photos! Please "Like" the Page while you're there!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Cover: Battle of Atlanta Cannon

This cannon is from the "Battle of Atlanta", fought in July 1864, which is chronicled at another hidden gem of Atlanta--the Atlanta Cyclorama & Civil War Museum. There are only a few cycloramas in the U.S., a cyclorama being a 360 degree depiction, usually a painting, in this case the Battle of Atlanta.

Cannon from "Battle of Atlanta" Atlanta Cyclorama
Cannon from "Battle of Atlanta"
Atlanta Cyclorama
This being the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War, it's a perfect time to teach the kids a history lesson or brush up on your own knowledge of Atlanta history. There's LOTS to see!

Before you get to the Cyclorama—inside you'll hear the story of the Battle of Atlanta narrated by James Earl Jones...that's right, Darth Vader himself—you'll see the "Texas"—one of the two locomotives that were part of The Great Locomotive Chase.

Enjoy the above pre-sized Facebook Cover Photo and then head to the Atlanta Cyclorama, adjacent to Zoo Atlanta and in Historic Grant Park. Then head over to the wanderlust ATLANTA Facebook Page for more Cover Photos. Enjoy!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Cover: Tellus About Science!

To "open minds and ignite a passion for science" is exactly what the Tellus Science Museum does! And it's only a short 40-minute ride from Atlanta.

Mineral Spheres from Tellus Science Museum
Mineral Spheres from Tellus Science Museum
Sister museum to the previously mentioned Booth Western Art Museum, Tellus is also home to 120,000 square feet of display space and it's literally only minutes from the Booth in Cartersville, Georgia. 

Within that enormous amount of space is a lot to see and do, including four main galleries: The Weinman Mineral Gallery (with an impressive collection of mineral spheres!), The Fossil Gallery (with tons of dinosaurs I've never seen or heard of), Science in Motion (which totally speaks to my love of flying and love of space), and The Collins Family My Big Backyard (an oasis for kids!). 

There's also a 120-seat digital planetarium and an observatory with a state-of-the-art 20-inch telescope. But, where Dorothy Boyd said, "You had me at 'Hello' to Jerry McGuire, the Godzilla-size Komatsu truck had me at first sight. It's wheels are way taller than I am...and I'm not a slight man.

Well, enjoy the above pre-sized Facebook Cover Photo of some of Tellus's mineral spheres, then head over to the wanderlust ATLANTA Facebook Page for more!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Booth, Jackson & Lee

The Booth Western Art Museum in Cartersville, Georgia, about 40 minutes north of Atlanta, is a pilgrimage to the Wild West without even coming close to the other side of the Mississippi. And it has a few surprises, like this 1936 study for the Lee & Jackson Monument located in Charles Village of Baltimore, Maryland.

Study for Lee & Jackson Monument
Study for Lee & Jackson Monument
Booth Western Art Museum
The Booth is massive! And its collections are immense. The museum is 120,000 square feet and houses the largest permanent exhibition space for Western art in the United States and is the second largest art museum in Georgia! It immediately became an Atlanta-area treasure when it opened its doors in 2003. 

Study for Lee & Jackson Monument
Study for
Lee & Jackson Monument
In addition to regular temporary exhibitions, the museum galleries include contemporary Western American art (their collection of art by living artists is significant!), historic Western art, Civil War art (like the Lee & Jackson Monument study), Western movie posters (fun!), Western illustrations, and a very special exhibit—the Carolyn & James Millar Presidential Gallery—that features portraits and original writings of every U.S. President from George Washington to Barack Obama.

And then there are the six to ten temporary and/or special exhibits per year and numerous special events, including an annual black-tie fundraising gala.

Must-see attractions at the Booth: the Presidential gallery, the sculpture gallery, the modern Western art gallery, the real Western stage coaches (they're huge!), the massive Indian sculpture on the second floor...just make the time to see everything! It's all fascinating.

The Booth is a Smithsonian affiliate museum, meaning they can borrow artifacts from the Smithsonian collections...they often have some from the Smithsonian on exhibit.

Enjoy your trip to the Booth and enjoy the top photo, which is a pre-sized Facebook Cover Photo. Then head over to wanderlust ATLANTA's Facebook Page to see others!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Cover: Egypt at the Carlos

One of my absolute most favorite museums in Atlanta is the Michael C. Carlos Museum, part of Emory University. For those fascinated with the Ancient Egyptian culture—as has been most of world since the discovery of King Tut—the Carlos is going to be a wondrous place to explore.

Egyptian Sculpture Michael C. Carlos Museum
Egyptian Sculpture
Michael C. Carlos Museum
I've written about the Michael C. Carlos Museum on numerous occasions, but I never tire of visiting, so I'll likely write many more times. But, now that I'm giving you Facebook Cover Photos, that'll hopefully entice you to explore those posts.

The Carlos is not that far from town, even though many Atlantans' perception of "far away" is admittedly distorted compared to citizens of other cities. Emory is literally minutes from where I live, yet it "seems" so far away. My point is that if you consider visiting the Carlos, please do not let distance influence your decision...you'll be glad you visited!

And plan ample time for your visit. The museum is much larger than it appears. In addition to the "Egyptian, Nubian, and Near East" gallery, the permanent collections also includes the following galleries:
  • Greek and Roman
  • Ancient American
  • African
  • Asian
  • Works on Paper
There are a couple of quite interesting looking exhibitions coming in the near term. One, "For I am the Black Jaguar: Shamanic Visionary Experience in Ancient American Art" I am particularly looking forward to, given my Native American background (my great grandmother was born on a Cherokee Reservation in North Carolina).

The other upcoming exhibition is "The Plains of Mars: European War Prints, 1500-1825, From the Collection of the Sarah Campbell Blaffer Foundation", which also promises to be of great interest.

In the meantime, please enjoy the above pre-sized Facebook Cover Photo (visit the museum to learn more about this sculpture!) and then head over to the wanderlust ATLANTA Facebook Page for more. Please "Like" the page while you're there!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Cover: Fernbank's Mythic Creatures

My current Facebook Cover Photo is this Pegasus, which I photographed during the "Mythic Creatures" exhibition at the Fernbank Museum of Natural History—one of our most popular museums, and for good reason—it's awesome!

Pegasus from "Mythic Creatures" Fernbank Museum of Natural History
Pegasus from "Mythic Creatures"
Fernbank Museum of Natural History
Now then, just to clarify, we have two Fernbank museums. There's this one, the Fernbank Museum of Natural History—a natural history museum, and the Fernbank Science Center, which is part of the Dekalb County Public Schools system, but open to the public—and they have a planetarium and an observatory, but I'll write about that again another time.

The "Mythic Creatures: Dragons, Unicorns, and Mermaids" exhibition was here early last year. If you got to see it, you know how it engaged the imagination. And it represents the stature of exhibits this museum provides its visitors.

The current exhibition is a bit more fun..."The Scoop on Poop: The Science of What Animals Leave Behind". While brave and daring, I've not yet seen it, but I'm fully confident that it's educational, entertaining, and rather fascinating—surely in unexpected ways.

I'm beyond excited about the next big exhibition, opening in October this year, "Genghis Khan" will feature "the largest collection of 13th Century Mongolian artifacts ever gathered in a single showing, many which have never been on display to the public."

There's LOTS more to see at Fernbank, a destination I highly recommend, especially if you have kids—they do a LOT for kids. It's also a great destination for grownups...there's the always fun Martinis & IMAX on Friday nights.

Enjoy the pre-sized Facebook Cover Photo above and then  head over to the wanderlust ATLANTA Facebook Page for more information about Atlanta happenings. Remember to "Like" the Page while you're there and feel free to "Share" any of the posts with your friends!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Centennial Olympic Games Museum

Earlier today, the Atlanta History Center posted on their Facebook Page a photo of a 1948 Olympic Torch. They also surprised a number of their fans with the 'announcement' that they have the largest, on-display collection of Olympic torches in the United States.

Olympic Torch Collection at the Atlanta History Center
The collection is housed in the Center's spectacular Centennial Olympic Games Museum. I've been on numerous occasions and ALWAYS see something new. I lived here during the '96 Olympics—hosted by Atlanta—and have wonderful memories of that time...so seeing reminders like this give me an "at home" comfort.

The city-wide beautification projects, in preparation for the inevitable arrival of Olympic fans, were much needed and bought a lot of new art to Atlanta. The infrastructure updates were quite welcomed--including the high-occupancy traffic lanes that had actually been planned in the 1970s! It was a time of great transformation.

1948 Olympic Torch, Atlanta History Center
1948 Olympic Torch
on display at the Atlanta History Center
Everyone knows the more obvious '96 Olympic Games legacy attractions--Centennial Olympic Park (which actually wasn't part of the original plan!) and Turner Field (which was converted from our Olympic Stadium to a ball field after the Games), but not nearly enough locals know of the Centennial Olympic Games Museum. I hope that changes.

When you get to the Atlanta History Center, grab a map—you're going to need it because there's a LOT to see on the 33-acre complex—and note where the Museum is so that you're sure to experience it.

Alright...the image at the top of this post is a pre-sized Facebook Cover Photo for you to enjoy as you wish. When you're done here, head over to the wanderlust ATLANTA Facebook Page for more photos, links to Atlanta happenings and attractions, and thousands of photos! Please "Like" the Page while you're there!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Cover: Swan House

One of the most famous homes in Atlanta, recognized immediately by anyone who has lived here for even a brief while, is the once residence of the Edward H. Inman family...the Swan House. The house gets its name—Swan—not from a family member, but from the swan design elements found in the mansion.

Swan House, Atlanta History Center
The Swan House is on the 33-acre Atlanta History Center in the Buckhead area of Atlanta and just down the street from the Governor's Mansion (which offers a fantastic tour!).

I was graced with fortune when making this photo. The moon was visible for less than a minute. By time I called over the friend and fellow photographer I was visiting with, the clouds had already covered the moon and it was closing time, so no time to wait.

When you go to the Atlanta History Center, ask for tickets to tour the Swan House. Tours are timed and the tour group size is limited. You cannot get into the house without a tour ticket!

Another cool thing of note, the Atlanta History logo—the star in a circle—is also taken from the Swan House, but I'll let the tour guide give you the details on that.

Please enjoy the above pre-sized Facebook Cover Photo of the Swan House and then head over to the wanderlust ATLANTA Facebook Page to discover others. Remember to "Like" the Page while you're there! Enjoy.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Cocktails & Chihuly & Tai Chi!

My favorite place in all of Atlanta is the Atlanta Botanical Garden. I love it there so much, I've been a regular visitor since 1987 (and a member for many of those years). And, I started volunteering there two years ago this fall and as of last September, I am an Atlanta Botanical Garden docent.

Chihuly Sculpture, during Cocktails in the Garden
Parterre Garden, Atlanta Botanical Garden
Professionally I'm a techie, but I have a strong love for the peace and serenity the outdoors offers. That sometimes takes the form of biking or hiking, but there's no tranquility like that a garden gives. Our Garden is an incredible respite from city life, without having to take a day-trip or hop a plane...a respite that I often look forward to.

And the Atlanta Botanical Garden has become an Atlanta social destination.

Garden Light, Holiday Nights Atlanta Botanical Garden
Garden Light, Holiday Nights
Atlanta Botanical Garden
The Garden a "social destination" you ask? Yes, absolutely so!

Now in its 10th year, "Cocktails in the Garden" is a wonderful outing for friends, family, and it's also a romantic setting for date night. I love that visitors "dress" for Cocktails. Not everyone does and no one should feel like they have to dress...the event is for any and every person. But...I love that the ladies wear their cute summer dresses—usually longer on women closer to my age and shorter on the younger generation; and the gentlemen look quite dapper in the Garden with their khakis and collared shirts.

Orchid Daze Atlanta Botanical Garden
Orchid Daze
Atlanta Botanical Garden
But Cocktails isn't the only social event at the Garden. There are classes, including Tai Chi and cooking classes, and there's Science Cafe and members only events.

And then there are the seasonal events and exhibitions. A new Atlanta tradition: Garden Lights, Holiday Nights is insanely popular! Last year, the inaugural year, there were approximately 105,000 visitors...just for the lights! It's an immediate Atlanta tradition...and it's only going to get better!

There's also Orchid Daze and Atlanta Blooms in the spring, and Scarecrows in the Garden in the fall.

Orchid Daze, which I've written about times before, is spectacular. It's plenty that our city's Garden has one of the largest collections of orchids in the United States, but of course we have to take it up a notch at least once a year.

Scarecrows in the Garden Atlanta Botanical Garden
Scarecrows in the Garden
Atlanta Botanical Garden
There are approximately 25,000 species of orchids on the planet (and well over a quarter million hybrids!), and of those, the Garden has approximately 2,000 species of orchids in its collection. For this year's Orchid Daze, they bought in 917 additional orchid plants...that's THOUSANDS of orchid blooms! In one word...spectacular!

And they do orchid conservation and research. The place is so much more than just pretty plants and flowers!

I've only been to Scarecrows in the Garden once...that was this past year. I have to tell you, I will be back every year. This was so much fun! They put up approximately 100 scarecrows that have been made by clubs, individuals, families, companies...anyone can submit a scarecrow! And their diversity runs the scope of Cruella de Ville to scarecrow robots!

Atlanta Blooms! Atlanta Botanical Garden
Atlanta Blooms!
Atlanta Botanical Garden
So, as you can see in this brief rave of my favorite place in the city, the Atlanta Botanical Garden has so much to offer...and I've barely scraped my rake across the surface! Check it out...you'll be glad you did.

By the way, the first image on this post is a pre-sized Facebook Cover Photo for you to use and enjoy. When you're done here, head over to the wanderlust ATLANTA Facebook Page for more Cover Photos and be sure to "Like" the Page while you're there. Thanks!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Cover: Federal Reserve

In addition to a new Facebook Cover Photo, here's an excerpt from a previous post about the subject matter in this photo--of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta:

Federal Reserve Bank, Atlanta, Georgia
Federal Reserve Bank, Atlanta, Georgia

"Immediately in front of the building's main entrance is a massive bronze eagle perched, wings spread wide, atop a column that was part of the original Atlanta Fed building that opened in 1918. The eagle sculpture was created in 1964 by Elbert Weinberg."

The Atlanta Fed is one of only twelve Federal Reserve banks in the United states and one of only a few of those that offer tours. The tour—mostly self-guided—I highly recommend.

Enjoy this pre-sized Facebook Cover Photo and then head over to the wanderlust ATLANTA Facebook Page for more. For more about Atlanta's Federal Reserve Bank, visit my full post at the link in the first paragraph.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Cover: High Art...Old and New

One of the things that I love about the High Museum of Art are the phenomenal temporary exhibitions, but one of the things I love most about the High is its permanent collections, ancient through modern. I've loved most every kind of art at one point or another in my life, but the one kind that I've loved throughout my life is modern art.

Modern Tapestry at the High Museum of Art
Modern Tapestry at the High Museum of Art
This tapestry is at the entrance to the Modern and Contemporary permanent gallery of the High. They also have very nearby some changing exhibits...many of which are beyond supernova brilliant!

The High doubled in size during the years I lived in Washington, D.C., and while the new collections take my imagination on trips beyond borders I know I'll never visit, there's a comfort in seeing many of the works of art that I knew so many years before. One of those is the Veiled Rebecca, which is also one of the most visited pages on this blog!

Well, enjoy the above pre-sized Facebook Cover Photo of this modern art tapestry located in the High Museum of Art...and visit it in person—it's quite remarkable! At some point, head over to the wanderlust ATLANTA Facebook Page to check out the other Cover Photos and be sure to "Like" the Page while you're there!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Cover: Statues of Greece, Rome, Asia, Egypt, Etc.

An Atlanta treasure, not well known but growing in popularity, is the Michael C. Carlos Museum. Located on the campus of the Emory University, Ancient Greece, Rome, Asia, Africa, the Americas, and Egypt are very close to downtown.

Statue in the Michael C. Carlos Museum
Statue in the Michael C. Carlos Museum
The Michael C. Carlos Museum is one of my favorite in the city. Of the countless times I've been in the last couple of years (that's right, I lived here for 15 years the first time and never even knew this place existed), I always see something new. 

Having lived in Greece for more than two years, I'm particularly fascinated with the Greek and Roman gallery and its artifacts. But I'm equally impressed with the Ancient American gallery...the collections in this gallery are extensive and incredibly strong in conveying not-previously-known information about the various cultures right here on our own continent.

And for those who are fascinated with Ancient Egypt, the Carlos has the oldest Egyptian mummy in the Americas, as well as quite a few others including Tanakhtnettahat and Iawttayesheret...they're magnificent! The mummies, the visitor favorite of this gallery, are coupled with many other artifacts that speak to the Egyptian culture of their time.

Enjoy the above pre-sized Facebook Cover Photo to show off your enthusiasm for Greek and Roman art and then head over to the wanderlust ATLANTA Facebook Page where there are many others. Be sure to "Like" the Page while you're there!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Cover: Industrial Scars at the Carter Library

Industrialization and pollution have scarred Earth. In a photographic exhibition that opened at The Jimmy Carter Presidential Library & Museum, visitors can see the dramatic effects humans have had on Earth. The exhibition—"Industrial Scars: The Photography of J. Henry Fair" is on display through October 14, 2012.

The Jimmy Carter Presidential Library & Museum
The Jimmy Carter Presidential Library & Museum
I've seen a similar exhibit in Washington, D.C. It could actually be the same exhibit...the Carter Library often receives traveling exhibits from the Smithsonian, as well as other Libraries and other sources. Drama and thought provocation are in order for viewing these photographs

We're so accustomed to seeing the astounding beauty presented in National Geographic and cousin Marissa's vacation photos, but rarely do we think about what we do to the Earth just to have table salt. This exhibit is a glimpse at just that.

The Carter Museum is one of Atlanta's phenomenal treasures...you will truly feel like you've stumbled upon one of the greatest finds of the Century! There's LOTS to see...and it doesn't feel like homework!

This Facebook Cover Photo is of the ceiling of an exact replica, full-scale reproduction of the Oval Office as it was during President Carter's administration...the closest many will ever get to the Oval Office. I've actually sat at the President's desk, but that was at Madame Tussauds in Manhattan, so not the same thing, but cool nonetheless.

Enjoy this Facebook Cover Photo and then head over to wanderlust ATLANTA's Facebook Page to enjoy more Cover Photos and more information about what's happening in Atlanta! (Please "Like" the Page while you're there!)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

King & Queen For Sale?

Known locally as the King & Queen BuildingsConcourse Corporate Center V & VI (respectively)—the Center went on the market in April of this year. I don't know the current status (keep an eye on your Atlanta Business Journal), but I can tell you a little about them otherwise.

King & Queen Buildings aka Concourse Corporate Center V & VI
King & Queen Buildings
aka Concourse Corporate Center V & VI
I moved to Atlanta the first time in 1987, so I got to see these two beauties go up. Construction was completed on the 32- and 33-story towers in 1988 and 1991 and they were as magnificent then as they are today.

Located at the northeast quadrant of the Interstate 285 and Georgia 400 intersection, they're a promise of Atlanta's heaven-bound skyline for commuters coming in from outside the perimeter—or "OTP" as we locals call it. For non-locals, the "perimeter" is Interstate 285 which makes a full loop around Atlanta via the suburbs.

The King & Queen Buildings are among Atlanta's 20 tallest buildings, but they're actually in the city of Sandy Springs AND they're two of the tallest buildings in a suburban area in the entire United States.

The Concourse at Landmark Center is a gorgeous complex...there's a lot more going on at the ground level than one might imagine. After being mesmerized with the towers' "crowns", you don't always think to wonder what's happening down below.

King & Queen Building
aka Concourse Corporate Center V & VI 
In the complex are offices, a four-star 371-room Westin Hotel, and a man-made lake complete with fountain and landscaped sitting areas where many of the tie-clad 9-5 tenants lunch.

For most, just being given the opportunity to admire such beautiful architecture that far from downtown is a great treat in itself...but isn't it always better when it offers much more and it's maintained so beautifully? Yes?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Cover: Beluga Whales at Georgia Aquarium

The star of Georgia Aquarium's Cold Water Quest gallery is without a doubt the Beluga Whales. These majestic creatures are unique among whales and are actually quite playful. They're definitely a crowd favorite and almost always there's a docent speaking and answering questions at the viewing area.

Beluga Whales at Georgia Aquarium
Beluga Whales at Georgia Aquarium
Most of us have heard of Beluga caviar, right? Well, that delicacy does not come from the Beluga Whale (it actually comes from sturgeon). The Beluga Whale gets its name from the Russian word for "white". It's believed that their white color is an evolutionary trait to help them blend in with icy environments.

While you're at Georgia Aquarium, which is in Pemberton Place, also consider exploring nearby World of Coca-Cola, Imagine It, Centennial Olympic Park, and Inside CNN Studio Tour. Unlike many Atlanta museums, Georgia Aquarium is open on Mondays!

In the meantime, enjoy this pre-sized Facebook Cover Photo and then head over to wanderlust ATLANTA's Facebook Page to enjoy others.

BB&T Atlanta Open Serving Up World-Class Tennis

I was about to start this post with a confession that I'm not much of a sports enthusiast, but then I realized that I've been to hundreds of baseball, hockey, and tennis games...so, while I'm a far cry from a jock, I guess I am a sports fan after all...a contributor to having so much fun at the BB&T Atlanta Open this past weekend!

BB&T Atlanta Open, Atlanta Tennis Championships
Taking place at its new location in Atlantic Station, I'm told that the seating capacity is 4,000 (unverified). When I went on Saturday, I had the privilege of sitting in the elevated Champagne Suite where there was a breeze that made the difference between misery and it feeling like a comfortable summer evening on the front porch.

BB&T Atlanta Open, Atlantic Station
The tennis—amazing! I know a lot of people don't go to the qualifiers because they're celebrity spotters like me, but they're the setting of some great athletic performances—these guys want to move their careers along so they're playing not only with their bodies, but also with their hearts.

Later in the week, attendees will get to see no less than 15 Olympians—that's pretty awesome! Not that Atlanta is a stranger to Olympic athletes, but there are so few Olympians on the planet that when you get to see one...well, let's just say "coolness." Not to mention "admiration" for the discipline and hard work it took to get to that point.

So, the courts are open all week and on throughout this weekend, so get your tickets and go check out some world-class tennis!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Cover: BAPS Mandir

Another of Atlanta's 'best-kept-secrets' is the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Lawrenceville, Georgia, near the intersection of Lawrenceville Highway and Rockbridge Road. A mandir is a Hindu place of worship and this one is one of the most stunning buildings I've ever seen...ever!

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir
BAPS Shri Swamirayan Mandir
One of the amazing things about this Mandir is that it's open to the public...and not just the grounds. The grounds are open every day and three times a day the sacred shrines within are open. To gain access you will need to show a photo ID at the main gate and you will need to remove your shoes when going into the shrines.

Photographs are not permitted inside (remember, it's a place of worship), but you may make all the photos you want outside (there are signs posted marking the areas where photos are not permitted).

Enjoy this already-sized Facebook Cover Photo and then head over to wanderlust ATLANTA's Facebook Page to see more!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Cover: Art in the Garden

The Atlanta Botanical Garden is not only an Atlanta treasure, it's filled with art. In addition to its ongoing tradition of featuring phenomenal art exhibitions—"Chihuly in the Garden", "Moore in America", and "Garden Gates" to name only a few—there is so much to do!

"Deer" at the Atlanta Botanical Garden
"Deer" at the Atlanta Botanical Garden
The bronze deer in this particular Facebook Cover Photo was fashioned by Fritz Paul Zimmer after a deer from his years in Germany. The statue is on extended loan from the High Museum of Art.

Buying a membership to the Garden was one of the best things I did when I moved back to Atlanta. There's so much going on there! Here are a few of my favorite happenings:

And let's not forget the Garden's blogs. Probably my favorite is The Orchid Column authored by the Orchid Center Manager Becky Brinkman. Her blog is filled with interesting, startling, and fun information all about orchids. Did you know that of the 25,000 species of orchids in the world, the Atlanta Botanical Garden has approximately 2,000 varieties in their collection, making it one of the largest in the United States.

Enjoy this already-sized Facebook Cover Photo and then head over to wanderlust ATLANTA's Facebook Page to see others! Thanks for reading!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Cover: Weedy Sea Dragon

Georgia Aquarium at Pemberton Place in Downtown Atlanta, the world's largest aquarium, announced a few months ago that they had hatched the largest brood of baby Weedy Sea Dragons of any aquarium...there were more than 100 babies!

Weedy Sea Dragon at Georgia Aquarium
Weedy Sea Dragon
Georgia Aquarium
Georgia Aquarium quickly became a sensation among tourists and locals. I've been countless times in the less than two years I've been back in Atlanta. In the last two years they've added the "AT&T Dolphin Tales" show and exhibit—amazing! And they've changed their pricing structure to include a new "Total Ticket", which includes general admission, the 3D movie experience, and the dolphin show.

Of all the animals living at Georgia Aquarium, the Weedy Sea Dragon seems, to me, to be the most difficult to photograph with a conventional camera. I'd taken probably hundreds of photos of them before I got this shot...and it was totally worth it! These guys live in the Cold Water Quest gallery.

Enjoy this pre-sized Facebook Cover photo, which you can copy here, and then head over to the wanderlust ATLANTA's Facebook Page where you can enjoy others. Happy touring!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Cover: Six Flags' Ultimate Roller Coaster

Superman: Ultimate Flight is one of my favorite among the ample collection of rides and roller coasters at Six Flags Over Georgia, located just west of the city.

Superman: Ultimate Flight at Six Flags Over Georgia
Superman: Ultimate Flight
Six Flags Over Georgia

I especially like the 78-foot pretzel shaped inverted loop, not to mention that it's nearly 12 stories and you're "flying" at 60 miles per hour!

I have a friend who is a stage manager at Six Flags and I'm told that their new glow-in-the-dark show, "iLuminate", is quite spectacular. I've always enjoyed the shows at Six Flags, probably helped by their ability to make me feel like a kid. This show ends on August 12, so get there soon if you want to see it!

Enjoy the above already-sized Facebook Cover Photo of "Superman: Ultimate Flight". Remember to head over to wanderlust ATLANTA's Facebook Page to download others and please "Like" the Page while you're there. Happy roller coasting!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Cover: Turner Field

Time for another Facebook Cover Photo! This one is of gigantic baseballs that line the plaza immediately in front of Turner Field...the field that was converted from our 1996 Centennial Olympic Stadium to Turner Field—Home of the Atlanta Braves.

Baseballs Aligning Plaza in Front of Turner Field
Baseballs Aligning Plaza in Front of Turner Field

The conversion was brilliant! Unlike so many other cities that host the Olympic Games, we didn't end up with a multi-million dollar stadium sitting unused because no one could fill it. Instead, the converted stadium is regularly packed out for home games and often used for charity walks and other activities.

And they give a fantastic behind-the-scenes tour, which includes visits to the Atlanta Braves Museum & Hall of Fame, press box, locker room, dugout, and even onto the field!

Often on Friday night home games, they'll have a post-game fireworks display. But I'll save that for another Cover Photo.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Cover: Westin Peachtree Plaza

I've decided to offer my followers, subscribers, and viewers a value-added perk...already sized "Cover" photos for your Facebook accounts. The photos will all be of something in Atlanta (or nearby area) and they'll be the optimum size for Facebook's Cover photos—850 pixels x 315 pixels.

Feel free to download them and use them as you wish. I'd love to know you're using them, so if you're so inclined, please let me know that you're enjoying any given Cover photo.

Westin Peachtree Plaza
Westin Peachtree Plaza
Today's Cover photo is a shot of the soaring, glistening Westin Peachtree Plaza, once the tallest hotel in the world. Designed by famous Atlanta architect John Portman, the Westin was a catalyst for incredibly unique Atlanta architecture that continues to rise today...ask my friend Terry Kearns of Architecture Tourist

Atop the Westin is The Sundial Restaurant, Bar & View...towering 73 stories over Atlanta! The restaurant is a steakhouse and a favorite destination for weekend brunch when locals have company in from out of town and makes one full revolution every 60 minutes. And the Bar is great for a relaxing martini after a hard days work...it makes a full revolution every 35 minutes..

The View lies between the restaurant and the bar and is stationary with vistas encompassing an unparalleled 360 panorama. If you don't have a restaurant or bar reservation, it'll cost $5 to ride the exterior glass elevator to get to The View, but the "view" is worth every penny. And there are nearby public parking lots that are only $5 in the evenings and weekends (unless there's a special event going on).

Enjoy the Westin Peachtree Plaza...it's an Atlanta icon and is a tell-tale sign that one is viewing the Atlanta skyline.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Inside the Fireworks!

July 4th Fireworks at Centennial Olympic Park
July 4th Fireworks
at Centennial Olympic Park
This was one of the absolute best Independence Days ever! And to top it all off, I got to practically be "inside" the fireworks that evening!

One of my dearest friends—we think it's been 17 years or so—recently purchased a penthouse at Museum Tower. Museum Tower is at the northeast corner of Centennial Olympic Park and next to World of Coca-Cola. Imagine It is at the ground level.

So, for the 4th of July, he treated us (there were four total in our clan) to a catered, rooftop pool party and viewing of the Fireworks!

We started with a nice bottle of wine in the penthouse, which overlooks north downtown and Midtown...you can see Stone Mountain and Kennesaw Mountain from there! The view is spectacular.

We went to the rooftop where we had a practically 360 degree view—amazing! And we were directly, and I mean "directly", above where the majority of the fireworks would be going off.

Fireworks pre-show
Fireworks pre-show
One friend and I had been down there before heading upstairs and one of the security guards, when I was trying to make a photo of the pre-show fireworks, insisted I move along. "They could go off any minute," she said. True or not, that was plenty to have me on my way...but it was still pretty cool to see them up close like that.

There were thousands and thousands and thousands of people there. They totally filled up Centennial Olympic Park, even all the way to the southern most edges. And Pemberton Place, between World of Coca-Cola and Georgia Aquarium, was practically filled.

The stage performances looked like they were enjoyed by those in the Park. The only song I could make out was the Star-Spangled Banner, for which we of course paused.

Centennial Olympic Park July 4th Crowds
Centennial Olympic Park
July 4th Crowds
The fireworks started and a hush fell over the rooftop. Cameras and cell phones were just as ablaze as the night sky and there were thousands of flashes going off in the crowd below.

We were so close to the fireworks that shards of paper floated onto the rooftop. I believe one shard in particular will end up in one of my friend's scrapbook...but there are photos that cataloged its existence should it have not made it to scrap-booking.

The fireworks themselves made traditional patterns, nothing too complex, but the colors were fantastic and the amount of fireworks was impressive.

I've seen fireworks from the lawn of our Nation's Capitol, from the stadium at Turner Field, and even in other parts of the world, but I would love for this experience to become an annual tradition (hint, hint)...it was certainly a unique and wonderful way to experience Atlanta's fireworks.

Now...head on over to wanderlust ATLANTA's Facebook Page for more photos! Remember to "Like" the Page while you're there and feel free to "share."

Independence Day Fireworks
Centennial Olympic Park