Sunday, December 31, 2017

wanderlust ATLANTA's 2017 Photo Review

Wow! What an eventful year! Let's have a look back...


wanderlust ATLANTA 2017 Photo Review | Dragon Con Night at Medieval Times | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Dragon Con Night at Medieval Times | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

[Dragon Con Night at Medieval Times]

Usually when I make the time to reflect on the year, I sometimes feel unaccomplished ... until I look back at the photos of everything I did throughout that year. I'm fully reminded that I've been having the time of my life and that I'm fortunate enough to get to do so many amazing and fun things!

Here's a quick list from 2017, some of which I wrote about in wanderlust ATLANTA and some you may be hearing about for the first time:


There's even more and I'm ever grateful for such a fantastic year! I hope you enjoy the photos in this recap and that they encourage you to go out and play in your own backyard (Atlanta). Here we go, in no particular order...


Helicopter Tour of Atlanta | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Helicopter Tour of Atlanta | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

[Helicopter Tour of Atlanta]

My only previous helicopter ride was over the Grand Canyon. That was awesome, but flying over the city you call home, flying over your actual home, and seeing Atlanta in a whole new way was absolutely fascinating! I highly recommend it! We flew with Select Helicopters.


Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | 10th & Piedmont
Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | 10th & Piedmont 

[Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | 10th & Piedmont]

Nikki (@atlantafoodie on Instagram) and I had a blast partnering on our 10-month, 10-restaurant series Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers". We finished at 10th & Piedmont in October and that post has garnered thousands and thousands of views!

We met just this week to plan our next year's series. We're so excited! We put a lot of thought and strategy into our 2018 plan. Look for the announcement sometime in January!


The Curious Garden | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
The Curious Garden | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

["The Curious Garden" at the Atlanta Botanical Garden]

I've been going to the Atlanta Botanical Garden since the late 80s and volunteered as a docent for 4.5 years when I moved back this last time. To say that I love the Garden would be an understatement. 

This year's summer exhibition "The Curious Garden" was well beyond what I was expecting. I hope you got to see it, but if not, read about it at the above link. 

Exciting news! For the Garden's 2018 and 2019 summer exhibition, Imaginary Worlds is returning...bigger than ever! (2013 and 2014


Andretti Indoor Karting & Games | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Andretti Indoor Karting & Games | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

[An Andretti Checkered Flag Birthday]

Most anyone who knows me knows that I'm a big kid at heart. So, it was no surprise that I spent my 2017 birthday at Andretti Indoor Karting & Games in Marietta. Killing zombies, adrenaline-rush laser tag, and driving the fastest karts in Georgia made for an exciting, memorable birthday outing!


Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | Nine Mile Station
Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | Nine Mile Station

[Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | Nine Mile Station]

Our ninth stop on our Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" was brunch at Nine Mile Station at Ponce City Market. I think the above photo speaks for itself, but visit the link above for even more deliciousness!


Orchid Daze 2017 | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Orchid Daze 2017 | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

[Orchid Daze 2017]

If you've ever thought that going to the Atlanta Botanical Garden in the dead of winter is a waste of time, you must not know about Orchid Daze! This exhibition is absolutely stunning and features thousands of additional blossoms in addition to what is already one of the largest collections of orchids in the United States. If you've not been, please treat yourself this coming year.


Nobody Loves You | Horizon Theatre Company
Nobody Loves You | Horizon Theatre Company

[10 Reasons to See "Nobody Loves You" in the Park]

"Nobody Loves You" was the smash hit musical at Horizon Theatre this year, which included a run—free to theatre goers—in Piedmont Park on the Promenade. It was the theatre's third, wholly successful, free show in Piedmont Park. 

One of the things that I love about Horizon Theatre is that you get to meet and take photos with the stars immediately following the show—even the shows in Piedmont Park. The above photo is following a stage performance of Nobody Loves You with Austin Tijerina and Leslie Bellair.


The Pudding House | The Walking Dead | Atlanta Movie Tours | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
The Pudding House | The Walking Dead | Atlanta Movie Tours | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

[Big Zombie Walking Tour]

I've been on most of the tours offered by Atlanta Movie Tours—they're up to 10—and every one has been a fantastic experience! A new tour this year is their Big Zombie Walking Tour (I'm in the photo on that page!), which is amazing! You get to visit numerous film sites including the Chocolate Pudding House, where Carl Grimes ate 112 oz. of chocolate pudding...on that very roof! 


Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | Eight Sushi
Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | Eight Sushi

[Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | Eight Sushi Lounge]

Nikki and I went to Eight Sushi Lounge—which was our 8th stop on our "By the Numbers" series—this week to plan next year's restaurant series. We had a great time planning, especially while dining on their Lobster Ramen, the dish that won them the top honors at the Atlanta Ramen Festival this year. This is their second year in a row to win that honor and both of the winning ramen dishes are on the menu!


Dragon Con Parade | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

[Dragon Con Parade 2017]

Dragon Con is one of the BEST celebrity-spotting opportunities in Atlanta! The Dragon Con Parade features a number of celebrities, including this year's Grand Marshal Stan Lee, comic book author and creator of Spider-Man, X-Men, Iron Man, Hulk, and many more. Atlanta's Dragon Con Parade is the city's largest parade, one not to be missed!


Dragon Con Parade | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Dragon Con Parade | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

[Dragon Con Parade 2017]

I've been a trekie since my first childhood memories. Meeting Leonard Nimoy (Spock) at the National Press Club in 2002 was one of my most cherished celebrity memories. He was amazing! The "Spock" in this year's Dragon Con Parade was one of the best Spock cosplayers I've ever seen!


Southeastern Railway Museum | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Southeastern Railway Museum | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

[Southeastern Railway Museum]

I've loved trains since I was a little kid, as early as third grade. The Southeastern Railway Museum had been on my to-see list for a number of years and I finally made it there this year. It was such an incredible day! Definitely going back!


Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | Seven Lamps | Photo: @atlantafoodie
Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | Seven Lamps | Photo: @atlantafoodie

[Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | Seven Lamps]

I'm not sure about Nikki, but I have a favorite dish from each of our 10 restaurant experiences in our "By the Numbers" series. At Seven Lamps, it was definitely the 
Roasted Garlic Panisse. Wow! What an amazing dish. Read more about that particular experience at the link above.


"Atlanta Blooms" | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
"Atlanta Blooms" | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

["Atlanta Blooms!" 2017]

Tulips are my favorite flower—a story that goes back to my late grandmother Evelyn—so getting to see so many at the "Atlanta Blooms!" exhibition at the Atlanta Botanical Garden is a real treat.


Scarecrows in the Garden 2017 | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Scarecrows in the Garden 2017 | Atlanta Botanical Garden | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

[Scarecrows in the Garden 2017]

I always enjoy Halloween and sometimes, very rarely, will dress for the occasion. But I totally don't have to to get my fix of creative, clever costumes by dressing up. Scarecrows in the Garden features more than 100 scarecrows and they keep getting better year after year!


Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | Six Feet Under | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | Six Feet Under | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

[Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | Six Feet Under]

When we decided on Six Feet Under for the sixth stop on our 10 restaurants, we selected the one across the street from Oakland Cemetery, the final resting place of Margaret Mitchell and Bobby Jones, to name a couple. We were pleasantly surprised to learn that this restaurant offers much more than one might expect.


"Gladiators: Heroes of the Colosseum | Fernbank Museum of Natural History
"Gladiators: Heroes of the Colosseum | Fernbank Museum of Natural History

[Gladiators: Heroes of the Colosseum]

Fernbank Museum of Natural History has had countless magnificent exhibitions in its 25 years, and "Gladiators: Heroes of the Colosseum" is no exception. I personally found that the numerous artifacts from the actual Colosseum made it extremely fascinating!


Travis, Giggy, Sue | Fernbank Museum of Natural History
Travis, Giggy, Sue | Fernbank Museum of Natural History

[Gladiators: Heroes of the Colosseum]

I loved getting to hang out with my blogger friends in 2017, especially Sue of Field Trips with Sue (now merged with 365 Atlanta Family) and Lesli of 365 Atlanta Family. I got to see Sue at Fernbank Museum of Natural History when she was visiting with her father. And I got to see Lesli at a blogger event at 5Church Atlanta.


Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | 5Church Atlanta | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | 5Church Atlanta | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

[Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | 5Church Atlanta]

5Church Atlanta has become one of my favorite dining destinations, in part because they make me feel like family. Yes, they were our fifth stop on our Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" series, but since then I've had the great honor of meeting the owner, the executive chef, and their families. I'm so grateful for their friendship.

Since that visit in May, Chef Scotley Innis came on board as the new executive chef. He's AWESOME! And he recently introduced a new menu that will keep you returning to the restaurant again and again. There are a few favorites that remain on the menu, but I'd bet one of the new dishes will become your new favorite!

In late summer, I was invited to be part of a television show featuring 5Church Atlanta. I was super flattered and uber excited! We filmed one evening (the diners, that is; the film crew had been there all day), but couldn't talk about it for months. It was great fun!

While I had no expectations, save a hope to at least see my bald spot from across the room in the televised version. Well, as we all watched at the viewing party at 5Church Atlanta months later, with complimentary champagne, there I was! Six or seven times, in fact!

Watch the Atlanta episode on The Cooking Channel's Late Nite Eats  replaying again later this month! 


St. Simons Island Lighthouse | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
St. Simons Island Lighthouse | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

[St. Simons Island Lighthouse]

I had the great pleasure of visiting St. Simons Island this year as a guest of The King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort. What a fantastic experience!!! They were keen on ensuring our media group experienced all the Island has to offer, beyond the Resort. They excelled in this mission! 


The King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
The King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

[The King and Prince: The Food]

When on the media tour of The King and Prince Beach & Gold Resort, we were treated to a number of dining experiences at the Resort, including an Executive Chef's Wine Dinner. The food here is exceptional, not to mention the hospitality, the accommodations, and the beach views!


Georgia Renaissance Festival | Gypsy Geoff Fire Circus | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Georgia Renaissance Festival | Gypsy Geoff Fire Circus | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

[Georgia Renaissance Festival 2017]

I'd only been to one Renaissance Festival before, and had been anxious to attend ours! (the other was when I lived in Washington, DC) I think you'll enjoy the Georgia Renaissance Festival with a group of friends, patient and adventurous friends, because there's so much to see and do here! 


Fair Play: The Bobby Jones Story | Atlanta History Center | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

[Fair Play: The Bobby Jones Story]

Every golf pro or enthusiast knows who Bobby Jones is. The newly renovated "Fair Play: The Bobby Jones Story" exhibition at the Atlanta History Center is magnificent. Even if you've never played golf, I still recommend a visit to this exhibition...it chronicles the magnificent career of a fellow Atlantan!


Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | Bar Margot at Four Seasons
Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | Bar Margot at Four Seasons

[Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | Bar Margot at Four Seasons]

Bar Margot at the Four Seasons, our fourth stop on our "By the Numbers" series is a special treat for visitors and locals alike. I've been numerous times now and every time is a special occasion, whether I'm celebrating something or not. 


Interview: Mary Moore of The Cook's Warehouse | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Interview: Mary Moore of The Cook's Warehouse | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

[From Crepe Pan to 'Every Excuse to Cook']

I've come to greatly admire Mary Moore, founder of The Cook's Warehouse. It was through Les Dames d'Escoffier International-Atlanta Chapter, of which Mary is a founding member, that I got to know who she is. It was through wanderlust ATLANTA that I got to know The Cook's Warehouse better than ever. 

I've shared with Mary on numerous occasions that every visit to The Cook's Warehouse is a discovery of something I didn't know I needed! Mary graciously granted me an interview this year when we discussed the founding of The Cook's Warehouse, a story that begins with the search for a crepe pan.


Japanese Maples ColorFest 2017 | Gibbs Gardens | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Japanese Maples ColorFest 2017 | Gibbs Gardens | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

[Japanese Maples ColorFest 2017]

One visit to Gibbs Gardens and you'll want to go again and again, as I have. I've been to their Japanese Maples ColorFest several years and their Daffodil Festival—featuring 20 million daffodils—is spectacular! They have flower and plant festivals throughout the year. 


Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | Local Three
Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | Local Three

[Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | Local Three]


On our third stop on our Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" series, Nikki and I dined at Local Three. Since then, I've heard multiple reports that they have a magnificent brunch, so we'll have to go again. If you go for dinner, I highly recommend the fish dish pictured above...it was one of the best first dishes I've ever had!


Old Fourth Distillery | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Old Fourth Distillery | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

[Old Fourth Distillery Tour]

Part of Nikki's birthday celebration in January included a tour of Old Fourth Distillery

When we arrived, we were the only ones there. By time our tour started, we had a great crowd of fun people, some from out-of-the-country and locals, too. I'm a vodka man and since this visit when I see Old Fourth Distillery vodka on a cocktail menu in a local restaurant, that's exactly what I order. 


Movie Site Miller's Rexall | Atlanta Movie Tours | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Movie Site Miller's Rexall | Atlanta Movie Tours | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

[Atlanta Movie Tours: Best of Atlanta Tour]

I've been on most of the tours offered by Atlanta Movie Tours, but I'd put off their "Best of Atlanta" tour for years. I finally went this year, with actor friend Jonathan Horne, Suzi Bass Award winner, "Outstanding Lead Actor in a  Play" for The Crucible.

The "Best of Atlanta" tour is outstanding! I was worried that it would be about a lot of shows that I'd never heard of. Evidently I'm a bigger cinema fan than I realized. The tour was totally awesome and great fun!


Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | TWO urban licks | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | TWO urban licks | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

[Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | TWO urban licks]

The second stop on our Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" was TWO urban licks. I felt like I was driving through Gotham City to get to the restaurant and the dining experience transported us to another land. The food, atmosphere, and service are outstanding! And meeting Chef Michael Bertozzi was indeed a special occasion. We both highly recommend a visit to TWO urban licks.


My Patak Tradition | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
My Patak Tradition | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

[My Patak Tradition]

Patak Meats is open to the public only one Saturday per month and on the few occasions I make it there, the trip becomes an excursion that includes an afternoon visiting Sweetwater Creek State Park, one of many amazing Georgia State Parks


Fall Folklife Festival 2017 | Atlanta History Center | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Fall Folklife Festival 2017 | Atlanta History Center | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

[Fall Folklife Festival 2017, Atlanta History Center]

The Atlanta History Center has programming for families, individuals, visitors, tourists, and locals alike...all year long! The Fall Folklife Festival is particularly as entertaining as it is educational. I highly recommend adding it to you yearly "things to do" calendar.


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

[Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | ONE midtown kitchen]

Nikki and I launched our Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" with a personal favorite, ONE midtown kitchen. We're grateful that it set the perfect tone for our series, and deliciously so. We're excited to be planning another restaurant series for 2018. Thank you, ONE midtown kitchen, for your hospitality!


"The Santaland Diaries" | Horizon Theatre Company
"The Santaland Diaries" | Horizon Theatre Company

[INTERVIEW: Topher Payne, "The Santaland Diaries"]

I started this look back at 2017 by sharing with you that I was voted to the Board of Directors at Horizon Theatre this past autumn. One of the things that I've learned is that Horizon doesn't recruit the Board members for someone's name or position, they recruit first and foremost based on a person's love of theatre. I've been dedicated a fan of Horizon Theatre for a number of years, seeing some of their shows multiple times!

I'd met Topher Payne for the first time not too long before he assumed the role of Crumpet for the 19th year of "The Santaland Diaries". He graciously granted me an interview shortly after the run began. We talked on the telephone for half an hour. Well, we mostly laughed—he's hilarious!—and I had a great time getting to know an Atlanta living legend.

THANK YOU and HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Thank you for joining me for a trip down memory lane of the last year. Thank you so very much for your fanship, for reading my stories, and enjoying my photos. Please feel free to ask a question or share a comment on any of my posts. And please know how grateful I am for your support. I look forward to sharing more of Metro Atlanta with you in 2018!

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