If I Only Had 48 Hours in Atlanta, This Is How I’d Spend Them

Photo: Getty Images/Ryan J. Lane
When it comes to wellness vacations, Atlanta may not be the first place that comes to mind. (Hello, Bali. Hey now, Carlsbad.) But the sprawling Georgia metropolis is host to beautiful nature, inspiring culture, and one of the most highly acclaimed shows on TV (Donald Glover's Atlanta.) Earlier this year, the city even topped the U.S. Census Bureau’s list of fastest growing metro areas in the country. What that means is that there's a lot to explore.

Whether it’s the Eastside, the Southside, Little Five Points, or Midtown, Atlanta has something for visitors that's sure to inspire a healthy, wellness-filled day. I currently call the city home, but if that wasn't the case, and, say, I was only in town for the weekend, below is how I'd squeeze the most out of The Big Peach.

Atlanta things to do for health and wellness
Photo: Jeju Sauna

Day one

Atlanta's a driving city, so a set of wheels is key, and the first thing I'd do is hop in my car and head to Jeju Sauna, dubbed the "Home of Wellbeing." It's well worth the 30-minute drive to nearby Duluth. This magical Korean sauna is open 24 hours a day, every day. You could spend an entire morning trying all the saunas—there are nine including one lined in crystals like amethyst. It also has a jade saltwater pool, infrared light center, and a fitness center. Better still, there’s a food court designed in the fashion of a traditional Korean restaurant when you're done working up a sweat.

Around mid-day, I'd make my way to Fernbank Science Center. The museum is located in Midtown and the ideal place to spend an afternoon in Atlanta beating the heat. I'm particularly fond of its planetarium; The sphere shape allows visitors to gaze up at the instructional show as if they’re looking at a night sky. Fernbank also has an observatory with a 36-inch telescope, one of the biggest in the southeast.

After an afternoon of stargazing, the only thing left that'd make the day complete is a big plate of "soul food." It's everything in Atlanta, so finding some is a natural dinner choice. But you can opt for healthier versions at Soul Vegetarian. Just make sure to save room for a slice of one of its popular non-dairy cakes or pies.

Atlanta things to do for health and wellness
Photo: Atlanta Beltline

Day two

After fueling up, say, on an acai bowl or protein smoothie from Vitality Bowls Superfood Café in Midtown, I'd hit the trails. There are 33 total miles to experience along Atlanta’s Beltline, a network of multi-use trails that cuts directly through the city. Visitors can experience the journey by walking, jogging, running, or biking. A core 22-mile corridor acts as the center of the Beltline and there are various starting points in pockets of neighborhoods in Atlanta: the Eastside Trail, the Northside Trail, the Southwest Connector Spur Trail, and the West End Trail, among others. So it's the perfect, active way to explore Atlanta.

If I still had the energy, I'd jet over to Lithonia to hike up Arabia Mountain, where views of Arabia Lake, exposed granite, shallow basins, and rare plants will take your breath away. I'd be sure to snap a few pics for my plant lady friends, of course.

Feeling a healthy rush of endorphins from all my exercise, I'd make my way to Sevananda, an all organic food co-op, for lunch. Then spend an afternoon exploring the area, which includes one of my most special finds in ATL, Junkman’s Daughter, a refuge for music junkies and vintage clothing lovers, alike. After a few hours of hunting for secondhand gold mines, I'd continue searching for buried treasures over at Crystal Blue, the woo-woo boutique where you can score affordable, high-vibe healing stones.

Finally, I'd finish my wellness weekend by popping into Dr. Bombay’s Underwater Tea Party, an offbeat cafe, to sip on a selection from its more than 70 different tea varieties, which I'd enjoy with some of its freshly baked pastries and vegetarian dishes. Sounds just peachy, right?

If travel to feed the soul is what you're after you're in luck, because this is officially the era of transformative travel.

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