Situated in the western shadow of the giant Mercedes Benz Stadium looming over the neighborhood, this central Atlanta residential district has been around long before any giant buildings emerged from Downtown. Instead, it was a home for cultural giants and major figures like Martin Luther King, Jr.
After its founding in the mid-1800s, the area was built to be one of the most renowned areas for Black residents. The most prominent of those was Alonzo Herndon, owner of barber shops and insurance companies, and Atlanta’s first Black millionaire. His neo-classical home, completed in 1910, still stands today in Vine City and will soon be open again for tours after renovations.
In the wake of the Great Fire of Atlanta in 1907, the city’s African American population spread out to nearby neighborhoods, and Vine City and English Avenue were beneficiaries of this migration. The areas were home to a robust middle class with thriving businesses, like Paschal’s restaurant. It became a cradle of Civil Rights in the 1950s. But after falling on hard times in the wake of the exodus all of Atlanta faced in the coming decades, the construction of the Georgia Dome further displaced residents and affected Vine City and surrounding areas.
These days Vine City is on an upward trajectory. It is adjacent to the booming Atlanta University Center, with its historically black colleges — Clark Atlanta, Morehouse, and Spellman — and the Westside BeltLine. Its MARTA station allows easy access to downtown conventions and stadiums. No matter which direction you go, you’re bound to be connected to key districts in the city.
What can I do for fun in Vine City?
Cheer on football of all kinds at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The city’s premier stadium, with its iconic central skylight opening, is home to the Atlanta Falcons and the Atlanta United soccer team. Matches for both teams regularly fill the 70,000+ seats in the stadium, and the energy alone is worth the ticket price. Also worth it? The affordable concessions from local vendors like Fox Bros. BBQ and H&F Burger. Even if you’re not a sports fan, it’s worth coming to “the Benz” for a concert or one of the other major events hosted here year-round.
Play and stroll at Rodney Cook Sr. Park. One of the city’s newest park spaces, this 16-acre urban oasis opened up in 2021. It provides not just a place to relax but functions as a massive stormwater retention area to alleviate flooding in the neighborhood. The park features a multi-acre pond, playgrounds, rock climbing, an amphitheater, and winding walkways that connect Vine City to nearby PATH and BeltLine trails.
Where are the best places to eat and drink in Vine City?
Busy Bee Cafe
A legendary Atlanta establishment that has fed everyone from local workers to Martin Luther King, Jr. and Vice President Kamala Harris since 1947, Busy Bee Café is as known for its place in civil rights history as it is for its food. But don’t be fooled, its Southern cuisine is worth a visit to this diminutive diner. What awaits is perfectly crispy fried chicken and your choice of soulful sides like black-eyed peas, collard greens, and fried okra, to name a few. Top off with an old-fashioned banana pudding or peach cobbler for dessert. Recognized by both James Beard and Michelin, Busy Bee is worth the buzz.
Location: 810 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, SW; Hours: Every day, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Website: thebusybeecafe.com
Local Green Atlanta
Founded to address a lack of healthy eating options on the Westside, Local Green offers creative sandwiches and sides to better your diet. The “Rapper’s Delight” Philly swaps in salmon and a tangy sauce on the classic sandwich, while the “Bubba Sparxx” nestled pulled BBQ jackfruit, vegan slaw, and onions, between a toasty bun. There are also salads and healthy sides like Cajun-spiced air fries and roasted broccoli. Wash it all down with healthy beverages like vegan smoothies and fruity lemonades.
Location: 19 Joseph E. Lowery Boulevard; Hours: Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Website: localgreenatlanta.com
Restaurant Ten Bar and Lounge
If you’re not as picky about being healthy, grab a meal from this pub across the street from Mercedes Benz Stadium. Didn’t get into the game? No problem! Watch it on one of their many big-screen TV’s while you nosh on meaty wings, tangy tacos, or a big juicy burger. Or just grab a drink or two with friends from their large central bar featuring an extensive selection of beer and cocktails.
Location: 10 Northside Drive; Hours: Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Tuesday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Website: restaurant10atl.com