Located just east of downtown and one of the oldest neighborhoods in Atlanta, the Old Fourth Ward (or O4W) was created as one of five wards in the growing city of the late 1800s. The only one to retain its name into present day, this historic neighborhood is now best known as the birthplace of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., or the ever-evolving heart of the BeltLine Eastside Trail.
An oasis of parks, recreation, shopping, and skating, this area is marked by rebirth, with several landmarks whose histories stretch back to earlier eras of Atlanta’s history. While Ponce City Market may be the hip place to eat and shop now, it began its life as a Sears, Roebuck, and Co. regional warehouse in the 1920s before being briefly leased in the early 2000s as City Hall’s eastern outpost. Fourth Ward Park may be a beautiful landscape today, but its spring waters were the original inspiration for Ponce de Leon Avenue’s name. Across Ponce, a modern-day shopping center once housed the city’s baseball stadium. The old wool mill that hosted music venue The Masquerade for decades is being reborn as mixed-use office space. And of course, The BeltLine is itself a revitalization of old freight rail lines.
On the south side of O4W sits many historic churches, including Ebenezer Baptist Church and the Sweet Auburn district. Overall, the area is a hot spot for the past and future of the city.
What can I do for fun in Old Fourth Ward?
Stroll through Historic Fourth Ward Park. This 17-acre oasis is nestled between Ponce City Market and the Beltline. A giant 2-acre lake in the middle not only cools off your summer walks but also serves as a water retention pond for the surrounding area. (If you really want to cool off, a splash pad is open from May to October.) The park also houses a playground for kids and a skate park for those who want to channel their inner Tony Hawk.
Laugh it up at Dad’s Garage. One of the most iconic comedy theatres in Atlanta, there’s a reason Dad’s Garage has lasted decades. Their mix of improv, sketch, and special events guarantees that you’ll laugh until you cry no matter what show you attend. Housed in a historic church off Edgewood, Dad’s will do everything from improvising a movie, battling it out in short-form games, or even parodying pop culture. (Keep an eye out for the occasional celebrity improviser, too.) Think you have what it takes? Sign up for one of their 8-week improv classes and get on stage yourself!
Grab a cocktail in a themed rooftop bar. No matter what vibe you’re into, two new hidden bars have recently debuted in Old Fourth Ward that will keep you buzzing. Above Georgia Beer Garden sits the neon-hued tribute to the afterlife Mambo Zombi. This bar serves up Dia de los Muertos-inspired décor and tiki-style cocktails that will have you dying to visit. If you’re looking for something a little more Wes Anderson than Guillermo del Toro, check out Ranger Station above the Beltline favorite Ladybird. With a moody cabin vibe, this cozy, hip hangout space will have you feeling like you’re in the mountains in the middle of the city.
Strike a pose with King of Pops Yoga on the BeltLine. Hosted by the iconic popsicle brand, spend your summer Saturday mornings with your fellow yoga enthusiasts at the Fourth Ward Skate Park. Bring your own mats and join the fun, every other Saturday from 10-10:45 a.m., weather permitting. Check social media for dates.
Where are the best places to eat and drink in Old Fourth Ward?
Bomb Biscuit Atlanta
Start your day off with a bang at Bomb Biscuit Atlanta off Highland Avenue. Erika Council’s breakfast sandwiches stuff buttermilk fried chicken, country ham, eggs, and more in between the fluffiest biscuits you’ll find on this side of town. Feeling sweet instead of savory? Grab one of their signature cinnamon rolls or biscuits a la carte with jam. Vegan options are also available.
Location: 668 Highland Ave NE; Website: bombbiscuitatl.com; Hours: Wednesday through Sunday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
This section could consist exclusively of great spots to eat in Ponce City Market, but we will focus on two standouts:
You wouldn’t think some of the best ramen in Atlanta would be in a food stall, but Ton Ton is here to prove otherwise. They have a limited selection of ramen and small plates, but everything hits with flavor and presentation. Even on a warm summer day, you won’t regret popping in to sit at the bar and slurp down a bowl of delicious noodles.
Location: 675 Ponce de Leon Ave; Website: tontonramen.com; Hours: Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday: noon to 8 p.m.
Named for 18th-century silver miners, Mexican restaurant Minero is a great choice for tacos and margaritas, but the real gem is their Minero Wings. Charcoal grilled to a light crisp and tossed in a bag with a tangy, spicy sauce, these wings are a bag full of flavor that will spice up any trip to Ponce City Market.
Location: 675 Ponce de Leon Ave; Website: mineroatlanta.com; Hours: Sunday and Monday: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Tuesday through Thursday: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Done with shopping at Ponce City Market and looking to relax with a good drink and the comfort of pub food? Stop by Bantam Pub. The “neighborhood pub of O4W,” Bantam has a wide selection of drinks you can sip on their dog-friendly patio. Friendly servers will load you up with giant burgers and classic appetizers like fries and wings.
Location: 737 Ralph McGill Blvd NE; Website: bantampubo4w.com; Hours: Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to midnight; Fridays, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.; Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 2 a.m.; Sundays, 10 a.m. to midnight
Tucked away off Auburn Avenue near the BeltLine, Lotta Frutta has tropical treats to fuel your day. Hit your daily serving of fruit with their giant cups of fruit topped with juice, cream, or even spicy chiles. They also serve smoothies and sandwiches with a “pan-Latin” feel.
Location: 590 Auburn Ave NE; Website: lottafrutta.com; Hours: Tuesday through Friday, noon to 5 p.m.; Friday and Saturdays, noon to 4 p.m.
Antico may get a lot of the pizza love in Atlanta, but you would be remiss to not check out Ammazza Pizza. Wood-fired pizzas with a thin, crispy dough made with fresh mozzarella are the stars of the show here. Sorted into reds and whites, there’s a variety of flavors no matter what you’re craving. Wash it down with one of 20+ local and regional beverages.
Location: 591 Edgewood Avenue SE; Website: ammazza.com; Hours: Sunday through Thursday, noon to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, noon to 11 p.m.