When winter breaks its hold, Atlantans celebrate the warmth of spring with festivals. The Atlanta Dogwood Festival kicks things off in April, with artisans and live music framed by city streets white with dogwood blossoms. Re-creating a 16th-century English country fair is the aim of the Georgia Renaissance Festival, which hosts minstrels, jugglers and jousting knights in colorful costumes every Saturday and Sunday for eight weeks. The volume rises with the Atlanta Jazz Festival, which includes a weekend of free concerts and food vendors in Grant Park.
Stone Mountain comes alive with wildflowers and birdsong as the heat of spring arrives. Look for the tiny white flowers of red moss and sandwort as well as towering yucca flowers along the hiking trails of this massive granite outcropping. Much of the Chattahoochee River is protected as a federal National Recreation Area, and is a popular place for canoeing and fishing. The Palisades near I-285 and I-75 expressways is crisscrossed by miles of hiking trails and picnic areas.
Café doors burst open, filling city sidewalks and rooftops with outdoor diners in spring. Buckhead, one of Atlanta’s trendiest neighborhoods, draws visitors to its fashionable boutiques and galleries. They stay long into the evening dining alfresco on Peachtree Street. Canopies and umbrellas shade diners from the sun, and live musicians spice up the night. Peachtree Street is also the spot for outdoor dining in Midtown, a neighborhood known for its cultural institutions and nightlife. If a street-level view doesn’t satisfy, head up to the rooftop bars and restaurants at Shout and F.A.B. Stately homes line the streets of the Virginia Highland neighborhood east of Midtown. Cafés share space with eclectic boutiques and salons on both Virginia and Highland Avenues.
Learn the Tomahawk Chop – raising and lowering your forearm in a chop – alongside 50,000 other fans to cheer on the hometown team, the Atlanta Braves, back in action after a long winter break. Fans arrive early at Turner Field, originally a 1996 Olympics venue, to play pitching and hitting games in the Grand Entry Plaza or to dine at the Braves Chop House. Others buy barbecued ribs, hamburgers or hot dogs to eat in their seats so they don’t miss a minute of the game.
Although the Atlanta Botanical Garden is open year round, its displays are never more beautiful than in spring. Hydrangeas, camellias and native orchids bloom in the Southern Garden section, while redbud and dogwood trees fill the botanical garden and nearby Piedmont Park. Inside steamy hothouses are collections of brilliant orchids. In late spring and summer the garden hosts a series of outdoor concerts, featuring folk, rock, jazz and Latin music.