Melissa Carter

Melissa Carter: Seeing Atlanta in a different light

You go on vacation not only to relax but to also learn a little about the place where you’re staying. When I went to Hawaii earlier this year that’s exactly what I did, taking the time to see what the island of Oahu had to offer and taking in as much as my visit would allow. I realized, though, that in the 20+ years I’ve lived in Atlanta, I’ve never exerted the same energy to get to know things in my own home city. Upon returning from that vacation I’ve made more of an attempt to learn my town, and here are a few suggestions of fun things to do:

Go on the Roswell Ghost Tour. Like most people, I originally went on the tour years ago because it was the thing to do for Halloween. I was pleasantly surprised by all the southern history I learned, and the interesting vibe that Roswell had to offer. So much so that I have been inspired to go back on that tour more than once. You’ll get a peek of the side streets of this important Civil War city, and might even hear the supernatural event that happened to me one night! (Or did it?)

Take part in an Atlanta Movie Tour. A friend surprised me recently with this little-known trek through movie sets that are popping up all over town. You begin the tour downtown and take a van around the city to where some of your favorite movies and television shows were filmed. Offerings include the Zombie Tour with stops along “The Walking Dead” sites, The Victory Tour for “Hunger Games” fans, or the Atlanta Film Sites Tour, which I went on and incorporates a little of everything. Prepare to be amazed at all the filming that is going on in your backyard.

See parts of Atlanta you didn’t know existed. Something I learned on my movie tour is the vertical growth Atlanta underwent as its population exploded. I have been to Underground Atlanta several times, but never realized it truly was a part of the original railroad system of the city. The rest of downtown was built over those tracks, and the entrances of buildings there were actually raised to the new street level. Local architect and history buff Jeff Morrison gives free tours (only on his schedule) of this hidden infrastructure around Five Points and the Gulch. I never realized I’ve been walking on top of history for so long.

Visit Miller’s Rexall Drugs. Something else I learned from my movie tour was the existence of this pharmacy and homeopathic remedy shop in downtown Atlanta. You don’t have to be into movies to check out their array of fun and frightening hoodoo supplies they have to offer. According to Wikipedia, Internet sales of these items alone are over $1 million per year! Paul McCartney once purchased an item called “Run Devil Run” while in town, subsequently naming an album after the salts.

These are just a few examples of fun, new things you can so without having to go too far. So when making travel plans this summer, don’t forget to take the opportunity to be a tourist in your own city!