Visitors to Atlanta have all the main attractions on their to-do list — the Georgia Aquarium, Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park, World of Coca-Cola, or the CNN Center. After the long lines and crush of visitors at those prime sites, a relaxing pub walk down an innovative urban trail may be just the thing to end your day. Atlanta provides just that with its popular BeltLine.
Hatched from a 1999 master’s thesis of a Georgia Tech student, the BeltLine started as a project to expand transportation alternatives in Atlanta, linking park spaces and turning unused rail lines into walking and biking trails. At first, growth was slow, but the opening of the Eastside Trail section in 2012 vaulted the route’s popularity as a dining and drinking destination. Since then, the BeltLine has been a powerful engine driving development along its path.
In its current form, the BeltLine consists of various sections around the city, eventually being joined into a single loop. Three of those sections, designated as separate “trails,” boast the best drinking spots along the BeltLine: the Eastside Trail, the Westside Trail, and the Southside Trail.
Listed below are some of the best establishments in each of these BeltLine segments, chosen for their local flavor, ambiance, and enticing offerings.
The Eastside Trail is a great introduction to the BeltLine. It has the most commercial development, all while maintaining a natural, open space to enjoy a walk or bike ride on a level, paved path.
1. Ponce City Market
A terrific starting spot is the impressive Ponce City Market, a former Sears & Roebuck retail store and warehouse. Since its opening in 2012, the three-level market has continued to expand, now boasting nearly 40 eating and drinking establishments. Getting there by car or public transportation is easy, with ample paid parking under the market.
When starting a BeltLine walk from here, a good pre-journey drink stop at the market is Bellina Alimentari, an Italian café and bar with an impressive wine list and a collection of craft cocktails. The spot is bright and airy, and perfectly combines the southern hospitality one expects to find in Atlanta, with an air of European sophistication. If you’re a fan of the ever-popular Aperol Spritz, try Bellina’s take — the blue-tinted Medi Spritz #Blue.
Pro Tip: Ponce City Market has restaurants and bars on every level, so explore it all before you sit down for that drink.
To find the BeltLine from Ponce City Market, head to the top floor and out onto the upper deck for a path that leads to the trail. Once there, a right turn takes you south on the trail toward three other watering holes of note.
2. New Realm Brewing
A 10-minute walk takes you to one of the major local breweries found along parts of the BeltLine, Atlanta-based New Realm Brewing. This brewer has locations in three states, but this is its flagship brewery, a massive indoor-outdoor space that makes the most of Atlanta’s mild weather.
The brewery sits right on the BeltLine, offering visitors a chance to people watch as they enjoy their libations. The location’s main downstairs bar typically offers about 15 beers on tap, with a wide variety of styles from hoppy to fruity. Upstairs, the “Innovation” bar carries a few additional creative styles, like a chocolatey Mexican lager or an oatmeal cookie porter. Those who like their beer hoppy will want to try the popular Hoptropolis, an American IPA that packs hoppy goodness without overpowering the palate.
Pro Tip: The outdoor spaces along the BeltLine fill up quickly on nice days, so try to time your visit to beat the crowds to those prime seats.
3. Ladybird Grove & Mess Hall
Leaving New Realm Brewing and turning left to continue south on the BeltLine, take a scenic walk through Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward and Inman Park neighborhoods to get to Ladybird Grove & Mess Hall. The restaurant and bar takes advantage of its shaded spot trailside to offer some of the best outdoor seating along this part of the BeltLine, with far more outside seating locations than inside. Bright yellow umbrellas shelter daytime visitors from the sometimes-hot Atlanta sun, while hundreds of string lights give a warm glow to nighttime visitors enjoying a cocktail.
Ladybird calls its food “elevated campfire cuisine,” with a focus on smoked meats. As for something to drink, cocktail lovers should give the Patio Punch a try. Served with rum, gin, or tequila, this fruity concoction is served in a signature pouch and enjoyed trailside through a straw.
Pro Tip: Ladybird doesn’t brew its own beer, but instead curates a fine list of local and regional beers on a menu that changes often.
A quick right turn and a short 5-minute walk from Ladybird lies the Krog District, a diverse collection of restaurants, bars, and shops in this historic section of Atlanta.
There are a lot of drink options here, from the delicious variety of margaritas at Mexican gem Superica to the dozens of beers on tap at Hop City’s walk-up bar. But the best beer experience on this section of the trail is Pour. The bar has convenient seating trailside, but the real attraction here is the ability to sample roughly 70 beers on tap at any given time. Visitors get a wristband to activate the beer taps, allowing each person to choose a different beer. Pint glasses stand at the ready to fill your orders and patrons are billed by the ounce for each beer they try.
At the end of your visit, your wristband will tally your consumption and you’ll pay accordingly. The beers change often, but a good bet is to try something from one of the Georgia breweries always found on tap, such as the unfiltered Reformation IPA from Reformation Brewery in nearby Canton, Georgia.
Pro Tip: You can enjoy Pour even if you’re not a beer drinker. In addition to all those beers, it sets aside about a dozen taps to deliver wine and craft cocktails.
Across town, the Westside Trail is just beginning to undergo the growth seen on its counterpart to the east. The center of the action is now the Lee + White development in Atlanta’s West End. This part of the BeltLine isn’t connected to the Eastside Trail yet, so you’ll need to get there by car (there’s ample free parking) or public transportation. There are currently five drinking establishments open in the Lee + White area, with two standouts worth a look.
5. Monday Night Garage
It’s hard to miss the massive Monday Night Garage looming over the nearby trail. Home to the beers of Monday Night Brewing, this venue makes use of its cavernous interior with benches and tables providing roomy comfort. A projector beams a 40-foot TV image on the west wall, making it an ideal spot to catch a weekend game or — of course — some Monday Night Football. The brewery maintains its eight year-round brews at all its locations, with a tendency toward offerings on the hoppy side at the Garage location. The brewmaster also likes to experiment with barrel-aged and sour beers at this location, so the real treat here is the Garage Series — a collection of limited-edition beers sold on tap and in bottles mainly at the Monday Night Garage.
Pro Tip: If your drive to the West End left you a bit hungry, you won’t be able to miss the ornate, Italian-built pizza oven right in the center of the Monday Night space, pumping out pies from its 900-degree interior.
6. ASW Distillery
Right next door to Monday Night Garage, you’ll find another roomy drinking spot, ASW Distillery’s Whiskey Exchange. As opposed to many distilleries that feel dark and cramped, this venue offers a huge tasting room with large garage doors that open to the great outdoors and overlook the BeltLine. The distillery produces 14 spirits, from southern bourbons to American single-malt scotch. Step up to the bar to buy tastes of any of these or choose from a wide variety of cocktails. If the day is warm enough, a whiskey slushie might be just the ticket to cool you down.
Pro Tip: If you want your whiskey experience to have a personal touch, ASW Distillery’s Whiskey Exchange offers a tour of its rickhouse (the proper name for a whiskey-aging warehouse) for $10, or a tour and tasting for $35.
The final section of the BeltLine to visit is still in its infancy, the Southside Trail. It’s a short stretch on the city’s southside that still hasn’t been paved. You’ll find it running through Atlanta’s Grant Park neighborhood, best reached by car or public transportation. Free parking gives you access to two standout breweries that lie a short walk and a flight of stairs from the BeltLine.
7. Elsewhere Brewing
Founded in 2020, the strength of Elsewhere Brewing’s offerings helped it survive the pandemic. Tucked at the end of a low-slung building, the brewery inhabits a small indoor and outdoor space. But what it lacks in size it makes up for in creative beer concepts and lively events.
Elsewhere’s beer runs on the less-hoppy side, with plenty of sours, Belgian ales, and lagers on the menu. A good one to try is the Rauchbier (German for smoked beer), with a smoky but tasty malt mix. Rotating beers round out the regular ones with some stronger offerings like an imperial stout or a double IPA. A packed calendar of performances and events features everything from Harry Potter trivia to a drag brunch.
Pro Tip: Certain parts of Elsewhere are dog-friendly, even offering a non-alcoholic bacon seltzer “Dog Brew.”
8. Eventide Brewing
Just across the parking lot, you’ll find the other E beer joint, Eventide Brewing. With both a little bit larger of a tasting room and front patio area, Eventide embraces the BeltLine tradition of inviting visitors to enjoy beer and the outside. Like its neighbor, this brewery welcomes dogs in its outside patio (and doesn’t mind if you bring them in while you pick out a beer). As for the beers, there’s a strong German lean on the menu, with a märzen, a schwarzbier, a kölsch, and a doppelbock often featured. If German beers aren’t your thing, the Dry Irish Nitro Stout is a creamy, tasty delight.
Pro Tip: Check the hours before you head to Eventide. It’s currently open just 5 days a week, Wednesday through Sunday.
No matter which of these sections of the Atlanta BeltLine you check out, you’ll find a comfortable walk, pretty scenery, and a host of locations to stop and sip along the way.