The Atlanta BeltLine is one of the most buzzed-about urban developments in the Southeast. With comparisons to the High Line in NYC, as well as features in the Wall Street Journal and New York Times, the BeltLine has drawn national attention for its popular walking trail dotted with art installations, restaurants, and parks.
If you don’t live within walking distance to the BeltLine (or even if you do), it can be a bit confusing to navigate. Read on for tips on getting there, what to expect, and where to explore.
What is the BeltLine?
Originally conceptualized in 1999 for a Georgia Tech student’s thesis, the BeltLine is an urban revitalization project with the goal of uniting the scores of unique neighborhoods around in-town Atlanta.
Currently, the BeltLine is composed of 5 separate parts: the Northside, Eastside, Southeast, Southwest, and Westside Trails. Much of the BeltLine is currently under construction or not yet developed, but there are a variety of projects in the works to complete pieces, most notably the Southside trail through Grant Park.
At its culmination, the BeltLine will connect 45 neighborhoods around Atlanta with over 33 miles of walking trails, as well as over 22 miles of rail transit.
As the BeltLine continues to be developed, the most popular stretch that has been almost fully developed is the Eastside Trail. The trail spans 2 miles, starting at the I-85 corridor north of Ansley, and culminating just past Old Fourth Ward at the Inman Park/Reynoldstown MARTA station. This section of the BeltLine is known for its prominent display of rotating art, as well as its entrance to Ponce City Market.
If you’re expecting a big parking lot where you can leave your car and hop on the BeltLine, think again.
Parking around the major entrances to the BeltLine is sparse, but not impossible to find.
There are 3 major landmarks at which to enter the BeltLine: Piedmont Park at 10th and Monroe, Ponce City Market, and Krog Street Market. How to get to the BeltLine from each:
If you are entering from Piedmont Park and want to drive, I would suggest either parking at the paid lots around the park, or street parking on 10th Street or in the surrounding neighborhoods. There are 2 MARTA stations in close proximity to the entrance to the BeltLine by Piedmont Park, so those are also good options that don’t require you to fuss with parking.
If you are coming from Ponce City Market, there is ample paid parking with a direct entrance to the BeltLine. There is also some street parking around Old Fourth Ward Historic Park, which is all free. Warning – do not park at the Whole Foods parking lot across from PCM; they will tow as soon as you leave the property.
If you’re wanting to enter the BeltLine from Krog Street Market, I would suggest taking Uber! Free parking around KSM is pretty scarce, especially on weekends, so I wouldn’t advise driving unless you decide to valet your car or park and walk.
In-town Atlanta is super picky about parking – if a sign says “we tow when you leave the premises,” take it seriously. If in doubt, pay a few bucks to park for some peace of mind.
Notable Landmarks on the BeltLine
Ponce City Market
One of the hottest spots in Atlanta, Ponce City Market is a haven for hipsters and stroller-toting families alike. Come for the shops and people-watching, and stay for the restaurants, summer concerts, and frequent community events.
It’s incredibly easy to access PCM from the BeltLine, with a distinct entrance right across from Murder Kroger and adjacent to the bridge going over Ponce de Leon Avenue.
Note – dogs aren’t allowed inside the market, so you won’t be able to bring Fido in to grab a drink. Dogs can hang out on the rooftop and around the entrances to the market if you have your pup in tow.
Krog Street Market
On its south side, the BeltLine Eastside Trail’s paved section dead-ends at Irwin Street, just steps away from Krog Street Market.
A bit smaller and more intimate than Ponce City Market’s food hall, KSM has a more laid-back, local feel. Standout restaurants include The Luminary (with a daily oyster happy hour) and Superica for tex-mex. Hop City is also extremely popular here, where you can grab beers and walk around the market, or take them home in a growler.
Note – again, the interior of Krog Street Market isn’t dog friendly. However, there are picnic tables so that you and your dog can eat outside.
Paris on Ponce
One of my favorite spots in Atlanta, Paris on Ponce is a hybrid antique store, coffee shop and restaurant (coming soon!), and burlesque event venue.
Located on the BeltLine a few hundred yards from the entrance to Ponce City Market, Paris on Ponce encompasses over 45,000 square feet of artisan goods from over 30 different makers. Paris on Ponce frequently has live music on their patio when the weather is nice; they’re also dog friendly, and have a refill station for water for you and your fur-baby.
Old Fourth Ward Skatepark
If you’ve gone on Instagram at any point over the past year, you’re aware of the wildly popular King of Pops Yoga. Starting up again on March 29th, King of Pops hosts a free weekly yoga class on Tuesdays at the Old Fourth Ward Skatepark.
While the class generates some seriously Insta-worthy pics, it’s also a great way to get outside, enjoy the Atlanta sunshine, and be part of the King of Pops community (every once in a while, they’ll throw in free pops after class!) Get all the deets on KOP Yoga here.
Note – parking is very limited. There is street parking available around the area if you’re willing to walk a bit. You can also park at Ponce City Market and walk about 20 minutes to reach the park.
As you walk south on the Eastside Trail, you’ll come across the start of Inman Park just past the Old Fourth Ward Skatepark.
Inman Park is one of the best areas for restaurants on the BeltLine (if not in Atlanta in general), so stop here to grab a bite. You can visit the King of Pops window or grab a snack from Kale Me Crazy, stop for coffee and a pastry from Parish, or eat on one of the patios at hotspots like Barcelona, bartaco, or Fritti.
Events on the BeltLine
The BeltLine hosts a ton of free events, including health and fitness classes, tours, and nature walks. Check out a full schedule here.
Many events are also held at Old Fourth Ward Historic Park (not to be confused with the skatepark), that is right across from Ponce City Market on the North Avenue side. Most recently was the Atlanta Brunch Festival; expect a lot of art and beer festivals coming up in the spring and summer months!
One of the most popular events that the BeltLine hosts is their annual Lantern Parade, held each year in mid-September. The event is free and open to the public, and kicks off the Art on the BeltLine exhibit that rotates on a yearly basis.
Tips for Visiting the BeltLine
Stop and take a look at the art.
There are tons of interesting art exhibits all along the BeltLine; some are permanent fixtures, while others rotate every year.
My favorite art is concentrated right around the Inman Park entrance to the BeltLine between the Old Fourth Ward Skatepark and Krog Street Market.
Watch for crowds on the weekends.
While it’s great to see people enjoying the BeltLine on a beautiful day, it can get extremely crowded on the weekends. If you’re a biker, I would highly recommend riding at night or during the week when the trail isn’t as jammed. Same goes if you have a dog – with tons of bikers and runners on the path, you’ll constantly have to look over your shoulder if you have a tugger for a pup.
Walk from Krog Street Market down to Piedmont Park for the full experience.
Start at either end of the trail, and work your way to the opposite end. I prefer to start at Krog Street Market and end up at Piedmont Park, where I can take my dog to the dog park there.
This is the best way to see all of the art along the BeltLine Eastside Trail, as well as get great views of the city skyline as you get closer to Piedmont Park. You’ll also have the chance to make some of the stops I mentioned above as you go, instead of having to figure out at which point on the BeltLine each landmark is located at!