Atlanta Chinatown Mall

As a true lover of food, I’m always looking for a great meal. You may be thinking that since I’m a Chef, a great meal means lots of fancy food, served as lots courses-all costing lots of money. Nope. To me a great meal means delicious food with big flavors, lots of fresh ingredients and affordability. I also like to step out of my comfort zone from time to time and try something new. I’ve found all of that, and more, right here in Atlanta at the Chinatown Mall. It’s tucked away off I-285 and New Peachtree Road, and offers Chinese, Taiwanese, Cantonese, Vietnamese, Laotian and Korean culture all in one small community.

Atlanta Chinatown Mall

Photo courtesy of Atlanta Chinatown Mall

My favorite location at the mall is the food court. No surprise there, especially considering it offers six restaurant stalls, a bakery and two dine-in restaurants. The food selections are all authentic cuisines from around China, recipes passed down from generation to generation. I’ve enjoyed Peking Duck, which is a whole duck cooked until the meat is tender and the skin crisps up crunchy and delicious. The Crispy Pork Belly with a Spicy Hoisin Sauce is another dish I like that cooks the pork belly until the fat and lean are both rich and crisp, before being dipped into a sweet and spicy sauce. And then there is my all-time favorite, a big piping hot bowl of Red Pepper Fish Stew. This stew is thick with chunks of succulent white fish swimming in a broth thick with red hot peppers and Chinese vegetables. Yum! The main thing to remember when checking out the Atlanta Chinatown Mall is to bring a big appetite, your sense of adventure and cash-they don’t accept plastic.

jennifer-hill-booker-1436890751-thumb-230-230-438-151-820-444-90Jennifer is Georgia’s official Culinary Explorer and the author of “Your Resident Gourmet,” full of innovative recipes, cooking trends and fun kitchen gadgets. Click here for more content from Jennifer.

Exploring Atlanta’s Neighborhoods

Municipal MarketDowntown Atlanta is a well known for tourist destination with the World of Coca-Cola, the Georgia Aquarium (voted number one aquarium in the US by Trip Advisor), College Football Hall of Fame and the newest addition to the skyline, the Center for Civil and Human Rights. But Atlanta isn’t all about attractions. To truly get the flavor of this city, visit a few of Atlanta’s distinct neighborhoods. Here are three Atlanta neighborhoods worth exploring:

Sweet Auburn: The Sweet Auburn Historic District is a mile and half stretch along Auburn Avenue in downtown Atlanta. At the turn of the century, this area was one of the wealthiest African American streets in the world. During the 1960’s it was the center of the civil rights movement and home to Rev. Martin Luther King. The Sweet Auburn Curb Market has 24 individual businesses, including a full service bakery and 11 of the most popular eateries in the city; my favorite is Venezuelan Arepas from Arepa Mia.

Little Five Points: Little Five Points is one of Atlanta’s oldest and most unique commercial districts. Known as L5P, this neighborhood has an alternative feel with several independently owned and one-of-a-kind shops. Junkman’s Daughter carries a variety of items and has attracted costume designers from Atlanta’s burgeoning movie scene. Criminal Records offers old school vinyl, as well as CDs and hard to find comics. L5P has a vibrant music scene with several live venues and funky bars like Star Bar with its shrine to Elvis. You have to be over 18 to visit The Vortex, but anyone can marvel at the giant skull entryway. The edgy L5P Halloween Parade in October is a must see event for all ages.

Castleberry Hill: Recognized as a federal historic district, and a City of Atlanta Landmark District, Castleberry Hill was once a factory-warehouse area but is now best known for its growing arts scene, restaurants and loft residences. The community sponsors the 2nd Friday Art Stroll that includes numerous galleries, restaurants and retail events. This event was the readers pick for best neighborhood art walk by Creative Loafing, the city’s alternative newspaper. Our visit to the art stroll made me feel like I was in a totally different city than my hometown. After viewing a wide variety of art, and participating in a wine tasting, we grabbed a bite and margaritas at No Mas! Cantina.

SueSue Rodman is Georgia’s official Smart Travel Explorer and the editor and publisher of the award-winning family travel blog Field Trips with Sue. Click here for more Smart Travel content from Sue.

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4 Things to Do at the BB&T Atlanta Open

Georgia loves tennis and, according to BB&T Atlanta Open Tournament Director and Chief Development Officer Eddie Gonzalez, tennis loves Georgia. Last year about 347,000 people played tennis in Atlanta — more than any city in the world! World-class tennis facilities are in the works, as well; Berry College recently broke ground for the Rome Tennis Center of Georgia, which will feature 51 USTA standard courts on a 30-acre site.

BB&T Atlanta Open

Photo courtesy of BB&T Atlanta Open

This summer, tennis lovers from around the world will convene at Atlantic Station in Midtown Atlanta for the 12th annual BB&T Atlanta Open. The first stop in the Emirates Airline US Open Series is also the only professional tennis tournament in Atlanta. The week-long event will kick off on Saturday, July 25 with a qualifying draw and advance to the championship set for Sunday, August 2, 2015. A few Georgia natives will showcase their talents at the tournament, including Georgia Tech freshman Christopher Eubanks, who defeated top collegiate tennis players for the wild card spot in the tournament. And, be sure to watch for UGA grad and reigning champ John Isner, who will be vying for his third title this year.

Alongside the exhilarating tennis matches, BB&T Atlanta Open and Atlantic Station will offer plenty of activities suited for all ages. After watching your favorite players compete for the prestigious title, stroll around to shops, restaurants and ongoing events throughout the week.

Family Zone presented by Prince – Play like the players do on the free tennis courts available from noon until 7 p.m. during the BB&T Tournament. Tennis balls and racquets will be available on a first come, first serve basis.

Kick-Off Concert with The Commodores – These legends of Motown will take the “Night Shift” on July 25 to kick off the tournament in Atlantic Station. The concert promises to be the perfect start to a week of great entertainment.

Post-Match Concert with LoCash – As if one concert wasn’t enough, this dynamic country duo will perform a post-match concert July 29 at 9 p.m. All ticket holders for the Wednesday night match can enjoy the concert for free. LoCash is known for writing songs for Tim McGraw, Keith Urban and many other well-known country artists. Individual tickets for the tennis match begin at $39, including a round of tennis and the LoCash concert.

Post-Match Fireworks Show – Post-match fireworks will be presented by Coca-Cola after the Friday, July 31 night session.

Did we mention that Atlantic Station will be broadcasting the whole tournament live on the big screen in Central Park? So, get your tickets, head to Atlantic Station (remembering to visit the Explore Georgia table!) and show the world how much Georgia loves tennis!

John Isner

2-Time Defending Champion, UGA Grad John Isner | Photo courtesy of BB&T Atlanta Open

4 Ways for Families to Explore Atlanta

Georgia AquariumHigh-Profile Adventure:

  • Explore the newest exhibit at Zoo Atlanta – The Scaly, Slimy Spectacular Amphibian Experience, housing more than 60 animal species, including rare Cuban crocodiles.
  • Using high-tech RFID chips, each exhibit at the College Football Hall of Fame spotlights your favorite team.
  • The LEGOLAND Discovery Center has more than 15 activities for families to build, play, ride and explore together.

Multigenerational Fun:

  • The Atlanta History Center mixes history and fun through interactive exhibits, living history interpreters, and a grand outdoors to explore.
  • The Center for Civil and Human Rights uses fully immersive exhibits to teach visitors of the American civil rights movement and current human rights issues.
  • Take a behind-the-scenes tour of the fabulous Fox Theatre to learn about its history and a few mysteries of the famous Atlanta landmark.
Atlanta History Center

Swan House at the Atlanta History Center

Travel with Teens or Tweens:

Little City-Explorers:

  • Visit the Georgia Aquarium for a peek at dolphins, whales, colorful fish and more.
  • Watch a performance from the in-house puppeteers at Center for Puppetry Arts, and take a puppet-making class afterward.
  • Grab an adventure pass at Stone Mountain Park to gain access to all 10 of the park’s attractions as well as seasonal events.


Lesli
Lesli is the Georgia’s official Family Explorer and the owner of 365AtlantaFamily, which offers a daily dose of inspiration for metro-area families. Click here for more Family content from Lesli.

Women’s Sports in Georgia

Women’s sports teams often focus on providing to those communities that they call home, and empowering women and girls through the power of athletics. Fans so often go out and support their local school or college or little league teams, but don’t always realize Georgia has leagues and teams for adults. Here are some of the professional and semi-professional women’s sports teams that call Georgia home:

Atlanta Dream

Atlanta Dream

Basketball
When the Atlanta Dream made it to the WNBA Finals in 2013 for the third time in four years, the team’s fans were ecstatic. While they have yet to claim that elusive title, the Dream are still one of the most successful teams in the Eastern Conference, reaching the playoffs every season since 2009. The Dream play at the top level and thrill fans with season promotions ranging from their Heritage Series to Kids Day, from Dream Pink to Faith & Family Night.

And in Augusta, the semi-professional Georgia-Lina Lady Hurricanes compete in the Women’s Blue Chip Basketball League (WBCBL). Many of the players originally played school ball in the Augusta area and played college hoops in the South, competing with and against each other. The team hosted their first annual Season Kick-Off Tournament this year, featuring teams from the community.

Atlanta Silverbacks Women

Atlanta Silverbacks Women

Soccer
With the FIFA Women’s World Cup currently occuring in Canada, women’s sports are on the world’s biggest stage. And while none of the Atlanta Silverbacks Women were called up to their national sides for this tournament, they are still providing quality entertainment for fans here in Georgia. The Silverbacks play in the highly competitive W-League, which they most recently won in 2011.

Georgia also has a presence in W-20, which is the adult-amateur under-20 women’s league associated with W-League. The Georgia Revolution in Conyers have increased their program to include a W-20 team this year, and the Atlanta Metros FC regularly field a side, though are focusing on local leagues for the 2015 season. Both programs offer extensive opportunities for player development in youth local and travel leagues.

Savannah Sabers

Savannah Sabers

Football
Georgia hosts several women’s football teams across three different leagues. The North Atlantic Division of the Women’s Football Allliance (WFA) features the Atlanta Phoenix and Savannah Sabers. The Phoenix have experienced great success in the North Atlantic Division and enjoy a dedicated fangroup known as the Phoenatics. The Sabers were unable to field a team this season, but look forward to returning to competitive play in 2016. The Sabers say their “vision is a community of strong, independent, confident women and girls where the game of football with empower females.”

Focused on a drive to “empwer women through athletics and serve the greater Atlanta community,” the Atlanta Heartbreakers compete in the Women’s Spring Football League (WSFL). Between playing in the WSFL, and having orginally played in the WFA, the Heartbreakers have won three division titles.

The 2014 Legends Football League (LFL) Eastern Conference Champions also play in metro Atlanta. The Atlanta Steam began playing in 2013 and within two seasons were already playing in the title game. They join several other Georgia sports teams playing out of the Arena at Gwinnett Center.

Soul City Sirens

Soul City Sirens

Roller Derby
The Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA), a leading organization for roller derby in the US and abroad, has a heavy presence in Georgia. The Atlanta Rollergirls were one of the founding leagues of the WFTDA and hosted the Champioinship in 2012. The league fields four home teams as well as three travel teams. The Classic City Rollergirls field two travel teams out of Athens and host biannual boot camps for anyone interested in learning to derby. In Augusta, the Soul City Sirens have partnered with local partners to benefit the community, all the while throwing down on the rink of the Columbia County Exhibition Center. And the Savannah Derby Devils feature two travel teams, as well as a junior team for theose female skaters aged 10-17 who are intersted in trying out the sport.

Outside of the ‘big-league’ derby teams, the WFTDA sponsors an apprenticeship program for aspiring member leagues. Here in Georgia, the Marietta Derby Darlins in Cobb County and the Muscogee Roller Girls in Columbus compete as apprentice leagues. Additionally, teams such as the Middle Georgia Derby Demons in Macon, Rome Rollergirls and War Town Bombshells in Warner Robins compete individually according to WFTDA rules.

Atlanta Harlequins

Atlanta Harlequins

Rugby
The sport of rugby is quickly growing in popularity, and Georgia is no exception to the craze. Several mixed teams and an all-female team are members of the Georgia Rugby Union (GRU), the local branch of USA Rugby. Teams compete in tournaments here in Georgia – from Atlanta to Augusta, from LaFayette to Savannah – as well as all over the country. The Atlanta Harlequins, a member club of GRU, compete in the Women’s Premier League and hosted the 2014 Nations at Life University.