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60. Enjoy a concert outside
Chastain, Verizon, Mable House, the Botanical Garden, Callanwolde, Lakewood, Piedmont Park— al fresco music options are plentiful and perfectly suited for Atlanta’s warm spring evenings.
26-28. Feed your mind—for free
Take advantage of great lectures. The Auburn Avenue Research Library’s discussion series includes a seminar on DNA and African ancestry (February 27, afpls.org/aarl). Agnes Scott College hosts talks by luminaries such as Vatican astronomer Brother Guy Consolmagno (February 16, agnesscott.edu/events). Lit lovers shouldn’t miss SCAD-Atlanta’s Ivy Hall Writers Series—novelist Margaret Atwood speaks this month (February 23, artofrestoration.org/events/calendar.cfm).
45-49. Learn from the best
Catch a fish
10-17. Our dream meal
Based on the dishes he’s savored over the last year, this would be the feast that dining editor and restaurant critic Bill Addison would request if he could gather Atlanta’s greatest chefs under one roof.
61. See the “Super Bowl” of marching bands
The nation’s elite eight bands from historically black colleges—including perennial powerhouse Clark Atlanta University—face off in grand fashion every January at the Dome during the Battle of the Bands. hondabattleofthebands.com
29-33. Nosh on nostalgia
Not every dish at these longstanding faves draws critical raves, but a visit is guaranteed to deliver ambience. A menu we wholly recommend:
4. Swim with the Sharks
Any serious student of the James Bond films will tell you that humans should avoid all confined spaces that contain sharks. And here you are, about to plunge willingly into the tank, paying $225 for the privilege, staring down a waiver that describes SIGNIFICANT RISKS of SERIOUS INJURY OR DEATH. You are told these risks have more to do with drowning than being eaten alive. This is somehow comforting. “If you’re lucky,” the instructor says, “you’ll get rubbed by a whale shark.” Yes, it seems that the resident whale sharks—Alice, Trixie, Yushan, and Taroko, rescued from Taiwan before humans could eat them—have no interest in eating humans. Mostly they are curious, so even though you must not touch them, they may touch you. The wet suit. The diving mask. The aluminum air tank strapped to your chest, with a black rubber hose running to your mouth. You bite down on the regulator and slip into the tank, cool saltwater filling your suit. Below you, tens of thousands of creatures ripple through the water. Schools of mullet and French grunt. Cownose rays and bowmouth guitarfish. Something with a chain saw for a head. Breathe in. The air tastes rubbery. Breathe out. Mercurial bubbles whoosh past your ears. You and six other swimmers and two guides form a line on the surface of the tank, which is twenty to thirty feet deep and about the size of a football field. You move in a slow figure eight, faces down in the water. Breathe in. You have to remind yourself sometimes. That old Tracy Bonham song keeps playing in your head. Saw a shark today/Ate a man and then just swam away. A great hammerhead wheels about ten feet below you. A sand tiger shark scuttles along the floor. They are not hungry. The whale shark rolls toward you and is lovely and hideous all at once, a floating Cadillac, strange flat head, grid of white spots like a field of stars, and you want to touch it, but you pin your hands at your sides and lie flat as it rushes beneath you, dorsal fin inches from your suit. The regulator chatters between your teeth and the saltwater burns your lips. Breathe out. georgiaaquarium.org —Thomas Lake
18. Stroll the Scott Antique Market
With more than 2,800 booths at the Atlanta Expo Centers, this monthly extravaganza is a live version of eBay. If you can collect it, it’s here: tin toys, china, embroidered linens, retro clothing, etc. If you’ve seen it in design magazines (think feed sack pillows, intaglios, starburst mirrors), it’s also here, at half the retail cost. And, of course, you can always find plenty of the English and French antiques that have been the market’s mainstay. scottantiquemarket.com
62. Hear “Mighty Mo” at the Fox Theatre
The majestic Möller theater organ, the second largest of its kind in the world, was custom-made for the Fox in 1929 and painstakingly restored in 1963 by technical director and “Phantom of the Fox” Joe Patten. Its 3,622 pipes can mimic a full orchestra and produce sound effects such as thunder and train whistles. Today, audiences can hear Mo during the Coca-Cola Summer Film Festival, Atlanta Ballet’s Nutcracker, and special performances throughout the year.
2. Dash to Le Flash
Experimental, spontaneous, temporal, and public have rarely been words associated with the local arts scene. But for the last two years, a one-night event has taken the Atlanta Celebrates Photography festival to the streets of Castleberry Hill, and the dozens of ephemeral works—from video to dance to fashion—draw onlookers like bugs to a lightbulb. leflash-atlanta.com