When Mercedes-Benz Stadium opens next year, it will draw more eyes to this historic warehouse district just southwest of downtown. Castleberry Hill, which borders the campuses of Clark Atlanta, Spelman, and Morehouse colleges, took its name from local merchant Daniel Castleberry. But back in 1850, it was known as Snake Nation, a moniker derived from the area’s infamous snake oil sellers. More than a century later, in the early 1980s, artists began populating the old warehouse lofts. “It’s got a very creative vibe,” says Yolanda Owens, who opened her neighborhood spa Iwi Fresh five years ago.
Castleberry Hill is home to at least half a dozen galleries, including the European-influenced Besharat Gallery and ZuCot Gallery, which supports black artists. Visit the neighborhood for a free art stroll the second Friday of every month.
Castleberry Hill is one of the few Atlanta neighborhoods where the “lofts” aren’t just real estate speak but the real deal. The area is home to more than 100 early-20th-century warehouse buildings, many with arched windows and parapets, making it the city’s best-preserved warehouse district. In 1985 the neighborhood earned a spot on the National Register of Historic Places.
If being in the presence of so much art brings out your creative side, check out MASS Collective, a maker space and educational facility where you can learn woodworking and other handicrafts. A few doors up, the Blu’ Bisque offers pottery and painting classes for kids and adults in a more casual setting.
From soul food to sushi
Owens recommends the Santos Classic margarita at Mexican restaurant No Mas Cantina or the supercrunch roll at sushi-and-burger joint Bottle Rocket. Looking for a more low-key scene? Stop by Elliott Street Deli & Pub, a dive bar known for its sandwiches and weekend live music. But the area’s most notable restaurant is soul food mainstay Paschal’s, whose original location was an important meeting place for civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. and John Lewis.
It’s not a coincidence that the headquarters for Atlanta Movie Tours is located on Nelson Street. Since 2007 more than 40 feature films and TV shows have been shot in or near the neighborhood, from The Walking Dead to Taken 3.
This article originally appeared in our May 2016 issue.