Hidden gems of ATL and where to find them

Tiny Doors ATL is one form of artistic expression that Atlanta residents can enjoy. These brightly painted doors can be found in various parts of the city and often tell a story. // Photo courtesy of Tastebud Travels

In college, finding ways to have fun and unwind is just as important as getting good grades. Exploring a new city as a first-year student can be daunting, especially in a bustling city like Atlanta. With as many options as the city has, skip the tourist staples like the Georgia Aquarium and World of Coca-Cola and instead check out these worthwhile  hole-in-the-wall gems below!

Doll’s head trail

A few miles away from Tech’s campus is an urban nature preserve made from the reclaimed ruins of an old brick company’s industrial site. The pits that had originally been for digging clay filled with rainwater, creating the park’s namesake: Constitution Lakes. In the early 2000s, Dekalb County bought the site and added trails through it, making the preserve official.

The park has a rather unusual walking trail known as “Doll’s Head Trail.” Dedicated to “found art,” visitors who walk the path will see art pieces made from found litter, many of which include decapitated doll heads, hence the trail’s title. 

Other pieces that can be found along the trail include bottles, pieces of old, decorated bricks and truck parts. 

The trail is meant to be an exploration and implementation of reclaimed art — the art pieces themselves are created from trash and discarded items found around the park.

Amongst the natural flora, Doll’s Head Trail turns what would otherwise be litter into art without adding more litter (meaning that bringing outside items to add to the trail is discouraged, as it just creates more discarded materials as opposed to repurposing what was already there).

Though it can be a bit creepy to some, Doll’s Head Trail is a beautiful blend of nature and art that makes a great trip for those who enjoy the outdoors. 

CDC Museum

This museum is near Emory University and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention facility in downtown Atlanta. 

The CDC museum is dedicated to the research, science and societal impacts that come with overseeing public health and just so happened to open its doors a year after the 1995 film Outbreak led to public paranoia over the transparency of CDC secrets. 

The exhibits include items such as the evolution of the hazmat suit, “cryo shippers” meant to transport sensitive cultures and vintage news clippings, informative handouts and propaganda regarding the prevention of diseases like Malaria, Typhoid fever and — more recently — obesity. Visitors might also see sections on HIV testing and the bodily effects of different chemicals. 

While some of the suits may look like something out of “The Walking Dead” or “The Maze Runner,” the museum lacks any fictional or dramatized content, choosing to stick to the facts and genuine responsibilities of the CDC. 

Whether students are from a STEM or humanities backgrounds, the artifacts displayed here are fascinating to see up close.

Tiny doors ATL

This Atlanta staple does not have just one address. Tiny Doors ATL is an art initiative started by an Atlanta artist who wanted to inspire curiosity through whimsically decorated doors “hidden” around different landmarks in the city. 

The doors themselves are only seven inches tall, meaning those searching for them (or even those who are not) have to look down with the intent of spotting them to notice. Each door is decorated differently and complete with tiny architectural details; some even include tiny people, animals or household items. While there is a map to the doors on the project’s website, hunting for these doors without it provides a great opportunity to see new areas of Atlanta. The intricate details on these small-scale doors show the care and dedication put into each one. They are usually painted to reflect the creativity that surrounds them, bringing even more life to the vibrant art that decorates the city of Atlanta.

Doctor Bombay’s tea party

This tea shop’s name is just as quirky as its decor, filled with paper lanterns, upside down parasols, wooden bird cages, vintage paintings and wildly patterned furniture. The tea shop serves baked goods, quiches, ice cream, sandwiches and, of course, many kinds of tea. From floor to ceiling, the walls are covered with used books that visitors can buy for just a dollar each. 

This shop does not only serve food and drinks though. A portion of all proceeds go towards funding scholarships for girls who age out of orphanages in Darjeeling, India. These scholarships cover education, housing and medical expenses. Some of the girls’ pictures announcing their graduation are hung around the shop. 

The fun and funky atmosphere of this impactful tea shop provides a chance to not only get some delicious snacks but also to help change the lives of other young people; it is a great place to check out for a peaceful day of tea, reading or spending time with friends.