A Neighbourhood Guide to Virginia-Highland

By: Giannina Smith Bedford

September 17, 2014

If you’re looking for a quaint neighbourhood in which to take a stroll, hang out in Virginia-Highland. Often nicknamed “VaHi” or “Highlands”, this buzzing district is located just a few miles from the heart of downtown Atlanta, and a short distance from Midtown’s popular Piedmont Park.

Developed in the early 1900s, the picturesque enclave features renovated bungalows and “McMansions” on meandering streets, hidden among inviting pocket parks. North Highland Avenue, the main thoroughfare, is lined with shops and restaurants nearly all the way to the intersection of Virginia Avenue (the intersection that is the community’s namesake), where benches invite patrons to sit and enjoy afternoon treats from local businesses.

Don’t miss the gelato at Paolo’s where flavours range from Limoncello and lychee to green tea and Nutella. Cacao Atlanta Chocolate Co. is also a must-stop for those with a sweet tooth””the high quality chocolate comes in the form of creatively flavoured truffles and exquisite “Love Bars.”

Murphy's lunch | Guide to Virginia-Highland
Tuck into lunch at Murphy’s Restaurant © Murphy’s Restaurant

Before dessert, sit down for a hearty meal at Murphy’s Restaurant, which serves a delightful weekend brunch (think crab cake Benedict and Georgia white shrimp and grits) as well as lunch and dinner. You can also stop by for one of the restaurant’s wine tastings and pick up a favourite vintage in the well-curated wine shop.

Veggie and Fried Chicken Tacos | Guide to Virginia-Highland
For some of the most delicious Mexican food make your way to The Original El Taco © Fifth Group Restaurants

For a bite of the Far East, Surin of Thailand and Mali Restaurant are two favourites that mesh sushi with authentic Thai. A killer margarita and tasty taco can be had at The Original El Taco where you might arrive in time for a prize off the spinning Wheel of Taco. From upscale Italian and sustainable seafood to laid-back burgers and beer, you can find it all in the Virginia-Highland neighbourhood.

Guide to Virginia-Highland | Inside 310 Rosemont
Shop until you drop at stylish boutiques like 310 Rosemont © 310 Rosemont

When you’re all fuelled up, tackle the numerous designer clothing boutiques and specialty home stores nearby. You can pick up some name brand denim at highfalutin 310 Rosemont or high-end women’s and men accessories and shoes at recently opened sister shop William Wren. For the rugged types, check out the paddleboard selection at Half Moon Outfitters, where you can also peruse the latest in outdoor fashions and camping gear. You can also pack your shopping bags with stationary from Paper Source and dog treats from Highland Pet Supply.

Atkins Park Interior | Guide to Virginia-Highland
The laid-back charm of Atkins Park has made the bar a popular spot for VaHi locals ©

Brandon Amato/Atkins Park

When the sun dips below the horizon, pedestrian-friendly Virginia-Highland attracts bar hoppers””from college students to young professionals””slinging beers at the popular mainstay Atkins Park and nearby Dark Horse Tavern. Listen to blues at Blind Willies or acoustic guitar, folk and rock n’ roll at Irish pub Limerick Junction. Virginia-Highland also plays host to numerous events throughout the year, one of the most popular being Summerfest, when crowds gather to enjoy art, food and live music.

Guide to Virginia- Highland | Summerfest
Visiting during Summerfest is a great way to soak up the great food, music and atmosphere© Summerfest

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Have you visited Virginia-Highland? Where are your favourite places to hang out in Atlanta? Let us know in the comments section below.

Written by Giannina Smith Bedford


Giannina Smith Bedford

Giannina Smith Bedford is a travel and business writer whose work has appeared in a number of national and regional publications, including Condé Nast Traveler, Delta SKY Magazine, AirTran Airways GO Magazine, and Atlanta Business Chronicle, among others. Born in Miami, she grew up in Brazil, Chile, Hawaii and Australia and continues her worldwide adventures—always traveling with a pen in hand. Her published work can be viewed at

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