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Once a wasteland of warehouses and drab industrial spaces, Atlanta's Westside has been transformed into what's arguably the city's hottest 'hood for top-notch dining, loft living, and highbrow shopping. Indie galleries also have taken up residence and banded together with institutions such as the Atlanta Contemporary Arts Center to form the Westside Arts District. Throw in the mixed-use, mega-shopping destination that is Atlantic Station - and the youthful brainpower of Georgia Tech - and you've got a section of town that's thriving despite tough economic times.

Things to do in the Westside

Have a beer, spy on artists at the Goat Farm

Over the last two years, this dilapidated former cotton gin has morphed into a creative sanctuary. At any given moment the Southern Gothic compound is flush with working artists rehearsing, welding, and hosting dinners. Take a gander at all the official and unofficial goings-on while making your way to the Victorian-tinged on-site bar/coffee shop Warhorse.

Drink and handle balls at Ormsby's

Drinking is fun. So are games. Westside tavern Ormsby's put two and two together and filled its cave-like basement with plenty of things to throw, push, or scream about while imbibing, including backgammon, bocce, darts, pool, and shuffleboard. There's also a black-and-white photo booth - an activity nearly as tempting to drunk people as karaoke.

Westside Arts District art walk

By 2009, a slew of contemporary art galleries had taken up residence in the neighborhood and banded together to form the Westside Arts District. WAD hosts an afternoon art walk the third Saturday of every month featuring lectures, discussions, and musical performances at galleries such as Emily Amy, Get This!, the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, and more.

Stock up at the Marietta Street Salvation Army

This outpost of the charity thrift-store chain is among the best in the city: bright, clean, orderly, and boasting a huge selection of clothing, shoes, home goods, and one of the largest selections of good-quality second-hand furniture around. Furniture is discounted depending on the amount of time it's spent on the showroom floor (the longer the cheaper); all clothing is 50 percent off every Wednesday.

Kick your feet up at Nouvelle Nail Spa

Nouvelle's sleek industrial design offers a calming minimalist respite for some you-time. The spa's luxury pedicures coddle customers in upended ergonomic recliners. Even the basic manicure includes a thorough hand and arm massage before the expert paint job by Nouvelle's attentive beauticians.

Northside Tavern

This hole-in-the-wall dive bar looks practically derelict in the daylight next to its nouveau industrial surroundings. But come nightfall, locals flock to the wonderfully crusty, crumbling blues joint for pool, tallboys, and of course, live music. No cover charge Sunday-Thursday, and blues jam Mondays with host Johnny Knox.

Dandy it up at Sid Mashburn

So maybe a bespoke three-piece suit isn't in the budget this month, or maybe you're not a dude and can't wear Sid Mashburn's custom designs (humph). It's still worth wandering through the local clothier's storied boutique to pass your fingers over the rows of silk ties and soak in some style inspiration.

Eat pizza at Antico

The ovens are so hot at Antico (1,000 degrees) that the pizzas only spend about a minute inside before they're delivered to your table crust blistered, cheese bubbling. It's possible to snarf down the charred gooey goodness in a matter of minutes, but try and pace yourself and enjoy the bustling atmosphere of the communal kitchen crammed full of diners, chefs, and servers.

Take in the sunset view from JCT's upstairs bar

Upscale Southern restaurant JCT Kitchen may be situated on the backside of the White Provisions complex, but its upstairs bar's balcony wraps around the building's end to offer an unobstructed view of the Atlanta skyline, best taken in at sunset. The only downside can be the live singer/songwriter lineup, which tends to favor the likes of Jack Johnson and John Mayer.

Gorge yourself on a wallet- and belt-busting progressive dinner

The Westside is home to some of the city's best restaurants. Rather than choose one, how about a progressive dinner/bar-hop? Start early in the day at Sublime Doughnuts before the supply runs out (not technically a restaurant, but they are damn good doughnuts). Then it's to Abattoir for the charcuterie plate, Miller Union for the farm egg in celery cream, and Bocado for the burger. We'll leave the cocktail part up to you.

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