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See & Dos before you go

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HAVE DINNER AT MARY MAC'S

Sure, pizza's tasty and the student cafeteria is convenient, but if you leave the South without sampling authentic Southern cooking, you'll face years of well-deserved ridicule. There are many places we could suggest, but Mary Mac's Tea Room is a good start. It's an Atlanta institution that serves up such comfort-food staples as chicken livers and salmon croquettes with rice and gravy, hoppin' john, pot likker, and collard greens with cracklin' corn bread. Remember to save room for the banana puddin'. 24 Ponce de Leon Ave. 404-876-1800. www.marymacs.com.

HIKE UP KENNESAW MOUNTAIN

Stone Mountain has that big carving of the dead, bearded guys, but Kennesaw Mountain has history. Even if the Civil War's not your thing, you should still visit Kennesaw Mountain at least once to stand at the edge of its expansive battlefield and imagine the incredible carnage that took place in June 1864. While there, hike – don't drive – to the top of the mountain to get a sense of some of the common foot soldier's travails and for some impressive views of metro Atlanta. 900 Kennesaw Mountain Drive. 770-427-4686. www.nps.gov/kemo.

HAVE COCKTAILS AT THE SUNDIAL

It's a rite of passage to have drinks in the slowly spinning Sun Dial Restaurant atop the Westin Peachtree Plaza, once the world's tallest hotel. As a first-timer, you'll dig the glass elevator ride to the 72nd floor, where you can look down on the city at night and trace the path of Peachtree Street as it winds into Buckhead. Or maybe you'll just get vertigo and throw up. Either way, it's an experience you'll remember. 210 Peachtree St. 404-589-7506. www.sundialrestaurant.com.

EXPLORE THE NORTH GEORGIA MOUNTAINS

One of the advantages of living in Atlanta is its proximity to the North Georgia mountains and their many kick-ass state parks and scenic areas. A two-hour drive takes you to the stunning vistas of Amicalola Falls or Cloudland Canyon state parks, or to the popular Raven Cliff Falls trail. Brasstown Bald, Georgia's highest point, offers panoramic views, while Pigeon Mountain has rock-climbing areas and great caving. See them all; studying is overrated. 800-864-7275. www.gastateparks.org.

SPEND A DAY ON BUFORD HIGHWAY

Even if you can't afford to travel abroad, you can still experience culture shock on Atlanta's most diverse thoroughfare. Between the Mexican taquerias, Korean bakeries, Vietnamese pho restaurants, Chinese noodle houses and Malaysian curry joints, you won't go hungry. But it's the shops that will boggle your mind: Japanese stationary stores, Asian groceries, Latino flea markets and places selling mysterious herbs, weird appliances and DVDs of movies you've never heard of but have a strange urge to see.

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