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Road to the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl

Coming to Atlanta for Celebration Bowl? Here’s where to turn up

From T.I.’s Trap Music Museum to Busy Bee’s soul food to the Black Money Exhibit, it’s all here

It’s officially bowl season, and college football fans are traveling across the country to root for their alma maters and favorite teams. This weekend is bringing fans to Atlanta for the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl between Alcorn State and North Carolina A&T. This game always brings the tailgaters and historically black college and university (HBCU) alums to the blackest city in America. It’s going to be a turn-up for the ages. However, it can be quite intimidating trying to figure out what to do in a city like Atlanta that’s ever-changing.

Don’t worry. I got you covered. From education to food to bottomless mimosas, here are a few things you can do to get a taste of the city. So come to Atlanta, enjoy, and thank me later.

Soul food

Atlanta has no shortage of soul food restaurants that will fill your need for Down South cooking. First, there’s The Busy Bee, a tiny spot down the street from the Atlanta University Center (AUC) with some of the best fried chicken in the city. Make sure you pack a snack, because the wait can get crazy in this limited-seating establishment. The Beautiful Restaurant is nearby on Cascade Road and is also known for its incredible soul food. My favorite spot is the relatively quiet and less-championed K&K Soul Food on Hollowell Parkway. Cafeteria-style and fresh, it’s everything you want in soul food. The meat loaf and turkey wings are the highlights of their menu.


If you’re going to come to Atlanta to enjoy some good old-fashioned HBCU sporting events, then you might as well take a trip to the Southern HBCU mecca, no? The AUC is home to Morehouse, Spelman and Clark. While the schools are shutting down for winter break, there are still plenty of monuments and bookstores open to grab gear.

Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park

You can’t come to Atlanta without getting some history on the life of Martin Luther King Jr. The South is full of civil rights museums, and you have got to see them all. But the park, featuring King’s childhood home and his home church, is something to marvel at.

T.I.’s Trap Music Museum

T.I. is one of Atlanta’s chief cultural ambassadors, and he took things further earlier this year by opening a museum dedicated to Atlanta’s monumental trap music. His Trap Museum (and Escape Room for the adventurous among your crew) is full of artifacts from the rise of Atlanta hip-hop and the cultural milestones along the way. Plus, the space has been used for album release parties and the like too. Make the trek to the museum. It’s worth it.

The Swag Shop

Want your cloak of invincibility for the weekend, aka a fresh haircut? Then you want to go to a barbershop that’s more than a barbershop — it’s an experience. Rapper and political commentator Killer Mike has opened a number of barbershops in Atlanta (one of them is in State Farm Arena, where the Hawks play), and they’re always hubs for conversation and a fresh lineup. Go on in, spark up a debate on politics or sports and come out feeling like a new person.

For Keeps Bookstore

The historic Auburn Avenue is worth visiting for a plethora of bars, hangouts and places to eat, but you must visit the new For Keeps Bookstore. The bookstore features rare first editions of books from the likes of James Baldwin and Audre Lorde. I’ve been there just about every week since it’s opened and spent way more than I thought I would each time. Even if you don’t buy books, there are plenty of gems just to peruse.

Black Money Exhibit

Told you that Auburn Avenue is where a ton of culture and history resides. One such space is the Black Money Exhibit that gives us a history of currency as it has traveled through the African diaspora all the way to places such as Black Wall Street and current African money. It’s a thorough and beautiful exhibit that will leave you fulfilled, educated and at times incredibly furious.

Brunch, anyone?

If you’re around on Sunday morning after the game, then you want to enjoy the many, many spectacles known as “brunch.” That’s right. Atlanta takes its brunches seriously. First, there’s the superpopular Get Brunch events that are as much Sunday afternoon parties as they are chances to grab some French toast. Then there’s Beetlecat’s now-infamous doughnut brunch: doughnut and chicken sandwiches, donut burgers and more. Atlanta Breakfast Club is also superpopular and well worth the wait.

David Dennis Jr. is a senior writer at Andscape and an American Mosaic Journalism Prize recipient. His book, The Movement Made Us, will be released in 2022. David is a graduate of Davidson College.