Guest Blogger Tobi Fairley Visits Atlanta

Hello Travelers, it’s the Traveling Designer here with a fun idea for some holiday shopping. Each year, I take a girls’ trip during the holiday season with my mom and sister-in-law to do a little Christmas shopping and a lot of girl bonding. Last year our destination of choice was Atlanta, Georgia.

If you want to load up your girlfriends and recreate this fun trip, here’s all you need to know for the perfect weekend in Atlanta.

Buckhead, a suburb of Atlanta, has quaint shopping, great restaurants and gorgeous sites. We made our home base the Ritz Carlton Buckhead. It’s right across the street from two great malls and walking distance from tasty dining.

After checking in but before you head out of the hotel, have a drink in the cozy Ritz bar complete with a real fireplace and holiday tunes! It is a bustling place with a great wine list and ideal for people watching at happy hour!

When ready to head out for dinner, Craft,the famous New York eatery by Chef Tom Colicchio, has a location in Buckhead attached to the gorgeous Mansion on Peachtree hotel and walking distance from the Ritz. The atmosphere is chic and the food is delicious. Try the roasted farm chicken or braised short ribs and the Yukon gold puree. And Tom even makes Brussels sprouts taste great!

For some high-end shopping after dinner, just across the street from the Ritz is the Phipps Plaza mall with great stores like Saks Fifth Avenue, Tory Burch, Tiffany and Co. and Gucci. I especially like the boutique Jeffrey where I bought some great vintage Chanel earrings.

And when you are tired of shopping for the night, head up to the top floor of the Phipps Plaza and catch one of the holiday season’s best movies at the AMC 14 theatre. Last year, we saw the “Blind Side,” a definite tear-jerker for our girls’ group and there are some promising chic-flicks out this season that will be perfect for your trip.

On Day 2 of your trip, you can head over to the annual Christmas House, a holiday designer house sponsored by Atlanta Homes and Lifestyles. The Christmas House is always full of designs from some of the area’s (and the nation’s) hottest designers. You can not only get great design ideas here, but also see wonderful tips for your holiday decor. And this year Christmas House is two high-rise residences at the Mansion on Peachtree, so you couldn’t be closer to it while staying in Buckhead.

Following the showhouse, it’s time for lunch, and no trip to Atlanta is complete without lunch or dinner at Miller Union. I prefer lunch here but save a little room because their homemade ice cream sandwiches are one of the best desserts anywhere.

If something more Provencal is your idea of a good lunch, Anis is a long-time Atlanta favorite. It’ll hit the spot if you’re in the mood for casual French cuisine in a relaxed atmosphere. It’s perfect for lazy day lunches shared with girl friends while sipping rosé.

For a little more afternoon shopping, you can hit the Lenox Square mall or some of the many quaint shops in the Buckhead area. Lenox Square has a great selection of stores including Neiman Marcus, Burberry, Kate Spade, Anthropologie and Louis Vuitton.

If the mall isn’t what you are looking for, Atlanta’s shopping scene has exploded in the past year, especially on the West side. The trade only R. Hughes showroom is breathtaking and offers many new exclusive lines to Atlanta. Nearby, Redefined Home Boutique is a welcomed addition to the West side as well. Austin Hill Art on Peachtree has a great selection of emerging and established artists.

Other hot art spots in Buckhead include Pryor Fine Art, formerly the Bennett Street Gallery and home to one of my favorite artists, Lisa Lala.

If you are an interior designer, the Atlanta Decorative Arts Center (ADAC), the trade-only interior design center, has a plethora of gorgeous furnishings and decor that you won’t want to miss! There are some great new additions to ADAC recently, as well as several renovated showrooms. The Paul + Raulet showroom is a must-see for the Cecil Beaton-designed fabrics and Andrew Martin furniture. And the newly revamped Donghia showroom showcases the best of Angelo Donghia’s legacy for today’s lifestyles.

I hear there are also some great new shops on East Andrews. If you head over there check out Vintage, Scout, Bee and Anthony | Wolfe. All are new and you can walk to each one.

And just around the corner from these spots is one of my favorite shops, Pieces Inc., owned by the stylish Lee Kleinhelter.

So, there you have it! With just 48 hours in the quaint area of Buckhead, you can mark lots of people off your shopping list, buy a few goodies for yourself and have fun with your girlfriends doing it.

I hope you’ll check out some of these Atlanta hot spots on your next trip. Now I’m off on this year’s seasonal shopping trip with the girls. Until we meet again, happy travels and happy holidays. I’ll see you for some amazing trips after the New Year. Cheers!