Classic spots to get your retro on in Atlanta


Atlanta, Georgia is full of nostalgia from the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement, and there are several places around town that can transport you back in time. No, not literally. These popular places will invoke a sense of nostalgia like no other.

Chapman Drugs and Soda Fountain

Step back in time to simpler days when you walk into this soda shop owned and operated by the same family since it opened in 1921. Prepare to pucker up as you sip on their fresh-squeezed limeades and lime sours that will keep you up at night craving the sweet tanginess. If that's not your cup of tea then go suck on a handmade malt or award-winning milkshake - they've been making them the same way for nearly a century. Not only can you enjoy real, glass bottled hand-crafted sodas, you'll get good, old-fashioned customer service as well. It's a full-service pharmacy that still makes home deliveries. They're known for quick turnaround times for your prescriptions that blows the big-box pharmacies out of the water.

Wally Gobetz via Flickr

The shop's old-time charm is famous and has been featured in Zombieland, a couple of Tyler Perry flicks and a documentary about the rivalry between Coke and Pepsi. Oh, and if you lean toward Pepsi, buyer beware: Chapman is one of Coca-Cola's oldest customers. Lunch time is the busiest as it's conveniently located in Hapeville near the airport, so parking can be a pain in the you-know-what.

Rarely can you find a place that has changed very little in 95 years, but the owners of Chapman Drugs said they "try to keep it as authentic as possible." With that being said, don't expect it to be open on weekends or after 6 p.m. on weekdays. Because it isn't. Nevertheless, you will not be disappointed with this old-fashioned soda fountain and ice cream counter.

Majestic Diner

It would be difficult to argue that this timeless diner is "Atlanta's coolest landmark." Located in the eclectic Virginia Highland neighborhood, they've been serving a myriad of generations since 1929. They're open 24-hours (and busy all the time), but their prime time is around 3 a.m. when last-call at the bars has driven the nightcrawlers out searching for a post-party snack. So don't expect a scene from Edward Hopper's Nighthawks because when Whodini sang "Freaks Come Out at Night," they must have been to the Majestic recently. While holding on to it's retro look and menu, you can get some biscuits and gravy with a side of wild and entertaining characters.
Mark Chandler via Flickr

Parking is as plentiful (at the adjacent Plaza Theater) as the heaping helpings of grub on your plate. If you're looking for a experience that offers no frills, uncomplicated, great tasting food, you're on the right track with this throwback to old-time diners.

Starlight Drive-In Theater

The Starlight Drive-in is an outdoor movie theater where you can enjoy double-features on six digital projection systems. Granted that's an improvement from the one screen available in 1949 when it opened, but otherwise, not much else has changed. For a mere $9 per adult, this is a bargain for the nostalgia and entertainment.

The concession stand apparently is still designed for its 1950s clientele and only takes cash. It's small and offers a limited variety of candies and confections. Bring all the food you want, your rambunctious kids, lawn chairs, no matter. The rules of indoor theaters do not apply. And don't be a jerk - turn your headlights off during the movies. No doubt, you'll get a nostalgic feeling as you sit back, snuggle-up to your sweetheart and enjoy a couple of shows.

Amy has been an Audio-Video Technology & Film instructor in the Atlanta area for the last 10 years. She has produced newscasts for an ABC affiliate in Memphis, TN and has contributed to several Atlanta publications.