Microsoft Global Briefing (MGB) will be held in Atlanta this year. I am really excited to attend my first MGB event, and simultaneously bummed that it is in Atlanta. I would have loved to go somewhere cool with a beach.
So, what's to do in Atlanta? (skip below if you just want to find out where to go drink)
See the sites.
You can ride MARTA to most of Atlanta for $1.50. This is cool because the hotels are downtown, where there is literally no nightlife... you have to travel away from downtown to see anything interesting.
You can see the Margaret Mitchell (author of “Gone with the Wind“) house that has been burned down, like, 50 times per year for the past 20 years. Or you can see “The World of Coca Cola“, which to me is just short of watching grass grow (and tasting soft drinks from around the world is not a pleasant experience unless you like what burped up Coke tastes like). Underground Atlanta has lost its charm, there's not much to see around there anymore. You will be in the Olympic Park, so you will be near Turner Field, the Georgia Dome, CNN Center, and the other neat things downtown. The Atlanta Zoo is fairly close to downtown as well.
Stone Mountain is a hellish ride away (likely 1 hour in Atlanta traffic), and there isn't much to see unless you stay for the laser show at night. I'd suggest that if you are bringing your family in, but it's probably not worth your time to skip out on a day's sessions to go see a big granite rock with a carving in the front.
I had a friend in from Ireland, and he was flat out amazed at the malls that we have on every other corner. If you like shopping, then there is plenty of it, and MARTA stops right outside Phipps Plaza.
OK, now to the part that you really want to know about... where to have a good time. Atlanta is one of the best towns if you like drinking beer.
Georgia is partially known for its bizarre drinking laws. The strongest beer you can get is 6% abv, but you can buy wine coolers and fru-fru drinks that are made with frigging grain alcohol. Beer and wine is sold in gas stations, grocery stores, and liquor stores, you can only buy liquor at liquor stores. You cannot buy alcohol outside of a bar after 11:45pm, and you cannot buy it outside of a bar at all on Sundays. Bars serve alcohol starting at 12:30pm.
Here are some of the bars that you might want to visit that the locals actually go to.
Jocks and Jills - There is a Jocks and Jills in the bottom of the CNN Center, right near Olympic Centennial Park. This bar rocks, it is a haven for beer drinking sports fans.
Summits Wayside Tavern (aka Taco Mac) - one of the world's largest tap beer selections, lost the title to the current Guiness Book of World Records holder in Washington, DC.
Prince of Wales - One of my favorite bars of all time. I spent quite a bit of my college career here.
Fado - A great Irish bar, you cannot go wrong here.
Gordon Biersch - I like their beer, GB is sold locally as well.
Wild Wing Cafe - One of Atlanta's best bars.
Three Dollar Cafe - one of the world's largest bottle beer selections. There is one in Buckhead. Speaking of Buckhead...
If you drink beer (hell, if you drink), you will eventually end up in Buckhead. Buckhead has a bar strip where you can hit literally 30 bars within a mile's walk, and most of them are packed on Friday and Saturday nights. One of my favorites is LuLu's Bait Shack... you can get fishbowl drinks (literally, goldfish bowls) with grain alcohol and foot long straws. They used to stuff plastic alagators in them for decoration, don't think they do that anymore. You can get out-of-the-way cuisine like alagator tail and shark.
Since the expenses policy states that you are provided meals, there is likely going to be quite a bit less of eating out. But, there are plenty of opportunities to eat out. Fat Matt's is great for barbecue. Taco Mac (aka Summit's Wayside Tavern) has the best wings you have ever eaten, with Wild Wing Cafe a close second. Since you likely aren't going to be eating out a lot, I won't belabor the point.