It may not be what downtown Atlanta needed or even wanted, but the tourist trap that is Margaritaville is officially open now across the street from Centennial Park.
The restaurant associated with the controversial 22-story hotel complex Margaritaville Vacation Club and Club Wyndham resort tower officially opened to the public in late-June. And it brings three cheesy bars to downtown Atlanta.
Aptly named Margaritaville, the Jimmy Buffett-themed restaurant features a retail shop and three bars spread out over two stories in the heart of Atlanta’s tourist district, including bars 5 o’Clock Somewhere and License to Chill and a tiki bar on the second floor. The rather underwhelming exterior of the restaurant and hotel gives way to an explosion of bright tropical and neon colors and kitschy decor once inside, all catering to fans of the legendary musician.
Here, parrot heads can indulge in volcano nachos and burgers like a Cheeseburger in Paradise paired with saccharine margaritas while listening to live music. Retractable windows on the second-floor open to the outside and offer views of Centennial Park and Skyview Ferris Wheel (and plenty of concrete and cars,) while the ground floor patio at 5 o’Clock Somewhere includes an indoor-outdoor bar and street-side seating.
This isn’t the only Margaritaville in the metro Atlanta area. At 1,500 acres, the self-contained Margaritaville at Lake Lanier Islands comes with an actual body of water in which people can hop on one of two booze-cruising party yachts, before hitting the Buffett-themed bars and restaurants at the resort.
So why all of the controversy surrounding the downtown Atlanta location? Local preservationists and activists had been fighting against the building of the dual-branded Margaritaville and Club Wyndham resort complex since it was first proposed back in 2014. A portion of the sprawling site along Nassau Street to the east is said to be the “birthplace of country music”. It’s believed Fiddlin’ John Carson recorded his famous song “The Little Old Log Cabin in the Lane” in 1923 there. Along Walton Street to the west, the site was supposedly home to several film exchanges from the 1920s to the 1940s, where distribution companies rented or traded films to movie theaters from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) and Warner Brothers studios.
The new downtown Atlanta hotel and resort tower is open for overnight guests. In addition to regular hotel rooms and suites, Margaritaville and Club Wyndham resort tower also offers “vacation ownership units,” likely used as rentals and timeshares.
Margaritaville Restaurant Atlanta: open Sunday - Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m to 12 a.m.
155 Centennial Olympic Park Drive, Atlanta. margaritavilleatlanta.com.