My family and I love taking trips to Atlanta. Instead of flying out to Korea, which costs about $2,500 per person for roundtrip tickets, we can get a similar experience with only a four-hour drive.
Atlanta is home to the third-largest Koreatown, after Los Angeles and New York City. It’s like Miami, where you can get by without knowing an ounce of English, but instead of speaking Spanish, Korean is the widely used language.
If you want to go to Korea, get a taste of what it’s like in Atlanta or the other K-Towns before you head out of the country. Although there are many other Korean activities, here is a list of what I did and what you could do, too.
1. Sauna time
You pay a one-day fee of $25 (for adults), and you get an all-day access to Jeju Sauna,where you can lounge around, go in varying sauna rooms (gold room, jade room, baked clay room, the list goes on), detoxify, clean and be refreshed. You can also pay for extra massages from a specialized masseuse. My favorite part is eating Samgyetang (ginger chicken soup) and baked boiled eggs.
2. Karaoke rooms
Too embarrassed to belt it out in front of the public at Applebee’s? Well, Koreans have karaoke rooms where you can rent out private space its own karaoke machine and microphones. You pay per-hour to sing your heart out to with your private company.
My mom, my sister and I sang song after song for an hour at Do Re Mi Karaoke, which was only $20 per hour for each room. My mom, who we didn’t know was a closeted amazing singer, scored 100 on one of her songs which led to an extra 15 minutes for free!
Man. Personally, I realize I always feel compelled to sing Korean rap, and I can never keep up with those lyrics. Karaoke is always a good time.
3. Korean desserts and bakeries
I had SunO, which is shaved ice cream with your toppings of choice. We actually went there twice because we couldn’t get enough of it! Also, these bakeries are exactly like the ones in Korea. If you love bread, you’ll want to go there. The smell of bread and the atmosphere of the cafe is classic and cozy.
4. Korean mart / groceries
It’s only a grocery mart, but we probably spent about three hours there total. In the store, they have mini stores where they sell specialized goods and foods. We went to one area where they only sold Korean snacks and fast food.
My favorite is the spicy rice cakes. Because my mom was extra friendly to the workers, we got some fish cake broth on the side.
5. Korean BBQ
My favorite place is Iron Age restaurant. We went there last night and ordered beef brisket, spicy marinated pork and duck.
All night, we had K-Pop videos and music playing in the background while we grilled our own meat and ate simultaneously. After eating, they fried rice for us right on the grill. They have great customer service.
I’m excited to keep exploring Atlanta whenever I feel a little homesick, with Korea being my second home. Many more Americans are enjoying these Korean services, so don’t feel intimidated to venture into the Koreatowns.
Atlanta is continuously embracing all nationalities, making it one of the prominent melting pot cities of the United States.