Atlanta’s best 18+ venues

Each of these unique Atlanta venues provide history, nightlife and music — and you don’t have to be 21 to get in on the fun.

Acoustix Lounge

Genre: Jazz/Soul

Located on the intersection of Marietta St and Northside Dr, Acoustix Lounge is one of the few venues in Atlanta that offers its patrons two separate venues. The Acoustix side features a classy dining area and a stage which is mainly occupied by local jazz acts. The neighboring club has a more casual feel and regularly hosts soul and R&B artists. Be sure to leave the tank tops and gym shorts at home though, as only formal attire is allowed.

Blind Willie’s

Genre: Blues

Crafted with the spare lumber and sweat of a few dedicated musicians, Blind Willie’s is a 26-year-old Cajun restaurant and blues venue which has become one of the most recognizable institutions of Virginia Highlands. With cheap cover charges and nightly entertainment, Blind Willie’s is Atlanta’s premier place to engage in some old-fashioned blues debauchery.

Churchill Grounds

Genre: Jazz

Nestled to the right of the prestigious Fox Theater, Churchill Grounds is an upscale club dedicated to the preservation of jazz, one of America’s few native art forms. However, be prepared to shell out a little bit of money, as $10 worth of food and drink is required in addition to the cover charge.

Apache Cafe

Genre: Hip Hop/Soul/Jazz

Apache Cafe is a casual, loft-style cafe which hosts a variety of spoken word acts, open mic sessions, hip hop cyphers, and thoughtful discussion forums. In addition to its venue, the cafe also offers an art gallery comprised of local and traveling artists. Famed for its eclecticism, Apache Cafe is a testament to arts which truly deviate from the mainstream.

Center Stage Theater
Center Stage Atlanta

Center Stage/Vinyl/The Loft

Genre: Just about everything

With a pristine view of Midtown and some of the most finely tuned acoustics in Atlanta, the Center Stage complex comprises three separate venues to accommodate a wide range of musical tastes. Center Stage Theater is the largest of three and offers a lounge and a 1050 person seating arrangement. The Vinyl is the most intimate room that features billiards and a full bar. The Loft is the newest venue and is an open floor that suits dancing, moshing and any other form of physical chaos.

Terminal West

Genre: Electronic Dance Music (EDM)

Terminal West is over 100 years old, but one could never tell based off the lush and stylish interior that is matched with a formidable sound system. The venue is part of the King Plow company, which is an old iron and steel foundry that has since been converted into a sprawling 7,000 square foot complex which houses the finest local and international electronic musicians.

The Quad

Genre: EDM

For all those who have a fondness for tinnitus-inducing dubstep and the most self-indulgent trap, The Quad is here to help. Located off Spring St and adjacent to the Varsity, The Quad has won awards from Creative Loafing and INsite Magazine readers for “Best Dance Club” and “Best College Club.” In an email response, a representative from The Quad touted that the club features “top name International DJs like Skrillex and Armin Van Buren who share the same stage as local favorites like Mantis or Heroes and Villains.” The Quad also offers private fraternity and sorority events.


Genre: EDM/Hip Hop

Named for its former fame as an Opera house, the Opera of today is a swanky nightclub off of Crescent Avenue that has featured everyone from DJ Tiesto to Pauly D to Kanye West. Opera is comprised of a dance floor, a VIP balcony area and an outside patio area. The club has won numerous awards, the most recent one being the Best Nightclub Award for 2013 in Jezebel Magazine. The dress code is fairly strict as casual footwear and striped polos are forbidden.

Robert Glasper at the Variety Playhouse
Variety Playhouse | photo courtesy of Raymond Hagans

Variety Playhouse

Genre: Indie/Folk/Experimental

Originally a World War II era cinema, The Variety Playhouse has since been transformed into one of Atlanta’s most well renowned venues. The venue is lauded for its famous acoustics which have led several artists to record live albums here such as Animal Collective, Phish, Dinosaur Jr., Buckethead, and many more. Bob Syna, Variety Playhouse’s manager, said, “We’ve been told by artists that our venue is in the top 3 best sounding rooms in the U.S.” Located in the middle of Little Five Points, The Variety Playhouse is a must for casual listeners and serious audiophiles alike.


Genre: Punk/Metal/Folk

Wonderroot is a non-profit arts center which, despite its modest size, offers a dizzying amount of activities and opportunities in its small, two-story house. The basement is about as intimate as a venue can be with no stage and a standing area which can reasonably fit about 50 people. Though the venue is indeed tiny, this often bolsters the intensity of a performance as audiences are offered the rare opportunity of being inches away from their favorite performers. The upstairs houses an art gallery, a recording studio, a community library, a digital media lab, a darkroom, and a ceramics room.

Wonderroot | photo courtesy of Kody Wynne
Wonderroot | photo courtesy of Kody Wynne


Genre: Punk/Indie/EDM

The Masquerade is perhaps the most eerie venue in Atlanta with its three stages named Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory. The Masquerade’s original name was the Dupre Excelsior Mill, which was reported to have been built as early as 1890 and is even alleged to house ghosts. The venue wears its history like a dusty badge as old remnants of the mill litter the various stages. While the acoustics are oftentimes muddled by the sound reverberating from nearby stages, the occasional lack of quality sound is balanced out by a macabre ambiance which is wholly unique to The Masquerade.

The Tabernacle

Genre: Rock/EDM/Comedy

A mammoth pipe organ oversees the 2,600 person seating capacity of The Tabernacle, and it is difficult to imagine that the sea of sweaty bodies which presently occupy the venue was originally a packed congregation. The Tabernacle is not only a venue, but a significant part of Downtown Atlanta’s history. Pastor Len G. Broughton founded The Tabernacle as a Baptist church in 1910 and led it to become one of the most well-attended churches in Atlanta. In the 1980s the church’s membership fell into decline, and the space was renovated into a venue during the 1996 Olympics. Today The Tabernacle boasts three floors of seating and entertainment and some of the biggest international acts that come through Atlanta. It is also the closest venue for Georgia State students as it is only a brief walk from the Aderhold building.


Genre: Indie/Experimental

Since its inception in 1998, Eyedrum has been a mainstay for some of Atlanta’s eminent experimentalists. After a recent move the art space has finally reopened near Five Points Station on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. Eyedrum is a non-profit center which houses a space for any local musicians, film directors, writers, and artists to showcase their work. The curators at Eyedrum find any form of art to be valid and as a result offer an objective look into the myriad sights and sounds of Atlanta’s most creative minds.