When I first planned to move to Atlanta, I dreaded doing so. I’m a New Orleans girl, which makes me a Saints fan by default, and I didn’t want to move to the same city that houses the Dirty Birds — I mean, cough, Falcons. (Okay, yeah, there were also other, more legitimate reasons)
Now, three years later, I’ve found myself falling in love with a place that I never thought I would consider “home.” Here’s to you, Atlanta, and here are 15 reasons to love you.
1. Though it is considered an old stronghold of the South, Atlanta has an unexpectedly mild, minimally humid climate — especially compared to other large Southern cities (New Orleans, Houston, or Birmingham to name a few). During the summer, it is admittedly hot during the day but the temperature cools to a comfortable level at night. During the winter, it gets just cold enough for a moderately thick coat.
2. However, when it snows in Atlanta, all hell breaks loose. Stores close. Schools and offices shut down. Traffic — already notoriously bad in the city — becomes exponentially worse (during the great Snowpocalypse of 2014, it took some people over 10 hours to drive a measly couple of miles). On the bright side, two inches of snow means about six days off from work or class. Heh.
3. Atlanta was recently ranked the top city for new college graduates and young professionals due to high median starting salaries and cheap, cheap, cheap living costs. The same salary that would barely allow you to make ends meet in, say, New York City (or Boston, San Francisco, etc.) will enable you to live like royalty in the ATL
4. You wouldn’t think it off the bat, but Atlanta is home to an expansive and impressive music scene — with many underground hip-hop and indie artists flocking to the city to get their start in the industry. This is due to Atlanta’s proximity to the ever-hip Athens, Ga. (where bands like of Montreal, Azure Ray, R.E.M., and Louisiana’s Neutral Milk Hotel gained fame) and what used to be its vibin’ college radio scene.
5. Speaking of college radio, Georgia State’s WRAS is one of the best student-run radio stations in the country (it was the first station to feature many now-popular musicians and bands — like Outkast, R.E.M., and the Indigo Girls). That ish is so hip that listening to it makes me want to shave an undercut into my hair, put on a pair of Coke-bottle glasses, and read chapbooks while riding my fixed-gear at the same damn time. Save WRAS. Save college radio.
6. If you’re a foodie, this is the city for you. The dining scene is incredible with tastes that will satisfy even the pickiest palates. There are Atlanta’s famous food trucks; frequent food and drink festivals; upscale restaurant weeks in neighborhoods like Buckhead and Inman Park; the dinky, little Asian restaurants along Buford Highway; and establishments like the Majestic Diner or Gladys Knight’s Chicken and Waffles.
7. Additionally, this city has the best Indian food you will ever eat outside of, well, India.
8. Atlanta’s beer game is strong, if that’s your kind of thing. There are many craft beer stores, microbreweries (like Sweetwater, the city’s finest), and pubs to explore. A personal favorite is Brickstore Pub in the Decatur neighborhood.
9. Notable celebrities that live in the city include Usher, Julia Roberts, Bradford Cox of Deerhunter and Atlas Sound (who can often be found wandering through the shops in Little Five Points), as well as Shaquille O’Neil (who you can occasionally see eating amongst college students at restaurants in Druid Hills). Come to Atlanta if you want to catch a glimpse of these fine folks or others.
10. Most importantly, Justin Bieber, LOL, lives in Atlanta. If you want to meet him and/or snap a photo with him (for ALL the likes on social media), I hear he often hangs out at the mall. But actually.
11. Southerners take their brunch seriously, and nobody does brunch like people in Atlanta do brunch. On weekend mornings, the lines in front of popular restaurants like Alon’s, Highland Bakery (mmm, Nutella French Toast), Sun in My Belly, Flying Biscuit, and many others wrap around the block. However, the wait — which is sometimes more than an hour — is well worth it.
12. With the Centers for Disease Control right in town, you know that you’re in luck if there’s ever a surprise zombie apocalypse. The CDC has a zombie contingency plan.
13. Okay, okay, so Atlanta is more of a giant urban playground than it is a natural paradise. However, there are still many things to do in the area if you’re an outdoorsy guy or gal. Stone Mountain (where Childish Gambino calls home!) is the place to go to watch pretty sunsets. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can drive out to Tallulah Gorge for gorge-ous scenery and hiking trails. Or, if you want to stay in the city, you can hike around the Atlanta Beltline or check out any of the city’s handful of parks.
14. Atlanta Pride is vibrant. Georgia is fairly conservative on the whole, but the city is a pocket of liberal and progressive values. This is reflected in Atlanta’s Pride Festival which is held in Piedmont Park each year — the largest Pride event in the southeast region and one of the oldest annual events in the country.
15. The nightlife is diverse, and there’s something to do no matter what your going-out style is. You can head to the nicer bars in Buckhead to mingle with young professionals or go to the dive bars there to flirt with dudes named Hank in baseball caps and SEC football shirts (if that’s your scene). You can go out in East Atlanta to meet some hipsters or to Edgewood to meet people who consider themselves hipsters. You can go to the Highlands for an older, less rowdy crowd. You can go to MJQ on a Wednesday night and dance to electronic DJ sets with both punk-y skateboarders and 20-something consultants alike. And if you’re still in school, you can go to Maggie’s — the country’s top college bar according to Playboy.