by Amanda K. Brown
Sure, it does get hot. Sure you'll get in your car after it's been sitting in the sun all day and seriously wonder if you skin is going to melt off. But for reasons that have nothing to do with the heat, the heart of the South seems to pound a little harder during the summertime. To help you get just as excited about your new city, here are 15 great reasons Atlanta is the place to be in the summertime.
Atlanta's most beloved patch of green, Piedmont Park (404-876-4024, www.piedmontpark.org), hosts some of the most looked-forward-to events of the summer months. People turn out in droves for cinema under the stars at the park's classic film festival, Screen on the Green. Held in the park's "meadow" at sunset each Thursday in June, this year's line-up, co-sponsored by Turner Classic Movies, includes A Hard Day's Night and Breakfast at Tiffany's. For the best in Georgia-grown produce, baked goods, fresh flowers, herbs and cheeses, those in the know head to the Green Market, held every Saturday in the park from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. through October.
King of Creams
Dairy Queen, begone! National chains have nothing on this city's choices for original, homemade ice cream. From the light, tasty offerings at Paolo's Gelato Italiano (404-607-0055, www.paolosgelato.com) in Virginia-Highland to Jake's Ice Cream & Muncheteria's (404-377-9300, www.jakesicecream.com) creatively monikered flavors such as "Chocolate Slap Yo Mama (And Cuss Your Preacher)," you're never far away from a scoop of frozen delight with which to cool your parched mouth.
Flora with Flare
Midtown's veritable Garden of Eden, the Atlanta Botanical Garden (404-876-5859, www.atlantabotanicalgarden.org) tempts visitors with several enticing summer exhibits and events. Held the last Wednesday of each month through October, Cocktails in the Garden draws plenty of savvy young Atlantans with its pairings of seasonal flowers with specialty cocktails, such as "Hydrangeas and Highballs." For dancing in the moonlight, SunTrust Concerts in the Garden are held on the Great Lawn during June, July and August and this year will feature nationally acclaimed artists such as Buddy Guy. Also, Niki in the Garden, the world's largest exhibition of renowned artist Niki de Saint Phalle's outdoor sculptures, will be on display through October.
Want to get quickly acquainted with your new city? MARTA now provides a "crash course" in Atlanta's landmarks and attractions with the Atlanta Tourist Loop (404-848-5000, www.itsmarta.com) buses, which leave from the North Avenue Station every 30 minutes. For $1.75 (in exact fare), you can enjoy either of two paths around the city: a Downtown route that passes by popular spots such as the CNN Center and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center, and a Midtown route that includes The Fox Theatre, the Margaret Mitchell House and Piedmont Park.
The way this city celebrates the Fourth of July, you would think the declaration of independence was signed in Five Points. The night sky lights up with fireworks from the patriotic partying going on at the Fantastic Fourth Celebration (770-498-5690) and lasershow taking place Jul. 1-4 at Stone Mountain Park, the AirTran Airways 4th of July (404-233-6767) at Lenox Square mall, the Fourth of July Celebration (404-222-PARK) at Centennial Park, the Pied Piper Parade, Concert & Fireworks (404-371-9583) in Decatur and further north, at the Light up the Sky July 4th Celebration (770-932-7200) at Lake Lanier Islands.
Life's a beach this summer at some of the city's hottest developments. Available this season to residents of the Paramount at Buckhead (404-816-2929) is a new half-million dollar, ocean resort-style pool and sundeck, The Élan, which will feature a glowing waterfall, a summer kitchen with an outdoor bar, cozy cabanas and an outdoor movie theater. Ground also recently broke on Aqua Midtown (www.aquamidtown.com), a South Beach-inspired high-rise condominium complex by Tivoli Properties, Inc. that will feature larger-than-usual living spaces, each to be privately accessed via elevator!
Riders of Six Flags Over Georgia's (www.sixflags.com/georgia) newest rollercoaster, the Goliath, will most likely need a strong stomach rather than a sling shot to defeat this giant of an attraction. A monstrosity rising more than 200 feet at the apex of its first drop-making it the park's first "hyper" coaster-the Goliath covers an area eight-and-a-half acres in size and is just one of many thrilling rides at Atlanta's biggest amusement park.
86,617. At press time, this was the number, according to Metro Brokers GMAC/Real Estate's continuously updated billboards around town (also featured on their Web site at www.metrobrokers.com), of homes available for purchase in the Metro Atlanta area. From lofts to townhomes to single-family homes, this ever-increasing number is especially high during the late spring and early summer, since families with children tend to move after the school year ends. This means even more options and selection for relocating individuals or families!
So now that the kids are out of school, you want to make sure they stay active, right? This year, Stone Mountain Park's Extreme Summer Adventure (770-498-5690, www.stonemountainpark.com) may be just the ticket. This new 65-day-long kids' festival runs though Aug. 6 and includes gravity-defying tricks from The Fabulous Wallendas, big air stunts from dogs great and small in The Schmackos Extreme Canines Show, as well as interactive ropes courses and rock walls.
Boys of Summer
Nothing befits the lackadaisical days of summer better than a day out at the "Ted," otherwise known as Turner Field, home of the Atlanta Braves. With a foot-long in one hand and a icy beverage beading with sweat in the other, you'll want to be sure to catch one of the must-see series coming here over the next few months. MARTA carries fans right to the door of the stadium, so slip out of work early and hit the ball park to watch the Braves celebrate 40 years in the city as they try to bring home their 15th consecutive division title. For tickets, call 800-326-4000 or visit atlanta.braves.mlb.com.
If you have school-age children, it will become apparent soon enough upon moving to Atlanta that summer's arrival means one thing-summer camp. Gone are the days when children groan about being shipped off to camp to perfect their archery or handicrafts. A plethora of camp options are now available: traditional-style camps such as High Meadows Summer Day Camp (770-993-7975, www.highmeadows.org); special needs camps such as Squirrel Hollow Day Camp (770-774-8001); specialty camps, such as the ones coordinated by the Atlanta Ballet (404-873-5811, www.atlantaballet.com); overnight camps such as Strong Rock Camp and Retreat (706-348-1533, www.strongrockcamp.com) and more.
For many lovers of the cinema, going to a theater is about more than just seeing a movie, it's about the whole experience. In that cool, darkened environ, surrounded by people with whom, for an hour-and-a-half or two hours, you share a common interest in the moving images being projected upon the widescreen, you are, for a little while, able to escape the heat and everyday life. The Coca-Cola Summer Film Festival (404-817-8700, www.foxtheatre.org), a popular, family friendly annual series, seeks to revive this experience by offering a mix of current and classic films viewed on a gigantic screen at The Fox Theatre throughout the summer. Don't miss the pre-show, featuring Larry Douglas Embury on the "Mighty Mo" organ, wine tastings, social mixers, sing-a-longs and a classic cartoon.
From four-star spots to local favorites, Atlanta's cuisine scene thrives when the temperatures start to rise. In a city blessed with mild weather, the restaurants offering some form of outdoor dining-patios, decks, sidewalk seating, rooftop cabanas-become the most popular places to feast on delectable food and the warm summer breezes. Also, during this time of the year city chefs utilize the freshest produce and infuse their menus with seasonal offerings.
There's something about the rounded, stadium-like seating and soft, grassy outfield of an amphitheater that lends itself to a musical experience. Two concert series, each with a heavy hitting line-up of bold-faced names, make their home at the Chastain Park Amphitheatre in Buckhead. Classic Chastain (404-733-5000, www.classicchastain.org) features acts such as Los Lonely Boys, Anita Baker and Randy Travis, while highlights of the Delta Concert Series (404-233-2227, www.atlantaconcerts.com/chastain.html) include Blondie, Bonnie Raitt and the jazzy Jamie Cullum. The range of musical styles showcased at Cobb County's Mable House Barnes Amphitheatre (770-819-7765, www.themhba.com) in Mableton run the gamut, from the country crooning of Terri Clark to the soulful R&B of American Idol-winner Ruben Studdard. For those who roll to a harder rock, HiFi Buys Amphitheatre (404-443-5090), just south of downtown off of Langford Freeway, plays host to acts such as Nine Inch Nails, Sammy Hagar and the Vans Warped Tour.
The Nature Scene
Break out the bug spray and the SPF 15-the opportunities to stretch your legs and commune with nature after a long winter's hibernation are plentiful. This year, Georgia State Parks (800-864-7275, www.georgiastatesparks.org) celebrate their 75th anniversary with special events at parks around the state, some of which offer hiking trails, waterfalls, lakes and even championship golf courses. The lazy Chattahoochee River, easily accessed a little north of the city in Roswell, invites water activities such as tubing, or try a canoe trip with the Chattahoochee Nature Center (770-992-2055, www.chattnaturecenter.com).