Expanding your Social Circle
by Rachael Mason
When you’re new to a city, figuring out where to meet people can be a major challenge. Luckily, Atlanta is a friendly place with no shortage of places to go and things to do that can help you make new friends.
Get started at meetup.com, a networking site that lists hundreds of meetings for every interest group imaginable. The Atlanta New In Town Meetup Group is one option for new residents. You’ll also want to look into the many networking groups, which offer great, low-key ways to interact with new business contacts (and potential friends).
If you and your family are looking to meet other families, a good place to start is your neighborhood library. During the day, moms and dads can interact with other parents and kids during story time. Whether you live in Fulton, DeKalb, Gwinnett, Cobb or one of the other counties in metro Atlanta, your library is also likely filled with activities and information that will help welcome you and your kids to town.
Little Shop of Stories in Decatur is a bookstore that specializes in everything for young readers, from picture books to the hottest young adult novels (think the Twilight series). Not only can the shop match your family up with new reading material, it also hosts a wide range of events, including story times, author readings and book signings.
Book lovers will also want to check out the Georgia Center for the Book, headquartered at the DeKalb County Public Library in Decatur. This nonprofit organization presents regular author events that attract avid readers from across the metro area.
And what goes better with a book than a cup of coffee? Coffee shops are great places for a caffeine fix, but they’re also major social hubs. Of course, you could always hang out at Starbucks, but for real neighborhood flavor, stop by one of the many independent coffee shops dotting the streets of Atlanta.
Octane Coffee is a high-energy spot on Howell Mill Road on the Westside that serves signature coffee drinks as well as beer and cocktails. Its newest location, in the Jane building in Grant Park, shares its space with the Little Tart Bakery, which means there are lots of sweet handmade treats to try.
If you’re near Emory University, the Steady Hand Pour House on North Decatur Road is another good option. When you’re out and about, you’ll also see the shop’s Rattletrap ATL Street Coffee—a vintage Volkswagen van that serves java at events around town. In Atlanta, you can indulge in mobile dining any day (or night) of the week. Food trucks and mobile food vendors are great for date nights, but they’re also well-suited for families. Kid-friendly options include ice cream from Westside Creamery, popsicles from the King of Pops and tacos from Yumbii and Tex’s Tacos. If your kids are more adventurous, they might want to try tamales from the Tamale Queen truck or the signature Poodle (French toast hot dog bun with a beef dog and apple slaw, topped with maple syrup and spicy mustard) from the Good Food truck.
The Atlanta Street Food Coalition website is a great way to keep up with the individual food trucks. There are also regular weekly events to check out. The Howell Mill Food Park provides a gathering space for food trucks. The Woodruff Arts Center, Underground Atlanta and the Sweet Auburn Curb Market also host regular food truck events.
Of course, one of the best ways to get to know the city is through volunteering. Whatever your interests, there’s a volunteer experience to match your passions. Hands On Atlanta is a great nonprofit that pairs individuals, families and groups with volunteer opportunities at more than 400 community-based agencies and schools.
If you’re looking for hands-on activities, try building houses with Habitat for Humanity or planting trees with Trees Atlanta. Want to support the growing local food movement? Volunteer with Georgia Organics, which presents farming seminars and food workshops and events throughout the year.
Looking for something to do after work? You could definitely meet people by joining a gym, but many sports leagues in Atlanta combine physical activity and socializing. The Atlanta Bocce League has bocce ball games almost every night of the week—some of them are even played at bars and restaurants. Kickball enthusiasts can find games at the World Adult Kickball Association and Go Kickball websites. At Georgia Sports Leagues, you’ll find flag football, soccer, basketball and softball. Ultimate Sports of Atlanta organizes teams for flag football, softball, kickball and bowling. And if tennis is your game, check ALTA (the Atlanta Lawn Tennis Association) for men’s, women’s, mixed and junior leagues.
If you’d rather keep the competition casual, challenge someone to a game at a neighborhood bar. Ormsby’s features a basement game room with darts, pool, shuffleboard and two indoor bocce courts. At the Highlander, a casual but colorful neighborhood Midtown spot, you can play pool or air hockey while enjoying great bar food and drinks.
If you’re a beer enthusiast, you’ll have a lot to talk about with patrons at the Brick Store Pub in Decatur, or the Porter Beer Bar and Wrecking Bar Brewpub in Little Five Points. Want to see where the beer is made? Sign up for tours at SweetWater Brewing Company or Red Brick Brewing. These tours also feature samples and plenty of free-flowing conversation.
Whatever you do, enjoy yourself—having fun always makes meeting people easier. And welcome to Atlanta!