Sweet Home Atlanta
Explore the Metro Area’s Greatest Communities
By Kevin Forest Moreau
The Atlanta Botanical Garden.
The decision to move to a large metropolitan city like Atlantais only the beginning of your relocation process. After all, there’s much more to Atlanta than the city itself. There are numerous diverse and distinct neighborhoods inside the city limits, and many more outside—each with its own advantages and appeal. In the pages that follow, we’ve highlighted some of Atlanta’s top cities, towns and communities for families, young professionals and empty nesters. Whatever you’re looking for, Atlanta has a number of perfect spots to choose from. And don’t forget to check out our list of Atlanta’s top 100 neighborhoods, with many more great places to investigate and explore.
4 Great Neighborhoods For Families
Cartersville, located less than an hour north of Atlanta, is filled with history. The Etowah Indian Mounds Historic Site is a state park that highlights prehistoric mounds dating back more than 1,000 years. The Booth Western Art Museum celebrates the art and history of the American West, while the Tellus Science Museum delights kids of all ages with such features as an 80-foot apatosaurus and a 120-seat planetarium. Other attractions include Lake Allatoona and Red Top Mountain State Park. Cartersville City Schools is a public school system with five schools serving students from Pre-K through high school. www.visitcartersvillega.org.
This Gwinnett County city features a wealth of family-friendly attractions, not least of which is its walkable downtown district filled with charming specialty shops. The 35-acre Southeastern Railway Museum allows visitors to ride in historic railroad cabooses and walk among vintage steam locomotives, while the expansive Town Green features a terraced lawn, a fountain and amphitheater. The Duluth Fall Festival, held the last weekend in September, offers live entertainment and more than 350 vendors. Duluth is also home to Gwinnett Place Mall, the Hudgens Center for the Arts, the Red Clay Theatre and the Arena at Gwinnett Center. www.duluthga.net.
Sandy Springs offers a variety of parks and recreational attractions. Foremost among these is the Chattahoochee River, which offers abundant opportunities for fishing, hiking, canoeing and more. The 4-acre Heritage Green park is a lush gathering space, home of the annual Sandy Springs Festival. The 30-acre Morgan Falls Overlook Park provides scenic riverside views, picnic pavilions, a playground, a hiking trail and a boating dock. The Global Imports Sandy Springs Cycling Challenge features a day of exciting bicycle races through the heart of the city, followed by the Taste of Sandy Springs food festival. www.visitsandysprings.org.
This award-winning community’s abundance of green space (it boasts more than 500 acres of parkland), walkable streets and small-town charm contribute to a high quality of life for its more than 16,000 residents. The downtown area features both the historic Old Town and the vibrant Town Center development, home to the Suwanee SculpTour public art exhibit. The 10-acre Town Center Park hosts concerts and festivals and features an interactive fountain, an amphitheater area and lots of open space. Suwanee is served by Gwinnett County Public Schools, hailed as one of the best school systems in the state. www.suwanee.com.
More Great Neighborhoods For Families
Alpharetta, College Park, Decatur, East Point, Fayetteville, Johns Creek, Lilburn, Marietta, Peachtree City, Roswell, Smyrna.
4 Great Neighborhoods For Empty Nesters
This attractive community, which became its own city in 2012, is situated just northeast of Atlanta, and offers plenty of attractions and recreational options. Murphey Candler Park features a beautiful lake, a swimming pool, tennis courts and other amenities. The Town Brookhaven development boasts quality restaurants, shops and CineBistro, an upscale movie tavern. Georgia Shakespeare, one of the metro area’s best theater companies, operates out of the Conant Performing Arts Center on the Oglethorpe University campus. The Brookhaven Historic District, also known as Historic Brookhaven, features a private country club surrounded by luxurious homes. www.brookhavenga.gov.
Fayetteville retains a peaceful, small-town vibe coupled with quick, convenient access to downtown Atlanta and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. A mix of affordable housing options adds to the city’s appeal. The historic downtown is anchored by the Old Courthouse Square, which features the state’s oldest courthouse. The Fun Junction USA amusement park, Holliday-Dorsey-Fife House Museum and Fayette Pavilion offer family fun, culture and shopping opportunities, and Southern Ground Amphitheater hosts national music acts and family movie nights. The area is also home to one of the state’s best school systems and Piedmont Fayette Hospital, recognized as one of the nation’s top 100 hospitals by Thomson Reuters.
Named a top 10 affordable city for retirement by the AARP, Gainesville is roughly an hour’s drive from downtown Atlanta, with a wealth of parks and recreational opportunities. Retirees can tee up at the Chattahoochee Golf Club, take a swim at the Francis Meadows Aquatic Center, and explore the Blue Ridge Mountains and nearby Lake Lanier. The Quinlan Visual Arts Center, Brenau University Galleries and Interactive Neighborhood for Kids offer fun cultural outings for all ages. And the city’s vibrant downtown district is filled with boutiques, restaurants and specialty shops, all in easy walking distance. www.gainesville.org.
This master-planned community, developed into five distinct villages, has the feel of a vacation resort. Golf carts are a primary means of transportation here, zipping along 90 miles of multi-use paths that are also great for strolling and bicycling. The area’s lake, golf courses, playgrounds, nature areas and sports fields offer numerous recreational opportunities. The Frederick Brown Jr. Amphitheater hosts outdoor concerts, and the city’s regional airport, Falcon Field, hosts an air show each year. The city is also a magnet for film and television productions, and boasts a Southern Hollywood Film Tour that visits popular filming locations used in “The Walking Dead” and other shows. www.peachtree-city.org.
More Great Neighborhoods For Empty-Nesters
Buford, Cumming, Decatur, Duluth, Lawrenceville.
4 Great Neighborhoods For Young Professionals
College Park truly presents the best of both worlds for the upward professional who enjoys a little quiet time. Its easy proximity to downtown Atlanta and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport offers all the convenience of big-city living, balanced with a relaxing, small-town feel. The airport and the Georgia International Convention Center make this an increasingly desirable destination for business travelers, as well. There’s affordable housing in the Historic College Park neighborhood, and there are numerous attractive dining options. The main campus of Woodward Academy, the largest independent day school in the continental United States, is located here, as well. www.collegeparkga.com.
Decatur boasts many draws for young professionals. Its high-quality restaurant scene features some of the best eateries in the metro area, including the Iberian Pig and Cakes & Ale. Emory University and Agnes Scott College fill the downtown area with college students who mix easily with the families, artists and others who call the city home. The downtown square is convenient to thriving nightlife and entertainment options like Eddie’s Attic, a breeding ground for such nationally known music acts as Sugarland and John Mayer. The Decatur Book Festival, the largest independent book celebration in the country, takes over the square each Labor Day weekend. A MARTA station right off the square offers easy access to the rest of Atlanta. The Fernbank Museum of Natural History is a great date spot, thanks to its popular “Martinis and IMAX” nights. www.decaturga.com.
Those who like to be in the heart of everything couldn’t ask for a better address than this. Midtown is filled with office buildings, high-rises and mixed-use developments like Atlantic Station, as well as the largest concentration of top-notch restaurants in the city, including One Midtown Kitchen, South City Kitchen, Empire State South, the Oceanaire, Park 75, Bacchanalia and more. Piedmont Park, the city’s largest and best-known park, features plenty of recreational activities and hosts a number of outdoor festivals each year, including Music Midtown and the Dogwood Festival. Midtown is also the heart of Atlanta’s arts scene, boasting the Fox Theatre, the Center for Puppetry Arts and the famous Woodruff Arts Center (home of the Alliance Theatre, the High Museum of Art and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra). www.midtownatlanta.org.
Approximately 15 minutes northwest of Atlanta, Smyrna enjoys a mix of charming residential neighborhoods, easy access to Interstates 75 and 285, and 33 acres of parks and green space within a mile of its thriving downtown area. The Village Green, the heart of this Cobb County city, features a community center, library, arboretum and adjacent retail, residential and office space. The airy, mixed-use Market Village development is an appealing community of restaurants, shops and services; it also often hosts outdoor concerts and events. The Silver Comet Trail, a popular trail for walking and biking, starts in Smyrna and extends to the Alabama state line. www.smyrnacity.com.
More Great Neighborhoods For Young Professionals
Brookhaven, Buckhead, Downtown Atlanta, East Point, Grant Park, Sandy Springs.
Smyrna’s Market Village.
• Ranked No. 8 on NewsMax magazine’s list of “Top 25 Cities and Towns With the Best American Values.”
• Ranked a “Best Affordable Suburb in Georgia” by BusinessWeek magazine.
• Named “One of the Best 100 Cities in America” by Reader’s Digest.
• One of MarketWatch’s best places to retire in Georgia.
• Named one of the top 5 places to retire affordably by the AARP.
• Ranked No. 5 on Money’s list of “Best Affordable Places to Live.”
• Named to Money’s list of “Best Places to Live” five times in the last decade, twice ranking in the top 10.
• One of MarketWatch’s best places to retire in Georgia.
• Named to Money’s list of “Best Places to Live” in 2013.
• Ranked No. 3 on Kiplinger’s list of “10 Great Cities to Raise Your Children.”
• Named one of the nation’s “10 Best Towns for Families” by Family Circle.
• Ranked No. 1 in land use, planning and zoning, preservation of natural areas, and availability of affordable, quality child care in the 2013 National Citizen Survey.
Atlanta's Top 100 Neighborhoods
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