Atlanta, often heralded as the black capital of the South, is a city rich with African-American history and a culture as eclectic as the people who populate it. From the dignified black bourgeoisie to the hip-hop heads keeping the Dirty South on the map, there's a place for everyone in Atlanta, since, truthfully speaking, half of its population isn't from the city anyway. Nonetheless, we transplants come, lay down roots and stay.
I came to Atlanta 17 years ago and comfortably call it home. Some of its draw is its good ol' fashion Southern hospitality swirled with a big-city feel. No, we're not talking New York here, but they don't call it Hotlanta for nothing. Yes, the temperature is hot, and the social scene is, too. There's plenty to get into, whether you prefer the subdued sounds of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra or you want to get your bounce on in one of ATL's world-famous booty clubs. But you can't run down the Atlanta scene and not mention Magic City. Yes, it still exists. Moving on.
There truly is something in Atlanta for everyone, even a thirtysomething former music industry executive who traded in her press releases and VIP list for a more family-friendly career, a husband, two kids and a dog. I'm quick to book a babysitter, venture out of the suburbs and find myself at Two Urban Licks listening to live blues while savoring the best scallops and grits in town. My husband, Napoleon, and I often head to the Virginia Highlands, a historic section of the city popular for shopping, dining and drinking. We escape to the border via Pozole for some authentic Mexican food. Their lobster tacos are unreal and so is the tequila bar.
If eating out is your thing, Atlanta has a plethora of options—from high-end dining establishments to hole-in-the-wall eateries and everything in between. Patio dining is a popular choice despite the heat and humidity that plagues the city for most of the year.
For those who enjoy a little art with their entertainment, several of Atlanta's landmark establishments host regular after-work events, including Friday Jazz at the High Museum of Art, the Ferbank's Martini's and IMAX, the Atlanta Botanical Garden's Cocktails in The Garden, First Thursdays ArtsWalk and Centennial Olympic Park's Wednesday WindDown.
Festivals are a favorite among Atlanta residents, especially once the weather warms up. In the spring, Piedmont Park stays packed for the Atlanta Dogwood Festival and the Atlanta Jazz Festival held annually during Memorial Day weekend. Atlanta also plays host to the National Black Arts Festival every summer, welcoming some of the country's elite African-American artists. The Sweet Auburn Heritage Festival is another Atlanta staple. Set in the historic Sweet Auburn district, it's one of the South's largest multi-cultural street festivals.
Check out some of ATL's hot spots on our Google map.
As a music lover, one of my favorite spots to catch a concert is under the stars at Chastain Park Amphitheater. Perfect for a romantic evening or a night with the gals, Chastain's charm attracts a diverse audience, partly due to its eclectic lineup. John Legend might be performing one night, Ringo Starr & His All Starr Band, the next. Not only is the music stellar, but the atmosphere is inviting, too. People meticulously pack picnic baskets filled with three-course meals, wine, cocktails, candles, and, yes, folks break out the table linens, too. We take our music and our dining seriously in the ATL.
For sports enthusiasts, Atlanta's signature teams—the Braves, the Falcons and the Hawks—offer a fun alternative to a night on the town, although some people still dress like they're going to the club. Whether you're people watching or actually watching the game, all three teams have been known to sell out, especially when the stars come to town. During a Hawks-Cavaliers game, you'll probably see as many LeBron James jerseys as the entire Hawks' combined. It's not that we're not loyal; remember, half of us aren't really from here. I'm just saying.
Moving on to the clubs, I called on a rising Atlanta socialite and Atlanta club veteran to expand on the depths of the city's hot spots, as my club days have me back in the '90s with Club 112. That's right, the one next to the Disco Kroger. I digress. Lauren Hayes, 26, grew up in metropolitan Atlanta and says there's a well-rounded mix of activities for the twentysomething set.