Mega City of the Southeast: Atlanta

Diverse and Booming

Official Atlanta, GA City Website:

Hands down, Atlanta, Georgia is the mega city of the Southeast. In the few years leading up to 1996, the city scrambled to ready itself for the onslaught of international visitors-- the inevitable collateral of the ‘96 Olympic Games, a lucrative bid won by the city. The Games drew many people that settled and never left. Certainly it put an international spot light on a vibrant southern city. Since then there has been a non-stop boom in everything from big business and industry to hot real estate and higher education. Some of the larger companies that claim large chunks of downtown Atlanta include leading companies such as Home Depot, Coca Cola, and UPS. Colleges and universities include Georgia State, Emory University, Morehouse and Spelman Colleges, and Georgia Tech, to name just a few.

The tourism business is on the rise in Atlanta. The city has spent millions creating a more user-friendly city—the World of Coca Cola, Underground Atlanta, Turner Field, the High Museum of Art, and the more recent Georgia Aquarium; all draw millions of visitors and residents annually.

City Hotspots You May Not Know About

Outside the immediate tourist stops Atlanta features a few must-see hot spots especially trafficked by locals:

  • Piedmont Park marks the social epicenter of the city. Located in diverse and hip Midtown, the large urban park is rimmed with a high rise business buildings, upscale lofts, trendy cafes and restaurants, and the Atlanta Botanical Garden. On any given weekend Piedmont Park buzzes with swarms of locals and visitors. They bring dogs, laze in the sun or shade, picnic, roller blade and run, and socialize with friends and acquaintances. Annual festivals in the Park include the Atlanta Jazz Festival, the Dogwood Festival, the Atlanta Arts Festival, and Atlanta Gay Pride Festival.
  • For truly funky shopping and even funkier people watching grab some street side bench time in Little Five Points. This tiny hub is the intersection of a number of Atlanta’s key streets and marks the center of counter-culture. If you love a good burger, then don’t miss the Vortex, it’s consistently voted a people’s favorite.
  • Buckhead district, located northeast of downtown, draws visitors to its upscale shopping and high-end hotels. This part of town is home to some of the Southeast’s money barons. Despite its economic boom and continual hum of wealthy construction, Buckhead remains surprisingly lush and green and many mansions are stowed well out of sight. Shoppers serious about spending some cash or hungry for window-shopping typically seek the quickest route to Phipps Plaza or Lenox Square Mall.
  • Decatur, perhaps better described as Buckhead’s alter-ego, is one of the emerging areas of metro Atlanta. Once depressed and dilapidated, the area is a meld of renovated architecture: recreated warehouse buildings and fresh-faced Craftsman-style bungalows. The crowd moving in is a generous mix of young professionals and independent Bohemians all seeking the flavor of a live/work/play community. Decatur features a litter of crowded eateries, hip neighborhood bars and coffeehouses, and unique shops and art galleries.

Outside places to see and things to do, Atlanta’s public transportation is relatively well-structured. Hartsfield Airport is just south of downtown and is immediately accessible to user-friendly MARTA, metro Atlanta’s light rail system. The Atlanta real estate market offers everything from modern condo living to luxury real estate on the outskirts of town.