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| April-May 2012

Metro Atlanta's Top 100 Neighborhoods

Whatever You’re Looking For, Atlanta’s Got It

by Rachael Mason

10 Great Places to Visit With Your Kids

If you’re new to Atlanta, you may feel a little overwhelmed by the sheer number of neighborhoods and suburbs. On the pages that follow, we break down some of the area’s top communities for young professionals, families, empty nesters, and those looking to experience true intown living. And check out our list of Atlanta’s top 100 neighborhoods, with many more great places for you to explore.


Looking for a place that will please every member of your family? Here are four perfect neighborhoods filled with outdoor activities, excellent schools and more.


Located just east of Atlanta, this walkable city radiates a cozy, small-town charm. Residents have easy access to public transportation—Decatur’s MARTA station is located right in the middle of downtown. Pet owners love the city’s three dog parks, while families enjoy the city’s youth and adult athletics, as well as simply biking and jogging around town. Shops near the historic Decatur Square include Little Shop of Stories, a bookstore catering to children and teens. And the annual Decatur Book Festival, held every Labor Day weekend, is one of the most family-friendly events in metro Atlanta.


The centerpiece of downtown Marietta is its historic square, which serves as a gathering place during events like farmers’ markets and festivals. Local eateries include ice cream shops and bakeries for family celebrations, as well as Thaicoon and Sushi Bar, a perfect spot for date night. The renovated Earl Smith Strand Theatre screens classic movies and hosts productions from the Atlanta Lyric Theatre. But the appeal of Marietta—located 15 miles northwest of Atlanta—stretches way beyond downtown, with a public transportation system, a wealth of housing options and strong schools. Local parks include Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park, a Civil War site with 16 miles of hiking trails.


The Chattahoochee River runs through this city in north Fulton County. Residents can explore the area’s natural beauty by walking the seven miles of the Roswell Trail System and River Walk, or learn all about the waterway at the Chattahoochee Nature Center. Residents are passionate about biking, and the city was named a “Bicycling Friendly Community” by the League of American Bicyclists. The arts are also big here, with the Georgia Ensemble Theatre and the Atlanta Wind Symphony often performing at the Roswell Cultural Arts Center.


In the last decade, this Gwinnett County city has been transformed from a quiet small town into an energetic suburb recognized as a “City of Excellence” by the Georgia Municipal Association and Georgia Trend magazine. Parks and green space are a key part of Suwanee’s appeal, with 500 acres of parkland and miles of trails. Suwanee students are served by the Gwinnett County school system, widely considered the state’s best.

The 10-acre Town Center Park, opened in 2003, is the city’s chief gathering place for recreation, exhibits and events. Referred to as “Suwanee’s front yard,” it includes an interactive fountain and a 1,000-seat amphitheater with adjacent businesses and residential space. Also notable is the city’s SculpTour program spotlighting public art, with sculptures on display in and around Town Center Park.


Atlanta has many areas for those who are focused on their careers, with a high percentage of affordable starter homes, restaurants, parks and other things to do. Here are four to consider.


Interest in the picturesque historic district of this northeast neighborhood has always been strong, but in the past few years, development has added to the demand for housing in the surrounding area. Residents enjoy a range of homes, from upscale apartments to single-family houses, and a MARTA station makes the area ultra-convenient for those who work downtown or in Midtown. Town Brookhaven, a mixed-used development, brought new restaurants, residential and retail developments and even a movie theater to the neighborhood.

East Point

This Fulton County city is ideal for first-time homeowners who want to live close to downtown Atlanta: MARTA makes getting to the airport and downtown a snap. But residents don’t have to leave the city limits to eat out—restaurants include Thumbs Up Diner, Oz Pizza and Corner Tavern. Redevelopment plans for the 488-acre Fort McPherson include proposed live-work-play communities. Cyclists from across the country come to race at the Dick Lane Velodrome, one of only 22 such cycling arenas in the nation.

Grant Park

Green space is one of the biggest draws of this neighborhood convenient to downtown and Turner Field. The 131.5-acre park for which it’s named includes Zoo Atlanta and the Atlanta Cyclorama,a panorama depicting the 1864 Battle of Atlanta. Residents enjoy lovingly restored Victorian homes and newer condominiums. Oakland Cemetery, resting place of Margaret Mitchell and Bobby Jones, among others, is a popular attraction. Restaurant choices include breakfast favorite Ria’s Bluebird Cafe, as well as the Little Tart Bakeshop.


This suburban city, located 15 miles northwest of Atlanta, has undergone a complete transformation in recent years. Downtown, the Village Green serves as a town center complete with a library and community center, while residential and retail space can be found at Market Village.

Residents can enjoy 33 acres of park space within a mile of downtown Smyrna. Homes and businesses have developed along the Silver Comet Trail, a free walking and biking trail that starts in Smyrna and runs all the way to the Georgia-Alabama state line.


Whether you’re looking for options for active retirees or simply want to be closer to your grandchildren, these four neighborhoods will suit your needs.


This Gwinnett County city combines old and new with its well-preserved historic downtown and ever-expanding retail offerings at the Mall of Georgia and beyond. Downtown, the Tannery Row Artist Colony showcases the work of local artists. Buford is just south of Lake Lanier, which includes 46 park areas for such activities as camping, picnics, boat launches, fishing, swimming and hiking.


Located about 25 miles northeast of Atlanta, this Gwinnett County city features a walkable downtown area filled with historic buildings and bustling restaurants and businesses.

The 35-acre Southeastern Railway Museum draws railroad buffs of all ages. The Arena at Gwinnett Center hosts concerts, circuses, the Georgia Force arena football team and hockey’s Gwinnett Gladiators. And the Gwinnett Braves—the Atlanta Braves’ biggest minor-league affiliate—play nearby.


Located about 50 miles northeast of Atlanta, Gainesville was named one of the top 10 affordable cities for retirement by the AARP in 2011. On three sides, Gainesville is surrounded by Lake Lanier, which offers boating, swimming and fishing. The city boasts 19 parks, and downtown.

Gainesville offers more than 50 restaurants and shops. City officials are working to renovate the Midtown area of the city, including the restoration of an historic train depot.

Peachtree City

This planned city in Fayette County is best known for its golf courses—and for the golf cart paths that provide the main means of transportation. Of course, the 90 miles of paths are also ideal for walking, jogging and bike riding.

Life here doesn’t revolve entirely around golf: The Fredrick Brown Jr. Amphitheater (aka The Fred) hosts a summer concert series, while year-round outdoor activities include boating, fishing, biking and bird-watching. There’s also plenty of shopping at both independent stores and big-box retailers.


If you love the city scene, consider an area that will put you right in the middle of all the action. These four neighborhoods all offer close proximity to dining, shopping and entertainment.


This chic neighborhood is home to some of Atlanta’s most upscale residences. Area restaurants and boutiques regularly attract a celebrity clientele, and walking from place to place is easy. Phipps Plaza and Lenox Square offer shopping galore. The Atlanta History Center showcases the region’s past with a 33-acre campus that includes a museum, the historic Swan House and the Smith Family Farm.

Little Five Points

The heart of this eclectic neighborhood, a favorite of locals and visitors alike, is the intersection of Euclid and Moreland Avenues, where stores offer vintage clothing, records, funky shoes, kitschy collectibles and more. Local theater groups and the Variety Playhouse add to the city’s vibrant arts scene. Restaurants include the Vortex Bar and Grill, known for its signature burgers and skull-shaped entrance, and the Wrecking Bar Brewpub.


With looming high-rises and streets laid out along a grid system, this neighborhood has an extremely cosmopolitan feel. Residences include brand-new condos and retro rentals, all within walking distance of clubs and restaurants. Continued development means new hotels and eateries open frequently. The Woodruff Arts Center campus includes the award-winning Alliance Theatre, the High Museum of Art and Atlanta Symphony Hall.


This charming area, with its tree-lined streets and historic bungalows, is among Atlanta’s most picturesque neighborhoods. Crowds flock to contemporary boutiques and a host of casual bars and restaurants, including Moe’s and Joe’s (established in 1947) and Murphy’s, a favorite brunch spot. Music lovers head to Blind Willie’s to hear the blues, while audiences typically sing along to the Irish tunes performed at Limerick Junction.

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Atlanta's 100 Most Popular Neighborhoods

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