America’s Great Neighborhoods: Atlanta

Author: Alecia Pirulis

Atlanta Midtown

Atlanta is a study in contrasts. Elegant plantation homes surrounded by towering oak trees draped in moss are interspersed with modern, glass office buildings. Old-fashioned hospitality and Southern belles exist right alongside high-powered executives and endless traffic jams. Modern and progressive mingles with historic and traditional. Big names and giant corporations sit next to funky art galleries and family-owned restaurants. Taken separately, none of it should work. But just as a kaleidoscope blends startling colors and shapes into something beautiful, so does the city of Atlanta.

Like the city itself, Atlanta’s neighborhoods are exquisitely unique. Here are some of Atlanta, Georgia’s best neighborhoods:

Little Five Points: Think funky, chic, trendy, and cool. LFP is a collection of kookiness, from the vintage clothing stores and tattoo parlors to the new-age shops, coffee houses, and community theaters. LFP is on Atlanta’s east side, just a couple of miles from downtown. With a flair for the bohemian, you’ll find an indie record station, the famous Vortex restaurant and its crazy-skull entrance, new-age shops and bookstores, and entertaining street festivals. LFP contains terrific lofts in historic buildings and trendy apartments. It is situated at the intersection of Euclid and Moreland Avenues.

East Atlanta Village: East Atlanta Village is (of course) located on the east side of Atlanta, south of I-20 and east of Moreland Avenue. This neighborhood is a haven for hipsters and has a terrific music scene. East Atlanta Village is a terrific blend of bars, quirky shops, and great restaurants. Think indie book stores, antique stores, and tattoo parlors. It is a fun, slightly peculiar little neighborhood, and residents prefer it that way. Health-conscious residents shop at the East Atlanta Farmers Market, which features fresh, local produce. EAV is also famous for its street festivals, which includes the East Atlanta Strut and the East Atlanta Beer Fest.

Buckhead: Once the wild, crazy nightclub strip, Buckhead has become the complete opposite. Today, it is a glitzy mix of high-end malls and sleek (and expensive!) high-rise apartment buildings. Buckhead is considered fashionable, elite, and hip. The old, wild vibe hasn’t completely vanished yet – you’ll still find it in some of the locally-owned shops and restaurants that, while more difficult to find, are still out there. Of course, if it is upscale living you’re craving, Buckhead is home to Lenox Square Mall and Phipps Plaza, where you can get your fill of high-end stores such as Burberry, Jimmy Choo, and Cartier.

Virginia-Highland: Charming, historic bungalows along tree-lined streets and a diverse collection of boutiques, bars, and restaurants – it’s obvious why Virginia-Highland is one of Atlanta’s most cherished neighborhoods. Virginia-Highland is flanked by Piedmont Park and Emory University, and since this is a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood, walking or bicycling to either will take less than five minutes. From cool jazz bars to hip sidewalk cafes to elegant bistros, Virginia-Highland has it all.

Grant Park: Grant Park doesn’t scream “Old South” – it politely suggests it. Grant Park is Atlanta’s oldest neighborhood, surrounding the city’s oldest park of the same name. Grant Park is home to Zoo Atlanta, established in 1889, and the Atlanta Cyclorama. The park itself was established in 1882, and the neighborhood was built in 1858. The Grant Park neighborhood is one of the oldest historic districts in Atlanta and is considered one of the most beautiful and most important. Stroll along the tree-lined streets and you’ll see Queen Anne and Italianate houses, Craftsman bungalows, and Victorian cottages.

Cabbagetown: Just south of Grant Park, you’ll find Cabbagetown, another beautiful and historic neighborhood. Cabbagetown dates back to 1881, when a collection of shotgun and cottage style houses were built for mill and railroad workers. Today, it is a dynamic, eclectic community consisting of families, artists, executives, and musicians. Residents of Cabbagetown can walk to nearby Georgia State University and several other Atlanta attractions. This fun, artsy community hosts numerous street festivals, including the annual Chomp and Stomp. Be sure to stop by the Krog Street Tunnel, which connects the neighborhood to Inman Park. The tunnel features a vibrant collection of street art, including an impressive Cabbagetown welcome mural.

Midtown: Looking for that urban, cosmopolitan vibe? Then you are looking for Midtown! Located just south of Buckhead and just north of downtown, Midtown is home to Georgia Tech, the High Museum of Art, Woodruff Arts Center, and the Fox Theater. Midtown is fashionable and sophisticated, with five-star restaurants, exclusive boutiques, and trendy nightclubs. As the heart of Atlanta’s arts scene, Midtown is where you’ll find the Atlanta Ballet, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the Museum of Design Atlanta, and the Atlanta campus of SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design). Piedmont Park is located in Midtown and is a popular music and festival location. Events in Piedmont Park include the Atlanta Dogwood Festival, Music Midtown, and the Atlanta Arts Festival.