I’ve officially lived in Atlanta for over one year. What’s new? A better apartment, for one thing. Different job, for another. I’m finally getting into some sort of rhythm here – which is opening up more opportunities for me to explore!
Last summer I wrote about being a tourist in your new city, because that can be one of the best ways to acclimate yourself. But it’s a year later and I still feel like a non-resident. Did I think I’d still be feeling that way after one year of living here? No. Does that upset me? Not really.
In a city like Atlanta, there is no way to see and experience everything in one year… Unless you are independently wealthy and do not have to work. So while I have made some serious progress, there is still much more on my list.
When my sister came to visit, a little over one year ago, we knocked a few activities/sights off my list. Checking out Ponce City Market, walking the Beltline, catching a musical, and wandering through the Botanical Garden. It was a whirlwind weekend, but so fun. The best part? We were super early (shocker) to Heathers: The Musical in Decatur, so we decided to drive around. To our surprise, there was a huge antique store just down the street, so we popped in and fell in love. Kudzu Antiques is just what an antique shop should be like! So much so, that I went back when it was time to shop for Christmas presents. And to think, we never would’ve known about it without wandering.
There are some experiences that come around purely due to luck. You may know that the College Football Championship game took place in Atlanta this year. What I did not know until about a week before, is that there would be free concerts in Centennial Park leading up to the game. If a lot of advertising was done for these events, then the committee really missed the mark on their target demographic (also evidenced by the good, not great, turnout, but that could’ve been due to the weather). There were multiple days of concerts, but I was only really interested in Saturday’s: LIZZO, Charlie Puth, and Jason DeRulo. A chance to see Jason in concert for free? Was there ever any doubt???
I like to hike? Who knew!
For being a busy city, there are plenty of hiking trails within the Atlanta perimeter and many more only a short drive away! Two I’ve had the fortune to explore are the Cascade Nature Preserve and Sweetwater Creek State Park. Growing up I was never a real outdoorsy type, but in the past few years I’ve forced myself to get out and really appreciate nature more. Cascade was the very first trail I checked out and it is only a few minutes outside of Downtown Atlanta! There is a gorgeous cave that is just screaming “Put me on Instagram!” Sweetwater is about 20 minutes outside of downtown and has multiple trails varying in difficulty. There are some lovely views all over. I’ll definitely go back to check out the harder trails.
There is so much to see within two hours of Atlanta. So of course, I ventured out of the city to Helen for a little day trip and went up the Anna Ruby Falls trail! It’s not the longest trail (good, since I was there in the winter), but it certainly had a great payoff. I had been to Helen once before, as a child, but didn’t get the chance to go on their hiking trails (my family had opted for a trail in Dahlonega, GA). The town itself is in the Bavarian style and completely adorable. Next time I go, hopefully it will be a bit warmer.
Let’s just say I’m starting to *get* nature tourism.
Letting my nerd flag fly
In my initial obsessive scramble to see and do as much as I could in Atlanta, I found out about Fernbank After Dark. Fernbank is a natural history museum on the east side of Atlanta, but Fernbank After Dark is a natural history haven for adults only. Science is better at night and with alcohol, obviously. They open up all the exhibits to wander through, there is a canopy walk outside you can check out, plus a live band and plenty to drink. If you feel like splurging, you can spend an extra $5 to see one of two films (whatever’s on their schedule, usually animal related) on a HUGE screen. I chose to check out a film about the Amazon. Specifically butterflies in the Amazon. Not the greatest acting, but still quite good.
I love super hero movies and TV shows, so naturally I joined a wine club created by the living embodiment of my favorite comic book hero. This meant I got a special invitation to the Nocking Point Wine Party during Atlanta’s Heroes & Villains FanFest. There is always some kind of fan festival going on here it seems – sometimes it pays to live in a major city. People FLOOD IN for these events, so the city is crawling with tourists. I got a hug from Echo Kellum, aka Curtis Holt on Arrow. And I was SO CLOSE to actually meeting Stephen Amell (I didn’t go to the actual FanFest). One year I will.
Boring ol’ me
I am a loyal Regal Movies member, so Atlantic Station was one of the first places I checked out. They have a very nice theater, free yoga in the little Central Park, and some pretty good shopping… Yes mom, I’ve managed to tame myself on that last one. They also host many events: Cirque du Soleil performances, tennis tournaments, and World Cup viewing parties. And as we are in Atlanta, there was a special viewing of the film Sorry to Bother You, with a director Q&A after the movie! Finally, my constant movie-going pays off and I got the invitation to go. This is not so much touristy, as it is an outdoor mall and movie theater that hosts events, but I say it counts.
One resource I used to find stuff to do was MeetUp! It is a website/app made to connect people with others who share the same hobbies and interests. So of course I used it to find others who love Italy. Is this how I’m supposed to make friends as an adult? Because I think that’s the hardest part about moving to a new city. While I have made a couple of friends since moving here, many times our schedule don’t align to where they can actually do these things with me. When I’m alone is when I tend to most feel like a tourist.
One year down, but how many to go?
While I want to feel more at home, I actually like the feeling of being a tourist. Keeps things interesting. Who knows how long you’ll ever actually live in a place? I honestly wasn’t even sure I’d stay more than one year. Do you want to spend all your time focused on getting a routine down, or mix it up once and a while and truly experience your city?
It’s not really about feeling like a tourist, it’s more about making sure you take advantage of your surroundings while you can. Nobody likes a “what-if”.