If there were an instruction book for living in Metro Atlanta, what would you want to know? Perhaps it’s the best time to leave for work in the morning. Maybe you have a favorite parking spot at the airport for a quick in and out. Or perhaps you know the best time to avoid the line at Six Flags Over Georgia. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution  asked readers for insider tips to living in Atlanta. I thought this was worth sharing. Here’s a sampling of results:

  1. Don’t try to impress anyone when pronouncing Ponce De Leon. In Atlanta, the “Leon” part rhymes with neon, and you can just call it Ponce (rhymes with “response”) for short.
  2. Before moving here, study a local street map with the same intensity that an aspiring lawyer studies for the bar exam.
  3. Slow down and remember you are in the South: We are allowed to move a little slower. Be patient!
  4. Make it a priority to learn back roads to your favorite locations. If you’re on a highway when traffic starts crawling, it’s too late to pull out your phone. Know your plans B, C, and D. It will save you a lot of time.
  5. Never drive when there is ice on the roads. You might know how to do it, but no one else around here does.
  6. Remember, it’s not the heat that’s the problem, it’s the humidity.
  7. Take a walk down the Atlanta Beltline’s Eastside trail, from Irwin St. to Monroe Dr., and you’ll know why you can’t beat the New South.
  8. Avoid I-285 between the hours of 3:15 p.m. and 6:45 p.m. because north is not north, east is not east, and west is not west, and since only a bunch of Georgia Tech engineers know where those directions originated, you do not want to be in the wrong lane during those hours.
  9. There are two distinct Roswell Roads. One runs east/west in Marietta (think Big Chicken), and the other runs north/south from Buckhead through Sandy Springs. (Little-known trivia: Both Roswell Roads intersect with a road called Piedmont. It’s East Piedmont in Marietta. Confused? There’s also a landmark named Piedmont Park)
  10. Picking up  someone at the airport? Wait for them in the cell phone lot.
  11. True happiness in the Atlanta area? Smaller, older house (if that is what you can really afford) closer to your job, paid-for car, short commute.
  12. If you want to get the most out of Six Flags over Georgia: Go on Easter or Mother’s Day. Get in line at the front gate before they open. Have map in hand. Hurry to all the coasters and you can ride, no lines. Crowds start arriving at noon, so ride all rides ASAP. We have lived in Atlanta for 19 years, and it has held true every time.
  13. Critical Driving Advice: If you find a good shortcut for avoiding traffic jams, don’t tell anybody.
  14. To all of the new transplants to Georgia: When trying to pronounce a place’s name, get a native or a person raised here to tell you the right pronunciation. For instance, Dacula doesn’t sound like Dracula. It’s Duh-Kyu-La.
  15. If you don’t like the weather, stick around, it will change!
  16. Never attempt to drive on Peachtree in Buckhead during the holiday season.
  17. Stay away from chain stores, chain restaurants, and (if at all possible) shopping malls. Patronize independently owned, home-grown businesses if you want to experience what makes Atlanta unique.
  18. When in doubt, bring a casserole.
  19. For those thinking of driving on Ga. 400, don’t do it.
  20. Just realize that every time you get onto an interstate in Atlanta you will meet a jerk on the road. Don’t let it bother you. Accept it and move on.
  21. On Fridays, plan to leave work earlier because the Friday rush hour starts at lunchtime.
  22. Live within 15 minutes of public transportation.
  23. The best time to visit Six Flags is Sunday while everyone is at church.
  24. About talking Southern: Don’t tell us how funny we talk — you came here, we did not go to your home state.
  25. Never ever brag about how well you can drive in the snow, ice, etc. We really don’t care.
  26. The most important piece of advice I can give is take your time to really enjoy the friendly people, diverse atmosphere and of course, Willy’s Burritos.
  27. Don’t make fun of those of us who speak Southern. Being the gracious folks that we are, we will welcome you here no matter how you talk.
  28. When driving, judge your trip in minutes not miles.
  29. When getting directions, be sure to get landmarks. Lots of roads have very similar names, and road names change as you drive along. On the other hand, be sure to get the street names, too: Landmarks change daily because we just love to tear things down in Atlanta.
  30. If you decide to go see the 4th of July fireworks downtown, take MARTA.
  31. For a uniquely Atlanta experience, go downtown to the Westin Peachtree Plaza Hotel (the round hotel). Inside, at the top level, is the Sun Dial Restaurant, Bar & View, a rotating cocktail lounge with a breathtaking birds-eye view of Atlanta. (On a clear day, you can see Stone Mountain.)
  32. Take tornado warnings seriously. Give yourself some peace of mind — live somewhere with a basement.
  33. Don’t wait until the day your driver’s license expires to get a new one. Do it about a month in advance because something is bound to go wrong.
  34. Never drive back into Atlanta from the south after 3 p.m. on the end of a holiday weekend.
  35. When visitors come to Atlanta, do not take them to the typical tourist attractions (i.e., Buckhead, High Museum, etc.). Rather, Atlantans should try and give people a taste of “life” in the city — small, Atlanta-owned restaurants. Leave the chain restaurants to more authentically challenged cities.
  36. Because street names change so often, learn the malls and landmarks — that’s how natives will give you directions.
  37. Ride a bike and listen to non-commercial radio.
  38. If someone gives you directions that include Peachtree, make sure you ask them to clarify which Peachtree.
  39. Remember, I-285 is a big circle. You can’t get lost.
  40. If you’re not a Falcons fan, fake it.
  41. The Georgia Navigator Web site,, is a commuter’s best friend.
  42. If you hear someone say, “bless his/her heart, ” expect him or her to become the next topic of gossip.
  43. Rain is to Atlanta traffic what Kryptonite is to Superman. Always check the forecast the night before and if rain is in the forecast, better set that alarm for at least a half hour earlier if you need to get somewhere on time.
  44. Get into Stone Mountain Park quicker by using the Mountain Street gate, and you’ll also get to see the quaint village of Stone Mountain.
  45. Atlanta is notorious for pop-up showers during spring and summer — keep an umbrella in your car and your briefcase so you aren’t surprised on your way to a business meeting!
  46. Get your driver’s license renewed online people. Why are there still people who like to stand in line for hours on end when they can do it in two minutes in their pajamas at home?
  47. Don’t wear a yellow T-shirt to IKEA or red T-shirt to Target.
  48. The best time to go to Six Flags is on a Monday. Empty. By 6 p.m., it’s just you and the staff.
  49. When renewing car tags or changing your address, go between 9:30 and 11:30 a.m. You’ll be after the early birds and before the lunch crowd. Afternoons are difficult (especially in Gwinnett because so many people leave work early).
  50. Be nice to everyone on MARTA; you will see them again.
  51. Never put sugar in your grits. Only butter, salt and pepper!
  52. INSIDER TIP: Yup, we like to get the young’uns together, go to a park and stare at a rock. Of course our “rock” just happens to have a cool laser light show at night. It’s called Stone Mountain.
  53. INSIDER TIP: If you’re traveling in Cobb County, you need to know where “The Big Chicken” is located. If you don’t know, then you will have no clue how to get to anywhere.
  54. INSIDER TIP: Atlanta’s cheap thrills: driving over the Spaghetti Junction ramp to 285 at 55 mph, Michael C. Carlos Museum, people-watching at Little Five Points, riding the MARTA to go to the Varsity in Midtown, and watching your Yankee friends try to decide what to order at Mary Mac’s Tea Room.
  55. INSIDER TIP: If you’re from the North, you’ll never learn to speak like a true Southerner, but you can start to understand the accent after a tall glass of tea so sweet your teeth curl.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.