If it’s your first time in Atlanta, chances are you’ll be charmed by the city’s Southern hospitality, awesome attractions, ample parks and vibrant art scene. But if you’re from Atlanta, you know this eccentric city has a whole lot of personality bubbling under the surface. Here are 10 inescapable truths for anyone who loves to call Atlanta home.
You ask "ITP or OTP?" when someone says they're from Atlanta.
You know what they say, don’t discuss politics, religion and ITP/OTP on a first date. The acronyms stand for “inside the perimeter” and “outside the perimeter,” and refer to I-285 (“The Perimeter”), which forms a ring around the City of Atlanta (and encompasses a few other neighborhoods, including Buckhead, Brookhaven, Smyrna and Decatur). Be suspicious when someone says they’re “from Atlanta”—they’re probably from a suburb of Atlanta, which is very different to an ITP snob.
You suffer from traffic-induced high blood pressure.
Atlanta didn’t even make the top 10 in at least three studies conducted last year that ranked U.S. cities with the worst traffic. And yet, Atlanta’s rush-hour congestion seems incomprehensibly, mind-numbingly bad. For starters, rush hour in ATL is usually between 7 and 10 a.m. and 4 and 7 p.m., with boosts in traffic likely to occur on Thursday and Fridays, when each of those timeframes is extended by an hour or two. Most of where Atlantans eat, go out, exercise and just generally live their lives is based on traffic patterns. Oh, and because of the red-light plague, we’re almost always late.
You know a festival for that.
Festivals all day, errday when the sun comes out and the air is warm. There are massive art festivals, like the Dogwood Festival, Festival on Ponce, Piedmont Arts Festival and SO many others. There are food festivals celebrating almost every kind of noshing, including ice cream, street food and gourmet dining. You’ll find more beer and wine festivals than your liver can handle, and enough music festivals to render your eardrums useless. Bottom line: Atlantans dig any excuse to eat, drink, stroll and be merry en masse. Visit Piedmont Park on any weekend during warm-weather months and I can almost promise you’ll run into a festival of some kind.
You’ve been an unwitting (or paid) movie extra.
Y’allywood. ATLwood. The Hollywood of the South. Atlanta’s booming film industry may seem surprising to outsiders, but to residents it’s an everyday reality. We bump into TV and movie sets on the regular (particularly if you take the awesome ATL Movie Tour)—one day you might encounter a horde of zombies hanging out on the street waiting for their next take and the next you may see a blazing car hanging over the side of a bridge surrounded by nonchalant crew members (I’ve personally experienced both). Thanks to Georgia’s hard-to-beat tax incentives for the film industry, the state has seen an unprecedented influx of movies looking to film in its landscapes. We run into Woody Harrelson at Piedmont Park, Owen Wilson on the Atlanta BeltLine, Lady Gaga at Sister Louisa’s Church of the Living Room and Ping-Pong Emporium and “The Hunger Games” stars at Umi. Movie stars won’t find paparazzi here, though—just a heavy helping of Southern hospitality.
You're no stranger to losing a sports bet.
You participate in The Kroger Games.
Kroger is a Southern supermarket chain with dozens of locations in Atlanta. With so many outposts, Atlantans have come up with a slew of not-very-PC nicknames to identify the most popular stops. There’s Murder Kroger, Hipster Kroger, Kosher Kroger, Gay Kroger, Fiesta Kroger, and the list goes on. I don’t necessarily condone these nicknames, which can get a bit offensive. That being said, I do know where each of these is the second I hear the nickname, so…
You think "Pepsi" is a dirty word.
The world’s most recognizable brand and favorite fizzy drink was born right in Midtown Atlanta. Pharmacist John C. Pemberton invented it as a medicinal tonic for headaches and other physical pains. Ever since, Atlanta has been the land of Coca-Cola, and within 100 miles of its kingdom, one may never utter the “P” word. First time in Atlanta? Don't be shocked if you get incredulous looks if you order a Pepsi. Your beverage choices in the South are Coke and sweet tea (sugar garnished with iced tea).
You know to ask for landmarks when someone says “I’m on Peachtree.”
There are up to 100 (or more, depending on who you ask) roads with the word “Peachtree” in their names. Peachtree Street is the most famous, but then there’s Peachtree Drive, Peachtree Center Avenue, Peachtree Place and so very many others. Basically, if someone asks where you are, don’t say “On Peachtree.” You could be literally anywhere in the city. Fun fact: The word doesn’t refer to a peach tree—it’s thought to come from the Creek settlement called Standing Pitch Tree that is now Atlanta.
You enjoy the four seasons-ish.
Atlanta’s climate is pretty temperate for a city in the deep South, and yet we get the benefit of four full seasons. Winters are generally short, but we make the most of it with cool holiday traditions and cold-weather festivals. There’s nothing like spring and summer in Atlanta. Moderate temperatures, piercing sunshine and bright blue skies embrace the city like a warm hug, driving Atlantans outside. We flood the city’s outdoor spaces in droves, buzzing about in a happy daze. If you’re not accustomed to being chatted up by a stranger at the park or a rooftop bar, you’re not ready for a Southern spring.
You don't play when it comes to a craft cocktail or microbrew.
We LOVE a good excuse to drink, although we by no means need one. You’ll find an impressive and devoted bourbon following here, including women who know more about dark liquors than your preconceptions may allow you to believe. Mint juleps? Not quite. Atlanta is about craft, small batch booze. Craft breweries are huge here, despite legislation that makes the business of booze a challenge. The massively popular SweetWater Brewing Co. is based here, as are a slew of smaller craft breweries gaining cult status. The art of mixology took the city by storm years ago, and cocktail connoisseurs know exactly where to find the good stuff—perennial favorites include Kimball House, Ticonderoga Club and Leon's Full Service. Thank you, ATL bartending Gods, for Paul Calvert and Greg Best!