When I first visited Atlanta in the early 1990s I was a freshly-minted college graduate looking for a job and, although I was a stranger here, I felt immediately welcome –largely because the people of Atlanta embraced me with the gracious hospitality that the South is legendary for.

Atlanta is certainly a busy place as home to several corporate headquarters, film and music studios, and research universities, but everyone has time for a bit of conversation. They hold doors for others, greet strangers with a smile, and take deep pride in their cultural diversity. Here, hip hop music stars, scientists, students, and immigrants live together. Atlanta has always felt like a city of many colors united by one theme: hospitality and friendliness.

Atlanta, while busy, is also a beautiful place to be. The temperate climate is conducive to a host of plant life making this a very lush city. Airline pilots often remark that flying into the city is like landing in a forest of green. The cityscape is composed of rolling hills and parks, while blooming azaleas, dogwoods, magnolia trees and rhododendrons line streets and yards. In my yard alone I have ten hardwood trees that provide blessed shade during the hot summer months. To get a proper sense of the region’s botanical splendor visit the Atlanta Botanical Garden. Composed of several gardens, visitors will find displays of native plants as well as a working vegetable garden that highlights the bounty of the area. The newly renovated children’s garden opens this summer and features inventive hands-on experiences for kids and adults alike.

Despite its friendly and welcoming nature, the locals are most proud of its personal diversity as a city. Indeed, diversity and heritage go hand-in-hand here in Atlanta as it is the birthplace of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., the leader of America’s Civil Rights movement. His heritage has been portrayed in many films and TV series. With his inspirational life story hailed by almost all works in popular culture that have something to say about the fight for equality and justice, Martin Luther King has a dear place in the history of Atlanta. A visit to the Martin Luther King historic site is one that inspires reflection. The inspiration derives from the fact that the fight of the African citizens in the United States for equal rights is educational and shows that nothing can stop what’s right. As you wander the International World Peace Rose Garden and make your way to the Ebenezer Baptist Church, you can also see Dr. King’s tomb and his birth home –it is truly an encompassing experience of a remarkable life. 

This traditional Southern city is a melting pot of international cultures and one of the best places to experience this global dynamic is along the Buford Highway corridor. Last summer, in an effort to educate my children about different ethnic cuisines we didn’t need to get on plane. Rather we just drove a few miles across town to the international selection of restaurants on Buford Highway and sampled our way through Thai, Caribbean, Korean, Chinese and Mexican menus. 

After all the dishes you've had, some exercise would be nice. To best experience the city’s lovely parks and greenscapes, make time for a casual stroll on the Beltline, a 22-mile bike and walking path that bisects several charming neighborhoods in the city. If you feel like eating again, I suggest making an afternoon of it and refueling at one of the many restaurants that line the path.


No matter how you spend your time here, you’ll find Atlanta to be an emblematic Southern city steeped in graciousness and hospitality but with a sophisticated international twist. So come on in y’all, pull up a chair, sip some sweet tea and let us welcome you.

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