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City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
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City & State or ZIP

Atlanta among Forbes’ Top 10 fun cities, but it’s no New York

Apparently we’re not the most fun city in the United States, nor are we among the top five cities. According to a one new ranking, Atlanta isn’t even the best spot in the southeast to have a good time. But! We are on the list released this month by Forbes.com, that data-happy purveyor of random rankings. Atlanta falls sixth on its list of America’s Most Entertaining Cities.

Atlanta has previously appeared on Forbes’ lists of great places to retire, not-so-great places for working moms and affordable places to live. It recently lost the title of best city for singles, apparently because we all lived happily ever after, or maybe because our rankings for nightlife and culture were kinda lousy.

Indeed, I believe I’m spoon-feeding the list-making beast just by mentioning this set of rankings. Open wide!

Our, um, competition:

1. New York
2. Chicago
3. Los Angeles
4. Miami (tie)
4. Washington, D.C. (tie)
6. Atlanta
7. Boston (tie)
7. Philadelphia
9. San Francisco
10. Dallas

Just how fun is Atlanta?

View Results

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In the story, Forbes said it calculated the rankings using metropolitan statistical areas and stats from AOL City Guides for bars, restaurants, nightclubs, live theater venues, museums and sporting venues, then added in sports teams and previous Best Cities for the Outdoors rankings. These aren’t per capita rankings, so it favors more populous cities, but also points out that, hey: New York is big, there’s a lot going on and you get to pick from all of it, not just your statistical allotment of sports bars and community theaters.

So what do you think — do Forbes’ numbers provide an accurate comparison of fun to be had in Atlanta, versus other cities? Do you pay attention to lists like these when deciding where to live or travel? Mostly, do you feel like there’s enough fun stuff going on here for you to stay busy and happy here in Atlanta? Share you thoughts in the comments!

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49 comments Add your comment

Atlanta_Tiger_Fan

September 9th, 2009
9:14 am

This past weekend Atlanta hosted College football games, Braves game, and major Nascar race. And let’s not forget the Dracon*Con fair……there’s always something to do in Atlanta area!

Doug

September 9th, 2009
9:15 am

Jamie Gumbrecht – your article is trollish. Atlanta makes the top ten and you start by saying, “Apparently we’re not the most fun city in the United States, nor are we among the top five cities. Atlanta isn’t even the best spot in the southeast to have a good time” Silly woman you are!!!

Harold

September 9th, 2009
9:33 am

Apparently Forbes forgot about the DUI factor present in any sort of fun in this sheet hole that pretends to be a city. What good are all the bars and nightclubs if you have to teetotal for the drive home? We need to stop treating public transportation as poor-only transportation. Build it everywhere and it increases petty crime nowhere. Even with some potentially added petty crime, wouldn’t it be worth the lives saved from our almost daily traffic fatalities?

DBH

September 9th, 2009
9:43 am

The thing is that Atlanta isn’t supposed to be New York or Chicago (and never will be!) That’s why I love Atlanta so much – because it’s NOT either of those places; it’s distinct and different in its own right. If I want to experience what Chicago or New York or Los Angeles is like, I can just go there.

JohnF

September 9th, 2009
9:45 am

I’ve lived in Atlanta since 1986. If you are young (and mostly single) and don’t mind driving most places, Atlanta is a blast. Once you get older and develop more mature taste though…there’s just not that much to do.

Sanjeev

September 9th, 2009
10:01 am

JohnF – there is plenty to do. Ever been to the High Museum? Fernbank for the movies? Woodruf? Atlanta History Museum? Then there are things like Dave & Busters, Andretti, bowling, movies, parks, nature trails. If you enjoy eating out there are hundreds of restaurants of just about every ethnic food.

Atlanta nightlife is not it used to be before all the muggings and shootings in Buckhead. We used to have one of the most unique nightspots in the country but then people started to move in town in great numbers and didn’t like the traffic and noise. Mayor Franklin changed the 24 hour rule and made everyone else shut down earlier didn’t help either. We are years removed from the clubbing section of Buckhead, yet out of towners always want to go down there.

Aaron

September 9th, 2009
10:20 am

This is hilarious! Atlanta a fun city? What is fun about it now that the thugs ruined it? Decatur was nice back in the day, that is long gone. Buckhead as we know used to be fun, but they invaded Buckhead, caused crime, and screwed that up. Underground used to be cool but now is a gathering for the thugs. Midtown is OK but can get very dangerous at night. The only thing left for us normal people are The Highlands. I am sure it is only a matter of time before the thugs screw that up as well. They are doing a great job at Tech and GSU!

BigBoomNY

September 9th, 2009
10:30 am

OF course we can all see who is first. Big Apple BABY…

Philadelphia Phil

September 9th, 2009
10:37 am

This joint is the pits.

DJ

September 9th, 2009
10:41 am

I moved here in 1983. Without sounding like a an old geezer, back then Atlanta was THE place to be: young, clean, fresh, and poised for greatness. How many people – residents and visitors alike – think of Atlanta in those terms now?

TI

September 9th, 2009
10:59 am

Oh I remember the days, when Buckhead was fun. Backstreet was open, then hurricane Katrina came and sprayed all the trash to Atlanta and hasn’t been the same since. Shhhhh about the V.Higlands, don’t want that to be ruined as well. Oh and Philly is the pits to Philadelphia Phil!!

Albearto

September 9th, 2009
11:07 am

Atlanta with its big-city anonymity, its gentrification, and huge population base has some serious problems taking root that seem to be about to run away like fertilized kudzu. How many more students need to be robbed at Ga Tech or Ga State? How many innocent people should die from stray bullets? I think for ATL to even be in the midst of the rankings of some of these great cities is skewered.

Dreux

September 9th, 2009
11:11 am

If Atlanta is such a “fun” city, then why do tourists and conventioneers always list it dead last in places they’d like to go?

Mike

September 9th, 2009
11:12 am

Steve0 – I try to have an open mind about people and really make an attempt to treat everyone fair and equal, until I read stuff like what you posted. Then I realize what the point in trying so hard. We’ll never change our perception or your view. You take a small portion of blk people and blame it on us all. I see plenty of white crack-heads and meth-heads downtown, but I guess you’re not scared of them, only the black ones? I understand some white people are afraid how “there” country changes and most minorities what the place to continue changing! With that said I can’t wait until 50, 60, 80 years down the line when white people WILL be the monitory, let’s see if you can take it as much as you can give it!

Cutty

September 9th, 2009
11:14 am

Students are getting ROBBED at Tech and State. Students are being KILLED in the AUC. Seems like only the ones getting robbed matters.

Eric

September 9th, 2009
11:24 am

I am 40 and lived most of my life in Atlanta, its a fun town, all the sports, concerts and all. But if you lived most of your life in one place, you get burned out on it. I want the beach :) I’m burnt if people just moved here, I’m sure they love it, after 40 years it gets old.

You MUST be kidding

September 9th, 2009
11:40 am

Atlanta is boring as hell is hott!

Mark

September 9th, 2009
11:41 am

I live in Atlanta, but recently took a trip to New Orleans. Now THAT is a fun town. Surprised it didn’t make the list.

MiamiDolphins2010SBowl!!!

September 9th, 2009
11:42 am

I lived in boston i lived in orlando i lived in nc i lived in chattanooga, and miami. Atlanta has gone down hill i am only 30, but too many robbies , and traffic is horrible. There way too many black people and there no diversity at all here. Highlands is ok , it the only safe place, but way too far to drive from john’s creek even when i dont drink anymore it the other people on the road. i am leaving soon prob off to chitown for work. Th job situation here sucks too that big thing women come, and go you can find them in chattanooga, nc anywhere, so that not a big deal. i am from here and atlanta is not great city anmymore.

correcting

September 9th, 2009
11:42 am

Mike/Weezie – pretty sure I read a lot of sarcasm dripping throughout Steve0’s comment. I don’t usually give all that much credit to these comments, but I think he’s making fun of those who drive 45 minutes from the suburbs to come to party in the “safe” areas intown and scurry right back out there as soon as possible.

Also, Harold, though I like where you’re going with the public transportation argument, the assumption that transit brings crime is a little off-putting. Do people really take the bus to go break into houses? Or hop on after a little late-night mugging?

Me, I love Atlanta, ride my bike to the bars, see all sorts of options for fun and varied things to do here. Great city. You’ve just gotta remember that the cities OTP are not Atlanta…

Jamie Gumbrecht

September 9th, 2009
11:52 am

Hey folks: this is a blog about fun in Atlanta. We’re not talking about race, and we’re absolutely not tossing around stereotypes of entire groups of people. Stay on topoic, be respectful in the comments or take your hate somewhere else.

Kevin

September 9th, 2009
11:55 am

Wow…I challenge ALL of you who have said negative things about Atlanta so say 2 positive things about city….if it was THAT bad, then why don’t you leave? It’s people like you that give Atlanta the reputation it has….

Kevin

September 9th, 2009
11:58 am

For all of you who have something negative to say about Atlanta, I challenge you to come up with 2 positive things to say about the city. Everyone can always complain and blame the other person, but never want to do anything about that problem. if you hate it so much, what’s stopping you from leaving?

I think Atlanta is a a fun city-if you know where to look.

Steve0

September 9th, 2009
12:01 pm

correcting- I’m glad someone got it. Personally, I’m glad that suburban dorks only go to the Highlands. It keeps them away from the cool stuff. I liked it better when they were isolated in Buckhead, but then the Buckhead money used the SCARY SCARY NEGROES to shut down the bars. It’s hilarious that the easily scared and the stupid fell for the ruse.

So the Buckhead club people pushed into Midtown (although Midtown always had a club scene, it used to be more fun), the aging fratboys pushed into the Highlands, and the black people moved to Castleberry Hill. The aging fratboys pushed the Highlands people into L5P, which pushed the L5P hipsters into Cabbagetown and East Atlanta.

And Decatur and Poncey Higlands really hasn’t changed in 10 years, except for the loss of Trackside. It’s the circle of party life.

And what’s with every fratboy wandering into the Clermont and jacking up the price. The cover has been going steadily up for at least 7 years. It used to be free on Friday, damnit!

TBizzle

September 9th, 2009
12:06 pm

Atlanta doesn’t have anything that truly separates itself from other cities. Sure, it has all of the normal big city amentities you would expect, but Atlanta is seriously lacking a unique factor.

The best thing about Atlanta is that you can easily fly to other cities or drive 5 hours to Florida and SC beaches.

Reader

September 9th, 2009
12:12 pm

Oh look there, somebody through in a race card. Too Many Black People. I’m white and that’s horrible for somebody to say something like that. No diversity here? Go WALK down Buford highway and there will be your diversity. Makes no sense for somebody to say that. In response to the message board. I feel Atlanta is still a fun and great city for visitors as is NY, LA, Miami. I will never ever live in those cities. Too much going on, not good for a family, way to expensive. N.O. is fun as well, but I never live there, they’re still recovering. This is a great list though.

Duluth, GA

September 9th, 2009
12:22 pm

MiamiDolphins2010SBowl!!!, I believe you just want some attention. Go stand in a corner or something. Anyway, I believe Atlanta is a great place and it definately is a fun city. I have been to many cities in the U.S and I personally believe that Atlanta is ranked correctly (# 6). If you cannot find anything to do in this city, then something is wrong with you!

Truth

September 9th, 2009
12:22 pm

Wow – I am ready to chip in for your ticket out of town.

MiamiDolphins2010SBowl!!!
“There way too many black people and there no diversity at all here.”
Are there too many Asians in San Francisco?

How can you take this list seriously when San Fran made list and Vegas did not. Anyway, Atlanta has pro sports (that are finally improving go Falcons, Hawks are young and good) College sports, great colleges / universities (yes great despite the North East bias in ranking schools) good music / arts scene, nice sky line, good restaurants and friendlier people than any city ahead of Atlanta on the list. I appreciate Atlanta more now that I do not live there anymore. Crime and traffic are problems. Expanded MARTA and tougher / smarter policing and dynamic leadership in the office of the mayor is what is needed.

Duluth, GA

September 9th, 2009
12:26 pm

Truth, this is how they came up with the rankings, “In the story, Forbes said it calculated the rankings using metropolitan statistical areas and stats from AOL City Guides for bars, restaurants, nightclubs, live theater venues, museums and sporting venues, then added in sports teams and previous Best Cities for the Outdoors rankings. These aren’t per capita rankings, so it favors more populous cities, but also points out that, hey: New York is big, there’s a lot going on and you get to pick from all of it, not just your statistical allotment of sports bars and community theaters.”

Dr. Warren

September 9th, 2009
12:50 pm

Hey Jamie–wouldn’t “hatred” be the more appropriate word to use? Proper English should be the rule in a major newspaper, no?

Truth

September 9th, 2009
1:03 pm

Duluth – Thanks for the info (informative and civil, much appreciated) . I am of the opinion that the only thing Atlanta really lacks is proximity to water. (I also must admit I do not get the appeal of San Francisco. Nice yes, fun I would need to see more. I know they have some odd festivals)

I guess I have a problem with the methodology – New York is big, there is a lot going on, true. If there are 3000 good places to eat in NY and lets say 750 in Atlanta, that is still a two year supply of places to eat without going back to any of the ones you have already tried and really liked. More can sometimes equal better but at a point more is just more. That said, I have no REAL problem with the rankings. Almost all major shows / concert tours eventually some to Atlanta. I love NY but there are a significant number of people who would never feel comfortable in NYC just because of the sheer size (Some people LOVE NYC for that very reason and for them there is no substitute and I definitely understand that). How can those other people have fun if they don’t even feel comfortable. Atlanta is on a scale most people can handle and it also less expensive. You can also head into Atlanta grab a hotel room hit some bars / lounge visit a museum or two it does not cost a fortune.

transplanted

September 9th, 2009
1:14 pm

I wish I was in Atlanta. I live in Dallas now because of job. Atlanta is a great city with many nice people. Just look at the front page and entertainment section of the local paper and decide for yourself.

Truth

September 9th, 2009
1:16 pm

Duluth – Thanks for the info (informative and civil, much appreciated) . I am of the opinion that the only thing Atlanta really lacks is proximity to water. (I also must admit I do not get the appeal of San Francisco. Nice yes, fun I would need to see more. I know they have some odd festivals)

I guess I have a problem with the methodology – New York is big, there is a lot going on, true. If there are 3000 good places to eat in NY and lets say 750 in Atlanta, that is still a two year supply of places to eat without going back to any of the ones you have already tried and really liked. More can sometimes equal better but at a point more is just more. That said, I have no REAL problem with the rankings. Almost all major shows / concert tours eventually some to Atlanta. I love NY but there are a significant number of people who would never feel comfortable in NYC just because of the sheer size (Some people LOVE NYC for that very reason and for them there is no substitute and I definitely understand that). How can those other people have fun if they don’t even feel comfortable. Atlanta is on a scale most people can handle and it also less expensive. You can also head into Atlanta grab a hotel room hit some bars / lounge visit a museum or two it does not cost a fortune

miss marta

September 9th, 2009
1:28 pm

i love atlanta! i’m from the midwest, and have been here for about 15 years. what i love is there is always something to do. i love live music, and atlanta is known for having a thriving music scene. it’s a shame that buckhead (or buckhood as it turned out to be) is gone, because it was fun to go out and bar hop with friends. but the place got downright trashy, especially some of the bars – bar and mako’s anybody? – and all the sunday/monday night shootings. that hasn’t stopped me from hitting up east atlanta, midtown, grant park, little five, va-hi, all great parts of town in their own right.

who doesn’t like sitting at turner field on beautiful sunny afternoon and clear night and taking in a braves game? we have professional football, basketball, and hockey as well. choose one or all of them. i’ve never had a bad time at any of them.

but i live in the city. most people don’t, and a lot of people commenting here don’t live in atlanta – JOHN’S CREEK IS NOT ATLANTA. there are events every day and night of the week here. i chose city life over suburban life for the career, cultural and social opportunities, and i haven’t been let down.

miss marta

September 9th, 2009
1:32 pm

i forgot to mention dad’s garage. BIG ups to awesome improv comedy!!

Jeff

September 9th, 2009
1:45 pm

TI, either you are a moron or have never been to Philly. There is much more history, culture, art, theater, etc. than there is or ever will be in this sunbelt city.

Norwood

September 9th, 2009
2:04 pm

MiamiDolphins2010SBowl!!! – Too many black people?? You have issues and should probably leave. That’s cool, go on up to Chicago. There will be some black people waiting to welcome you…..

Truth

September 9th, 2009
2:15 pm

Enter your comments here

Not Going To Use My Usual Name

September 9th, 2009
10:39 pm

Jamie said, “We’re not talking about race.”

Honestly, I don’t think you can talk about anything in Atlanta in any depth without talking about race, and that would include entertainment. Neighborhoods are still largely segregated, churches are *extremely* segregated, and even many entertainments are (voluntarily) segregated.

I believe Atlanta may have made the list because it’s a vibrant place for people of color.

Jamie Gumbrecht

September 10th, 2009
12:33 am

Not Going To Use My Usual Name — you make a very good point, but unfortunately, the blog comment areas on AJC.com and AccessAtlanta.com haven’t proven themselves to be an effective forum to discuss race. Perhaps this is because we allow anonymous comments, or because we don’t have enough time or people to engage in a weightier conversation. Regardless, my choice is to keep the discussion on a level more appropriate to this venue, and in other posts, we’ve seen interesting ideas about entertainment emerge by keeping race and politics out of the discussion. Thanks for the thoughtful points, though!

D. Sechard

September 10th, 2009
12:20 pm

It’s flattering for Atlanta to be ranked No. 6, but let’s face it, rankings like this are useless. Forbes aggregated the attractions in metro areas, and that type of methodology doesn’t really capture the essence of a city. Atlanta is very fragmented – you have to drive wide distances to have fun (ie go to a restaurant in Midtown, drive to Buckhead for shopping, then back to Little Five Points or the Highlands for nightlife). Unlike true cities, like Chicago and San Francisco, there’s no density in Atlanta. There are just small pockets of activity. For instance, go to Midtown and walk a block from Peachtree Street and it thins out so fast that you’re already out of the city!

phillip watson

September 10th, 2009
1:11 pm

Shirley Franklin single- handedly took the Hot out of Hotlanta. Abbreviated bars hours diluted our night life and made the city less attractive to conventioneers (25% off this year). For a city that is usually begging for money (discounting, of course, those federal grants that went unspent), those convention dollars are sorely missed. And what about the tens of millions of dollars lost from throwing all major events out of Piedmont Park. It takes YEARS to build attendance at any sort of annual festival. At least we have a fantastic airport so that those of us who enjoy “fun cities” can fly to them.

BPJ

September 10th, 2009
3:07 pm

Fun in Atlanta includes Horizon Theatre, Actors’ Express, Theatrical Outfit, the (Tony-winning) Alliance, 7 Stages, TWO Shakespeare companies (Atlanta Shakes Downtown and Ga. Shakes in Buckhead), PushPush, Synchronicity, True Colors, Theatre in the Square, and Dad’s Garage! Unlike the other cities on the list, we even have a French-language theatre, Theatre du Reve.

Check out the High (not just the high-profile exhibits), the Carlos, the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, Spelman Museum, MOCAGA, Oglethorpe Museum, MODA……….and galleries such as Marcia Wood, Solomon Projects, Sandler Hudson, Saltworks, Kiang, Jackson (for photo), Lumiere (also photo), and Barbara Archer.

Check out the superb symphony, and the best-on-the-planet ASO Chorus.
Listen to jazz at Churchill Grounds and blues at Blind Willie’s. Eat at any of the 100 best restaurants around town. Stroll through Piedmont Park in the spring, or hike the Chattahoochie Nat’l Rec. area in fall. Visit the world’s largest aquarium, and one of the nation’s best zoos.

And if you’re frightened by fellow citizens because they’re black, please move to Alabama.

Former Resident of ATL

September 10th, 2009
3:29 pm

Not Going To Use My Usual Name -Honestly, I don’t think you can talk about anything in Atlanta in any depth without talking about race, and that would include entertainment. Neighborhoods are still largely segregated, churches are *extremely* segregated, and even many entertainments are (voluntarily) segregated.

This is not unique to Atlanta race permeates even light weight fun discussions in other cities too. Some jerk messes up a fun / cool debate with a classless comment. Just like a few knuckleheads take areas that used to be fun and ruin it with their poor behavior (Underground, Buckhead, now Atlantic Station). The loud obnoxious guy at the bar, rude teenagers are allowed to ruin the good time for the majority. Anyway I think the heading is misleading, or the comments have veered of the subject matter. Is the city supposed to be fun or is it supposed to be a great place to live. New Orleans / Vegas are fun but necessarily places most want to live. A truly fun city probably has international appeal (NYC, Miami, Vegas) and has appeal across the racial and socioeconomic spectrum (Vegas).

Former Resident of ATL

September 10th, 2009
3:34 pm

BBJ well said
BPJ = New head of the Board of Tourism

Norwood

September 10th, 2009
4:49 pm

BPJ AND Former Resident of ATL – Well said! Thank you both!!

BigFunATL

September 11th, 2009
5:46 pm

In this economy and these days, it’s not so much about where you live as it is about making the best of what you have and making the most of it. Every city is unique and gifted with different qualities and attractions that are unique to them and define who they are. For example, ATL is extremely blessed to have Stone Mountain and have a close proximity to the Flordia beaches. Environment, people, attractions, climate, etc. all play a role in defining a region, as well as the fact that every city or region has certain types of people that are attracted to that particular area.

At the end of the day, it’s what you make of it. I’ve been to every city listed above Atlanta on the list, and you can have just as much fun in Atlanta (if not more fun) as you can in any city on the list. It’s not called Hotlanta for nothing. NO, it’s not utopia, but no place is. And yes, crime and traffic are issues, just as they are in any city on that list, and any major city. However, our music scene is second to none, and many movies are starting to be made here. It is becoming the “Hollywood of the South.”

Just for the record the official word is…..ATL still is and will always be “the place to be.”

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