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noize magazine

Ever since its founding as a railroad junction, Atlanta has been a transportation center. In the South, they say that when you die, your soul will be routed through Hartsfield Airport, the world's busiest.

The city's reputation as a feisty upstart, fierce and determined, was cemented when Margaret Mitchell created its most famous heroine, Scarlett O'Hara. Her trevails during the Civil War mirrored the city's, which rebuilt itself after the war as the prototypical city of the New South, modern and forward looking. 

That spirit continues in a thriving metropolis that became the center of the Civil Rights Movement. Dr. Martin Luther King and other leaders based their operations out of the city. The city fully lives up to its informal motto as a city "too busy to hate." In more recent years, that has come to include the city's thriving LGBT community, which ranks third in the nation per capita. 

The heart of the city's gay life remains Midtown, which is one of the best-known — and certainly the largest — gayborhood in the South. The exploding LGBT population has migrated into other areas, such as West Midtown and East Atlanta, bringing with them clubs, bars and everything else. But there are plenty of gay folk all over Atlanta, with more and more moving to the near-in suburbs like Decatur and East Point.

With one of the best permanent collections in the United States, the High Museum is a must-visit.  Atlanta can boast resident companies in all the performing arts, including the world-famous Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. Outkast helped cement Atlanta hip-hop as a verified sub-genre. There's also a thriving indie rock scene. 

Everything is big, bigger, biggest here. The Georgia Aquarium is the world's largest. The Cyclorama is the largest in-the-round historical experience, a recreation of the Battle of Atlanta. There are museums dedicated to Coke, concocted here and still one of the largest private employers; the Civil Rights Movement; Margaret Mitchell; and plenty more. 

If you need some open space, there's plenty of that, too, especially the massive Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area on the city's northeast side. But you can get in touch with the drama of nature just about anywhere, thanks to aggressive tree planting over the years that has given it the nickname "city in a forest." 

The city's best asset, however, is its people. There are no strangers here; prepare to be be subjected to hugs from everyone you meet and being called "darlin." What makes it even better is that the added spice of a pinch of Designing Women good-natured bitchy banter.