. The apple of an urban planner's eye. The most family-friendly of locales that doesnt involve sitting in traffic on I-75. Homeowners there weren't as hard hit by the recent economic tsunami, the schools are considered top-notch, and a well-staffed police force keeps tabs on goings on in its neighborhoods. City officials' plans to make a pedestrian-friendly square and downtown area have noticeably paid off, allowing residents and visitors to follow fare at such standout restaurants as Watershed and Cakes and & Ale, with choice drinks nearby at Brick Store Pub and the Grange. Can't drive home? Take MARTA, which has a stop below the square. Summer brings a seemingly endless array of public events to entertain the city's estimated 29,000 residents, including the nationally known book festival that's attracted such talents as Rick Bragg and Salman Rushdie. And while the urban burb might catch flak from hardened intowners for its sometimes stroller mentality, it's still the kind of place youd secretly like to call home. Decatur, you marvelous son of a bitch, you win again. www.decaturga.com.