Atlanta is a city of neighborhoods, and neighborhoods within neighborhoods, all surrounded by a sprawling metro area made up of — you guessed it — more neighborhoods. Each neighborhood has its particulars that help define its individual feel and appeal. Probably the most discussed characteristic of any neighborhood is whether it's ITP or OTP — that's inside or outside the I-285 Perimeter to the uninitiated. Atlantans are a proud people, ready to dispute neighborhood boundary lines and fiercely defend their corners of the city at any moment. To help you get your bearings on the metro area's 8,480 square miles, we've created something of a cheat sheet for you of the 13 core neighborhood groups where Atlanta's main college and university campuses are located, as well as those of some of its more well-attended technical and professional colleges.
NEIGHBORHOOD: Atlantic Station/Homepark/Westside
SCHOOLS: Bauder College, Georgia Institute of Technology
NEED TO KNOW: Lucky you, you're right by Ikea for all of your modular dorm furnishing needs! In fact, the Westside is jam-packed with shopping options, from high-end design and fashion retailers in the Westside Arts District to popular mall chains in Atlantic Station. There are also oodles of restaurants here, including some of the city's best pizza at Antico and doughnuts at Sublime, as well as one of its fanciest fine-dining establishments, Bacchanalia (bookmark that one for your graduation dinner). Atlantic Station's also got a giant movie theater where a celeb or two has been known to visit during screenings (Brad Pitt!) and a Publix for stocking the mini-fridge.
SCHOOLS: Clark Atlanta University, Interdenominational Theological Seminary, Morehouse College, Morris Brown College, Spelman College
NEED TO KNOW: Welcome to the Atlanta University Center and its surrounding neighborhoods, where historical significance doesn't stop at the steps of the HBCU you attend. These five schools are sandwiched between some of Atlanta's oldest neighborhoods (West End, Vine City, Castleberry Hill) and storied African-American cultural institutions (the Wren's Nest, the Herndon Home, the Shrine of the Black Madonna, the Soul Vegetarian complex, etc.). Castleberry Hill's monthly Friday night art walks illuminate the galleries and lounges surrounding Peters and Walker streets. And although major shopping is sparse, a new Walmart is the latest addition to Vine City — which also happens to be notorious for the Bluff. Curious? Do yourself a favor and stick to the crash course Snow on the Bluff on Netflix.
SCHOOLS: Creative Circus, Oglethorpe University, Portfolio Center
NEED TO KNOW: Between Buckhead's Lenox Square mall and Phipps Plaza, you're in close proximity to bougie boutique shopping, occasional celebrity spotting, and extravagant people watching. Located slightly north, Brookhaven Village offers a respite with its walkable live/play district. Or you can skip them both and cruise up and down Peachtree Street till you run out of gas.
NEIGHBORHOOD: Capitol View
SCHOOLS: Atlanta Technical College, Atlanta Metropolitan State College
NEED TO KNOW: When you want break out between classes and escape the urban malaise of Metropolitan Avenue, take a load off at Perkerson Park. Only a couple of miles from the combined campuses of Atlanta Tech and Metro colleges, you'll feel like you're a million miles away. If air-conditioned recreation is more your speed, the Metro Fitness complex is nearby, too. Bring your bowling shoes, your skates, or your dunks, depending on your preference.
SCHOOLS: ICT Tech
NEED TO KNOW: Beloved for its antiques row, this mostly residential neighborhood is tucked in near the ethnically diverse adventureland of Buford Highway, the posh shopping and dining of Buckhead, and the young and upcoming Brookhaven.
NEIGHBORHOOD: Decatur/Oakhurst/Avondale Estates
SCHOOLS: Agnes Scott College, Emory University, Georgia Perimeter College (multiple metro Atlanta campuses)
NEED TO KNOW: About 7 miles east of Downtown lies Decatur, a beer-, food-, and book-loving mecca. Decatur is home to the iconic Brick Store Pub, where you may rub elbows with a Pulitzer Prize–winner or two at the bar, and the annual Decatur Book Festival, the largest independent book festival in the country. College students have it good here — downtown Decatur is walkable and right on MARTA, and there are endless possibilities for brews and cheap eats: Leon's, Taqueria del Sol, and Farm Burger on Ponce de Leon Avenue, Falafel King in Emory Village, 'cue at Community Q BBQ on Clairmont Road, or a schnitzel sandwich at Seven Hens at North Decatur Plaza, to name but a few options.
SCHOOLS: Georgia State University
NEED TO KNOW: Downtown Atlanta isn't the city center it used to be 70 years ago, but signs of life are rapidly returning to its edges. Take a walking tour of the murals commissioned by Living Walls and Atlanta's Office of Cultural Affairs and party at the bars on Edgewood Avenue like Church and Mother and you'll see what we mean. Skip the dining halls for the lunch options on Broad Street or the Sweet Auburn Curb Market.
SCHOOLS: Savannah College of Art and Design - Atlanta
NEED TO KNOW: Beyond the shiny skyscrapers, wide sidewalks, and easy access to transit, Midtown's well-suited to SCAD students thanks to the High Museum of Art and the Museum of Design Atlanta, located just blocks away. Of course, there's also the city's premiere greenspaces — Piedmont Park and the Atlanta Botanical Garden — and the Beltline's newly minted (and paved) Eastside Trail.