I had mixed feelings when I arrived in Atlanta at the beginning of 1975, because Georgia was so different from where I grew up in Tampa, Florida. I started life in a place where we wore sandals during the winter, which we considered cold if the temps dropped into the low fifties. I drove to Atlanta in a faded green Mercury Capri with 110,000+ miles and no working heater--which hadn’t been a problem in the Sunshine State. I’d left the laid back world of beach life for a business opportunity in Georgia, but I began to question that decision after waking up to heavy traffic in a sprawling city with thick humidity in the summer and freezing cold in the winter.
At the end of the first year, I had serious doubts about staying.
Then something happened to change all that. I paused one weekend from working around the clock and took notice of what was going on around me. The short story is that a ginormous corporation had bought property in the heart of downtown Atlanta, and there was an old, closed-down theater on it. The company intended to tear it down and build a beautiful new skyscraper.
End of story, right?
It might have been, if the theater were anywhere else. But not in Atlanta. Residents came together to start a movement that became the legendary Save The Fox campaign.
And save it they did.
I watched in shock as the city took on the monumental task of saving The Fox Theater, a historical treasure that remains today. I donated, as much out of curiosity to see how it would end as anything else. Saving that theater took on a life of its own and I still get chills remembering that time. Oh, and the skyscraper got built … a block away.
The Fox Theater’s outstanding acoustics have made it a premier location for concerts and plays. In 1978, the Rolling Stones refused to perform anywhere but the Fox, and we worried that it would pandemonium since that band could pack the much-larger stadium twice over. Not a bad statement for a theater slated to be demolished at one time.
That was the moment I fell in love with Atlanta, and here’s why you would love Georgia.
Since we’re in Atlanta already, let’s start there. It’s a city steeped in history, from national parks where Civil War battles were fought, to the home of Martin Luther King, Jr., to parks and stadiums built for hosting the Olympics®. The first home my husband and I built was on a piece of property that had once been part of a battlefield. We ended up with a benign ghost who I’ve always felt was a former soldier. Not what I expected after building a brand new structure.
Just a little way northeast of the city, even more history is carved into a massive granite rock belched out of the ground in Stone Mountain. Geologists know how the magma formed 350 million years ago, but not how it became exposed. It’s the largest known granite formation. You have to visit Stone Mountain Park during the springtime when the Dogwood trees are blooming. After enjoying a day full of all the park’s activities, bring your blanket, wine and cheese, to sit on the lawn where you can listen to a free concert with the famous Civil War carving as the backdrop.
If you enjoy the outdoors, Georgia is a state you’ll want to visit for what seems like endless miles of bike paths as part of the Rails-to-Trails program, to incredible golf courses, including the legendary Augusta National, or you can drive north of Atlanta until you reach the town of Blue Ridge, nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
I want to spend a week just trying out all of the wonderful restaurants there. You should definitely treat yourself to the Harvest On Main for artistic seasonal choices.
If being up in the mountains is not for you, head southeast to over four hundred thousand acres filled with wildlife in the Okefenokee Swamp. Seeing the mountains, the swamp and the eastern coast will give you an appreciation for just how different the parts of Georgia can be—all in one state. Before you leave the Okefenokee area, take a trip straight east to the little coastal town of St. Marys, the location of a scene in one of my Belador urban fantasy stories.
While in St. Marys, take the ferry ride to Cumberland Island, which is full of history about the philanthropic Carnegies, who built four massive mansions on the island, and a famous secret Kennedy wedding in a tiny church. Take the time to walk on a sugar-white beach that is often empty except for wild horses that come out to face the soft ocean breeze.
I’ve visited all these places and many more in Georgia, traveling sometimes by motorcycle to find new settings to include in future books. But no matter where I am, I’m all about good food. I have so many favorites just in Georgia, that I could fill up a book. Here are a few foodie tips. Try The Flying Biscuit for breakfast, but visit the original one in Midtown Atlanta and ask for Paula. Or enjoy Italian cuisine at Pasta Da Pulcinella, another charming Atlanta restaurant, and one you’d have to know about since it’s not in the main traffic areas.
If you’re over in Marietta, visit Thaicoon and Sushi bar, When I’m up for seafood and want to wear my jeans, I head to Six Feet Under, the iconic restaurant across the street from the historic Oakland Cemetery and one of Evalle Kincaid’s favorite places in the Belador series.
I’ve traveled back and forth across this great country, setting stories in different locations, but the Slye Temp romantic thrillers and the Belador urban fantasy are both set in Atlanta, because there’s a saying in writing to “write what you know.” I think we always know home the best.
Dianna is giving away her e-book box set of the first three Slye Temp Romantic Suspense novels (winner must have an Amazon or Barnes & Noble account) plus a set of signed Keeper Kase® cards, to one person who comments here. Please leave your contact information so she can reach you.
For all information on Author Dianna Love, visit here:
(all info provided by author)