How to Survive Summer in Atlanta

Christine Van Dusen
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Locals don’t call it “Hotlanta,” but they might as well — Atlanta’s temperatures, especially in the thick of summertime, are scorching. Indeed, the summer of 2016 was the city’s second-hottest ever, with day after day of humid 90-degree weather. And by the year 2100, according to one study, the city could go for 94 days with the temperature above 95. Thankfully there are many ways to beat the heat. Here are our favorites:

Don’t go outside.

Sounds ridiculous, right? But it’s almost a game for Atlanta locals, who do all they can to barely set foot outside as they travel from their air-conditioned condos to their air-conditioned cars to their air-conditioned offices and back. Thankfully, just about every restaurant, business, and home you go to here has a chill in the air — unlike, say, New York City, which might hit the same high temperatures during the summer but offers far fewer cool sanctuaries.

Hit the pool.

Atlanta is dotted with public and private pools that typically open on Memorial Day weekend. In fact, SpareFoot found that Atlanta is the 5th best place in America for public pools. Some favorites include Piedmont Park Conservancy’s Aquatic Center & Pool in Midtown Atlanta and Decatur’s Glenlake Pool. Or, if you prefer your pools kid-free, you can pay $20 to $30 for a day pass to the W Atlanta Hotel Rooftop Pool and sip cocktails, people-watch, bop your head to the DJ’s beats, play Jenga, and take in the city skyline.

Walk the mall.

No, we’re not talking about joining your grandma for some power-walking past Talbots. Atlanta now has two indoor retail and food markets that rival Boston’s Faneuil Hall. There’s Krog Street Market, with a beer counter, pork buns, ice cream, and sit-down restaurants like Tex-Mex superstar Superica. And then there’s Ponce City Market — located in the gigantic and historic brick building that once housed Sears, Roebuck & Co. — which has food stalls from names like Botiwalla (owned by the same folks who brought us Indian deliciousness at Chai Pani) and the Mercury. You’ll also find retailers like Ponce Denim Company and Elk Head Clothing. The whole place is air-conditioned, except the rooftop Skyline Park, which has a miniature-golf course, a beergarden, a slide, and carnival games — as well as lots of misters to take the edge off the heat.

Find a secluded swimming hole.

If you’re willing to drive an hour or two from the city, there are lots of natural places to cool off. Try Wildcat Creek, part of the Lake Burton Wildlife Management Area off Highway 197 in Clayton. There’s a waterfall and a slippery rock that makes for the perfect natural waterslide. Or pay a visit to Panther Falls at Rabun Beach Recreation Area in Lakemont, which has a shallow, sand-bottomed pool and waterfalls at the end of a 5.8-mile hike on the Panther Creek Trail.

Eat a treat.


At just about every festival, and there are lots of them during the summer in Atlanta, you’ll see a pushcart with a rainbow umbrella. That’s King of Pops, a popular purveyor of artisanal popsicles. You can even pick them up without ever getting out of your car, thanks to the company’s sidewalk stand at the corner of North and Highland Avenues. Just roll down your window, hand over your $3, and choose from flavors like watermelon mojito, orange cream, and chocolate sea salt.

Editor's Note: This article was originally published on June 19, 2017 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Christine Van Dusen

Christine is a writer based in Atlanta.
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