Welcome to Georgia, or as the license plate tag reads "The Peach State." There's much to see and much to do and as a upcoming freshman, it's hard to know where to start. Fear not, I am here to help. After living in Georgia for ten years, I have exhausted all the possible entertainment options in pursuit of having a "lit weekend" or "moves after school." So put down the tourist pamphlet, ignore the clerk at the Georgia welcome center and take note from a former suburban girl; here are seven places you must visit after moving to Georgia for college.
1. Waffle House
Location: Literally everywhere. According to the folks at city-data.com there are 381 Waffle House locations in the state of Georgia. Chances are, if you're driving through Georgia and don't encounter a Waffle House every few miles or so, you're in the wrong state.
While eating at Waffle House, the waiter or waitress may push you try their signature waffles, but the hash browns are the secret gem of Waffle House cuisine. Also, don't limit yourself to eating Waffle House during the morning. Waffle House is equally as great during those late night expeditions with friends. Did I mention their hash browns are great?
2. Mall of Georgia
One does not simply move to Georgia and not visit the Mall of Georgia. That is akin to moving to Washington D.C and not driving past the White House. While the Mall of Georgia is not located in the state's capital, Atlanta, there is plenty to see and much to do. There's a Cheesecake Factory, movie theater and a two-story Barnes & Nobles that I may shed a tear over. Of course, there's also the typical department stores like Forever 21 but there's also a Game Stop for the gamers and an Apple Store for the iPhone enthusiasts.
Location: Also literally everywhere.
Yes QuikTrip is a gas station, but don't laugh yet. I'm serious. QuikTrip is every college student's dream. Once you get tired of ramen noodles, I suggest stopping by QuikTrip for a grab and go sandwich, salad or wrap. There are also 79 cent slushies (if you get a Big Q cup) which make for the perfect late night treat with friends or the totally worthy drink on cheat day. With about 130 gas stations in the Atlanta metro area, it shouldn't be very hard to find.
4. The Aquarium
Location: On every tourist map of downtown Atlanta.
This is one of the few tourist spots that I'll recommend for out of state students. The first time I went to the Georgia Aquarium I was amazed by the dolphin show, the overpriced food court, and the fabulous peak into marine life. However, the aquarium is not a hang out spot. I would caution against going more than three times a year in order to keep that childlike amazement with the Earth's sea creatures. Unless it's the dolphin show. The limit does not exist for how many times a college student should see the dolphin show at the Georgia Aquarium.
5. Stone Mountain Park
Location; Stone Mountain, Georgia.
This one is for all my gym heads, fitness buffs and any college student who wants to experience a panoramic view of downtown Atlanta and its surrounding cities. The tour booklets will try and sell Stone Mountain Park as a great family attraction, but Georgia natives know the best way to enjoy Stone Mountain is in a loose t-shirt, running shorts and comfortably padded sneakers. Ditch the long lines at the Sky Ride, the Duck Ride or the railroad and join a friend at the base of the Stone Mountain for a hike up Georgia's historic rock. I suggest going during the fall season when the sun is more forgiving because it's a long hike up the mountain. You don't have to be in the Jillian Michaels-shape to climb Stone Mountain. If you get tired, take a water break. If your legs start burning, pull out your phone and play Pokemon Go. If you feel like turning around, remember there's a shop on the mountaintop with drinks, snacks and glorious air conditioning. If all else fails, you can always take the Sky Ride down, but I promise you the view on top of Stone Mountain is truly remarkable.
6. Martin Luther King Jr National Historic Site
Location: Atlanta, Georgia.
Thanks to all my required middle school Georgia History classes, I know that the Stone Mountain is the site of many historic Confederate monuments and in an effort to counteract some of our nation's historically scathing racism, I've included Martin Luther King Jr.'s National Historic Site as a must-see for all college students. Rather than glorify Confederate generals, MLK's Historic Site offers a peek into a black man's plight during the Civil Rights movement. It's one thing to read about the March on Washington or hear "I Have A Dream," but to walk through the childhood home of Martin Luther King Jr. and step on the church grounds where the great reverend was baptized transports the modern college student back decades in American history.
7. Atlanta's Best Wings
Locations: Tucker, Lithonia, Decatur (2), and Snellville.
I've included all five locations because Atlanta's Best Wings is just that good. This might be the place I miss most after moving away for college, but for all you new comers I insist you try Atlanta's Best Wings. Get the 10 piece lemon pepper wings with fries and a large lemonade and you can officially call yourself an ATLien. My pescatarian friend also says the fried fish is just as banging, in case you don't eat chicken. There's also salads and subs on the menu, in case your diet is really that tight, but considering the name of the restaurant, I would stick to the wings, the fried fish, or the lemonade.
As I kiss the state of Georgia goodbye, I hope to pass on my wisdom about all the hot spots in the metro Atlanta area.
College should about obtaining the best education possible, but don't forget to take the time to explore the great food, entertainment and historical site the peach state has to offer.
Lead Image Credit: moving via Unsplash