Some of you know that last week I declared this summer the Summer of Leisure. As such, it was of great interest to me to learn that our metro area was ranked the 11th best city in the U.S. for a staycation.

The study was undertaken by WalletHub and measured normally overlooked data like most swimming pools and tennis courts per capita, as well as the most zoos, aquariums, golf courses, museums, spas, beer gardens and ice cream shops per capita. It wasn’t any surprise to me to see that Orlando, Florida took the top spot. It’s hard to compete with a city that is surrounded by every theme park imaginable including the big ones like Disney World, Universal Studios and Sea World. And more obscure ones modeled after dinosaurs, alligators, Legos and the Bible.

We also got beat out by Honolulu. I assume the report was completed before the volcanoes erupted a few islands away. But you know what they say, a day near an active volcano in Hawaii is still better than a day anywhere else on the planet.

It’s also hard to compete with cities on the coast like Charleston, San Diego, San Francisco and Portland. Since most people go to the ocean to vacation, it makes sense that they were in front of us.

Las Vegas beat us out too. But if you live there, you probably already have most of your life savings invested in the casinos, so you might have no choice but to stay home. And then there is Chicago, which I can’t knock. We did a short vacation there a couple summers ago and had a blast.

So I think 11th is very respectable and something to be proud of. I actually think if they would have measured lakes per capita, we might have moved up a spot or two. If you have yet to delve into lake life, you are missing out. Lake Lanier is kind of the party lake with several restaurants and bars and a lot of boat traffic. But there are lakes all over with different styles, including some beautiful smaller lakes up in the mountains. We were lucky to get to go on our friend’s boat last weekend on Lake Allatoona. It’s a relatively quiet lake, close to the metro area, and with miles of undeveloped shoreline. We had a blast pulling the children around on tubes and anchoring in quiet coves.

The metro area has become massive though. To the point where it’s not just the metro area anymore. The suburbs really are no longer suburbs, but their own little cities. What I mean by that is I live in Roswell. And there are awesome things going on every weekend here between free concerts along the river, the nightlife of Canton Street, a great performing arts program and tons of parks to hike in. I could stay

here and be entertained around the clock. Or, I could take a trip up to Alpharetta and find a whole different atmosphere of events, parks and entertainment. Or to Duluth, or head west to Marietta. I hear the square in Marietta has added a bunch of fun amenities over the last two years. Got to get out there. I hear the Taste of Marietta was a fun event – which is another thing. You could hit the “Taste Of” circuit and be content for most of the year.

And whereas the suburbs aren’t really the suburbs, intown Atlanta isn’t really just intown Atlanta. It’s not one thing anymore. It’s an incredibly dense collage of unique neighborhoods, each with their own distinct style, festivals and things to do. You could spend a year picking a different neighborhood to visit each weekend.

I’m not sure that will keep us from heading to the beach this summer, but it certainly will make the rest of the year more fun and interesting.

MORTGAGE BANKER – NMLS#1043587

Geoff Smith is a mortgage banker with Assurance Financial focusing on residential home loans for refinances and home purchases. *The views and opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of Assurance Financial Group.

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