After two months of online balloting and tens of thousands of votes cast, we present to you your favorites in dozens of categories in our fifth annual Best of Atlanta awards.

Many people like to say these awards are nothing but a popularity contest. We don’t deny that at all, because in the end, the winners are decided by one thing only: your votes.

Our first round of voting took place in May and we gave readers a chance to nominate their favorites in categories of Community, People, Places, Shopping, Eats, Arts & Entertainment, Nightlife, Pets and Services. In most cases, the top three vote-getters (or more if there was a tie) were named finalists and moved on to the second stage of multiple-choice voting, which lasted through the end of June.

Many organizations, people and businesses let their fates be determined unprompted. Others mounted organized campaigns, usually through Facebook and Twitter, to convince fans and to garner votes from fans and friends and others. Both approaches are valuable and any group or business that has a devoted fan base willing to vote every day is worth checking out.

Be sure to congratulate the winners. And if your favorite didn’t make it to the finals, plan on doing something about that next year by nominating and voting early and often.

The best part of this issue is the party we throw for it, a party for the winners, finalists and for everyone who makes this community a great place to live, work and play.

We hope to see you there on July 17 at the Georgian Terrace. We couldn’t throw the party without the kindness and generosity of the gorgeous Midtown hotel as well as Green’s Liquor and Barefoot Wine, Henry’s Midtown, Campagnolo Restaurant & Bar, Green Ginger, Southern Sweets, our emcee Ian Aber of A Bear Comedy Show and DJ Vicki Powell.

Congratulations to all our winners, and thank you to all of our communities who share their stories with us and therefore empower all of us.

PLACES

Georgia aquariumPLACE TO TAKE THE KIDS
GEORGIA AQUARIUM
When it comes time to keep the tots entertained, the Georgia Aquarium (www.georgiaaquarium.org) leads the pack. With 10 million gallons of water and more than 60 exhibits including whale sharks, Beluga whales and a dolphin show, the Georgia Aquarium continues to reign in this category.

  • The Center for Puppetry Arts (www.puppet.org) claimed its way into second place and Piedmont Park  (www.piedmontpark.org) came in third.

PLACE TO TAKE OUT-OF-TOWN GUESTS
PIEDMONT PARK
Atlanta is blessed to have so much greenery throughout the city and locals love to bring their out-of-town friends to the massive space of Piedmont Park where they can swim, play softball or lounge in the meadow with a picnic lunch.

  • The Atlanta Beltline (beltline.org) strolled into second and the fairly new SkyView Atlanta (www.skyviewatlanta), the city’s own Ferris wheel, rounds out this category at third place.

atlanta botanical gardenPLACE FOR A COMMITMENT CEREMONY
ATLANTA BOTANICAL GARDEN
While same-sex marriage is still banned in Georgia, plenty of couples want to tie the knot in their home state and there’s no better place to say “I do” than at the Atlanta Botanical Garden (atlantabotanicalgarden.org). The lush greenery and all kinds of flora make this spot a beautiful place for couples to express their love and exchange vows.

  • Piedmont Park (www.piedmontpark.org) finished second and Park Tavern (www.parktavern.com) took third place.

WEEKEND GETAWAY HOTEL
GEORGIAN TERRACE
Sometimes people need to get away in their own hometown and our readers love the escape the Georgian Terrace (www.thegeorgianterrace.com) provides as a place to get away from the daily grind. A Midtown icon, the Georgian Terrace is located in the heart of the city’s cultural district, across the street from the fabulous Fox Theatre, and within walking distance of numerous high-end restaurants with mouth-watering menus.

  • The W Atlanta — Midtown (www.watlantamidtown.com) placed second in this category and the Westin Peachtree Plaza (www.westinpeachtreeplazaatlanta.com) came in third.

FREE THING ATLANTA HAS TO OFFER
ATLANTA BELTLINE
Sometimes you just want to enjoy the city without paying any money and there’s no better place to do so than along the Atlanta Beltline (beltline.org), a planned 22-mile development around the city that will eventually connect 45 intown neighborhoods. Four trail segments are already open and the public is also enjoying four new and renovated parks along the trail. Art on the Atlanta Beltline gives runners, skaters and walkers plenty to see along the way.

  • Piedmont Park came in second and the historic Oakland Cemetery (www.oaklandcemetery.com) wrapped up in third.

apres diemFIRST DATE
APRÈS DIEM
When it comes to making a great first impression on a date, readers say the go-to spot is Après Diem (apresdiem.com). A cocktail and a savory dinner in one of the corner tables tucked away from the crowd followed by a sweet dessert assures a second date is on the table.

  • 10th and Piedmont (www.communitashospitality.com/10th-and-piedmont) placed second and SkyView Atlanta (www.skyviewatlanta.com ) came in third.

 

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