Why this Atlanta suburb has become a haven for gay couples

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Why this Atlanta suburb has become a haven for gay couples

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For the AJC
 The Art Lot is a temporary pop-up park in Avondale Estates. Bill Banks file photo for the AJC

Avondale Estates is known for its picturesque downtown and family-friendly feel, but the cozy suburb has also casually staked its claim as one of the top neighborhoods for LGBT couples in the country.

In fact, Avondale Estates had a higher density of gay couples than Atlanta or Decatur, ranking No. 1 in the state according to a study of 2010 Census data by the Williams Institute. About 4.3 percent of households are home to gay or lesbian couples. This rate is more than double the rate of Atlanta − where just under 2 percent of households are same-sex couples − and more than Decatur's 3.4 percent. Movoto, a real estate website, took note last year when it named Avondale estates one of the best Georgia towns for LGBT families.

Since 2001, the community has had an openly gay representative, Rep. Karla Drenner, D-Avondale Estates, who has presented legislation on fair employment for the LGBT community and other gay rights issues. She is one of only four LGBT representatives of the Georgia General Assembly.

Beyond the statistics and LGBT legislative representation, gay couples have  flocked to the area, thanks in part to a supportive artist community, family-friendly festivals and growing foodie culture.

Here are some of the highlights of this gay-friendly neighborhood:

The downtown

Avondale Estates' historic main drag. 

The Tudor Revival-style downtown is hard to miss. A mecca for festivals and home to a growing number of restaurants, Avondale Estates' downtown is a much-loved central gathering point. It even received National Main Street accreditation, meaning the historic strip is dedicated to high standards of preservation and community revitalization.

The diverse arts scene

The Rail Arts District (R.A.D.) feeds a vibrant arts scene, and is home to an eclectic mix of galleries and studios. Art lovers will enjoy the annual R.A.D. Studio Cruise, which gives people the opportunity to watch art demonstrations and active artist studios, as well as take in the beauty of completed works in local galleries. The R.A.D. Studio Cruise occurs in the springtime each year. 

Visitors are able to take a trolley through Avondale Estates' downtown along East College Avenue and then up to Ponce de Leon Avenue in order to catch all the exciting galleries the district offers.

In addition to the R.A.D. Studio Cruise, the annual Autumn Fest and the Avondale May Ham Festival are both must-see events featuring live music and great vendors. Many festivals in Avondale Estates are family-friendly and include events and activities just for kids, even as they provide lively entertainment adults will love.

The Autumn Fest takes place every October, adjacent to the historic downtown. The May Ham Festival, also downtown, is an annual pig roast in, of course, May. Avondale Estates has also just begun its own lantern parade. The city hosted its first parade in April 2017, with the local arts community chipping in to make it a gorgeous night to remember.

Avondale Estates announced it is starting a lantern parade. Avondale Estates

Alive and well foodie culture 

Hip cold brew company Banjo Coffee makes its home in Avondale Estates, joining a fun (and growing) brewery scene. Wild Heaven Beer offers delicious brews in the heart of Avondale Estates' downtown, the Beer Growler is there for your beer-to-go needs and Blue Tarp and Three Taverns breweries pour stout concoctions nearby. And for those that prefer drinks of a grape variety, places like The Purple Corkscrew have been offering expertly selected wines to the Avondale Estates community for years.

The restaurant scene is just as eclectic. Pallookaville, a retro soda fountain restaurant, recently started drag bingo and expanded its menu. My Parent's Basement is also a favorite watering hole with comic books and great brews. For the more discerning palette, Zagat-rated Rising Son offers Southern classics and is sure to please.

Avondale’s welcoming environment, just 20 minutes outside of Atlanta, offers an exciting mix of local beer, wine, and art, while the annual festivals are crowd-pleasers for all types of families.

For #PrideMonth, NerdWallet presents their top ten friendliest U.S. cities. 10. Orlando, Florida 9. Los Angeles, California 8. Salt Lake City, Utah 7. Seattle, Washington 6. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 5. Baltimore, Maryland 4. Providence, Rhode Islan
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