The 12 Best Suburbs of Atlanta for 2020

published Jan 10, 2020
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As living in major metropolitan areas nationwide continues to become more and more expensive—pricing plenty of people out altogether—residents are flocking to suburbs for promises of affordable housing, wide-open spaces, and big-city amenities. 

This is certainly the case for Atlanta, Georgia’s capital and largest city, as well as the ninth largest metro area in the country. Unlike New York and San Francisco, Atlanta is spread out—and is surrounded by a host of diverse suburbs. 

Ahead, find the 12 best suburbs to live in around Atlanta, based on location (including proximity to Atlanta proper) and the variety of things to do there. They’re ordered from most populous to least populous. 

Credit: Courtesy of Visit Sandy Springs

Sandy Springs

Promising “the best of the modern South,” according to Sandy Springs’ visitor’s bureau, this suburb offers a little something for everyone. About 14 miles from Midtown, the heart of Atlanta proper, Sandy Springs lures nature lovers with 22 miles of river shoreline and 950 acres of parkland, including three parts of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area. The recently opened City Springs complex serves as the city center, comprising a performing arts center, restaurants, and retail stores. Events like the Sandy Springs Festival and Sandy Springs Lantern Parade keep the community lively.


When a city is chosen twice by Atlanta Magazine as the best place to live in the metro area, it’s gotta live up to that reputation. And Roswell, about 20 miles from Midtown, certainly does. Residents and visitors alike swoon over Canton Street, located in the historic area of downtown. Lined with trees, locally owned shops, and sidewalk cafes, it’s a charming place to spend an afternoon. (Bonus: The dog-friendly city sets out water bowls for four-legged friends.) And, thanks to Roswell’s location along the Chattahoochee River, parks and trails offer opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, and more.

Credit: Brian Hedemark/EyeEm/Getty Images

Johns Creek

Calling all nature lovers: Johns Creek is the suburb for you. About 25 miles from Midtown, it offers protected outdoor recreational areas that invite residents and visitors to explore the Autrey Mill Nature Preserve and Heritage Center or fish and picnic along the Chattahoochee River. Hit the links at six golf courses in the city, including the Atlanta Athletic Club, home to the 2011 PGA Championship. After you’ve worked up an appetite, check out the city’s restaurants, breweries, wineries, and distilleries.


About 25 miles from Midtown, Alpharetta is a tale of two cities—or, at least, two city centers. First, there’s the City Center in historic downtown, featuring restaurants, galleries, shops, green spaces, and annual festivals. Then, about two miles away, you’ll find Avalon, a large, walkable mixed-use complex that opened in 2017. In addition to shopping, dining, and entertainment options (including a 12-screen movie theater and a winter ice rink), it offers a hotel and conference center, single-family homes, and rental homes.


Charming Marietta Square is the heart of this suburb, situated about 18 miles from Midtown. There, you’ll find more than 30 restaurants; a wide array of shops; and cultural attractions like the Marietta Cobb Museum of Art, Marietta Fire Museum, Root House Museum, Marietta Museum of History, and Earl and Rachel Smith Strand Theatre. The historic square also hosts Taste of Marietta, a huge food festival, and live concerts at the bandstand. Plus, Marietta is home to 30 parks offering hiking trails, athletic facilities, and playgrounds.


Shopaholics flock to Dunwoody to take advantage of its plethora of stores, including the Perimeter Mall, offering 1.5 million square feet of name brand stores, and Perimeter Place, where you’ll find unique boutiques and specialty shops. About 14 miles from Midtown, the city is also known for its special events like Lemonade Days, the Caffeine & Octane car show, the Dunwoody Art Festival, and the area’s largest July 4th parade.


When you want to get away from it all without really getting away from it all (as in, about 31 miles from Midtown), Milton is the place to be. This wealthy suburb is known for its rural feel and many horse farms. Not surprisingly, given its affluent population and pastoral landscape, equestrian sports are popular. Although the city is relatively new, founded in 2006 and created from an unincorporated part of the county, it was rated as having the highest quality of life in the Atlanta area and the ninth highest in the South.

Peachtree City

If you’re sick of Atlanta’s notoriously terrible traffic, you’ll enjoy the fun transportation option that Peachtree City is known for: golf carts. The city, about 35 miles from Midtown, allows residents 15 and older to tool around in the carts on more than 100 miles of multi-use paths. Clearly, this is a suburb made for outdoorsy types as fishing, cycling, and golf are all popular leisure activities in Peachtree City. Plus, the city offers plenty of shopping and dining among its five “villages.”


History, culture, and nature come together in Kennesaw, which was ranked 88 out of 1,200 cities on WalletHub’s list of Best Small Cities in America in 2018. About 26 miles from Midtown, the suburb’s major attractions include the Smithsonian-affiliated Southern Museum of Civil War & Locomotive History and Smith-Gilbert Gardens. Round that out with first-rate green spaces and parks—including the Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park, where a Civil War battle took place—as well as eclectic restaurants and shops, and it’s easy to see why this little city packs such big allure.

Credit: John Thomas/flickr under CC BY 2.0


About 28 miles from Midtown, Woodstock offers a dense suburban feel and received the Georgia Municipal Association’s Live, Work, Play City Award in 2017.  We can see why: The charming downtown offers more than 20 restaurants and 35 shops, and entertainment abounds thanks to Northside Hospital-Cherokee Amphitheater, MadLife Stage & Studios and Elm Street Cultural Arts Village. Outdoor enthusiasts will appreciate Woodstock’s world-class trail system and many parks.

Credit: Courtesy of the City of Decatur


Decatur was dubbed Georgia’s best suburb in 2017 and 2018 by Just six miles from Midtown, its walkable city center has a hip feel and lots of character, as seen in its various shops, bars, and restaurants—but without the hectic Atlanta traffic. Highlights include critically acclaimed eateries The White Bull, Brick Store Pub, and Kimball House as well as standout retailers Little Shop of Stories and Worthmore Jewelers. Decatur also gets a youthful vibe from the students attending Agnes Scott College.


Suwanee strikes a balance between outdoor offerings and urban attractions. Walking and biking trails abound in more than 600 acres of parkland. About 30 miles from Midtown, Suwanee also boasts a thriving town center with restaurants; shops; and a 10-acre green space, Town Center Park, known as the city’s front yard and main gathering place. The park—which features open areas, winding walkways, the county’s largest interactive fountain, and a stage with a 1,000-seat amphitheater—hosts concerts and the annual Suwanee Fest.