Why don’t visitors like the Atlanta area? — Curt Yeomans

Curt Yeomans

Curt Yeomans

America apparently doesn’t care much for the State Farmers Market in Forest Park, or any of the other small farmers markets held around metro Atlanta for that matter.

The Atlanta area ranked 24 out of 35 cities for farmers markets in Travel + Leisure magazine’s America’s Favorite Cities 2013 survey. The Savannah area ranked 17 in that category. Readers of this magazine thought a modest-sized Georgia city had better farmers markets than the area that calls itself home to the main farmers market for the state.

Apparently this slew of small farmers markets we’ve seen pop up on the south side in recent years, from Jonesboro to McDonough, isn’t doing anything to inspire visitors to the area. The Savannah area beat the Atlanta area by nearly half a point.

Think about that. Then stew on it for a bit.

The top five places for farmers markets, according to Travel + Leisure readers, are Portland, Oregon; Seattle; San Francisco; Portland, Maine and Charleston. I won’t argue with the inclusion of San Fran and Charleston on that list because both have amazing public markets. Seattle and Portland, Oregon are no-brainers because they have well-known public markets as well.

But Portland, Maine? I must not have paid much attention when I visited that area several years ago because I don’t remember seeing any farmers markets, but things could have changed in nearly a decade.

They should really rename the America’s Favorite Cities List the America Hates Atlanta List because Georgia’s poor capital never fares well in this survey. Year-in and year-out, Atlanta tends to fall in the middle-to-lower half of the rankings in many categories.

The categories it does well in — barbecue, luxury stores, charming local accent and professional sports — aren’t exactly the things a convention and visitors bureau can really build a tourism package around.

And it doesn’t help that Atlanta’s best rankings in any category ranged from 11 for barbecue to 17 for nightclubs. That means other people are doing things better than Atlanta.

“Come to Atlanta and you’ll get to hear America’s 15th favorite accent” just doesn’t work.

Our fair capital ranked 29 in three types of trip categories (cultural getaway, family vacation and girlfriend getaway) and nearly bottomed out the romantic escape category with a ranking of 31.

Free Attractions? A 31st place finish.

Museums and galleries? How about 27?

Street performers? Only one place better than the free attractions ranking.

This area got props for historical monuments and sites with a ranking of 22, and classical music and theater weren’t too far behind at 24 and 25 respectively.

And as much grief as I gave this area for what visitors thought of its farmers markets, that was actually one of the better rankings in the 13 food and restaurants categories. Atlanta fell between 26 and 30 in the categories of cafes, coffee, ethnic food, fine-dining restaurants, ice cream, microbrew beer, pizza, sandwiches and delis, food trucks and sweets or desserts.

And here’s a ranking that will get mass transit opponents all riled up. Visitors said the Atlanta area stinks as far as public transportation options go. They ranked the area 26 in that category.

That’s the tourists way of saying, “You need mass transit if you want us to like you and come back again.”