Dos and Don’ts

Hospitality: Southern hospitality is still very much a part of the culture. People rarely pass by without a friendly nod or a quick hello. Phrases like “yes, ma’am” or “no, sir” are widely appreciated, regardless of age or the person you address. People find time to chit-chat, and taking a moment to exchange pleasantries is expected.

Alcohol: No alcoholic beverages are sold in stores on Sunday.

Insects: Be prepared to experience humidity—and heat-loving insects; giant “Palmetto bugs” (big cockroaches) roam the streets and can be found in homes, hotels, and restaurants. Extermination is big business in the South and, while most people “spray” regularly, bugs are just part of the climate. Relax, they won’t bite.

Driving: Drive at your own risk. Atlanta drivers speed, honk, and pass with great zeal; if you are in the left lane, move over to let local drivers zoom on by.

Outdoor Dining: When making restaurant reservations in summer, remember that sitting outside is often a hot, sweaty affair; check first to see if the restaurant has plenty of shade or access to cool breeze.

Coca-Cola: Don’t order Pepsi. This is a Coca-Cola town and you will (literally) be frowned upon for ordering the competition.

Phrase Book

Boiled Peanuts: Pronounced “bolled” peanuts; literally peanuts in the shell boiled in brine; popular at baseball games.

Brunswick Stew: The Georgia version of the spicy southeastern stew made with chicken, okra, corn, and potatoes. While Virginians claim the stew originated in Brunswick County, Virginia, a plaque on a cooking pot in Brunswick, Georgia, claims the stew was first cooked on nearby St. Simons Island.

Grits: Ground hominy, often served at breakfast with cheese and gravy.

Highlands: The nickname for the trendy Virginia-Highland neighborhood.

Little Five: Short for Little Five Points, a funky, alternative neighborhood popular for restaurants and bars.

Meat-and-Two: A meat dish with two side dishes, such as fried chicken with collard greens and fried okra. Also meat-and-three.

OTP: Means “Outside the Perimeter”—the perimeter is I-285, which encircles Atlanta. If you’re inside the perimeter (ITP) you’re in-town; OTP is mostly suburbs, with bigger homes and more trappings of suburbia.

Sweet Tea: If you order “iced tea” in the south, it’ll come very sweet; without sugar, it’s “unsweet tea”; a cup of orange pekoe is “hot tea.”

The Connector: A traffic-clogged stretch where two major freeways—I-75 and I-85— merge as they pass downtown.

The Ted: Nickname for Turner Field, where the Atlanta Braves play baseball; after its namesake Ted Turner.

Y’all: Used constantly instead of “you all,” as in, “Do y’all want to get some sweet tea and sit awhile?”


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