With a population nearing six million, Atlanta is a city with many fish in the sea. However, turning an ocean of singles into a barrel of potential relationships might seem like an impossible task. To narrow the options down, first find out what you love to do. Then go out and meet like-minded people who share your favorite hobbies, sports and leisure activities. If you love to hike, join a singles hiking group. Fancy yourself a foodie? Try a cooking class for singles. Any activity you enjoy can also become an opportunity to meet that someone special.
To help get you started, we looked around to find some of the city's single hot spots, and also got a few suggestions for finding "the one" from some local experts. We spoke with certified dating and relationship coach Gabrielle Brooke, counselor and sex therapist Dr. Tiffanie L. Davis Henry, matchmaker Lisa Lyngos, and author of "Get Married This Year," Dr. Janet Page, who revealed some of their favorite places and activities to meet new people.
If you love the great outdoors, use that to your advantage and hit the park or trail.
1. Chattahoochee Trail – Dr. Page suggests hitting a trail and strolling through the common area before the trails split off.
2. Piedmont Park – Head to this heavy foot-trafficked park to run, walk, bike or walk your dog.
3. Brook Run Dog Park – For more doggie excitement, visit this off-leash dog park in Dunwoody. If your friendly puppy runs up to another unattached dog owner, you have an instant excuse to chat.
4. Atlanta Single Hikers – Make s'mores! This group shares a common love of the outdoors, hiking and camping.
5. Atlanta Outdoor Club – Take your love of the outdoors and use it to make new love connections.
6. Silver Comet Trail – Singles of all ages hit this trail on foot and by bike, so make sure to check it out next time you want to break a sweat.
Cultural Events & Festivals
Our city's cultural venues and seasonal events provide the perfect backdrop for meeting that special someone. Ignite a new flame while you discover new artists, listen to music and experience fine cuisine through the year.
7. Jazz & Cocktails at the High Museum of Art – One Friday each month, the museum offers this event that draws a large crowd of like-minded folks. Snag a cute art buff to show you around the exhibits.
8. Cocktails in the Garden – The Atlanta Botanical Garden hosts special events like this after-hours mixer during the summer, which can draw a fun crowd. The Garden is highly recommended by Lyngos as a great place to meet singles.
9. Drink in Design – Mix with design-oriented types at this Museum of Design Atlanta event. The free drinks and interesting tours are an instant conversation starter.
10. Taste of Atlanta and the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival – Events like this are ideal for finding fellow foodies. If you get to know each other over a meal, you're practically on your first date already.
11. Atlanta Dogwood Festival and the Atlanta Jazz Festival – Thousands of festival lovers visit these events each spring, so you could meet a fellow music or art lover.
12. Atlanta Beer Festival and SweetWater 420 Fest – Sampling libations can help be an icebreaker when meeting new people.
Classes and Groups
Get your fitness on while also opening yourself up to meeting new people. You may meet someone who needs a workout partner.
13. Salsa Dancing – Try salsa dancing at Havana Club, Loca Luna and Tongue & Groove. Dancing is a great excuse to get close to someone and test your chemistry together. Need lessons before you go? Head over to Ballroom Dance Clubs of Atlanta on Miami Circle to hone your moves before you hit the dance floor.
14. Boxing & Martial Arts – Work on your skills and work up a sweat at these contact classes. Don't be shy to ask for tips on improving your form from a fellow student.
15. Yoga & Pilates – Men seeking women, head to yoga classes where you'll find more women but won't feel out of place, like at Decatur Yoga & Pilates. Meeting a potential partner and working on inner peace – you can't beat that combo.
16. Atlanta Track Club – Atlanta's iconic running club and home of the Peachtree Road Race offers you opportunites to run, walk or volunteer with others who enjoy the same activities.
17. Golf – Lyngos recommends visiting a driving range like Northcrest Golf Range or Atlanta Golf Center. Ask one of the regulars to help you perfect your swing.
18. Atlanta Sport and Social Club – Enjoy all kinds of sports-related activities like sand volleyball and soccer while searching for "the one." Next month, they're throwing a March Madness beer pong tournament in Midtown – it's a perfect excuse to play a few rounds with someone you want to get to know.
19. Networking events – These are non-threatening places to meet new professionals. Check AtlantaOverForty.com for upcoming options. Since the focus isn't on dating, you can build platonic foundations and let them develop without pressure.
20. Meetups – Subscribe to Meetup.com for singles' clubs or financial clubs and more to find like-minded adults.
21. Wine Tastings – Attend a wine class or wine tasting at Vino Venue. Other locations include The Cellar Club in Murphy's or Wine Shoe, a boutique wine shop. By the end, you're sure to have made a few connections.
Various non-profits around the city are always looking for a helping hand, and you never know who you'll end up meeting.
22. Habitat for Humanity – Habitat for Humanity attracts plenty of members of both sexes, and working toward a common goal (especially for charity) is a great foundation for any relationship.
23. Atlanta Humane Society – If you love animals and want to meet someone who does too, volunteer with Atlanta Humane Society.
24. Truly Living Well Center or the Wylde Center – Get dirty and volunteer with a community garden. If you find someone with a green thumb like yours, invite them to a local nursery and peruse the plants together.
25. Singles Volunteer Atlanta – SVA brings Atlanta singles together for volunteer work, fun and camaraderie.
These gatherings not only provide fulfillment for the soul, but may also be the way to connect with someone who fills your heart.
26. Church Single Groups – Consider singles groups at churches like North Point Community Church's Singles Ministry. Keep in mind that no group is too small. Dr. Page's friend attended a church group singles event where she was just one of three. Luckily, the other two attendees were men, and she ended up marrying one of them!
27. Meditation – The Atlanta Soto Zen Center has weekly sutra services and social events.
28. Choir Groups – Join the choir at your spiritual home like the Sound of Light Choir at the Spiritual Living Center of Atlanta. If you meet someone here, choir practice will become an easy weekly date.
29. Jewish Single Groups – Younger singles can find options at the Marcus Jewish Community Center and participate in everything from sports leagues to mix and mingle events.
30. Buckhead Church – The Buckhead Church has a Singles Ministry which helps singles connect with each other through the church and other activities.
Surf the Web
Online dating has become the norm for people who are too busy for the bar scene. Let these dating websites do some of the legwork for you, and be sure to regularly update your profile.
Top sites chosen by our experts include:
Atlanta is filled with restaurants, bars and hotels where singles can mingle, and happy hours are usually the best time to go.
38. Happy Hour at Kat's Café in Midtown – Gabrielle Brooke recommends this place because of its fun atmosphere and live music.
39. Whiskey Blue in Buckhead
40. Aurum Lounge in Midtown
41. Dark Horse Tavern restaurant and pub in Virginia Highlands
42. Social Vinings
43. Midtown's Loews Hotel Bar – Dr. Janet Page likes this location, especially during happy hour as a lot of Midtown professionals head here to relax instead of fighting traffic.
44. Watershed restaurant on Peachtree Street
45. Wrecking Bar near Little Five Points
46. Dr. Davis Henry recommends Dantanna's in Buckhead.
Keep Your Eyes Open
Turn your to-do list into an opportunity to meet new people.
47. The produce department at any grocery store from 6 to 7 p.m. is the time when singles graze for dinner. Dr. Davis Henry recommends any Whole Foods location.
48. The gym can be a great place to meet potential dates, but you have to be willing to hang out. Don't just work out and rush out.
49. At the mall, ask a male or female shopper for help picking something for your mom, and you never know – it could end up being a gift for your new boyfriend or girlfriend.
50. Ladies, head to Dick's Sporting Goods and ask for help choosing a new tent or fishing pole.
Finding What Works
How did you two meet?
We actually met about seven years before we started dating with lots of mutual friends, but we were dating other people. We went out on a few double dates together with the people we were dating at the time! Years later we met up again on St Patrick's Day with a group of friends – he asked me out and we were engaged eight months later.
How long have you been together?
We have been married since 2002 (so just a little over 11 years married) and together for 12 and a half.
What activities do you enjoy doing together?
We are so busy these days with younger children, work and sports, just like most couples our age, and Chris travels a lot. Fortunately my job is flexible, and the days he gets to be home we try to go out and spend a few hours together and just talk and catch up. One of our favorite things to do is take the dogs for a walk around the park, getting some fresh air and exercise and just being together. Having uninterrupted time to talk to each other is so important.
How do you keep the excitement and romance in your relationship?
I really started thinking about it and the excitement and romance was in being together, with a great group of friends who we have known forever, with all of our kids running around the house playing. We both cherish this family we have created together, and enjoy all the stages of our relationship as it continues to grow and change.
What advice would you give other couples who are looking to add more romance to their relationship?
Well, I think that real romance starts with truly caring about the other person's needs more than your own, and that is tough! Anyone can send flowers, and yes, that is nice and important, but actually taking the time to step back and notice what your partner really enjoys doing, what makes them a better person, and helping them to achieve becoming their "best self" is what real romance is.
"Make a list of the things you enjoy doing or would be open to trying," Brooke says. You should also make a list of your values and beliefs and the kinds of people you would like to date. Taking these criteria, next do the research to narrow which groups or activities you would like to participate in.
"Be open to meeting people that you wouldn't typically be attracted to," Dr. Davis Henry says. "You've got to be open to finding the right person, not the perfect person. And the right person may look nothing like what you've envisioned."
If you are an introvert, you will need to challenge yourself to be extroverted for a moment or two. Lyngos recommends having a game plan and a list of topics that make sense to cover during a first meeting or first date. Make a good impression by discussing family (as in siblings, not future children), food likes, your dream job, travel experiences and what you like to do in your free time.
Avoid the pitfalls
When you meet someone, avoid talking about yourself too much. "Make sure the conversation is even, goes back and forth. Too much on one person's end makes them sound narcissistic,"
Dr. Davis Henry says. You should also be careful about harping on what was wrong with your ex(es) and setting out to find a husband or wife on the first date.
Analyze your past
Consider your past relationships and figure out why they haven't worked. "Don't bring old baggage into new relationships," Dr. Davis Henry says. You will need to let go of old habits and possibly do some therapeutic work before starting out. Be honest with yourself.
Maintain a positive attitude
Know that it may take time, and you might have some failures and even rejections before you meet a great person, Brooke cautions. "That's normal. If you view each setback as a learning experience and maintain your sense of humor, the whole dating process will continue to get easier," she says.
You need to be willing to put in the time to find "the one." Dr. Page recommends making a concerted effort at least three times per week. "It's a numbers game," she says. In the end, if you meet enough people, you will be able to find the right man or woman. The odds are in your favor!
Gabrielle Brooke - www.gabriellebrooke.com
Dr. Tiffanie L. Davis Henry, PhD, MA, LPC, ACST - Intimate Details, LLC, www.myintimatedetails.com
Lisa Lyngos, Single Atlanta - www.singleatl.com
Dr. Janet Page - www.drjanetpage.com