Up in the Air

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Why is Highlands, North Carolina, so popular? It’s like Buckhead in the woods.


Well-to-do Atlantans have been using Highlands as a summer retreat since the early twentieth century, when Coke execs such as the Woodruffs started the trend. A primary draw is the temperature: When it’s 89 degrees here, it’s ten degrees cooler there. But it took time for the masses to catch on to the rustic town of 1,100—which swells to 18,000 in the summer—two and a half hours to the northeast. “When they four-laned the first part of [Highway] 441 about fifteen years ago, I saw the demographics here change dramatically,” says Mark Meadows of Highlands Properties. Meadows has handled almost a quarter of the high-end Highlands market (homes from $750,000) for the last twenty years. “We went from about 15 percent Atlanta-based visitors or buyers to 63 percent that first year.” Well into the 1980s, Main Street windows were covered in paper by fall, but Highlands is now a year-round destination with enough
Christmas-ornament sellers and fudge shops to keep the city folk satisfied.

I heard we had the country’s best Ultimate Frisbee team. Is that true?

Last October, Atlanta’s Chain Lightning won the Ultimate circuit’s national championship. Composed of students, engineers, and tech consultants, Chain also boasts a winner and two finalists for the Callahan Award, Ultimate’s Heisman. The winner, Josh “Zip” Ziperstein, is a medical student at Emory. “Josh is the best player in the game today,” says A.J. Tiarsmith, on Chain since 2002. “His coming to Emory was incredibly important for us.” Indeed, Chain’s recent success—the team was created in 1981—is largely due to recruitment from talented “feeder” schools such as UGA and Georgia Tech, a strong local Frisbee community that boasts a 1,000-strong summer league, and a reputation as one of the most successful club teams in the South. “We draw from a much larger area than, say, Boston or New York,” says Ziperstein. “One guy commutes from Philadelphia to play with us.”

Illustration by Edwin Fotheringham

Got an Atlanta question? E-mail Charles Bethea at askcharles@atlantamag.emmis.com

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