Atlanta is easy to fall in love with. One of the jewels of the American South, Atlanta is large enough to have everything tourists could wish for – great food, theater, festivals, stores, and major sports teams. But the center is compact enough to make it easy to walk or cycle around. Few cities in America have both that kind of big city and small town vibe.
Imagine being there to watch the Braves hit a home run to clinch a home game, sparking the famous Turner Field fireworks into life, and lighting up the Atlanta skyline.
Smell the enticing aroma of pork and beef slow cooking over an Atlanta BBQ, then dine until your heart’s content on beautifully cooked meat. Sample gourmet soul food at Busy Bee, before trying out local brews at the Wrecking Bar Brewpub or cocktails at classy bars like the Pinewood.
You can also be transported back in time. Stand where Margaret Mitchell wrote Gone With the Wind. See where Martin Luther King, the famous leader of the African-American Civil Rights Movement, was born. Relive the 1996 Olympics.
Only Atlanta blends history, food, and sporting experiences in this way. That’s why you’ll soon fall for its charms.
Top 5 Reasons to Visit Atlanta
Whether you want to watch the Atlanta Braves compete in Major League Baseball, the Hawks in the NBA, or the Falcons playing in the NFL, Atlanta is a great sporting destination. You can also visit Centennial Park to see the Olympic Games Museum, commemorating the 1996 event hosted by Atlanta.
Atlanta is a fantastic place for food lovers to visit. Dine on soul food and BBQ at Fox Bros, try the seafood at the Optimist, or binge on superb pizzas at Ammazza or Varasano’s.
Atlanta has seen a lot of history since its founding in 1847. Visitors can see the home of Margaret Mitchell, writer of Gone With the Wind, see the birthplace of Martin Luther King, find out about Coca-Cola, the city’s most famous company, or take tours of Civil War battle sites like Kennesaw Mountain.
Modern Atlanta is a retail center, drawing people from all over the South to its malls, markets, and boulevards. Window shop at the up-market boutiques and craft stores in Buckhead, head to Underground Atlanta in Downtown or visit major local department stores like Dillard’s.
Atlanta is a city of festivals, with a constant stream of exciting events to enjoy. April sees the Atlanta Film Festival showcase more than 200 movies from around the world. In June, you can head to the Atlanta Street Food Festival, while in August, Kennesaw hosts the Great Southern Food Truck Rally. Whatever your passion, Atlanta has an event for you.
What to do in Atlanta
1. Visit the World of Coca-Cola
Atlanta and Coca-Cola go together like Seattle and Microsoft or Cupertino and Apple. The world’s largest beverage manufacturer is still based in Atlanta and tourists can find out everything there is to know about them at the World of Coca-Cola museum.
2. Watch the Braves, the Hawks or the Falcons
Sport is huge in Atlanta and with MLB, NBA, and NFL teams to choose from; there should be a sporting event that coincides with anyone’s visit. Be sure to stay to the end after a Braves game at Turner Field to see the legendary fireworks display.
3. Attend a Festival
Atlanta loves festivities, and there always seems to be something going on. The city has a wildly diverse schedule, from Dragon Con, one of America’s largest science fiction conventions, to the Georgia Renaissance Festival and a huge St. Patrick's Day Parade in March.
4. Listen to Some Atlanta Blues
Atlanta is one of America’s great musical destinations, and no venue in the city is as lively and atmospheric as Blind Willie’s. Named after the bluesman Blind Willie McTell, this bar is now home to the soulful voice of Francine Reed, whose performances are one of the city’s cultural highlights.
5. Enjoy a Southern Feast
Southern cooking is one of the region’s biggest draws and Atlanta is a great place to savor all of it’s delicacies. Try peppered catfish, collard greens, creamed corn, chicken fried steak, and slow cooked BBQ at great restaurants like Fox Bros, Six Feet Under, or Hop’s Chicken.
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The best time of year to visit Atlanta depends on whether you can deal with hot, sticky summer weather. If you visit in the heat of summer, you can enjoy the city at its most beautiful and visit events like the Atlanta Barbecue Festival, held in August. But for most people, the shoulder seasons are more inviting. Between April and June and September and November, Atlanta is warm but not too warm, and there’s plenty to do. Even the winters are mild, so a festive sight-seeing break isn’t out of the question.
The easiest way to get to Atlanta is by flying into Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport, which is around 8 miles south of the Downtown district. To reach the center of town you can catch the MARTA rail system, which costs just $2.50. If you need to take a taxi, expect it to cost around $30 to reach central hotels.
Atlanta’s Amtrak station is served by the Crescent route, which links the city to New York, Washington D.C., Philadelphia to the north-east, and New Orleans to the southwest. The station is located at 1688 Peachtree St. N.W, a short distance out of town. To get into the city center, take bus number 110 (at a cost of $2.50).
Atlanta has excellent road connections to the rest of the country. If you are coming from the eastern seaboard, take either I-85 or I-20. From Florida, you can follow I-75 straight to Atlanta, while it also links the city to Detroit and Chicago to the north. If you are coming from Texas, take I-20.
Greyhound is the major bus operator in Atlanta and runs services from many major U.S. cities into their terminal at 232 Forsyth Street. That stop is on the MARTA train system, so it’s easy to get into town after your bus arrives. Megabus also serves Atlanta, with regular connections to cities like Birmingham, Miami, Cleveland and New Orleans.
Atlanta has hotels and guest houses to fit almost everyone’s budget and needs. The most convenient and safest places to stay are in the Five Points and Midtown area, where you’ll find popular hotels like the Georgian Terrace Hotel and the Hotel Palomar. If you need to be Downtown, the Hilton Garden Inn is an efficient, comfortable mid-range option near most of the attractions. Options near the Atlanta Braves Stadium in South Atlanta include the stylish Wyndham Atlanta Galleria and the Courtyard, which is a short distance from the airport.
Popular Neighborhoods in Atlanta
Downtown – Downtown is where you’ll find Atlanta’s thriving business core, including the head offices of Coca-Cola. You can hit the city’s liveliest nightclubs at Underground Atlanta, take a tour of CNN’s world HQ or see the iconic advertisements at World of Coca-Cola. It’s also an area with plenty of eating options, including local favorites like Rosa's Pizza.
Midtown – Located a short walk north of Downtown, Midtown is a relaxed area full of stores, restaurants, and bars. It contains Atlanta’s main shopping drag, the Midtown Mile as well as the city’s main cultural institutions, including the Museum of Design and the home of Gone With the Wind authoress Margaret Mitchell.
East Atlanta – For a more alternative experience, look for lodging in East Atlanta, the city’s indie hub. Check out the bars in Little Five Points, shop for food and clothes at Ponce City Market, and see Atlanta’s most renowned graffiti artists in action at the Krog Street Tunnel.
MARTA runs a comprehensive bus and rail network that should get you wherever you need to go. It’s also affordable, with single fares only $2.50. Before you ride, you’ll need to get hold of a rechargeable Breeze Card at the cost of $1 which you can buy from vending machines at the airport and rail stations. Day passes cost $9.
Taxis in central Atlanta have flat fares of $2.50 for the first eighth of a mile, then $0.25 for every subsequent eighth of a mile ($2 per mile), as well as a waiting charge of $21 per hour and a $2 surcharge for every extra passenger. Uber can work out much cheaper, with a basic fare of $1, then $0.75 per mile after that.
Outside rush hour (which ends at 9:30 a.m. and then runs from around 3:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m.) driving around Atlanta shouldn’t be a problem. However, parking garages in Midtown and Downtown can be expensive ($6 for two hours), so consider parking at a MARTA station further out if you are looking to save money.
Atlanta has a huge retail scene and there are several districts for shoppers to check out. For upscale boutiques, head to Buckhead neighborhoods like Phipps Plaza, where you’ll find designer stores like Bally, Hugo Boss, and Omega. The Midtown Mile is fast becoming the premier shopping district in the city, with new stores appearing all the time. In the Downtown District, the six blocks of Underground Atlanta offer craft markets, street food, and specialist stores like Art of Makeup, Jeweler’s Choice, and Urban Outlet.
Groceries and Other
Finding supermarkets in Atlanta is never hard. There’s a wealth of places to buy groceries, including major names like Whole Foods, Publix, Trader Joe’s, Walmart, Kroger, and Costco. You can also pick up specialist foods at delis like Reuben’s and the Morningside Farmers Market. Food tends to be cheaper than most cities, with 12 eggs costing around $2.40 and a bottle of wine about $13.
If you are looking for barbecue, soul food, seafood and Asian restaurants, Atlanta is as good as anywhere in the U.S.A. Great soul food joints include K&K or Paschal’s (both slightly outside Downtown), while fresh seafood is served up at the Optimist on Howell Mill Road. For a traditional Georgia slow roast barbecue meal, try Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q. Food from around the world is also represented, with superb Japanese options like Nakato, fiery curries from Tabla and Thai specialities at Nan Thai.