The South may move at a slower pace than the rest of the country, but Atlanta is a city in constant motion. There's a reason folks are choosing Atlanta over some of our bigger, more established municipal counterparts that goes beyond jobs at Fortune 500 companies (Home Depot, Coca-Cola), a low cost of living, and generally be-yooo-tiful weather: the people. Spend a day here (although we'd love you to stay a week, month, or a few years), and you'll understand that Atlanta is one giant small town full of people who like to get out and hang out and have a good time.
SUMMER: Hot and rainy
WINTER: Cold and rainy
SPRING: Perfection for two weeks then warm and soggy
Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, located 10 miles from Downtown, is the busiest airport is the world. It's huge, but relatively easy to navigate. Take in some local art while moving between terminals: Atlanta Celebrates Photography often has an installation up, among other local artists and displays. If you're flying out of Atlanta, leave plenty of time (at least an hour) to get through security.
Traffic is really, really, really, really bad in Atlanta. We don't have the best public transportation, but we do have it. It's called MARTA (Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority) and it works well for certain neighborhoods and locations. There are north-south and east-west rail lines that connect in the heart of Downtown at Five Points. There are also bus lines that cover the city. A one-way fare costs $2.50. Fill up a pass, known as a Breeze card, at any station.
Renting a car could make sense, but know this: Atlanta is not laid out on any kind of predictable grid pattern; many roads are similarly named or change names completely at certain junctures; and Atlanta drivers can be ... aggressive. If they're not stuck in traffic, they're likely driving 10-plus MPH over the speed limit. Enjoy.
You'll find taxis in Atlanta, although we're not really a hail-'em-on-the-street kind of town. Catching a cab often means calling ahead to Atlanta Checker Cab or Atlanta Yellow Cab, two of the biggest local companies. (Checker Cab also has an app.) Prepare for a wait, especially if you're looking for a ride after last call. Rideshare programs such as Uber and Lyft, with their streamlined apps and quick service, have grown in popularity in Atlanta over the last year or so. The taxi industry is fighting the startup car services. For now, though, they're legal.
Atlanta is currently investing millions of dollars into making the city increasingly bike friendly by adding bike lanes and improving intersections. Connections between the PATH Foundation and Atlanta Beltline trails are also helping make it easier to get around without a car. The Atlanta Bicycle Coalition is a great place to start for finding maps, group rides, and more.
A few free shuttles operate around town to supplement some of the holes in Atlanta's transportation situation. Four to know include:
1) Atlantic Station's Free Ride loops between the open-air mixed-used development and the Arts Center MARTA station.
2) The Buc makes stops around the upscale Buckhead community's commercial district, including connections at the Buckhead and Lenox MARTA stations.
3) Emory's Cliff shuttle, available to both students and non-students, moves people from the university to Decatur and other points around Atlanta.
4) MARTA's Braves shuttle carts baseball fans from Underground Atlanta to Turner Field for free if you transfer from the transit system (otherwise it's $5.50).
ABOUT THE ATLANTA CITY GUIDE
More and more, Atlanta's visitors are making it beyond the World of Coca-Cola museum and Lenox Square mall. They are venturing into our neighborhoods with a genuine interest in our restaurants, murals, dive bars, architecture, and oddities. They want to visit headline-making attractions such as the new National Center for Civil and Human Rights, but they also want to experience Atlanta like locals. At the same time, people living in Atlanta are increasingly choosing to make their homes in the city rather than the suburbs.
That's why we created the Atlanta City Guide.
The Atlanta City Guide is an insider's tour of Atlanta from the team at Creative Loafing, the local alt-weekly. We've been in business since 1972, so you know we know ATL. Creative Loafing's writers are experts on local news, music, culture, dining, nightlife, and shopping. With the Atlanta City Guide, we're going beyond our weekly paper and daily website to create an Atlanta handbook that is equally useful to visitors and locals.
The online Atlanta City Guide contains information on more than 1,000 different metro Atlanta locations. That's a lot, so we organized cityguideatlanta.com in a way that would make it easy for you to find what you're looking for, even if you don't know what that is yet. Create an online account and you can save your favorite locations and make lists of different places that you want to visit. The beautiful photography for each location allows you to glimpse a spot before dropping by. All of this information is also easily accessible through a streamlined mobile site as well, so go ahead and save that shortcut to your phone. You'll need it later when you're trying to decide which bar to hit after a show.
Eyes are on Atlanta in a way that they haven't been since the 1996 Olympics. But the gaze is more sincerely focused on the city this time without the distraction of a temporary sports installation. That makes us at Creative Loafing happy. We've known for a long time what a jewel Atlanta is. Let us show you around.