City skyline of Atlanta with Piedmont Park and the lake in the morning sun.

How to make the most of your Atlanta layover

travel tips

If you're traveling to the United States, chances are you will be flying through the world’s busiest airport located in Atlanta. If you have the time and the inclination, Atlanta is a great place to visit, even just for a quick layover. Before you go, there are a few things you ought to know to make the most of your visit.

Atlanta skyline reflecting on a small pond in Piedmont Park.

Visit Atlanta during spring or fall

For those who don’t know, Atlanta is landlocked. The closest body of water is Lake Lanier an hour north of the city center and the closet beach is over five hours away. With no sea breeze, this concrete jungle can become a sweatbox in the relentless summer sun.

Temperatures begin to rise to above 70°F as early as March and can stay warm well into November. I have even worn shorts at Christmas before! Spring and fall mean that you can enjoy the outdoors without the fear of heat flashes.

Head east for Atlanta’s hip, trendy neighborhoods

When you think of a city with different boroughs and neighborhoods, Atlanta is probably not the first place that comes to mind. But Atlanta is surprisingly becoming more and more diverse with trendy cafes, hipster bars, hidden restaurants rivaling those found in America's trendiest metropolitan city of Austin.

Head east to explore the trendy neighborhoods of Cabbagetown, Reynoldstown, Edgewood, and Inman Park, to name a few. These neighborhoods are pack with a lot of diversity worth exploring in Atlanta.

A plate of chicken and waffles

Eat southern food

This may be an obvious thing to do in Atlanta, but it is worth repeating again. No trip to the south is complete without a good southern meal. I may be biased, but there isn’t much food in the United States that rivals food from the south.

From chicken and waffles to chicken biscuits from collard greens to fried pickles, sampling the delicacies of the south is probably the best thing you can do in Atlanta. Oh, and don’t forget the BBQ!

Expect traffic

Los Angeles might have some of the worst traffic in the United States, but Atlanta cannot be very far behind. It doesn’t matter the time of day or night; a traffic jam could be lingering just around the corner.

Unfortunately, the public transportation (known as the MARTA) in Atlanta is not up to snuff, so there isn’t much you can do about it. Just be prepared and don’t lose your cool if you find yourself parked on I-75 in the middle of the night for no stinkin’ reason!

Traffic leading into downtown Atlanta

Mind your Ps and Qs

While Atlanta might seem like any other big city in America on the surface, you are still in the south and southern charm and pleasantries will get you a long way. “Please”, “thank you”, and a simple “sir” or “ma’am” could make all the difference down here.

Never ask for a Pepsi

You may find yourself covered in cola if you ask for a Pepsi in Atlanta. The most iconic brand in the world, Coca-Cola calls Atlanta home so it would be remiss to make such a blunder.

Moreover, if you order a coke, don’t be surprised if you are asked what kind. To us, all soda is coke and you need to specify which kind you want.

World of Coca Cola in Atlanta, Georgia

Peachtree, Peachtree, Peachtree

If you are asking for directions in Atlanta and someone tells you “Peachtree”, you better get more information. Georgia is known as the “Peach State”, and Atlanta alone has over 55 streets with “Peachtree” in the name. You don’t want to find yourself at the wrong one because as we now know, traffic is brutal.

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Kelli Lovett

Author - Kelli Lovett

Kelli Lovett is the founder and author of The Vanabond Tales. Originally from a small town in Georgia, Atlanta was Kelli's first taste of "life in the big city". Now Kelli travels the world in a converted van with her partner, Eddie.

Last Updated October 16, 2021

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