Unlike other large metropolitan areas around the country, you’re slightly limited in Atlanta, as far as getting to your destination goes. In New York City, Chicago, and San Francisco, to name a few places, the train or a bus will basically take you anywhere you’d like within the city. They have taxis sitting on almost every corner, waiting to scoop you up and drop you off wherever you fancy. In addition, lots of attractions and other popular spots are within walking distance from your hotel, so you don’t really need a car to get around.
This is not the case in Atlanta.
Everything is very spread out; it’s certainly not a tightly packed metropolis. Let’s look at the numbers. Take San Francisco for comparison: it’s got a population of about eight hundred thousand, all within a 49 square mile radius. In Atlanta, we’ve got a population of about four hundred thousand, within a 132 square mile radius. Atlantans are all over the place, literally. So while a public transportation system that covers every part of the city would be nice, the dream is unattainable for the time being.
Don’t worry, not all is lost! We do have a decent public transportation option, and her name is MARTA.
M.A.R.T.A. (Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority)
If you’ve got business to take care of or fun to have in the downtown area, MARTA is probably the best option for you. The stations are easy to access, the attendants are knowledgeable and helpful, and it’s pretty simple to navigate. A roundtrip ticket also includes a bus transfer, so if your destination isn’t within walking distance from the nearest train station, you can always shuttle yourself there. If you have access to a car, you may still want to use MARTA around downtown to avoid the pesky traffic and taxing parking fees. Many stations even have free daily parking. When it comes to exploring the heart of the city, Marta is smarta’.
Hire a Ride
I ‘ve mentioned Uber before, and fortunately for Atlanta, they’ve recently set up shop in town. See this post to find out how it works, and feel free to add them to your list of transportation options. If you’re looking to get from the airport to your hotel, a taxi cab or car hire will be easiest, especially if you’ve got lots of luggage. Taxis are usually ready and waiting near the airport, and Reserve123 can arrange a sedan or limo transfer if you’re averse to the uncertainty of catching a cab.
Rent a Vehicle
This is the most popular choice for new and returning visitors alike. There are lots of attractions and destinations beyond Marta’s reach, like Stone Mountain and the site of Gone with the Wind. Depending on how far you’ll need to travel, the cost of a taxi ride or sedan transfer might actually exceed the price of a daily car rental. For those with a busy itinerary or a tight schedule, this is your best option. There’s no waiting for the next train, bus or cab; your ride departs when you need it to. Just make sure to use that GPS! Atlanta can be tricky to navigate.
Which way do you prefer to get around Atlanta?