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The unofficial capital of the US’s southern states, Atlanta is a glamorous destination filled with many incredible attractions. This massive city hasn’t stopped sprawling since being destroyed during the American Civil War. Today, Atlanta has a host of precious sites that are well worth discovering, including the Atlanta Zoo, Georgia Aquarium, Centennial Park and the glitzy World of Coco Cola. There are also dozens of other sites outside Atlanta’s heart that can be reached by car in no time at all.
Who to Book With
Avis, Enterprise, Budget and Hertz are the major suppliers providing car rental services in Atlanta’s downtown area. There are several local businesses that provide rental facilities too. A huge range of cars and trucks are available for hire, but it is best to book online prior to reaching the downtown districts of Atlanta.
Best time to go
June to August is the peak tourism season in Atlanta. However, these summer months are not necessarily the best time to explore the city. Winter temperatures can drop to rather low levels, making holidays a little uncomfortable. However, the thin crowds do bring about discounts on car hire rates and accommodation prices. Nevertheless, the months of April, May, September and October are the better months for comfortable holidays in Atlanta.
Need to Know Essentials
Visitors will need to provide several documents when renting cars in Atlanta:
- A national driving license
- A passport
- The credit card that was used for booking
- Proof of booking
Like many other major American cities, Atlanta has an excellent road and highway system, which attracts plenty of traffic throughout the year. Driving in Atlanta is safe and the best way of getting around. However, the city centre and roads near the heart of Atlanta are usually heavily congested during peak-hour traffic. Therefore, driving during rush hour should be avoided, especially in the Downtown and Midtown districts. Parking is hard to find and can be expensive, but some restaurants and shops offer valet parking services in urban areas.
Atlanta is home to an extensive and relatively affordable transportation system. Even though travelling around the city by car is often considered to be the fastest way to get from point A to B, there are also buses, taxis and trains that offer convenient services for commuters. The transit system also connects the inner city of Atlanta to surrounding counties like Dekalb and Fulton.
Breeze Cards are the electronic ticketing system that can be used on MARTA’s public buses and all rail lines. A single journey, which includes transfers between trains and buses, will cost commuters around US$2.50. Tourists can purchase bus tickets with cash, but will have to pay for another ticket if transferring onto a train. You are advised to buy a Breeze Card when in Atlanta, as even though it costs US$1 for start-up, this card will save you time and money in the long-run.
Taxis are found across the city, but tourists may find it difficult to wave them down in the Downtown and Midtown areas of Atlanta. This is especially true on the weekends, close to the main tourist attractions and near bars. Therefore, it is important that tourists utilise telephone booking options if a taxi is required. Checker Cabs is among Atlanta’s busier taxi companies.
The sprawling bus network is controlled by the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transport Authority, otherwise known as MARTA. A new card system, Breeze Cards, allows locals and visitors to store money and pay for journeys easily. However, buses do allow tickets to be purchased onboard for cash. There are several major routes operating in the heart of Atlanta, including route 110, 36, 16 and 2.
Also operated by MARTA, the train system running throughout Atlanta encompasses four different lines; Red, Gold, Blue and Green. The Blue and Green Lines run east and west of Five Points Station, while the Red and Gold Lines travel north and south. Train services open between 5:00 and 24:30, Monday to Friday, and operate for an extra half hour on weekends.
Despite Atlanta’s fascinating attractions and festive atmosphere, tourists are advised to explore the surrounding region at some stage. Driving from Atlanta is the best way to enjoy the many different landmarks that lie just an hour or two away. Amusement parks, alpine villages, outdoor enticements, historical battlefields and more can be explored.
Six Flags Over Georgia - This is a major amusement park located in the city of Austell. With car hire, tourists can reach the city of Austell and its theme park in about 30 minutes. While here, thrill-seekers can ride ‘Goliath’ – the tallest and scariest roller coaster in the southeastern region of the United States.
Chateau Elan Winery - Located half an hour's drive north of downtown Atlanta and has become a popular place for daytrips over the past few decades. Wine-lovers will adore this festive estate, as the wine here is often regarded as the best in the American south. There is even a golf course here.
Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Monument - This is where tourists will see remnants of the great American Civil War, not to mention major reenactments. The site is located in the town of Kennesaw, which sits about 30 miles to the northwest of Atlanta.
Dahlonega - This town takes tourists back in time to the gold rush days of the 18th century. The local gold museum provides insight into the life and times of Georgia’s most famous gold rush community. In addition, tourists are able to try their hand at digging for gold too. A fantastic winery is also found just minutes from the town centre.