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Getting Around Atlanta

Now that you're in Atlanta, you might wonder how to get around Atlanta. This is a bit tricker than actually getting here. 

getting around atlanta - cars

Once you’re in Atlanta, you really don’t need a car for a variety of reasons.

The first reason is TRAFFIC. There's a joke "Atlanta is about an hour away from . . . Atlanta." Except it's reality.

Atlanta's traffic is comically and notoriously awful. This is a normal day.

getting around atlanta - cars. Just don't.

Not only is traffic insane, I’m pretty sure the streets were laid out by a drunk person. It’s one of the few cities that is not designed in a grid and most streets are named, not numbered. There are multiple 5-way intersections and people don't seem to understand the stop sign rules.

Not only that, but street names change with no notice. For example, Peachtree is the main road (even though there are about 70 streets with the word PEACHTREE in them – I am not joking), but one half of it is called Peachtree Street, the other half is Peachtree Road - it sort of marks the beginning of Buckhead, but there's no real indication of that. Piedmont Avenue becomes Blackland Road without warning . . . you get the picture. 

Parking can be a nightmare – almost everything is paid, and sometimes parking rules are so poorly marked that you’ll come out of coffee shop and find a boot on your car, which is then held hostage until you pay a kings’ ransom. 

Also – and I say this with love – drivers here are uniformly bad and weirdly aggressive. And heaven forbid if there’s any precipitation – people do not know how to drive in the rain. Don’t get me started on snow. So again, and I cannot stress this enough, unless you REALLY need a car here, I strongly advise against driving to or around Atlanta. 

getting around atlanta - rideshares

There really is no need for a car because Uber and Lyft are ubiquitous and fairly inexpensive. In fact, I take rideshare cars more than I drive. As I said, parking can be really expensive and a hassle, and frankly, I hate driving.

Plus, and this really should go without saying but I'll say it anyway, do NOT drink and drive. Atlanta is full of some fantastic and fun restaurants and bars, and if you indulge, PLEASE do not drive. 

Getting around atlanta - MAss transit

MARTA, Atlanta's transit system of trains and buses, is a great alternative IF you are staying right on a MARTA line and near a stop. Unfortunately, Atlanta transit is not as well-developed as other major cities. There are a lot of reasons for this, much of it political so I won’t bore you with the details. Just keep in mind you need to buy a reloadable Breeze card and can load it up with either a set number of rides, unlimited rides or just a dollar amount. You can transfer between buses and trains, and the route map is pretty self-explanatory, particularly on the trains.

MARTA's Breeze cards are reloadable, so hang on to them

Getting around atlanta - One special ride

One MARTA route I highly recommend, though, is the Atlanta Street Car  that connects Centennial Park in Downtown to the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site on Auburn Avenue, with 10 stops in between. What’s more, the street car is only $1 to ride and you can just buy a ticket there. My favorite stop is the Sweet Auburn Curb Market , an 85-year-old market with butchers, bakeries, produce sellers and eateries. 

The Sweet Auburn Curb Market is a delicious stop between Downtown and the MLK Center

getting around atlanta - scooters and bikes

Another way to get around Atlanta are by renting scooters. For full transparency, I have never used one because I am too afraid to - read what I wrote about Atlanta traffic and Atlanta drivers.

Also, I am a klutz. And frankly, I think the scooters are better suited to be used on park trails or BeltLine trails. But for now, they are seem to be everywhere. They are fairly inexpensive, so you will see people going all over the city with them.

There is one caveat, though. The city is cracking down on these scooters and the rules change almost daily. I would not count on these as a full mode of transportation – more as a way to see some trails. 

Bike rentals are also widely available and most of the docking stations are near parks or the BeltLine, and they are also great for trails and parks. 

Keep in mind for both scooters and bikes – Atlanta basically has ZERO bike lanes and riders ride on the street, so it’s pretty chaotic and not exactly something I recommend, but it’s certainly a thing here!

Atlanta runs its own, very extensive bike share program called Relay. You download the app, find a bike through it, rent through it and pay through it. There are a lot of bike stations near parks and the BeltLine, making the bikes ideal for exploring. 

Keep in mind for both scooters and bikes – Atlanta basically has ZERO bike lanes and riders ride on the street, so it’s pretty chaotic and not exactly something I recommend, but it’s certainly a thing here!

Atlanta's Relay bike share program is a fun way to explore the city's park and BeltLine

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