Atlanta is a car town. The traffic is almost as legendary as Los Angeles. It’s said there are 32 Streets with the name Peachtree in them, which makes it hard to decipher whether you are on the RIGHT Peachtree. The roads aren’t laid out in a grid either. They follow old cow paths. Perhaps that’s a wives’ tale, but if you’ve ever traveled in Atlanta, you can see how that might be true.
While planning a trip to California recently with my teens, I was trying to figure out how to visit a car centric city, without renting a car. It got me thinking how I would do it in my hometown, Atlanta. What better tour guide than a local.
How to Get Around Atlanta without a Car
MARTA is Atlanta’s rapid rail service, but unlike the METRO in DC or the Subway in NYC, MARTA doesn’t take you everywhere you want to go. The main rail line goes to and from Hartsfield Jackson Airport to several area hubs, but for sight seeing, you can’t rely strictly on MARTA. Downtown is a great place to stay on the MARTA line, and it has lots of popular attractions like the World of Coca-Cola and the Georgia Aquarium. However, we opted to go a little farther north to the Atlantic Station neighborhood.
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Although Atlantic Station isn’t directly on MARTA, you can take the train to the Arts Center Station and then catch the free Atlantic Station shuttle to your hotel and a host of Midtown locations and attractions. If that’s too much, UBER is a professional car service we used in LA and has offices in Atlanta. They picked us up in a sharp, clean vehicle within minutes of calling and had us to our destination in no time. Prices from the airport to Atlantic Station start around $25 and go up to $75 depending on the vehicle. For a bit more mobility, there is a ZipCar location in Atlantic Station. Drivers under 18 are not eligible for membership and there are restrictions for those 18 – 21 years old, so be sure to understand the ZipCar procedures before trying to use the service.
Where to Stay in Atlanta with Teens: Atlantic Station
Atlantic Station is a city within the city and has everything you need within a few short blocks, including a full service grocery, restaurants, shopping and entertainment. Central Park is an intimate knoll and the hub for activity, similar to the boardwalk at the beach. Central Park is where teens can go to hang out, grab a bit to eat, enjoy an ice cream or coffee. On any given night there can be free concerts, movies, a comedy hour, or festival happening in Central Park. During winter time, there is ice skating, fall, a haunted house. I took my son to see Sister Hazel at Atlantic Station and the intimate nature was perfect for his first concert. Parents can sit on the balcony of Strip and overlook the park, with a great view of all the activities.
Another great teen activity – shopping. Chain stores like Banana Republic and H&M are conveniently located next to unique boutiques. For non-shoppers, like my boys, there are two exhibit spaces at Atlantic Station with popular traveling exhibits. Currently showing are Bodies and Extreme Dinosaurs. Bodies, celebrates the wonder of the human form with a look under the skin, and Extreme Dinosaurs uses auto animatronic life-sized dinosaurs to showcase the stories behind their unique appearance.
TWELVE Atlantic Station
You’ve seen one hotel, you’ve seen them all in a teen’s eye. They want something different, sleek, and cosmopolitan. They want TWELVE Atlantic Station. The rooms in this boutique high-rise mirror the condominiums above with full kitchens, floor to ceiling glass, balcony and in-room computer with complimentary wifi. There’s a full workout room, clubroom and rooftop pool. If you prefer to stay Downtown, there’s also a TWELVE Centennial Park.
TWELVE is part of the Preferred Family program from Preferred Hotel Group, a collection of more than 260 independent hotels and resorts worldwide that celebrate the specific needs of traveling families. All hotels in the collection meet Preferred Family Certification standards based on their age-specific offerings for children in five categories: hotel amenities, facilities, programs, services, and entertainment.
Plus, if you are a member of the Preferred Hotel Group’s iPrefer program, a points-based loyalty program that offers benefits at more than 500 independent hotels and resorts worldwide – of which more than 200 are Preferred Family Certified, including TWELVE. iPrefer members receive a half bottle of wine for you and chocolate truffles for the teens when they check in at TWELVE.
Families that join iPrefer start earning status, special benefits, and points from their very first stay and have the flexibility and freedom to choose the reward that works best for them, whether they want to redeem their points for free stays, dining, spa services, and more.
Atlanta with Teens: Where to Eat
Atlantic Station has a wide variety of restaurants, everything from coffee shops, to sandwiches, ice cream and full service fare. My favorites are locally owned Chick-a-Biddy and Atlantic Grill. Strip is perfect for watching the activity at Central Park and Rosa Mexicano apparently has some killer guacamole, although I’m not a guac fan.