Business travelers know that one challenge of life on the road is figuring out which road you’re supposed to be on. During a vacation, getting lost is a great way to explore a new city. During a work trip, it’s a potential disaster. Forget about the romance of the unexpected or the serendipitous joy of discovering a hidden gem: business travelers need to get down to business.
Which makes Atlanta something of a mystery. The city is a leading corporate travel destination - home to the third highest concentration of Fortune 500 companies in the U.S., a major convention center, and one of the world’s busiest airports. It is, in other words, a city that you’d expect to be planned with an eye to optimal efficiency. And yet Atlanta’s sprawling layout seems designed to confuse. How’s a visitor supposed to navigate when there are three competing skylines (Downtown, Midtown, and Buckhead), no natural landmarks to orient around, and worst of all, over 70 streets that contain the word Peachtree?
The answer, of course, is with a smart phone. To answer some slightly less obvious questions about traveling to Atlanta, we talked to Adam Silverstein, Engineering Manager at 10UP, about his recent trip.
What brought you to Atlanta?
I spoke at WordCamp Atlanta, a conference focused on all things WordPress.
How did you decide where to stay?
The conference provided a deal at the Hilton, so I stayed there.
Did you do anything fun while in Atlanta?
Attending WordCamp was fun, and it was nice going out to dinner with colleagues. Since this was a short trip, I didn’t have too much time to explore, but I did get to walk around the city a bit.
How much in Rocketrip rewards did you earn on this trip?
Just over $100.
Atlanta's Hart-Jackson Field is the busiest airport in the world. What's your strategy for avoiding misery at the airport? Are you more likely to arrive early, grab a coffee, get some work done, or arrive at the last minute and get to the plane ASAP?
Arrive early strategy - I like to avoid stress. I'm a known traveller so I usually get TSA precheck, which really helps in places like Atlanta that are very busy.
Which of these songs is most likely to be on a playlist you make for a trip to Atlanta:
- Yeah! - Usher, ft. Lil John and Ludacris
- Hey Ya! - Outkast
- The Devil Went Down to Georgia - Charlie Daniels Band
- Closer to Fine - The Indigo Girls (Atlanta natives)
- Tara's Theme, from Gone with the Wind
Closer to Fine?
Going to Atlanta? The travel tips and fun facts below will help make your trip even be better than fine.
Atlanta has its origins as a railroad hub: the city’s original name was Terminus. After a brief spell when the city was called Marthasville in honor of the governor’s daughter, the Western & Atlantic Railroad successfully lobbied for another name change. Thus “Atlanta” was born. Think of it as a more subtle, less delicious version of Hershey, PA - a city name that doubles as product promotion.
Today in Atlanta, as throughout much of the Sunbelt, the car is king. Despite the city’s sprawl, visitors can rely on walking and public transportation to get around. MARTA, Atlanta’s public transit system, provides a link to the airport, while the main business districts - such as Downtown, Midtown and Buckhead - are all quite walkable. (Though just how walkable depends on your ability to tolerate Georgia’s muggy weather.) It never hurts to do a bit of research to find accommodations close to where your meeting or conference will be.
What to Eat
The Varsity - This Atlanta icon is the world’s largest drive-in. Burgers, fries, shakes, hot dogs, onion rings: none of it’s healthy, all of it’s delicious. As Atlanta-native T.I. says, Live Your Life.
Eats - When visiting the South, it might seem like sacrilege to consider eating any chicken that’s not fried. The Jamaican-style jerk chicken at Eats, in Midtown, makes a convincing argument in support of poultry pluralism. $7.75 will get you a half chicken along with three reassuringly Southern sides, such as mac and cheese, collard greens, and black eyed peas.
Ah-Ma’s Taiwanese Kitchen - Sure, Chic-fil-A is headquartered in Atlanta, but you can eat there anytime that’s not Sunday. When visiting Atlanta, go to Ah-Ma’s instead for a Taiwanese twist on the classic chicken sandwich: fried chicken patty with wasabi aioli, pickled daikon radish and carrot on a steamed bao bun.
Where to Stay
The Ellis Hotel - Atlanta’s official seal shows a phoenix rising. It’s a reference to the city’s reconstruction after being burned to the ground during the Civil War by order of General William T. Sherman. Atlanta’s second most infamous fire occurred at a site now occupied by the Ellis Hotel. 119 people perished when the Winecoff Hotel burned down in 1946; it remains the deadliest hotel fire in American history, and prompted new safety regulations across the country.
Today, following its recent renovation and inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places, the Ellis is both thoroughly modern and deeply connected to Atlanta’s past. Located downtown on (the main) Peachtree Street, the Ellis has rooms starting at $159 a night.
The Highland Inn - An affordable and quaint option in the Poncey-Highland district of Atlanta’s hip east side. The Highland Inn provides free WiFi and continental breakfast, though it’s worth shelling out a few bucks to get your coffee and internet access in one of the neighborhood cafes. JavaVino is a block away from the hotel, and as the name suggests, offers wine in addition to coffee. Rooms start at under $125.
The Artmore Hotel - The Artmore’s Spanish-Mediterranean style building dates to 1924, and is centered around an outdoor courtyard where complimentary coffee is served in the morning. This boutique is located in Midtown, near several corporate headquarters as well as the Atlanta's Woodruff Arts center.
Looking for a bit of Southern hospitality? Consider the Airbnb options in one of the neighborhoods below for a home-like feel on your trip to Atlanta.
What'd we miss? Let us know your favorite Atlanta travel tips by tweeting to @rocketrip