Atlanta rose from the ashes of the American Civil War to become the de facto capital of the southern United States. The city is now home to 16 Fortune 500 companies, a bustling business district, and an overflowing amount of culinary, artistic, and social culture.
There is much to do in Atlanta, should you find yourself there on a business trip. This guide will help you along the way.
Where to Go:
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is the world’s busiest airport by passenger traffic, a distinction it’s held since 1998. It’s not easy to find quiet spaces or avoid crowds, but there are opportunities to make the most of your time there.
|How to Get to Downtown Atlanta|
In many ways, Atlanta is the cultural center of the South. The locals possess that famous Southern charm and will help you along. Make their lives and yours easier by sticking to these tips.
Atlanta features distinct neighborhoods and business districts. You may find yourself pulled from one to another during your business trip, and you’ll want to know the best means of transportation to get around. Here are some things to keep in mind:
The lanes clog quickly and rarely unclog, making driving less an exercise in getting place-to-place and more an opportunity to memorize the license plate number in front of you.
Locals have a love/hate relationship with MARTA (Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority) in the same way everyone has a love/hate relationship with their city’s public transportation. The trick is to map out a plan before you head to the station...and to have a backup plan in case things go awry. Download the MARTA app, and don’t be afraid to ask Atlantans for help should you need it.
Like other major cities (Houston for one), Atlanta has established a flat taxi rate for its business district. You can cab anywhere within Downtown, Midtown, or Buckhead for $8. Keep that in mind before you open your ride-share app.
Atlanta is a scooter city, and a busy one at that. Whether it’s on Bird, Lime, or the Uber-backed Jump, you can travel blocks at a time at a low cost while having fun. If you prefer to rent a bike, Atlanta is also home to Relay Bike Share.
Atlanta re-introduced the streetcar in 2014, and it remains a cost-effective, timely means of transportation. The streetcar makes 12 stops on a 2.7-mile loop that covers some of the city’s most popular destinations. A one-way trip costs $1.
Head to Spotify and search Outkast. Hit play. There you go. Okay, so Atlanta has more to offer than just hip-hop, although Atlanta hip-hop is great. Vibe to these tunes from Atlanta-born or raised artists.
When it comes time to book your Atlanta hotel, consider these five options that offer comfort and luxury:
The Emory Conference Center Hotel doubles as a mini-resort for business travelers. There are the usual amenities like a fitness center, indoor pool and whirlpool, and complimentary Wi-Fi in public spaces. But you also get access to trails for running or hiking and an outdoor fire area.
Sure, the 40,000-square-foot pool piazza is nice, but you’ll really love unwinding in your room. Reserve a Deluxe Guest room at the St. Regis Atlanta, located in the Buckhead neighborhood, for a luxurious stay that includes a balcony, butler service, and bedside iPad to control the lighting and setting of the room.
In the heart of Midtown, the Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta promises an escape from the buzz while putting you in the middle of it. The Garden Table on the fifth-floor terrace offers travelers rooftop dining while the Bar Margot’s cocktail menu has made it a popular night-cap locale. With a variety of deluxe rooms to choose from, you’ll find one that feels like home.
Business travelers looking to keep up their workout routines, or add new ones on the road, will love the Loews Atlanta. The hotel, located in Midtown, features the seventh-floor Exhale, a combination fitness center and spa. You can book programs off a menu that includes traditional spa treatments in addition to fitness classes. Guests also get complimentary access to the traditional fitness center.
The Sun Dial Restaurant, with its panoramic views of Atlanta 73 floors up, is reason enough to stay at the Westin Peachtree Plaza. The rooms feature floor-to-ceiling windows and heavenly beds. An indoor/outdoor pool is always welcome as well, especially during the summer months.
You can get lost staring at the stunning atrium, and that’d be a shame. The Atlanta Marriott Marquis combines convenience and relaxation. With an indoor connection to the MARTA Peachtree Center Station, it’s a breeze getting to and from the airport. And there are plenty of amenities to enjoy, from a selection of bars, restaurants, and lounges to indoor and outdoor pools, not to mention a 24-hour fitness center.
Sometimes you need to escape your hotel room or the convention center to get real work done. Here are five places in Atlanta to head to with your laptop in hand:
Strongbox West calls itself “Atlanta’s biggest and most bad-ass coworking space.” One of those is easier to quantify than the other. What we do know is that the company offers an ideal getaway for business travelers who need a desk for a day. $15 gets you in from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with free parking, Wi-Fi, and coffee. Need a meeting space for your group? Reserve a room for as little as $45/hour.
With five locations across the Atlanta area, Roam offers more flexibility than Strongbox West. Roam sells day passes for $20, with a variety of meeting spaces available to gather your team or host a client.
First of all, Proof Bakeshop’s proximity to the Inman Park MARTA station makes it easy to get to for business travelers. Secondly, the baked goods and coffee offerings are delicious. Indulge while you formulate those emails or get your blog drafts just right.
Coffee and beer. Do we need to say more? This Kirkwood establishment serves both. Taproom Coffee & Beer is partners with the East Pole Coffee Company and features a draft list made up of local craft brews, so you know you’re getting a taste of Atlanta, whatever your beverage selection.
Most libraries are good places to get work done outside an office or hotel setting, but the Metropolitan Branch of the Atlanta-Fulton County Library System stands out. It was named one of the 10 Most Beautiful Libraries in Georgia. The columns establish an academic feel and open the doors to a modern oasis for study.
There’s no better way to impress a colleague or client than to suggest a quality happy hour. When someone asks, “Where should we go?” You’ll provide the answer.
Although it’s just outside Atlanta in Decatur, Kimball House is worth the trip. The restaurant’s happy hour was rated "Best in the South" by Forbes.com in 2019. The craft cocktails will impress you, as will the setting, but the oyster raw bar, which runs 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., stars here.
From its website, Establishment bills itself as “one part cocktail lounge, one part museum, two parts iconoclast lifestyle.” The cocktail lounge offers a classy setting with plenty of delicious libations to sample while munching on $5 appetizers.
In the heart of downtown, Alma Cocina delivers the best of modern Mexican and Latin American tastes. Happy hour features $5 cocktails like El Clásico: blue agave tequila mixed with fresh citrus juices. The drink can be served on the rocks or frozen.
Happy hours are supposed to be fun, and Torched Hop Brewing Company delivers on that. You’ll love the brewpub’s beers, brewed in-house of course, and typical bar fare. Torched Hop also pulls down a projector screen for sporting events. You can keep one eye on the game and one eye on your own bocce contest.
Cypress Street calls business travelers who want to sample Atlanta flavors on a budget. The happy hour features half-priced appetizers including SweetWater (a popular local brewery) fried mushrooms, black bean hummus, pulled chicken quesadillas, and pub fries. Wash them down with a craft beer off the restaurant’s rotating tap list.
Atlanta has become one of those wonderful food destinations, mixing Southern comfort plates with various ethnic cuisines as the city grows into the 21st century.
Here’s some advice for folks new to Atlanta: Oftentimes, the shack that doubles as a restaurant serves the most delectable food. That’s the case with Daddy D’z, a dive famous for its barbeque. Daddy D’z has won numerous awards and has been recognized nationally by the Food Network and New York Times. Its proximity to downtown makes it a must-stop for business travelers seeking authentic barbeque.
Bring an empty stomach to Mary Mac’s Tea Room aka “Atlanta’s Dining Room” where you’ll find Southern dishes galore. The fried chicken is delectable, and any plate with gravy is a good plate. Leave room for dessert, specifically a slice of authentic Georgia peach cobbler.
Known colloquially as “The V,” the Varsity dishes out the finest, greasiest American food Atlanta has to offer. The “world’s largest drive-in diner” opened in 1928 and has expanded to six other locations (including two in the airport). Order a naked dog (plain hot dog) or dive into a chili-cheese dog or two, and wash them down with a Coke.
The menu at 10th & Piedmont presents difficult choices. Should you go for the steamed shrimp or lemon pepper seared sea scallops to start? The Southern-style chicken and waffle or the blackened catfish over jambalaya for your entree? You can’t go wrong here. And with reasonable prices, your taste buds, as well as your wallet, will be thanking you.
Any Southern diet is going to be meat-heavy, but that doesn’t mean vegans and vegetarians can’t enjoy delicious food in the South. Healthful Essence promises, “You’ve never tasted vegetarian like this before!” And they might be right. Their menu features spins on popular Caribbean dishes, such as curried un-goat and jerk un-duck.
Business travelers don’t like to break their workout routines on the road. And sure, the hotel fitness center suffices for a good sweat, but you can also explore Atlanta while exercising.
You can get a mental and physical sweat on at the same time in Atlanta. Several branches of the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System host yoga classes for beginners and advanced practitioners alike. Check out the full event schedule here.
One of the truly historic neighborhoods in Atlanta features a park with ample green space, tennis courts, and an indoor pool. Plan a workout here and experience the culture the surrounding area offers.
Atlanta has a claim as the hottest soccer town in America, not only due to the success of Atlanta United (2018 MLS champions) but also the unique ways the city is promoting the beautiful game. Atlanta United, the city of Atlanta, MLS, and others have combined forces to build small-sided turf fields under or near MARTA stops. Kids play free while pick-up games are offered for $5 to adults.
Atlanta’s oldest city park checks in at more than 130 acres and features an array of exercise possibilities. There are basketball courts and an outdoor pool, not to mention walking trails. You could also head to the Zoo Atlanta for a nice break or a more leisurely, educational stroll in the city.
Some 33 miles of urban trails make up Atlanta’s BeltLine, an ongoing project intended to extend the city’s green spaces and promote exercise. You can rent a bike and map out your own path, or join a tour.
With so much to offer, Atlanta can’t possibly be fully experienced in the few hours you may have between meetings on your business trip. Plan for a bleisure day, and add these stops to your itinerary:
Your first stop includes a history lesson in addition to a morning pick-me-up. Condesa Coffee is located in the old Atlanta Daily World building, once home to the oldest-running black-owned daily newspaper in the country. The cafe keeps the ambiance while serving Counter Culture (North Carolina) coffee and a menu of baked goods, such as crispy liège waffles.
From Condesa Coffee, walk through downtown a little less than a mile to Centennial Olympic Park (pictured above), a 22-acre greenspace that served as the centerpiece of the 1996 Summer Olympics. Snap a selfie in front of the Olympic Rings, or simply admire the gardens and fountains.
Atlanta was at the heart of the Civil Rights Movement, and that legacy is rightfully honored to this day. The National Center For Civil And Human Rights opened downtown in 2007 (on land donated by the Coca-Cola Company). The museum is an engaging collection of exhibits that contextualizes the Civil Rights Movement and apply the lessons to current-day human rights struggles. It’s well worth your time.
Save your late afternoon for a personal pub crawl, because Atlanta is dotted with great breweries. SweetWater has gained a national reputation for its funky, hoppy flavors. Then there’s Orpheus and Scofflaw, both of which fill out the city’s tap lists. This guide will help steer your tour.
Sweet Georgia’s Juke Joint celebrates juke joints of old music clubs on the outskirts of town that housed (mostly) African-American musicians. There’s a good chance your favorite musical genre can in part trace its roots to places like Sweet Georgia’s Juke Joint. Enjoy a full menu of food and drinks while listening to a variety of local musical acts.
Because there’s only one place to end a night in the South: Wafflehouse. Dance your heart out, explore the city and its nightlife, but make sure you know the nearest location where you can indulge in smothered hash browns. It’s the chain restaurant the late Anthony Bourdain called, “Marvelous—an irony-free zone where everything is beautiful and nothing hurts.”