It’s always time for a road trip, y’all. As the B-52s sing, “I’m headin’ down the Atlanta highway.” Whether you’re traveling to Atlanta for a weekend getaway or passing through as a stop on your way to the beach or another neighboring city, you’ll want to check out these ideas for an epic Atlanta road trip. This ultimate Atlanta road trip guide includes information on how to prepare for your trip, where to stay in Atlanta, what to pack, see, do and eat.
Prepare for Your Trip
It’s time to prepare for your epic road trip to Atlanta. Find out where to stay, what to pack and how to get ready for your trip.
Where to stay in Atlanta
Being a major city and home to one of the busiest airports in the world, Atlanta has plenty of hotels to suit every preference and budget. You can easily search hotels based on neighborhood if you want to stay close to the highway or a specific locale.
Looking for a luxury hotel? Atlanta has several incredible ones including Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta, Waldorf Astoria Atlanta Buckhead and The Ritz-Carlton Atlanta. View them all with our hotel guide. Staying in the area for a while? An extended stay may be a good option for you. Looking for a pool? Check out the best hotel pools in Atlanta. Families with younger children might find our list of kid-friendly hotels helpful.
What to pack
Bring your masks and check the latest COVID-19 protocols for Atlanta as well as the places you’ll be visiting and staying. Don’t forget sunscreen, umbrellas and rain jackets for sporadic summer showers and rainy days. Get into the spirit with Atlanta-themed road trip snacks like Coca-Cola beverages, boiled peanuts and peach-flavored candies. Be sure to sync up some Atlanta artists on your playlist, too.
Driving Distances to Atlanta from All Directions
I-85 South into Atlanta
Greenville (2 hours 15 minutes), Charlotte (3 hours 58 minutes), Raleigh (6 hours 20 minutes)
Stops along the way:
- NASCAR Hall of Fame, Charlotte. Learn about the legends of the sport, immerse yourself in the history through exhibits and interactive experiences.
- Chimney Rock State Park, Chimney Rock, N.C. Take in show-stopping views, take a hike, say hello to animals. Try rock climbing.
- Consolidated Gold Mine, Dahlonega, Ga. Go underground. Try your hand at gemstone mining. Pan for gold.
- Stone Mountain Park, Stone Mountain, Ga. Climb the mountain or hop aboard the Summit Skyride. Play a round of golf. Visit the covered bridge. Grab a bite.
I-75 South into Atlanta
Chattanooga (2 hours), Knoxville (3 hours 15 minutes), Nashville (4 hours)
Stops along the way:
- Rock City Gardens, Lookout Mountain, Ga. See seven states. Walk the Enchanted Trail. Visit Fairyland Caverns.
- Cloudland Canyon, Rising Fawn, Ga. Explore 3,500 acres on bike, on foot or on horseback. Try disc golf. Go geocaching or fishing.
- Tellus Science Museum, Cartersville, Ga. Look up in the planetarium. Tour fossil and mineral galleries. Let the little ones explore My Big Backyard.
- Big Chicken in Marietta, Ga. It’s a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant, but the really big chicken is a local landmark as in, “Go to the Big Chicken and take a right.”
I-75 North into Atlanta
Savannah (4 hours 30 minutes), Jacksonville (5 hours), Tampa (6 hours 22 minutes), Orlando (7 hours 15 minutes) and Miami (10 hours)
Stops along the way in Florida and Georgia:
- Kennedy Space Center, Merritt Island, Fla. Visit the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame. Salute the unsung heroes in Mission Control. See the Rocket Garden.
- Ghost Tour of St. Augustine. Are there really ghosts in St. Augustine? Climb aboard the bus and find out.
- Savannah. Stroll through Forsyth Park. Check out the architecture. Visit the waterfront.
- The Varsity, Atlanta. It’s the worlds largest drive-in restaurant and an Atlanta tradition. Hot dogs, fries and fried pies for dessert.
- Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park, Atlanta. Dr. King was born here on Auburn Avenue. Tour his birth home. Sit it a pew at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church and hear one of his sermons.
- Atlanta Botanical Garden, Atlanta. It’s bloomin’ lovely, right in the heart of Midtown. Walk among the treetops. Visit the orchid center. It’s 30 acres of green space.
I-20 East into Atlanta
Birmingham (2 hours 12 minutes)
Stops along the way in in Alabama and Georgia:
- Talladega National Forest, Brent, Ala. Detour to Cheaha State Park in Delta, Ala. Near the visitors’ center, enjoy scenic mountain view from the overlook. Nearby, can you spot Big Foot?
- Sweetwater Creek State Park, Lithia Springs, Ga. Have a picnic, enjoy a hike and wade in the waters. Watermill ruins look familiar? Movie buffs might enjoy knowing it was a film location for “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.”
I-20 West into Atlanta
Augusta, (2 hours 22 minutes)
Stops along the way:
- Lake Oconee, on the Oconee River near Greensboro and Eatonton, Ga. Splurge at the nearby Ritz-Carlton Reynolds.
- Hard Labor Creek State Park, Rutledge, Ga. There’s biking and birding and fishing and hiking, swimming and geocaching.
- Little Five Points, Atlanta. Exit onto Moreland Avenue and stop for a bite to eat at eclectic East Atlanta Village. Continue on Moreland to Little Five Points and take a photo at iconic Junkman’s Daughter or the giant skull that marks the entrance to The Vortex.
Things to See and Do
You’ve arrived. Welcome to Atlanta. Here’s an epic roundup of all the things to see, do and taste.
Visit Atlanta’s top attractions and landmarks
For awesome Atlanta locations for your Instagram pics, don’t miss our ultimate guide to Atlanta landmarks. You’re sure to stumble across a few of your own as you explore this amazing city. Atlanta is home to beautiful, eclectic neighborhoods full of public art and hidden treasures, quaint shopping, galleries and excellent restaurants. In addition, there are a handful of things that are uniquely Atlanta that you should be sure to explore.
Atlanta offers a treasure trove of history and culture, with its roots dating back nearly two centuries. Top historical spots to visit include Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park, Atlanta History Center, Oakland Cemetery and Margaret Mitchell House.
If you’re looking for popular attractions that the kids will love, don’t miss World of Coca-Cola or Georgia Aquarium located just steps from each other Downtown. Or take a tour of Chick-fil-A College Football Hall of Fame for an up-close look at the world of college football. Across the road, see The Spectacular Olympic Rings sculpture at Centennial Olympic Park and the Fountain of Rings (please note that the park is partially closed for renovation).
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Itineraries and guides
Whether you’re spending one day in Atlanta or planning a week-long vacation, check out our self-guided itineraries to family fun or Atlanta’s must-see attractions.
Want a little more guidance? Join a safe, professionally led tour for insider tips and in-depth history.
There are several options for Atlanta tours depending on your interests. Foodies will love Atlanta Food Walks while sports enthusiasts may prefer a tour of Mercedes-Benz Stadium, home to Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United, or Truist Park where the Braves hang their bats. Atlanta offers a variety of guided tour options from walking to specialized vehicles. Learn about them here.
Parks and outdoors
Atlanta is truly the City in a Forest with plenty of natural areas to enjoy the great outdoors and catch a breath of fresh air. Atlanta is home to many public parks, but you won’t want to miss Midtown’s Piedmont Park, 200 acres of green space housing hiking trails, green lawns for a variety of sports, a swimming pool and playgrounds for the little ones.
Located next door, is one of Atlanta’s crown jewels, Atlanta Botanical Garden, which adds another 30-acres of lush foliage, gardens and botanical displays in addition to special events. Of course the natural beauty hardly ends with these two locations. Take a look at favorite parks and gardens for the full offering.
Like many large cities, Atlanta offers something for everyone, and this includes kids of all ages. Teens and tweens might enjoy one of these 12 activities, which, of course, include a trip to Six Flags over Georgia that even younger kids will love. Six Flags offers not only the traditional thrill rides but a fun water park, too. Depending on the season, you may be able to take in a ball game at Truist Park or visit the Chick-fil-A College Football Hall of Fame. The youngest visitors would probably love spending time at the Children’s Museum of Atlanta for some hands-on playtime or stopping at Center for Puppetry Arts to view puppets from around the world including the collection of Jim Henson puppets, costumes and props.
Prefer to spend time outside with the kids? We’ve got that covered, too, with these 8 outdoor adventures.
For couples and friend getaways
Looking for a place to get away with friends or for a romantic getaway? Atlanta comes alive with a vibrant nightlife scene. There is plenty to choose from whether it’s dancing, music or a delicious meal. Beer lovers will find a variety of local brews and cool breweries to visit and those who love to get outside will enjoy these restaurants with bars and patios.
Couples can find ways to carve out a little time for themselves with our ultimate list of date night ideas – many of which would be fun for groups or a weekend getaway without the kids.
Planning a bachelorette party or girls’ trip? We love these ideas for the ladies. Really need to chill out and relax? Consider these relaxing weekend retreats to help you recharge.
What to Eat
Where to start? Barbecue, Southern, innovative? Atlanta’s Food Story is one that is as down to earth as a Varsity hot dog, as varied like the countless international options on Buford highway and as innovative as the talented, resilient neighborhood locales. Kids and adults love King of Pops (gourmet cold treats on a stick). Grab one at the window on Elizabeth Street or find them all over Atlanta. Atlanta is synonymous with soul food, barbecue, fried chicken, sweet tea and famous and up-and-coming chefs. Foodies may want to dive deeper and tick a few boxes on the 25 iconic Atlanta dishes list or take a cruise down Buford Highway known for its vast array of diverse culinary offerings from Central America, Mexico, Korea and much more.
Searching for a healthy portion of comforting soul food? You’ve come to the right place. Atlanta is home to some famous soul food eateries.
We’re not talking the junior high cafeteria of your youth. Atlanta is home to some topnotch eateries in revamped “food halls” like Krog Street Market and Ponce City Market, both renovated historical buildings now home to popular cafes and restaurants, shopping and entertainment. Is everyone in your party in the mood for something different? These food halls as well as Sweet Auburn Curb Market and Chattahoochee Food Works are great options as you can indulge your taste buds in a variety of cuisines like Vietnamese, Mexican, soul food, sushi, bakery items, seafood, confections, Italian, coffee, vegan and even more. Each location offers a communal dining area where you can mingle with locals and tourists while enjoying the vibe.
Share your adventure
Don’t keep your vacation a secret. Share your best photos and stories with your family and friends, and tell the world how much fun you had on your Atlanta road trip. Don’t forget to tag us on social media @DiscoverAtlanta #DiscoverATL.
Thanks for coming. See you next time.