Why watch the Super Bowl at home when it’s coming back to the South? This year, you can experience the thrills of the most over-the-top sporting event on the planet when it returns to Atlanta for the first time in 19 years.
Atlanta is one of the largest and most diverse cities in the South. The metro area is home to the world’s busiest airport, six million permanent residents, and literally dozens of roads named Peachtree so visitors would be forgiven if they need a few pointers. But with multiple news outlets reporting that up 1 million people will flock to Atlanta for the big game, we figured a few pro tips would be essential.
We’ll have plenty of more recommendations for specific stuff to do around town so consider this one an overview to the city. So here is your introduction to what to do in Atlanta.
How to get around
You’ve just landed at Hartsfield-Jackson… now what? Atlanta may be a car-based city but your best bet is MARTA, rail and bus transportation for the city. The Red and Gold lines leave directly from baggage claim at the airport and will take you through some of Atlanta’s most densely populated areas. You can even buy a Breeze Card before you arrive. Twenty bucks will get you unlimited rides for four days and your card gets you on every bus, train, and street car in the city.
MARTA will get you most places you need to go but to really get a feel for the city you’ll need to use your feet. Atlanta has myriad bike share and scooter options and, trust, us, they’re everywhere. The city’s official bike share is called Relay Bike Share—those are the nice cerulean bikes you’ll see around town. Other options include scooters like Byrd and Lime. And of course, if you’re going to partake in some pre-game revelry, please use a rideshare app like Uber or Lyft.
Where to stay
Look, there are a million great hotel options near Mercedes Benz Stadium and you can find them all on your favorite travel booking website. We think you should treat yourself though and stay in Atlanta’s hippest lodgings, Hotel Clermont. Right in the center of one of Atlanta’s greatest eating and drinking neighborhoods, this historic hotel just underwent years of careful renovations and boy, oh boy, was it worth it. Each room is somehow posh and super comfortable at the same time and the rooftop has the best sunset view of the city. Head down to the lobby for Tiny Lou’s, one of Atlanta’s best restaurants, or go in the back entrance to enjoy The Clermont Lounge, one of Atlanta’s oldest and least-kid-friendly hangouts.
If you’d prefer an urban escape from football madness, though, Atlanta is surprisingly rich with bed and breakfasts. We like The Social Goat in Grant Park, a cozy cottage in Grant Park replete with—you guessed it—goats. And chickens. And turkeys. Or you could try the Urban Oasis Bed and Breakfast, a small collection of loft spaces right on the Beltline.
What to do
Speaking of The Beltline, you should go to The Beltline. It may look like it’s just a sidewalk but this multi-use path is connecting the city in new and exciting ways. Here you can go for a stroll or a bike ride, find some of the best food in the city, and even check out the murals local arts organization WonderRoot is installing for the Super Bowl.
If you want your outdoors activity to be a little more organized, head to Five Points for one of Atlanta’s famous pick up soccer games. Anyone is welcome to join but be warned, you will run. A lot.
If you really can’t get enough football though—or if you can’t bring yourself to venture away from the stadium—Atlanta has you covered there as well. Check out the College Football Hall of Fame for all the college football history and entertainment you could possibly imagine. All the instillations here are interactive and customized for every person who walks through. Maybe you’ll learn a fact or two about your favorite player to drop during the big game.
And finally, if you need a thrill other than the biggest football game of the year, head on out to Constitution Lakes for one of the spookiest hiking trails around.
Where to eat
Alright, this is the big one. Atlanta is an incredible food city and basically anywhere you go is going to be good. We’d like to direct your attention away from the stadium, though, to a few Southern Weekend favorites.
First up is Buford Highway. If you’re in a group who all want something different, this is the place for you. In just a few short miles you can sample food from all over the world and taste some of the best chefs in Atlanta. This is Southern Comfort food like you’ve never imagined.
Next up is one of the most indulgent dishes in the city, The Ghetto Burger. Legendary Atlanta restaurant owner Ann Price took the “everything but the kitchen sink” approach to this burger and she absolutely nailed it. The chili, bacon, cheese, and the giant patties on this thing have caught the attention of news outlets across the country and it is 100% deserved.
And finally, a hangover remedy. Lisa Spooner and Kevin Clark at Home Grown know exactly how to heal a person from the longest night out imaginable with their indulgent, comforting dishes. The one dish you can’t miss? The Comfy Chicken Biscuit, a giant pile of fried chicken and biscuits completely covered in sausage gravy and love.
One last tip from the locals
Never call it Hotlanta. Ever.