Atlanta is the capital of Georgia and known as the 'city in a forest'. There are so many trees and parks here that you're never more than ten minutes away from a leafy, open space. This is why National Geographic has named it as a 'Place of a Lifetime'.
Why hire a car at Atlanta?
With all that Atlanta has to offer, it would be easy to assume that there's little need to travel beyond the city limits, but staying city-side would mean missing out on the wild national parks and forests this southern state has to offer. Hiring a car means having the freedom to really explore the state of Georgia and make the most of any holiday here.
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This is officially the largest aquarium in the world and the only place where, if you’re brave enough, you are guaranteed an opportunity to swim with whale sharks and manta rays, or have a close encounter with Beluga Whales and their trainer. That’s without even considering the thousands of other fish, mammals and amphibians on display here. Set a whole day aside.
Parking is available onsite. Pay online in advance and receive a discount
The High is one of the most visited art museums in the world and with over 13,000 pieces of modern and contemporary art in its collection, it’s easy to see why.
Parking is available onsite and within walking distance - make sure you keep some change on you for the meters.
Known as the 'Bohemian' section of the city, Little Five Points is the place to go for quirky shopping, vegan foods in one of the many independent cafes and restaurants or some vintage, groovy vinyl in the record stores. Take a camera, the graffiti, street art, and shop fronts are impressive.
Street parking is available
You cannot go the States without seeing a ball game. Turner Field is home to the Atlanta Braves, where it’s customary to get a hot-dog, sit in the stands and yell unashamed messages of support for your team. Go Braves!
Parking is available at the stadium and can be booked and paid for in advance, online.
Hungry? Then drive down to the Buford Highway where the mixed ethnicities and cultures of Atlanta have gathered to tempt you with their various tasty foods. You could try Mexican, Vietnamese, Spanish or Chinese, the list is endless. Make sure the boot of your hire car is empty and the waistband of your trousers is elasticated.
Parking is available at the outlets that line the Highway
Alternatively, you may fancy some traditional all American eats, and in that case, there’s nowhere better than Varsity. This is the largest drive-in restaurant in the world. Here, you’ll find burgers, fries and chilli dogs in large doses. You won’t leave hungry.
There are seven branches of Varsity in Atlanta, but for the real diner experience head north to Kennesaw. Drive along Route 85 until you pass Atlanta, then Route 75 to Kennesaw. Leave at exit 271 and follow the signs for the Varsity Diner from there.
This little town in the mountains of the Chattahoochee National Park is certainly something unexpected. Just a two hour drive from Atlanta, sits this Bavarian village. Complete with chalets, mountain hikes, waterfalls and an Alpine Amusement Park, Helen makes for a memorable day out.
Follow Route 85 north out of the airport until exit 87. Leave, and join the 400 highway signposted for Buckhead/Cumming. This road can be followed all the way to Helen, though watch out for tolls.
Get away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Atlanta and take the 45 minute drive out to the Stone Mountain Park. Ride the cable-car ride past the three acre Memorial Carving on the mountainside, take a Sky Hike through the treetops, or cool off in the spray from the parks Geyser. Camping is available without booking and don’t worry, unlike some of the parks in this part of the world there are no bears at Stone Mountain apart from a 4-D Yogi Bear in the theatre show.
Leave the airport on Route 85 to Atlanta, then take highway 75 and this will take you all the way there.
If you’d prefer to go down to the woods today and see a real bear, or a raccoon, lizard or snake, then head to the Ocala for an authentic woodland adventure. This is a much longer drive, but absolutely worth it.
Follow Route 75 south, out of Georgia and across the border into Florida. Take exit 358 signposted for Ocala.