Centennial Olympic Park, the Georgia Aquarium, Martin Luther King Jr. Historic National Site, CNN Studio Tour, High Museum of Art, Carter Presidential Center, Fernbank Museum of Natural History, Atlanta Botanical Gardens, World of Coca-Cola, and Zoo Atlanta are great attractions. The Georgia Congress Center is home for conventioneers and many events. For sports fans, the Georgia Dome, home of the Atlanta Falcons and SEC Championship, Turner Field, home of the Atlanta Braves, Phillips Arena, home of the Atlanta Hawks and world class concerts, Bobby Dodd Stadium at historic Grant Field, home of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, and coming in 2014, the College Football Hall of Fame are all downtown.
Downtown Atlanta has some fine hotels, but another alternative is the City of Decatur, located just 6 miles from downtown. It’s an easy 20-30 minute drive from the Atlanta Airport or you can take the MARTA train from the airport to the station located on the Decatur Square. Decatur is also more convenient than most communities to major arteries such as I75, I85, I20 and I285, which provides easy access to attractions outside of the downtown area, such as Stone Mountain Park, and an easy in town drive to the East Lake Golf Club, where the FEDEX Cup Golf Championship is held in September.
Staying at the newly renovated Marriott Courtyard Decatur provides a comfortable, economic alternative to the downtown hotels with its indoor pool and many amenities.
It’s located across the street from the Decatur Visitors Center – a great resource for visitor information, and offers an easy stroll to the historic Square, that’s bustling with pedestrian traffic, days and evenings.
Why Decatur? It’s home to over 70 restaurants and bars, including Cakes & Ale, one of the best restaurants in the South, the Brick Store Pub, annually rated among of the best beer bars in the world, and Eddies Attic, the premier live music listening room in the Southeast.
During May and September, there are free concerts on the Square every Wednesday at noon and every Saturday evening. There are other great free events such as the Decatur Arts Festival over Memorial weekend, AJC Decatur Book Festival over Labor Day weekend and a 4th of July celebration with fireworks. In June, there’s Beach Party with live music, tons of sand and boardwalk games to enjoy. August is the BBQ Blues and Bluegrass Festival, October is the Craft Beer Festival and November is the Wine Festival. In fact there are events all year-round – check this City of Decatur Special Events site for details.
So leave the car at your hotel, avoid the hassle and expense of downtown parking, hop on the MARTA stop right on the Decatur Square and take a short ride to the heart of downtown to reach many of the Atlanta’s best venues. As a Decatur resident and long time Atlanta Falcons season ticket holder, I take MARTA and can be in my seats (or a tailgate) at the Georgia Dome in about 30 minutes. I doubt many NFL fans can match that. Sure beats sitting in traffic jams to and from the game and paying for event parking.
Enjoy the best of both worlds. Visit big city attractions while staying in a charming, family friendly, historic small town with big city events close by, but not the big city inconveniences.