Atlanta in the spring is beautiful. When the dogwood trees are in bloom and that cool edge leaves the air, you can enjoy temperatures with average highs in the mid to upper 70s. However, there is more than a slight chance that thunderstorms may put a damper on your visit.
Peak tourist season is from May to August, but that's when the crowds and temperatures peak as well - daytime highs in the upper-80s are not unusual. The city's parks are usually scheduled to the brim with outdoor events such as music festivals, which can result in overbooked and overpriced accommodations.
Delaying your visit to Atlanta until late September or beyond will let you experience the city in cooler weather, with temperatures ranging from the mid 60s to lower 80s, but also the beauty of changing leaves and more flexible (and affordable) hotel options.
Atlanta boasts one of the best public transit systems around. The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) has a terminal right inside Hartfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, and a ride downtown usually takes less than 30 minutes and costs only $2.50. A wide range of hotels close to the airport have a free shuttle service - from the Motel 6 Atlanta Airport North to the Crowne Plaza Hotel Atlanta-Airport.
Taxis from the airport are usually a flat rate, and typically run anywhere from $30-$40 for a trip to either downtown, midtown, or Buckhead.
When you are out exploring the city, MARTA has you covered for most attractions and shopping in and around the area. MARTA offers a 7-Day Pass that is a great value for visitors. For only $23.75 you can take unlimited rides for seven consecutive days, starting from your first use.
A great number of hotels, restaurants, shopping centers, and other businesses in the Buckhead area of Atlanta are served by the Buckhead Uptown Connection, or "The Buc." The Buc is a fast and free shuttle bus service that connects MARTA with many local destinations and attractions from Monday to Friday during the morning and evening rush hours.
Atlanta's many parks and neighborhoods are often teeming with cheap and free events. In April, Piedmont Park's dogwood trees explode with blooms, and the Atlanta Dogwood Festival has been held there every April for the past 79 years. This three-day festival of music, art, and food is free to the public.
If an active visit is your thing, rent bikes and ride the Atlanta Beltline, or explore the 21 acres of Atlanta's Centennial Olympic Park. There is an hour-long self-guided audio tour of Centennial Park that explains the area's history and architecture. The Park also acts as a gateway to Atlanta's main tourist attractions - the Georgia Aquarium, World of Coca-Cola, CNN Center, Center for Civil and Human Rights Museum, and the College Football Hall of Fame. The Atlanta CityPASS is a great option if some of these spots are on your agenda, as you will save 46% off the combined attraction prices.
In spite of being a cosmopolitan city, luxury hotels in Atlanta are surprisingly affordable. Most of Atlanta's six 5-star hotels offer online deals averaging $250 per night, and once in a while you can score even better rates. The InterContinental Buckhead Atlanta is just steps from the Buckhead area's swish boutiques and boasts an outdoor pool and non-smoking environment, in addition to its staffed business center and high-end fitness center.
The Four Seasons Atlanta is located in midtown and also offers surprisingly sweet deals online, so you can enjoy a visit to their indoor saline pool, sauna, or steam room while after you indulge in a pampering treatment at their renowned full-service spa.
The typical hostel experience does not translate to a visit to Atlanta, but Atlanta's budget hotels are so affordably priced it likely makes more financial sense to stay at the Super 8 Atlanta or the Motel 6 Atlanta Downtown for a private room and bath at an incredibly reasonable rate.
If it's a sense of community rather than budget concerns that draw you to hostels, there are a few family inns available but they are located somewhat far from the main areas. However, the Golden Hostel* is very close to the Six Flags Over Georgia amusement park, as well as Sweetwater Creek State Park.
You are spoiled for choice when it comes to affordable hotels in Atlanta. Basically it boils down to choosing where you think you'll be spending most of your time, and booking the closest hotel to that. Hotels near Georgia Aquarium include The Hilton Garden Inn Atlanta Downtown - a great choice with a rooftop pool, free WiFi, and is free for all children under 18 when using existing beds.
The Best Western PLUS Inn at the Peachtrees Hotel is steps from Centennial Olympic Park and the surrounding attractions, includes a daily hot breakfast buffet, and all children under 18 are free here too. Downtown's Sheraton Atlanta is within a mile of Georgia Aquarium and Centennial Olympic Park, and the garden courtyard pool has a fully retractable roof!
Located across the street from the historic Fox Theatre, both the Georgian Terrace and the Hotel Indigo Atlanta Midtown offer a unique hotel experience in restored buildings. They also welcome pets (the Hotel Indigo even has "Canine Cocktails" on Thursday evenings in the spring and fall) and are safe and accommodating environments for alternative lifestyles.
While hostels or funky boutique hotels are in somewhat short supply in Atlanta, the AirBNB options are outstanding. From an artsy loft to a secluded "treehouse" to a historic, refurbished townhouse, you can easily find unique and affordable accommodations via AirBNB in Atlanta for as little as $30 per night.
The Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau publishes two guides to help visitors make the most of their trip. Atlanta Now magazine comes out twice per month, and contains an updated calendar of events as well as comprehensive listings of Atlanta's attractions, dining, shopping, sports, and special events. Peachtree Connect guides you through Atlanta's many diverse and artsy neighborhoods. Creative Loafing is Atlanta's alternative newspaper, where you can catch up on the latest happenings, and experience Hotlanta like a local (although locals claim they would never call it that).
You can visit Atlanta on a budget and still enjoy the best of what this charming southern city offers. And with so many direct and cheap flights to Atlanta, as well as affordable accommodation options and wallet-friendly attractions, you can design a getaway that's as diverse as the city. Hipmunk can help you create that trip you've been dreaming of, so you don't end up needing a vacation from your vacation planning.
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© 2015 Hipmunk, Inc. Hipmunk is a trademark of Hipmunk, Inc.
© 2015 Hipmunk, Inc. Hipmunk is a trademark of Hipmunk, Inc.