If you’re planning a trip to Atlanta and intend to ride the train to avoid driving in the city, there’s plenty to see and do without a car. However, not all MARTA stations are in hot spots with things to see and do. To help you decide where to go, here is a list of stations that have plenty of attractions, restaurants and activities that you can enjoy during your visit.
10. Candler Park
The Candler Park MARTA station seems quiet at first look, but it’s in a charming location that shows off intown life in Atlanta. The Candler Park neighborhood is on the north side of the station and is filled with oak trees and bungalows built roughly before 1930. About a 10-minute walk from the station is a large public park that has a playground, pool and festivals, and a small commercial area has a handful of restaurants (including the original Flying Biscuit Cafe) and a neighborhood market where you can purchase Atlanta’s infamous King of Pops popsicles.
To get the most out of your stop here, we recommend a bicycle (you can bring bikes on the trains, so consider renting a Relay Bike near MARTA and take it to the neighborhood). The extra perk of having a bike is that you ride on neighborhood streets to the Fernbank Museum of Natural History (or walk about 30 minutes to get there) to explore the museum and newly opened forest. The Path and Olmstead Linear Parks are in the area as well — great for those who love the outdoors, parks and exercise.
9. Inman Park
Step back in time at the Inman Park MARTA station, where you can explore the Inman Park neighborhood’s large and stately Victorian homes or visit Little 5 Points. A park is directly next to the station that has greenspace for a picnic or playing ball, plus there’s a playground for kids. Additionally, the station has direct access to The Path trail or a few blocks away you can get on the BeltLine Eastside Trail. BeltLine tours also depart from the MARTA station if you’d rather get an overview from a vehicle.
Besides trails winding around large trees and beautiful homes, there are several Civil War historic markers near the station that mark Battle of Atlanta landmarks, including at the charming Springvale Park. For more history, take The Path trail to the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum (walking time about 25 minutes from the station).
A bike is helpful to cover the most ground, and it’s a great location for biking due to wide neighborhood streets that have a low volume of cars.
Good for: Shoppers, foodies, business travelers
Rail line: Red
At the opposite end of the spectrum, the Buckhead MARTA station is in one of Atlanta’s busiest corridors. Surrounded by office buildings, malls, hotels and restaurants, the station offers easy access to a variety of amenities and provides a glimpse of Atlanta’s wealthy Buckhead district. The main two attractions are Lenox Square Mall and Phipps Plaza in addition to the dining and imbibing. The W Hotel is a short walk away and has a rooftop bar with skyline views or check out the Bourbon Bar at the Intercontinental Hotel.
Speaking of hotels, we recommend hotels near the station if you’re looking for a place to stay outside of downtown Atlanta that is convenient to attractions and the airport via rail.
7. King Memorial
For a more urban experience of Atlanta, the hip area around the King Memorial MARTA station is for you. Immediately next to the station is Oakland Cemetery, one of the largest greenspaces in Atlanta that contains fascinating tombs, famous resting places and regular events. Before or after your stop at the cemetery, eat at one of the cool nearby restaurants including Daddy D’z Barbecue, Augustines (lots of beer and a bocce ball court), Six Feet Under (rooftop dining/bar) and Ria’s Bluebird (breakfast/lunch with vegetarian options).
If you have a bike with you or are up for a urban hike, you can explore the historic Grant Park neighborhood built at the turn of the century. The neighborhood has a large park of the same name that contains Zoo Atlanta — both are great excursions from the MARTA station.
Sweet Auburn District, made famous by Martin Luther King Jr., is on the opposite side of the station, but some of the streets aren’t the safest for walking. We recommend riding the Atlanta Streetcar to the MLK Jr. Historic Site and to the fun bars on Edgewood Avenue including Joy Stick and Church.
Good for: Foodies, beer lovers, shoppers, nostalgia
Rail line: Blue
Above the Decatur MARTA station is downtown Decatur with a quaint square, gazebo, courthouse, restaurants and local shops. The area is highly walkable and feels like a small town — a refreshing excursion out of Atlanta for dinner or weekend stroll. Many great restaurants and bars are a short walk away from the station and the many festivals and events throughout the year are family-friendly.
Highlights include the Brick Store Pub (tons of beers and good pub food), Kimball House (in a former rail depot), Cakes and Ale, Iberian Pig (Spanish tapas), Java Monkey (independent coffee shop and wine bar) and Cafe Alsace, a casual French restaurant. Several of the area eateries also have games including ping pong tables and bocce ball courts. Twain’s in particular has a whole room of indoor fun if you want to try their brewed-on-site beer while you play pool, shuffleboard or darts.
5. North Avenue
The North Avenue MARTA station is near several historic buildings including the Fox Theatre, Georgian Terrace Hotel (location of the Gone With the Wind premiere gala), The Biltmore and The Varsity. Don’t miss Proof and Provision, a swanky bar in the basement of the Georgian Terrace, and the main lobby bar at the hotel is also a classy and history-provoking spot for a cocktail. For entertainment, go to a show at the Fox or tour the building.
If you’re traveling with kids, walk down to The Varsity, one of the oldest and largest drive-in restaurants in the world, for a hot dog, milkshake and onion rings, or any other combination of drive-in diner food. A longer walk away is one of the few remaining Tea Rooms in Atlanta — Mary Mac’s has Southern comfort food that will leave you satisfied all day.
Midtown Atlanta is one of the most happening places in the city. There’s tons of restaurants and nightlife venues as well as hotels and attractions including the Margaret Mitchell House and Museum, Federal Reserve Museum and Piedmont Park near the Midtown MARTA station. The park features a lake, walking paths, sports fields, running track, tennis courts, dog park, swimming pool and more. It’s a great place to exercise and the BeltLine Eastside Trail is at the far end of the park (Relay Bike rentals are near the MARTA station if you want to grab two wheels and explore).
You’ll also find a number of gay bars a short walk away from the station. G’s Midtown, Blake’s on the Park, Joe’s on Juniper and Henry’s Tavern are popular spots. A variety of other restaurants, sports bars and nightclubs are also in the area. Highlights include The Vortex (great burgers and beer), Empire State South, STK and Ecco as far as restaurants. Nightclubs include Opera, My Sisters Room, Enigma Lounge and Lava Lounge.
3. Arts Center
Aptly named, the Arts Center MARTA station is surrounded by museums and performance venues including the High Museum of Art, Symphony Hall & Alliance Theatre, Museum of Design, Whole World Theatre (comedy improv), Center Stage (indie/rock concerts), Jewish Heritage Museum and the Center for Puppetry Arts.
If that’s not enough, a free shuttle departs from the MARTA station and travels to Atlantic Station for more things to do. There’s IMAX, Bodies Exhibit, shopping and dining.
2. GWCC/Dome/Philips Arena/CNN
In a touristy area in downtown Atlanta, the Dome MARTA station is near major event venues including the Georgia World Congress Center, Philips Arena and Mercedes-Benz Stadium. You can go to a convention, watch NFL or NBA games or go to a major concert. It’s also a great place to get a hotel room if you prefer a quieter downtown area with park and skyline views. Nearby hotels include the Omni, Glenn Hotel, Hilton Garden Inn and Embassy Suites.
Attractions to check out here: CNN Center tour, events at above mentioned venues, College Football Hall of Fame, Centennial Olympic Park (which hosts music festivals, concerts and other events), SkyView and SkyLounge, the rooftop bar at the Glenn Hotel. There ‘s a large food court and coffee inside the CNN Center if you’re with kids or a group and need a quick place to eat or caffeinate.
If you’re up for walking, you can also reach the Children’s Museum of Atlanta, Georgia Aquarium and World of Coca-Cola at this station if you want to knock out a bunch of tourist attractions at the same time.
1. Peachtree Center
The bustling heart of downtown Atlanta, Peachtree Center is surrounded by hotels, restaurants and several major tourist attractions: Children’s Museum of Atlanta, World of Coca-Cola, Georgia Aquarium, SkyView and Centennial Olympic Park.
Staying at a nearby hotel means an easy airport commute via rail and being in walking distance of several attractions and restaurants. There’s a fantastic tiki bar in the basement of the Hilton hotel (Trader Vic’s), or sing karaoke at the Metro Cafe diner, get a souvenir at the Hard Rock Cafe, experience two rotating bar/restaurants (Polaris and Sun Dial) or walk to the Fairlie-Poplar Historic District for the neighborhood watering hole Side Bar.
As a bonus, the Atlanta Streetcar stops next to the Ellis Street/Peachtree Street East station exit. Hop on and get a tour of downtown for just $1, including a ride to the Sweet Auburn Curb Market and Martin Luther King Jr. Historic Site.