Atlanta, built around railroads, became a sprawling city once cars became affordable and more appealing than transit. While downtown Atlanta and the neighborhoods built around old streetcar lines have always been relatively walkable, most of the city is not. As a result, some MARTA stations are in bustling hot spots while others are in quiet residential areas — great if you are a resident, but not so fun if you’re sightseeing in Atlanta or looking for something to do.
To make the most of your urban exploring or visit to Atlanta, see the list below for five of the most walkable areas next to MARTA stations based on 2019 Walk Score data. The score out of 100 is in parentheses.
Essentially a small town next to Atlanta, Downtown Decatur (pictured above) has a square with a gazebo and courthouse, quaint shops, coffee and dessert spots, many restaurants, laid-back nightlife options and access to the PATH Stone Mountain Trail. And like many small towns, it has train stations, including the Decatur MARTA station on the blue line along with a former passenger rail depot turned into a trendy restaurant (Kimball House). Festivals and special events take place all year long, and almost every venue is a 10-minute walk away or less making this a great spot for tourists and locals.
The area around the Midtown MARTA station is widely known for it’s car-free live, work and play options. Not only are there residences, restaurants, nightlife, hotels, shops and businesses nearby, but there is also a Publix grocery store, CVS Pharmacy, Ace Hardware and attractions including the Margaret Mitchell House and Museum, Federal Reserve Monetary Museum and Piedmont Park. The transit options are also plentiful at the station, with direct rail service to the airport and Buckhead, neighborhood buses, the Tech Trolley and Relay bikes.
Georgia State (94)
The Georgia State MARTA station is a relatively quiet downtown station. There is a regular stream of Georgia State University staff and students along with some Grady Hospital and government employees. If you’re a tourist, check out the museum inside the Capitol Building, Georgia Railroad Freight Depot (oldest structure in downtown Atlanta) and Catholic Shrine of Immaculate Conception (second oldest structure in downtown Atlanta). Or walk about 10 minutes in the other direction to the Sweet Auburn Curb Market, Atlanta Streetcar, Apex Museum, iconic Big Bethel AME Church and the John Lewis building mural.
As a bonus, there is a Waffle House next to the station (you’re welcome), otherwise you’ll find restaurants and grocery items at the nearby curb market. Don’t forget to exit the train here as well for festivals on Sweet Auburn Avenue, including Springfest and Heritage Festival.
Peachtree Center (97)
Head to Peachtree Center for some city hustle and bustle and an epic escalator ride to streets filled with towering buildings designed by John Portman. Walk to many hotels, the Atlanta Streetcar, World of Coca-Cola, Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta Children’s Museum, SkyView and Centennial Olympic Park. Or explore the Fairlie Popular Historic District, with some of the most intact streets filled with old buildings. For some after hours fun, head to the top of the Westin Hotel for the Sun Dial bar and restaurant, visit the basement of the Hilton hotel for Trader Vic’s tiki experience, listen to live music at Sweet Georgia’s Juke Joint or sing karaoke at Metro Cafe Diner.
To experience more of downtown, ride the streetcar loop to view these historic sites.
Five Points (98)
The central MARTA station and the transfer point between all rail lines, Five Points isn’t the safest station in the system, but you can walk to a variety of fast food restaurants, banks, pharmacies, Underground Atlanta, Fairlie-Poplar historic district, and government offices. However, not many eateries are open on the weekend and recreational activities are few, though Mammal Gallery is the place to be for art and culture in the heart of the city.