Sightseeing in Atlanta: Destinations where you might want a car (and not MARTA)

So you’re planning a trip to Atlanta and researching the top sights and things to do (or you’re looking for ways to entertain your out-of-town guests). Fortunately, many attractions are easy to get to on MARTA. Others take more time and planning, especially if bus rides or long walks aren’t good options for you. Check out the list below to see which Atlanta tourist destinations require more effort, especially if you are on a short visit, traveling with children, unable to walk long distances or are uncomfortable with riding buses.

1. Stone Mountain Park

Stone Mountain Park is probably the hardest Atlanta attraction to get to on transit, or at least one of the longest commutes if you’re only riding MARTA and not using a ride share program like Uber or Lyft for part of the trip. The bus ride is over 30 minutes long via route 121, plus the train and walk commute time, so you’ll need to allow at least one hour to complete the one-way trip. If you are short on time or uncomfortable with riding the bus, this attraction is probably not for you unless you request a car from the nearest train station or rent a car. Unfortunately, the Stone Mountain Railroad pictured above just goes around the park and not into the city.

2. Atlanta History Center

A great museum with a library and gardens, the Atlanta History Center is a wonderful place to visit, but does require a bus commute or 25-minute walk along busy Peachtree Road in Buckhead. The bus ride isn’t long if you are willing to ride the bus or are familiar with public transit (this is a great destination to experiment with regarding a bus commute), and the same bus travels to other top tourist destinations including the High Museum of Art, Margaret Mitchell House and the Fox Theatre.

3. Zoo Atlanta

Like the Atlanta History Center, Zoo Atlanta is about a 25-30 minute walk away from the closest MARTA station, which is great if you want to urban hike and see some of the historic Grant Park neighborhood. One bus route also travels to the zoo from the King Memorial train station, but you’ll need to monitor schedules and real-time arrivals (via the MARTA on the Go app) because missing the bus means waiting awhile for the next one to arrive.

Additionally, the bus commute might be a difficult if you have children in tow. Some area hotels do provide a free taxi to the zoo, so be sure to check out the list and confirm service with the hotel. Or check out Atlanta’s newest commute option to the zoo via a Relay Bike rental at the King Memorial MARTA station.

4. Fernbank Museum and Science Center

The Fernbank Museum of Natural History is another 30-minute neighborhood walk away from MARTA rail in a wooded area near Emory University. (The walk is pleasant if you’re up for the exercise). One bus stops near the museum, which you can combine with sightseeing at the Fox Theatre and downtown Decatur. Be sure to have apps handy with bus information to not miss your ride or have walking shoes to enjoy a stroll through the Candler Park neighborhood on the way to the museum. The related and nearby Fernbank Science Center is even harder to get to on MARTA, and best to have Uber or a rental car for that commute.

5. Michael C. Carlos Museum

Ancient wonders await at the Michael C. Carlos Museum, but walking from MARTA rail isn’t an option. If you are comfortable riding a bus for about 20 minutes, there are two to choose from, which expands your options getting to and from the museum on Emory’s campus. Besides the university, a CDC museum is also nearby, otherwise, the area is a bit isolated due to being surrounded by neighborhoods.

6. Chastain Park

Similar to Stone Mountain Park, Chastain Park is only accessible by bus. In Buckhead, the park is in a residential area and you’ll have to plan carefully for the bus commute. Uber or Lyft are good options, especially for the concerts in the Chastain Park amphitheater when parking is expensive and traffic heavy. The Buckhead and Medical Center MARTA stations on the red line are the best places to request a ride.

7. Atlanta Movie Tours

Atlanta Movie Tours offer a variety of fun adventures from their home base in the Castleberry Hill neighborhood. Just southwest of downtown Atlanta, the neighborhood isn’t very safe to walk to from MARTA, and while there are two buses that travel to the neighborhood, a car service or rental is the better way to go. ATL-Cruzers offers tours more convenient to MARTA near the Peachtree Center station, though the tours do not focus on Atlanta’s movie scene.

More Information

Top 10 Tourist Attractions Near MARTA
Hotels Near MARTA
5 Most Walkable MARTA Stations