Have Deals, Will Travel: Atlanta, GA
Have you been to downtown Atlanta lately? The Georgia state capitol is the perfect destination for a quick, low-cost getaway. The city is rich with history, culture, food and fun! Though winter may bring a bit of a chill to the air in “Hotlanta,” there's still plenty to see and do, both indoors and out.
Deals to Get You There
January is best month of the year to score travel deals. Right now, Orbitz has some great flight and hotel packages available for the Atlanta area, plus discounts on car rentals. Or, if you're a member of the American Automobile Association (AAA), check their site for some of the best seasonal hotel and transportation deals.
Once in town, there's really no need to rent a car or spend money on parking. Visit atlantadowntown.com on your smartphone for access to free interactive maps of the city, including a route map of the brand new Atlanta Streetcar which costs just $3 for a one-day pass. The Streetcar was unveiled in late 2014, and in celebration, it’s operating for free for the first three months of service. Other low-cost options for getting around the city include the Buckhead Uptown Connection (BUC) or the MARTA (Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority) which offers discounted passes for visitors.
Free Things to Do
Atlanta is the birthplace of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and if you're a history buff then a visit to the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site is a must. Parking and entry to the exhibits, including the Martin Luther King, Jr. Visitor Center, The King Center and Ebenezer Baptist Church, is free. Plus, the city hosts a month-long celebration in honor of Dr. King's birthday, featuring special speeches, performances, parades and more. If you're in town on January 19, MLK Day, be sure to take advantage of free admission at the Atlanta History Center & Centennial Olympic Games Museum and free entrance to all national parks, including the nearby Chattahoochee River National Recreation area.
If you've still got a bit of holiday spirit twinkling inside you, then once the sun goes down you're in for a treat. The Holiday in Lights display continues to shine through January 19 at Centennial Olympic Park. But there's much more to do there before and after your stroll through the lights. Built for the 1996 Olympic Games, the park is open 365 days a year and serves as the venue for many of the city's festivals, concerts and other events. It's also home to the iconic Fountain of Rings. Unfortunately, the Fountain and its daily light shows are closed for maintenance until February 1.
Looking for something completely different to do, with or without kids? Admission to the Center for Puppetry Arts is free on Thursdays year-round. The center includes a museum displaying puppets from all over the world as well as a space for both live performances and film presentations. The exhibits are designed for visitors of all ages.
The next best thing to free fun is cheap fun! If you're sticking around for a few days, a CityPass is a must, with discounts of up to 50% off tickets for up to five area attractions, including the World of Coca-Cola, Georgia Aquarium, Inside CNN Studio Tour, Fernbank Museum of Natural History, Zoo Atlanta, Atlanta History Center or High Museum of Art.
It's totally free to walk around the massive Underground Atlanta complex, but you'll have to struggle not to spend a dime. Located literally beneath the streets of downtown Atlanta, this shopping and entertainment district boasts six city blocks of shops, boutiques, restaurants and nightlife.
Check back next month to see more great travel deals in other cities around the U.S.