'City Guide: Atlanta'

7 minutes

Atlanta is the official capital of Georgia and the biggest city in the state. It was founded in 1837 at the intersection of two railroad lines, one of which is the Atlantic Railroad, from which the city got its name! Nowadays, Atlanta is known as the financial, cultural and transportation center of the southeastern region of USA.

Getting to the City

Air: The main airport, Hartsfield Jackson International Airport, is located only 10 miles away from Downtown Atlanta. Passengers can start discovering Atlanta right off the plane when they visit the newest exhibit "A Walk Through Atlanta History" located in Concourse B and Concourse C. It is an educational and entertaining multimedia exploration of the city's most significant periods in history. The airport offers Wi-Fi service for $4.95 per day and plans to eliminate the fee completely by fall 2013.

Many hotels and motels offer free shuttle services for passengers traveling to and from the airport. You can also take Gold and Red MARTA (The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority) trains that connect downtown Atlanta and the airport. The airport train service operates 5 am - 1 am during the week and 6 am - midnight on weekends.

If you are planning to rent a car, you should visit Hartsfield Rental Service. All major car rental companies are represented there.

Railroad: If you are traveling by railroad, AMTRAK will take you directly into the city to 1688 Peachtree Street, NW.

Inside the City

Getting around is easy! MARTA provides bus services on 125 routes and train service on 2 lines - South-North and West-East. Public transportation in Atlanta operates from 5 am to 1 am during the week and from 6 am to 1 am during weekends.

Bike: Not a huge fan of public transportation? Rent a bike! Ride the city displays bike routes throughout the United States. Just type Atlanta and select your route.

Carriages: If you would like to explore Atlanta with a special someone, why not do so on horse carriage? Check out Carriage for Hire for more info!

Weather and Climate

Atlanta's climate can be described as Humid Subtropical. Summers in the city are warm and humid and winters are mild yet temperamental. Atlanta, or shall we say, "Hotlanta," is known for its hot weather and vibrant nightlife. July is the hottest month of a season. The average temperature is 90 F (32 C) but occasionally approaches 100 F (38 C).  The average temperature in January is 43.5 F (6 C), but it usually does not drop lower than that. Typical for the southeastern region of U. S., Atlanta receives abundant rainfall. The driest month for the city is October and March is the wettest.

To check the weather in Atlanta, click here.

Centennial Olympic Park on the 4th of July (Image via centennialpark.com)[/caption]


Centennial Olympic Park – First created for the Olympic Games in 1996, this park currently sponsors community-free events, including concerts in summer and ice skating in winter.

Grant Park – This park certainly has much to offer: a zoo, pool, and Civil War History museum just to name a few. Who is "Grant," you ask? Lemuel P. Grant is referred to as the "father" of Atlanta, the civil engineer who built the railroad that the city is named after.

The King Center – Established in 1968, this is one of the most popular destinations in Atlanta. Dedicated to the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., visitors can learn more about the famous civil rights activist known for his "I Have a Dream" speech.

Underground Atlanta – This "City Beneath the Street" is a five-block area of an original downtown historic site.  This is the ultimate place to shop, dine, play and learn about the history of the city.


CNN Center - Visit the working studios of CNN. Learn how a live broadcast is produced and accessed by viewers worldwide.

Margaret Mitchell House – Visit the home of Margaret Mitchell, author of Pulitzer-Prize winning novel Gone with the Wind. If you have not read the book, be sure to watch the movie!

World of Coca Cola – Immerse yourself in the rich heritage of Coca-Cola and learn about the history of the company. You will have a chance to meet all the Coca-Cola characters and try all the exiting flavors of this world-renowned soft drink.

Georgia Aquarium – The perfect place to meet water animals from all over the world. This aquarium lets you get up-close and personal with whale sharks and beluga whales!

Hammond House Museum – Want to see actual photographs from the mid-19th century? This museum displays a variety of works with rich African heritage.

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra – If you love music, be sure to head down to 1280 Peachtree Street NE. Ticket prices can range from $23-84, depending on the events and the seats, but most provide FREE General Admission! Plan ahead and check out the calendar for upcoming events!

Six Flags over Georgia – If you love roller coasters, spend the day at Six Flags! This is your chance to defy gravity and ride the "SUPERMAN: Ultimate Fight" or "The Great American Scream Machine."

Turner Field – As you may have heard, one of the greatest American past times is baseball. Check out a game at the Home of the Atlanta Braves.

Must Eats!


Holeman & Finch Public House – Located on 2277 Peachtree Road, Holeman & Finch is a paradise for burger lovers. Great cocktails and tasty dishes will make your night perfect.

Busy Bee – Come to Busy Bee to eat good ol' Southern Cuisine.  Mama's Beef Stew, Smothered Chicken and Oxtails are the signature dishes at this restaurant. Located on M. L. King Jr., Dr., SW, Busy Bee is open everyday except Saturdays.

Nuevo Laredo Cantina – craving authentic Mexican food? This is the perfect place for you! There is typically a long line here, but do not be intimidated, it moves quickly! We hear their salsa is worth the wait.

Sweet Cheats – Do you have a huge sweet tooth? This place "takes the cake!" if you are a cupcake connoisseur, then this is the perfect place for you! The cake pops here are hugely popular, with flavors like "Chocolate Champagne," "Luscious Lemon" and "Silken Pecan."

Street Food Thursdays – If you're wondering what to eat on a Thursday, then there are plenty of cheap options for you! Head to midtown on 12th and Peachtree Street and take your pick among almost a dozen of food truck options! Tamale Queen, Blaxican, King of Pops, and The Pickle are on the list.

Café 458 Brunch – Head to 458 Edgewood Ave NE for… you guessed it… brunch! If you've woken up late on a Sunday morning, you might be craving some breakfast food. Café 458 Brunch has tasty Georgia Peach French Toast and offers the BYO (Build Your Own) Omelet! All proceeds from Café 458 go to helping homeless individuals in the community.

Not So Cheap

Sotto Sotto – Located on 313 North Highland Avenue, this is one of the best Italian restaurants in Atlanta.  Fresh seafood, home-made pasta, artisanal pizza, and a large selection of cheeses await you!

Bone's – Come to 3130 Piedmont Road to dine at an established thirty-four year old steakhouse. The secrets of its success are practically no secret: prime meat, best fish and impeccable service are what it's all about! Dinner at Bone's can become an unforgettable part of Atlanta experience.

Tomo –Are you a sushi lover? Tomo is the place for you. Tomohiro Naito, the founder of this restaurant, offers the perfect balance between traditional Japanese food and other eclectic flavors.

South City Kitchen Midtown– Located in the heart of Atlanta, we hear South City Kitchen Midtown has some of the best buttermilk fried around! It is not deemed as the most authentic southern comfort food, but it sure hails to be delicious! If you have a special valentine during your program, we hear this is the perfect place for dinner!

Canoe – If you love seafood and want to eat at a restaurant with beautiful scenery, head to Canoe! You can try some Crispy Rock Shrimp Salad, Slow Roasted Carolina Rabbit or Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict!

On a budget?  Visit our Top 10 Under $10 Atlanta Guide

Other Helpful Resources

InterExchange Career Training USA is a top J-1 Visa sponsor for university students and young professionals who have already secured internships or training programs with companies in the U.S. If you still need to find an internship or training program in the U.S., check out our resources and start the J-1 Visa sponsorship process early.

Ani Kington Ani Kington

Originally from Columbus, Ohio, Ani is a fan of exploring new places through photography and the local cuisine. After earning her BFA in photography from NYU and gaining communications experience at International Planned Parenthood Federation, she joined InterExchange in 2012, and worked as the Marketing Producer until 2016.

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