Exploring Atlanta via rail
November 18, 2010 1:01 PM   Subscribe

Where should I go this weekend in Atlanta, without a car, but with easy access to the rail system?

I'm visiting a friend in Atlanta this weekend, but unfortunately they're going to be busy most of the time. I won't have a car, but I'll be close to a rail station and would brave the buses, and if there's something particularly worthwhile, I have Zipcar access.

Anyplace I can wander and enjoy for some hours is good [say an area similar to Magazine street in New Orleans.
Other interests include but are not limited to barbecue, techy/sciencey stuff, used book stores, NASCAR/any sort of vehicle racing, modern art (especially design) and other 3D art (like I enjoyed seeing the Chihuly glass art at Cheekwood in Nashville), dessert, and unique local things.

I'm already looking at these two questions. Thanks for your help!
posted by radicarian to Travel & Transportation around Atlanta, GA (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The rail and bus system is pretty pitiful in Atlanta. You might just want to go ahead and line up that Zipcar.
posted by spilon at 1:09 PM on November 18, 2010

Buckhead. Enjoy
posted by hal_c_on at 1:10 PM on November 18, 2010

If you're sticking with the train, you can take the train to downtown Decatur, which is cool. You can also walk to Little 5 Points from the Inman Park train station. Takes 10 or 15 minutes, but its a nice neighborhood to walk thru. You can also take the train to CNN and the aquarium downtown, if those things interest you.

Also, all the stuff in the other threads.
posted by spilon at 1:13 PM on November 18, 2010

I have heard good things about the current Salvador Dali exhibit at the High Museum. That is at Arts Center Station on MARTA.
In Decatur (Decatur station), is my favorite beer bar, Brick Store if you like beer and Leon's Full Service, one of my favorite places to eat. Some funky shops in Decatur & a few small galleries maybe too.
There is a museum at the Paper Science Institute which is a walk or short bus ride from Midtown station.
There is a zip car on 5th street near one of the Ga Tech buildings that has 3 Chihuly glass pieces (in Tech colors!)
Fox Bros BBQ I think is pretty near the rail system. It is well regarded.
Have fun!
posted by pointystick at 1:15 PM on November 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

Welcome to Atlanta! I see via your profile that you're coming from the land of BART. Please do not assume that MARTA is anything like that; it's limited. However, the Arts Center station will give you access to the High Museum of Art, which is currently showing late Dali works (including many from the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, FL). There are also Titian and Cartier-Bresson exhibits running. While there, you'll see the signs for the Atlanta Museum of Design, which doesn't exist yet. The SCAD Atlanta campus is about half a mile away, and there's a shop on campus if you'd like to see or purchase student work.

There are a couple of Chihuly pieces at the Atlanta Botanical Garden: a hanging piece in the visitor center, and a fountain piece near the rose garden. 10th Street MARTA, walk east on 10th to Piedmont, walk up along Piedmont Park to the garden entrance. There's a Noguchi playscape in the park, too.

Barbecue: I'm partial to Community BBQ in Decatur (you'll need that Zipcar). Others prefer Fox Brothers in Inman Park, which is more Texas-style but is still pretty awesome.

If you like beer, get on MARTA and go to Decatur, then head directly to Brick Store, rated the #2 beer pub in the US for the past couple of years (second only to a place in New England that's hard to find and has no public transit station around the corner). The main bar has the regular draft taps and an outstanding selection of single malts; the upstairs-to-the-left bar is all Belgian beers on tap; and, opened yesterday, upstairs-to-the-right is rare and cask ales.
posted by catlet at 1:25 PM on November 18, 2010

On lack of preview, pointystick [friend neighbor met] beat me to a lot of it. Whoops!
posted by catlet at 1:29 PM on November 18, 2010

You might enjoy going to the new downtown aquarium -- that can take a couple of hours at least, and I liked it a lot! Then you can walk around the downtown area and see what there is to see, or take the Marta train to Decatur, which is probably nicer for just hanging around.
posted by amtho at 1:40 PM on November 18, 2010

I went to the Georgia Aquarium in downtown ATL two weeks ago, kinda as a "meh, I've got time to kill today" thing and ended up having a blast. They have whale sharks there! WHALE SHARKS! They're FREAKING HUGE FISH! Tickets were $27 each, and totally worth it. We were gonna do the Dali exhibit too, but ended up spending so much time at the aquarium we couldn't fit it in.

And it's easily accessible via Marta. In fact, you can take Marta to CNN Center, do the CNN tour, check out the aquarium, and have a nice stroll through Centennial Park while you're at it.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 2:50 PM on November 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you need any directions on how to get to the various Georgia Tech places mentioned, feel free to MeMail me - I'm a recent alum and very familiar with campus.

I would definitely check out both the aquarium and the Dali exhibit if you have time. Luckily, you can get to both without resorting to a zipcar!
posted by elerina at 5:33 PM on November 18, 2010

FWIW, I can't think of an Atlanta used book store that's worth a pilgrimage. Maybe Book Nook, but only because it's huge.

Brick Store is really fantastic, and I love downtown Decatur and would send you there in a hearbeat... but seeing as you're coming from Berkeley, and I just moved from Atlanta to Oakland, I vote barbeque as the most unique thing to go do that you won't be able to replicate in the Bay Area. Fox Bros is a great recommendation. It is a longish (20 mins) but mostly pleasant walk through the park-like Inman Park neighborhood, through the center of Little Five Points (take a look around, have a beer at The Porter), and then several more blocks to the restaurant. Regarding what to order: while everything is tasty, you're in Georgia, so you want pork. If they have them, try the Burnt Ends. Attempt to save room for the banana pudding.

You can also shorten this trip with a bus ride from the Inman Park MARTA station, but Atlanta isn't San Francisco, so the trains and buses run much less frequently. Especially on weekends.
posted by deludingmyself at 7:07 PM on November 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

Martin Luther King center/museum. It's in a bit sketchy neighborhood, and you've got to walk a few blocks from the train station, but everyone knows where you're headed. Don't let the dudes who hustle you to "walk you" to the center, just keep walking. It's totally worth going.

2nd the High, too. I saw Elton John's photo collection there a long time ago. It's a really great museum.
posted by Lukenlogs at 7:47 PM on November 18, 2010

Thanks everyone! I'll update how it turned out after the weekend.
posted by radicarian at 6:29 AM on November 19, 2010

Can't add a lot to this discussion, but if you're into BBQ, when you go to Fox Brothers, ask if Johnathan is there and ask for a tour. They are really nice guys and proud of their work.

Go to the High, and the Aquarium.

Also, if you get to Decatur Square (and you should), you'll have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to drinking. In addition to the Brick Store (which you MUST NOT MISS, and be sure to go upstairs to the "Belgian Bar" for the high gravity stuff), check out Mac Magee's (Irish place opened by a couple of guys from Dublin apparently) and The Square Pub (opened by some friends of mine). Also, off the square is Twains, which is a pretty nifty brewpub/sports bar. Iberian Pig and Parkers on Ponce are both excellent places to eat as well.

It really helps that I'm walking distance.

In Little 5 Points, you can't go wrong going to the Euclid Ave. Yacht Club. An excellent dive bar if ever there was one.

There is a small used bookstore off of Decatur Square called Books Again. It's on McDonough.
posted by kjs3 at 12:25 PM on November 19, 2010

If you are also in Little 5 Points (L5P, in the ATL), you can also visit The Brick Store's crosstown rival, The Porter. There's also one of my personal favorite bookstores, A Cappella Books in the same area.

Dessert wise, From L5P you can also walk down N. Highland into Viginia-Highlands (VaHi, in the ATL), which has Paolo's Gelato. I say walk because gelato that good must be earned. Otherwise, yeah, stick to the ZipCar. You'll also pass the Atlanta Cupcake Factory along the way.

Your L5P alternative is the East Atlanta Village (EAV, in the ATL), which has a similar array of good drinks, neat shops, and an excellent bookstore.

For urban flavor, you could also roll through the Krog Street Tunnel, maybe stop and take some pictures.

If you feel swing to the same-sex side of the street, the corner of 10th and Piedmont should be your destination. It also has the advantage of being right by Piedmont Park.

Speaking of parks, you can also stroll through Freedom Park (it's right down the street from L5P), tour the Carter Center, and see Atlanta's least beloved sculpture.
posted by Panjandrum at 2:39 PM on December 3, 2010

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