Travel advice for Montgomery and Atlanta please!
August 9, 2014 7:38 AM   Subscribe

Hi MetaFilter! I have upcoming work travel to Montomery, AL. I am planning to fly through Atlanta, GA, and drive in to Montgomery. Let me tell you about my special snowflake issues.

I am an experienced traveler but have not been to either Atlanta or Montgomery before. My plan is to fly into Atlanta and drive to Montgomery since I've occasionally had trouble getting cars at small regional airports and Atlanta presumably has more amenities. What should I know about making this trip? Does anyone have an opinion about staying in Atlanta versus Montgomery? Any advice is good, including the "do not go here" variety.

I will need to eat on this trip. I am a vegetarian with multiple food allergies including gluten and soy. I especially like Mexican, Ethiopian, and Indian cuisines but will eat and enjoy nearly anything. I often do well with places run by hippies, but generally I need to be able to ask questions about what's in the food.

I also like tea and would like to find a place to hang out and work or read. If there is a good place to get zines or strange books, that would be lovely, and any museum recommendations would also be appreciated.
posted by bile and syntax to Travel & Transportation (8 answers total)
I'm a bit confused about your arrangements. How long are you going to be in Atlanta? Frankly as an Atlantan, I'd avoid Hartsfield like the plague and fly through to Montgomery and take my chances with whatever car they had for me there. I mean it's a rental, who cares what it actually is.

Hartsfield is a BEAST of an airport, probably one of the worst for schlepping. The gate structure, the distance between your gate, luggage and rental car pavilion, it's a real mess. I'm not kidding. Hell, even changing gates is a hassle, but I'd rather do that then haul and schlep luggage, and then drive in Atlanta traffic to Montgomery.

Are you asking for recommendations in Montgomery, or will you be staying in Atlanta for a couple of nights? How long is your business in Montgomery?

Frankly, if you have no business in Atlanta, just go straight to Montgomery, do what you need to do and fly home.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:00 AM on August 9, 2014 [3 favorites]

I agree with ruthless bunny. I live in Atlanta, and I avoid Hartsfield unless absolutely necessary. Getting to a rental car is a pain, you're walking EVERYWHERE with the cast of millions, and it's just not a pleasure.

Go to Montgomery, rent a car, and hit up the grocery store for snacks.
posted by heathrowga at 8:02 AM on August 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you're set against flying into Montgomery, I'd suggest instead flying into Birmingham and then driving from there. Birmingham is a pretty nice place with a decent, but not tiny, airport, and Birmingham is much less difficult to get around in than Atlanta is. Speaking as someone who has lived for years in Birmingham, Montgomery and Atlanta. Birmingham also has a lot more food options and is much more friendly to odd food requirements than Montgomery, at least in my admittedly rather dated at this point experience.

As to food advice, it's been years and years since I lived in Montgomery, but I remember this place being a pretty great burrito restaurant, and according to their menu they are able to do gluten free and vegan/veg.

When I was last there (admittedly quite a long time ago) it was that area which was most likely to have the sorts of places you are looking for, so it might be a good starting point.

Montgomery is home to the F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum, which I have never been to but have always wanted to visit. They also have a Year-Round Shakespeare Festival with a pretty nice grounds that people visit to do park things in.
posted by ZeroDivides at 8:38 AM on August 9, 2014 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: I have a work event one day in Montgomery, so I will fly in the day before and fly out either that night or the next day.

I've gotten into small regional airports especially in the south and been told that even though I had reserved a car, they don't have any cars and may not get any for a few days. Also because of the size of Hartsfield, if something goes wrong with my flights, I will probably still be able to get home.
posted by bile and syntax at 9:53 AM on August 9, 2014

You're going to find your food options limited in Montgomery, but ZeroDivides suggestion of El Rey and its neighborhood is a very good one.

On your way into/out of town there is a relatively new Indian restaurant called Taste of India. Their website is down, so I don't know if they're still open. I've not lived in the area since last fall. When I did live nearby, it was my preferred option for Indian.

One thing to remember about traveling between ATL and Montgomery is the change from Eastern to Central. As an experienced traveler, you've likely already taken that into account with your planning, but it caught me by surprise the first time I traveled there on business long before I lived in AL.

One suggestion for Ethiopian near Hartsfield, Bole is very good and very close. Their site seems to be down too right now, though.
posted by LinnTate at 10:23 AM on August 9, 2014

I live in the area. MGM has several rental car agencies, and there are lot of motels and hotels in the city. I'd recommend staying in the Eastern Montgomery area (around exits 6 or 9 on I-85). While MGM is nowhere near the size of an international airport, it's not the kind of back-water where you're likely to wind up stranded, and I think schlepping through ATL and driving out of there to Montgomery is not likely to be the better course.

The area around El Rey has about the only independent bookstore - it's just down the street from there, actually - Capitol Book store. And, as luck would have it, a coffee/tea shop between there and there (we keep our bohemian district fairly tight and confined in the Gump). The book store's not large on zines and really strange books, last I checked, but it is locally run and you might enjoy it.

You might also like the State Archives museum downtown. There is also a visitor's center at the Union Station which has information on a number of small attractions in the downtown area. The focus is typically on "The Civil War and Civil Rights," but there are also some off-the-wall things like the Hank Williams museum...

If you want more info, or to meet up, PM me and, depending on the days and times involved, I will do what I can.
posted by randomkeystrike at 12:39 PM on August 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Montgomery isn't so podunk as to not have any rental cars. Get a motel near where your appointment is. Fly direct and save yourself some SERIOUS aggrivation.

If you try to drive out of Atlanta to Alabama at rush hour, you will be a very unhappy bunny. Although there is a time difference, Atlanta is Eastern Time Zone, Montgomery is Central. So you can use the extra hour as a buffer, just be mindful when scheduling your homeward bound flight.

Hartsfiled in the afternoon is a problem for outgoing flights, especially this time of year, we have violent afternoon thundershowers. So you may get hung up in Atlanta. Not to worry, you're going to change planes at Hartsfield, so if for some weird reason your flight is cancelled, you could always take a shuttle or rent a car or have options to get to Atlanta should it come to that. (I wouldn't worry.)

Honestly, the South isn't a third-world country. Skip Atlanta, it's the equivalent of staying in Los Angeles for a meeting in San Diego.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:11 PM on August 9, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks everyone! I have been nervous about this trip because of past trouble in Jackson MS but I'm going to see about flying to Montgomery and checking things out from there.
posted by bile and syntax at 9:59 PM on August 9, 2014

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