Trip Ideas

Things to Do in Atlanta During a Layover

With so much great food, art, shopping and hotels at the airport and in nearby towns, you'll wish you had more time between flights!

  • Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport

Thousands of people pass through Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport every day from all corners of the globe. The next time your travels take you through the Georgia capital, take the chance to explore the airport and its surrounding neighborhoods. There's plenty to keep you entertained on your layover, whether for a few hours or a few days.

In the Airport

Do you only have a few hours to spare? The Atlanta airport is a world of its own and is a glimpse into what the city has to offer, just in miniature form.

Restaurants

One Flew South at the Atlanta Airport. Photo courtesy of Taste of the South.

Did you know that the airport is home to one of the country’s top restaurants? One Flew South has won countless awards for its sushi and craft cocktails. But they’re not the only ones. Throughout the terminals, you’ll find outposts of Atlanta’s most beloved restaurants, including The Varsity, Paschal’s, Grindhouse Killer Burgers, Varsano’s, Ecco, and LottaFrutta. And don’t miss the eateries you can only enjoy here like Chicken + Beer, owned by Atlanta native Ludacris, and Jekyll Island Seafood Company, which showcases the best seafood of the Georgia coast.

Things to Do

Flight Paths by Steve Waldeck

Every corner of the airport has something to offer if you know where to look. There are countless art installations, from the murals to the light sculptures, as well as rotating exhibits like items from the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. and African sculptures. Varasano's Pizzeria has its own piano player for some ambiance during your meal. Treat yourself to a manicure at Xpress Spa in terminals A and C or a full massage at the Asanda Spa, the Delta Sky Club’s luxurious members only facility.

Shopping

Shopping at the Tommy Hilfiger store in the international terminal at the Atlanta airport

What’s better than shopping? Duty free shopping! Hartsfield-Jackson has plenty of it. There are also locations of the most luxurious brands, including Brooks Brothers, Coach, Bulgari, and Sean John. Get yourself some essentials at Kiehl’s or replace that old luggage at Mori. ExOfficio has travel clothing and gear. Don’t miss the Spanx stores, owned by Atlanta native Sara Blakely.

Hotels

Minute Suites at the Atlanta airport

While not yet open for business, a project is in the works to bring an InterContinental hotel within the terminals of the airport, putting you one step closer to shuteye. In the meantime, visit the Minute Suites at Concourse B, which has cozy rooms available for rent by the hour.

Near the Airport

If you have a bit more time, venture into the neighborhoods of the ATL Airport District, including College Park, East Point, Hapeville and Union City. Hop on board a MARTA train to explore.

Restaurants

A short drive from the airport, you can have nearly any type of cuisine. Mami's La Cubana in Hapeville is a favorite of airline employees for the authentic Cuban fare, but be prepared to wait for a seat at the cozy eatery. Nearby, visit the Dwarf House, one of the early locations of Chick-fil-A, which has its headquarters nearby. Drip Coffee Shop is where you go for your morning jolt and a quick bite. Located in an old gas station, Brake Pad is one of College Park’s favorite local watering holes, serving up local craft beer and a menu that features burgers and tacos.

Brake Pad in College Park, Georgia

Oz Pizza in East Point specializes in pizza, calzones, subs, and Italian fare. Indulge your sweet tooth at neighboring Kupcakerie, a bakery that carries unique flavors of cupcakes like churro or lemonade. Thumbs Up Diner is a local chain loved for its all-day breakfast, while Arden's Garden has made an empire out of its juices and healthy eating stores. And don’t miss the Alaskan crab legs that have made Spondivits Food & Spirits a popular spot since 1979.

Things to Do

Delta Flight Museum in Atlanta

You don’t have to visit downtown Atlanta to experience some of the city’s most unique attractions. The Porsche Experience Center in Hapeville is home to the luxury car brand’s test track, simulator, and exhibits on the company’s history. The Delta Flight Museum in College Park showcase’s the airline’s history in one of their original hangars, complete with vintage aircrafts and a 747 purchased by company employees. Golf fans can tee off at the Historic College Park Golf Course, which dates back to 1929. Learn about Chick-fil-A's rise from local restaurant to national chain on the Backstage Tour at their headquarters south of the airport. When you’ve had your fill of history, grab a cold one at Arches Brewing, the Hapeville’s own craft brewery.

Shopping

BeerGirl Growler & Bottleshop in Hapeville, Georgia

If you’re looking for big-name brand stores, you’ll find them on Camp Creek Parkway in College Park, which has a Target, Old Navy, and T.J. Maxx. Beer Girl, Growlers & Bottleshop in Hapeville sells craft labels of beer and wine and also has a taproom for tastings.

Hotels

Solis Two Porsche Drive in Atlanta

There are some top-notch hotels accessible via the SkyTrain at the Georgia International Convention Center, including a brand-new Renaissance Concourse Atlanta Airport Hotel, alongside a Atlanta Airport Marriott Gateway and SpringHill Suites Atlanta Airport Gateway. Further out, the Hotel Indigo Atlanta Airport - College Park welcomes guests along with Embassy Suites by Hilton Atlanta Airport and The Westin Atlanta Airport locations. Solis Two Porsche Drive is one of the hotel group’s first American properties, located alongside the Porsche Experience Center.


Caroline Eubanks is a freelance writer, travel blogger and film geek from Atlanta. She writes about travel in the South and beyond for BBC Travel, Afar, AAA, and her websites, This Is My South and Caroline in the City.

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