Your Guide to Enjoying Southern Hospitality in ATL
The only reason you’re reading this is because you’ve got an extended layover at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and you need to kill time. Fortunately for you, this article only features practical advice for ways to entertain yourself during a layover at this airport. Hopefully, we can help make your experience a little more enjoyable.
Here’s what you need to know to get the most out of your time during your ATL airport layover.
At the Airport
Unlike many international airports, the terminal at Hartsfield-Jackson is one straight line. This makes it really easy to find your bearings and get around. The map begins with the North Terminal and continues with Concourses T, A, B, C, D, E and F, in that order. There are three levels, Arrivals, Mezzanine (where they have special things like Airline lounges) and Departures. To get between terminals, you can take the SkyTrain or just walk if you have enough time. Though, you should know that the SkyTrain doesn’t service the International Terminal.
Food and Dining
Terminal E probably wins the show with One Flew South (OFS). It’s as refined as airport dining gets. Duane Nutter, Executive Chef at OFS, puts out inspiring takes on classic American dishes like Benton’s Bacon BLT with black truffle mayonnaise and five-spice fries on the side. We also recommend you try the “OFS” Edamame complete with garlic, shallots, pickled ginger, smoked salt and sesame seeds. Ooomami, they’re good.
Other notable sit-down dining options include: Paschal’s Southern Cuisine (legendary comfort food), Grindhouse Killer Burgers (shakes, fries and killer burgers—obviously), Ecco (Mediterranean and Italian entrees paired with a dynamite wine list). These places are great for business travelers especially if you happen to have a client rendezvous in the airport.
And hey, if your layover in Atlanta has you stuck in the terminal during off-peak times, there are plenty of options for 24-hour eats: La Madeleine (Atrium), Burger King (Atrium), Gordon Biersch (Concourse A), Blue Moon Brewhouse (Concourse C), Lorena Garcia Tapas (Concourse F) and Subway (Concourse T).
Business and Pleasure
One of the best parts of your ATL airport layover will be that there’s free Wi-Fi throughout Hartsfield-Jackson. Just plop down near your gate, open up your laptop and stream Netflix or Skype with someone back home.
Restless? There are plenty of options up and down the terminal to occupy your time. You could peruse one of the six duty-free shops and load up on Kahlua. Or you could enjoy boutique shopping at places like Noelle or Brighton Collectibles (Concourse A). There are also plenty of respected men’s apparel establishments like Ermenegildo Zegna (Concourse A) and Luxe International (Concourse B & D).
Need rest? Starting at just $42, Minute Suites lets you take a nap in a private space. You also get free TV and Wi-Fi while you’re there. There is also a Delta Sky Lounge on every concourse.
In distress? De-stress at Xpres Spa (Terminal A). Top requested services include foot, neck and back massages. You can even get a gel manicure or pedicure for only $45. Who says business travel can’t include a little self-indulgence?
Before you leave the airport, remember that you’ll have to go back through security upon your return. Usually you can make it through security in less than 20 minutes. But during peak times, it could be more than two hours. Just make sure that you allow yourself enough time to make your flight!
To get around, your best bets are renting a car, jumping into a taxi or taking the train (MARTA). If you’re a ZipCar user, they have those, too. Word to the wise: heading from the airport into town will be easy. It will be far more difficult to get back to the airport. There just are not very many consistent cabs to hail. That’s just how ATL rolls. Consider yourself warned.
Points of Interest
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For a breath of fresh air, visit the Atlanta Botanical Garden. You’ll surround yourself with flowers, trees, water and greenery that will lift up your spirits and leave you feeling renewed. Though, if it’s Monday, you will need to find another option because it’s the only day of the week that they are closed.
Located just outside the airport grounds is the Delta Flight Museum. This 68,000 square-foot houses interactive experiences that showcase the history of flight. At a minimum, seeing how far we’ve come in the science of aviation will make you appreciate just how great you have it when you’re back up in the sky later in the day.
If you want to stimulate your intellectual side, the High Museum of Art is also nearby. Check out their website for the latest list of exhibitions that are sure to feed your curiosity and you’re your creativity.
If you’ve made it this far, you likely have so much time and so little to do. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
Some of the most popular tourist destinations are iconic for a reason. Top of the business travel checklist are the World of Coca-Cola, Georgia Aquarium and the CNN Center. You’re looking at around two hours round trip to visit these places, but they are definitely worth it.
If tourist attractions aren’t really you’re thing, there’s a ton of upscale retail shopping to keep you entertained. Hop on MARTA to the Lenox stop to visit Phipps Plaza. This place has tons of premier shopping opportunities at places like Dior, Armani, Hublot, Versace, Nicole Miller—they even have Lego Land. For good eats while you’re there, try Davio’s Italian and order steaks, chops and pasta. Or try Tavern at Phipps for creative American staples and classic cocktails.
Cakes & Ale If you don’t love dessert and beer, we don’t want to be your friend. Just kidding. But, unless you have a gluten allergy, we do think you should rethink your life choices. Get the fried okra, bacon-mayonnaise glazed trout or braised chicken leg with sweet potatoes and you’ll be surprised and delighted. So good.
Gunshow With bright lights and loud rock music, the atmosphere at Gunshow is not luxurious. But the food will melt your face. Unexpected twists on familiar flavors make this place a stand out. Veal sweatbread au poive, Japanese curry beef udon noodles and roasted garlic panisse are all on the menu and worth sitting down for.
The Optimist A seafood-serving treasure located in landlocked Atlanta, The Optimist is a fresh respite from fried foods typical of the South. Oh, and if you’re an ostreophile, you’ll be pleased to know The Optimist features an Oyster bar with 10+ breeds available at any given time. Shuck yea.
At Hartsfield-Jackson International and need a ride? Check out how Uber works at ATL.