After Christmas, I took my thirteen-year-old daughter to Atlanta for a quick overnight trip. I wanted to share about our trip to help other moms who may wish to do the same, including tips on how to avoid traffic, ways to save money, things to do and where to eat.
We live in north Tennessee, so it’s about a 4-5 hour drive to Atlanta. I did quite a bit of reading and research about how to avoid Atlanta traffic because that was my one reservation about going in the first place. Atlanta traffic is notorious for being awful!
My first tip is to really thank carefully about how to avoid high traffic times. Leave early in the morning and think about rush hour traffic in major cities and how you can avoid them. For us, I knew we would be driving through Nashville, so we left early enough to avoid the 8-9am commute traffic. We got through well before that. I also knew we wanted to stop at Buc-ee’s on the way there to gas up and grab a bite, so I wanted to arrive before the lunch rush. We achieved that too! We wanted to arrive in Atlanta avoiding any lunch or rush hour traffic and accomplished that as well.
I was fine with taking I-24 to get there, because while I wanted to avoid I-75 and I-285 in Atlanta, we also wanted to spend as little time on the road as possible and maximize our time having fun.
If you do travel to Atlanta the week of Christmas I read up on the best days to drive and days to avoid. December 26-27 because of after-Christmas traffic, and December 30 is not recommended due to New Year’s traffic. So we chose December 28-29 and these proved to be good days to travel.
When considering time on the interstate, consider spending as little time on 75 as possible. We did get caught in some I-75 traffic as we neared Atlanta, but not for long because we exited EARLY to check out Lenox Square and the Buckhead area, one of the nicest in ATL.
Once we exited, we never used an interstate or highway the rest of our time in Atlanta. We stayed on the east side of the interstate which generally are the nicer and safer neighborhoods. On your maps app, select “avoid highways” and you can steer clear of the hectic, white knuckle Atlanta traffic. We had a GREAT experience driving through the quaint and charming Atlanta neighborhoods. This also allowed us to discover some great finds and ideas for future trips to ATL.
We saved money by eating brunch and dinner only. When we did eat, we ate well. The portion sizes at most restaurants are enough for 2 or more people so we would choose a dish with large portions and split it, asking for an extra plate. This allowed us to save money and not overeat. We also saved money by using our Marriott points so our hotel stay was completely free. You can find out how to get a Marriott Bonvoy rewards card and why we love being a member here. We strategically planned to stay near where we had dinner which was the unique and charming Dwarf House Chick Fil A, so we did not spend time and gas driving. We could head to our hotel and relax right after dinner. This Chick Fil A was the very first one and you can learn more about why it was so special and why we loved it here.
We had brunch at the highly rated Sun in My Belly. It did not disappoint. I was looking for somewhere that could make an amazing latte (mine had a pretty design on top) and an outstanding meal. SIMB fit the bill on both counts. We added it to our bucket list for places we must revisit next trip! As an added bonus, it was only 5 minutes away from Target and our Stranger Things Experience, which was the event that brought us to Atlanta in the first place. You can read about our experience here if you would like to know more. The Target was a Super Target, and had a Starbucks and Ulta inside. It was not crowded at all and we love Target so much that looking back it was one of our trip highlights.
Other notable highlights and places we would like to visit on a return trip include: East Pole coffee in Buckhead, Krog Street Market, Virginia Highland area (best food), Ponce City Market (give yourself a whole day for this, or have a clear agenda in mind. It is huge!) My biggest regret was not allowing more time for Ponce City. There was so much we wanted to do and so many places we wanted to try in the food hall but just ran out of time.
My final piece of advice is to consider your daughter and what she would LOVE. I don’t know about you, but as a mom, if my daughter’s bucket is full, mine is too. Avoid too much touristy stuff and seek out things to do and places to eat that will bring you both joy.