This extremely comprehensive post was put together by the lovely Whiskeydaisy over on Tumblr. And was used with her permission.
Welcome to Atlanta.
This post is a new version of my 2013 post, and is updated to refer to the Atlanta Marriott Perimeter Center, the main con hotel for 2014.
PLEASE NOTE: If you see a version of this post that refers to the Holiday Inn Chamblee/Dunwoody, that is for 2013. Though much of the information remains the same in this post, hotel-related information has changed.
Luckily, if you used MARTA last year, you’re already familiar with the Dunwoody station - and the new hotel is less than a quarter-mile away by foot, on sidewalks.
You should also take a look at this post about eating near con.
You may be wondering how to get to the con hotel from Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (the busiest airport in the world!). This is a collection of the thoughts I have about Atlanta traffic - it is NOT official con opinion, just that of someone who lives and drives here.
Please be aware that, though the con hotel is only about 25 miles from the airport, traffic conditions vary dramatically in Atlanta. If you arrive during peak traffic hours, the trip could take more than an hour by car. (I commute from downtown Atlanta to the airport area, and it takes me anywhere from 20 to 50 minutes to get home.)
Atlanta is a car culture. I apologize in advance to those of you coming from walkable cities with robust public transit, as we are not one of you.
Are you driving to con?
Three major interstates run through Atlanta: I-75, I-85, and I-20.
I-75 and I-85 are the same road (called a “duplex”) through the urban core on a stretch of freeway called “the Connector” that intersects with I-20. The signage is remarkably good on the Connector, especially heading northbound; just pay attention to Exit Only lanes.
There is also a circular perimeter freeway, I-285, and that is where the con hotel is located. If I-285 is a clock face, the airport is at 7:00 and the con hotel is at 12:00. No matter how you get here, you’ll likely be on I-285 at some point. The image below shows the distance between the two, as well as one possible route for driving from the airport to the hotel via I-85 and GA 400N.
Google Maps will offer you two routes between Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and the Atlanta Marriott Perimeter Center (246 Perimeter Center Pkwy NE, Atlanta GA 30346). The route that uses I-85 and GA 400N is generally faster. You may have heard that GA 400 is a toll road; this is no longer the case, but please watch for traffic lane rerouting as removal of the old toll plaza is ongoing.
You may find this link useful: Georgia511. This is real-time traffic information from traffic cameras installed on Georgia freeways.
Getting to the hotel if you’re not driving
Average cab fare from Hartsfield to the Marriott Perimeter Center is about $65 plus tip, depending on traffic. Advantage is no waiting, disadvantage is that I’m pretty sure you’ve got something better to spend your money on.
Private company shuttles
Several companies offer shuttle services to the Perimeter area. The airport offers a list of providers here; click the Perimeter link. Cost averages $30-$35 per person. It is best to call ahead and confirm that your chosen shuttle will drop you at the Atlanta Marriott Perimeter Center; usually, you can also pay for your ticket with a credit card and purchase ahead of time. Some shuttles require reservations 24-48 hours in advance. In Atlanta, it is customary to tip shuttle drivers; a dollar is fine, but add one or two dollars more if the driver handles your suitcases (especially if they’re bulky or heavy). It’s okay to offer a tip - if the driver can’t accept due to shuttle policy, they’ll let you know.
MARTA is Atlanta’s public transit service. Despite MARTA’s shortcomings (and you can grab me at con for sociopolitical venting if you care), it is your best possible scenario for the airport-to-con trip.
At the airport, you will take a tram from your terminal to the main building. Delta passengers go to the left at the top of the escalator, almost everyone else to the right; the Airport MARTA station is at the end of baggage claim and can be reached from both sides.
You will purchase your ticket from the vending machines on the wall. You must also buy a reloadable Breeze card for $1.00; if you think you’re coming for con next year, stick it into your con stuff when you leave so you can reuse it. Tap your card on the round sensor at the gate and head to the trains.
Your final destination is the Dunwoody MARTA station.
Tip: Dunwoody is on the Red Line (final destination North Springs), but both Red and Gold trains depart from Airport. If you find yourself on a Gold train (final destination Doraville), you can transfer at any station through Lindbergh Center.
PLEASE NOTE: After 7 pm, all trains going north from the Airport are Gold trains. You MUST exit the train at Lindbergh Center and transfer to a Red train for the remainder of your trip.
The fare for Airport-Dunwoody is $2.50. The various pass and fare options are shown here. The last northbound train departs the Airport station at 1:18AM weekdays, 1:00AM weekends and holidays.
Once you get to Dunwoody MARTA, then what?
You will be less than a quarter-mile from the hotel! There are several exits from the station; when you exit the fare gates, continue straight ahead to the elevator or staircase. Go to the ground level and go out to the street, which is Hammond Drive. Turn right as you leave the station, then left at the first light (onto Perimeter Center Parkway). The hotel will be on your left, up a hill.
A cab from Dunwoody MARTA to the Atlanta Marriott Perimeter Center will be less than $10. This may be reasonable for you, especially if you can split it with someone and there’s a cab handy when you arrive.
HOWEVER. The Marriott offers a complimentary shuttle; I called and confirmed this today. It runs on demand, which means that someone has to call and order it: (770) 394-6500.
Please, be kind! Get a group of people together and call at one time to minimize the number of trips it will have to make. In Atlanta, it is customary to tip shuttle drivers; a dollar is fine, but add one or two dollars more if the driver handles your suitcases (especially if they’re bulky or heavy). It’s okay to offer a tip - if the driver can’t accept due to shuttle policy, they’ll let you know.
Other things about Atlanta in April
It will likely be temperate and wet (historical weather data | forecast from Weather Channel). April in Atlanta is prime spring thunderstorm season. While the temperature will usually stay in the 70s, it’s as likely as not to rain at least once while you’re here. April humidity ranges from 39% to 91%. The dewpoint doesn’t get much about 65F, though, so it’s mostly humid when it’s about to rain. Bad for frizzy hair, good for dry skin.
April is the beginning of our pollen season, in which the pollen count can go into four digits. If you’re susceptible to tree or plant pollen, click this link. You can select individual days in last April’s pollen calendar to see what was in the air.
Again, welcome to Atlanta. Have fun at con!