Car Rental Atlanta
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Why rent a car in Atlanta?
The sprawling capital of Georgia has become one of the most important cities in the United States. Though many may not think of the city as being an important tourist destination, more than 50 million people still visit it every year. If you want to go anywhere outside of Downtown Atlanta (and you’ll see below that you should), a rental car is essential. Though traffic can be hectic at times, Atlantas prefer to drive and as a traveler, you certainly will prefer the same.
Top ways to enter Atlanta
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) -Atlanta's main domestic and international gateway just happens to be the busiest airport in the world. Don’t worry, though. Many of the passengers have connecting flights. Arrivals at the airport are efficient as is the Rental Car Center from which you can pick up your rental car from most companies.
Amtrak - A small, but charming Amtrak station can be found north of downtown. Amtrak’s Crescent stops at the station on the way from New York to New Orleans (and vice-versa). Unfortunately, unlike many stations in Europe, there is neither rental cars available nor public transportation at the station. Sixt and National have locations that are within a reasonable distance and can be reached by taxi (or Uber, since the taxi drivers waiting at the station are likely to be tough salesmen).
Most rental companies allow their vehicles to be taken to Georgia from its neighboring states. Atlanta is the location of the intersection of three major interstate highways. I-85 connects the city to I-95 near Richmond, Virginia passing through the Tir-city area and Charlotte in North Carolina and the upstate of South Carolina. I-75 starts all the way at the Canadian border in Michigan, passes through Atlanta, and ends in Miami, Florida. Finally, I-20 goes from Florence, South Carolina to its terminus at I-10 in West Texas connecting Atlanta with Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana on the way.
Useful city facts
Though the city used to be known as Hotlanta, this name is now passe. Unfortunately, it has not been long enough to use the term ironically. If you want to be hip, call it The ATL.
Atlanta has sports teams in three of the four major sports leagues. Of these teams, the Atlanta Braves of Major League Baseball is probably the most renowned having won three World Series and 17 National League Pennants. A few years ago, the team moved to SunTrust Park, which is about 10 miles northeast of downtown Atlanta at the interchange of I-75 and I-285.
The Atlanta Hawks play in the NBA. Their home arena is the State Farm Arena in downtown. Though it has been a long time since they won a championship, the team has been a consistent playoff contender in recent years.
The Atlanta Falcons play in the NFL. A running joke about the team has persisted ever seen the Super Bowl LI in 2017 in which they blew a 25 point lead over the New England Patriots during the third quarter to eventually lose the championship.
With the massive growth in popularity of soccer in America, Atlanta got an expansion team in the MLS in 2017. In just their second season, Atlanta United FC won the leagues’ championship, the MLS Cup. Both the Falcons and Atlanta United host home games in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in downtown Atlanta.
Atlanta is a hub for higher education. The most prestigious of its universities is the Georgia Institute of Technology, one of the highest-ranking public universities in the country. Its main campus is located in Midtown. The city also hosts Georgia State University, a large state university, Emory University, a well-renowned private university; the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business; and the Atlanta University Center, a group of historically black colleges. There are numerous other universities, colleges and community colleges in the city and neighboring cities and towns.
If you’re packing for Atlanta and want to know whether it will be warm or chilly, the answer is yes. As in other parts of the South, the weather can be somewhat unpredictable during most of the year. Summer is the exception to that, though, when the weather is predictably hot, or sometimes scorching hot.
No matter what the weather is, you’re probably going to want to eat at some point. And when it comes time to do such, you’re in luck as Atlanta’s culinary scene has come into its own over the past decade. No longer is Nashville the king of the kitchen in the South. Atlanta now has many skilled head chefs and everything you could want from fine dining to small, joints serving up authentic ethnic food.
Top destinations and activities
- The World of Coca-Cola - Don’t count on being able to find any other soft drink brands in Atlanta except for Coca-Cola. The sugary concoction was invented right here in Atlanta and the city has been home to the company ever since its founding. Given the popularity of the drink across the world, it is no surprise that the company’s museum is widely popular. It tells the history of the iconic brand and allows visitors to taste plenty of drinks, not just the original Coke.
- Georgia Aquarium - Right next to the World of Coca-Cola is the Georgia Aquarium. The largest aquarium in the world when it opened is still, with over 2.5 million visitors a year, one of the most popular tourist attractions in Atlanta. Highlights include whale sharks, Beluga whales, and manta rays (one of only four aquariums in the world that is home to these amazing creatures).
- The Jimmy Carter Presidential Library - The 39th President of the United States was born in the state of Georgia and would go on to become its governor. It is for this reason he wanted his Presidential Library to be in Atlanta. In addition to containing papers and materials relating to his administration, the Library (and its Museum) also host the Nobel Peace Prize he won in 2002 and a replica of his Oval Office. The library and museum are located in the Poncey-Highland neighboorhood of the city.
- Zoo Atlanta - Located in Grant Park southeast of Downtown Atlanta, the city’s zoo is a perennial favorite amongst families, even more so in October when the zoo hosts Boo at the Zoo. The fall of 2019 is a great time to visit to see the new member of the zoo’s lowland gorilla population, Floyd.
- Buckhead - The most swanky part of Atlanta is this neighborhood a few miles north of downtown and midtown. The area used to be a popular destination for partygoers, but this has been on the decline as developers have bought many places and turned them into high-end restaurants, shopping and so forth. In any case, this is the are of the city you want to be for fine dining and luxury shopping.
- Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Park- The most famous civil rights leader was born in Atlanta. Ebenezer Baptist Church where his father was pastor, and where he would become co-pastor, is now part of the historic site as his boyhood home. Other highlights include the King Center where he and his wife Coretta Scott King are buried, the “I Have a Dream” World Peace Rose Garden, and a visitor’s center with information about the site and exhibits. The National Historic Park is unsurprisingly extremely busy on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in January every year.
- CNN Center - Ted Turner founded the first 24-hour news network in 1980 in Atlanta. The world headquarters of this network is open for visitors with studio tours showing how a live broadcast is produced. The Center can be found just south of Centennial Olympic Park, an easy walk from the Georgia Aquarium and the World of Coca-Cola.
There are no longer any toll roads in the state of Georgia. Georgia 400 was formerly a toll road but has been toll-free since 2013. There are, however, Express Lanes on I-285, I-85, and I-75.
These lanes are free for those with three or more people in their vehicle (including the driver) and are available to others with payment of a toll. Either way, you must have a Peach Pass to use the lanes. Dollar and Thrifty offer their PlatePlass program which allows usage of these lanes for a small daily fee (in addition to the actual toll cost). The equivalent for Enterprise and National is TollPass. Other rental companies have similar programs.
If you plan to travel to Florida with a rental car that you pick up in Georgia, you need to be aware of the toll situation. On the Florida Turnpike and in the Orlando area, it is possible to pay tolls with cash. However, Georiga’s Peach Pass also works in Florida. This means that if the rental car company offers a Peach Pass with your rental car, you will also be able to use it in Florida.
However, in the off chance that the transponder is neither removable nor able to be switched off, you should be extra cautious. The cash lanes in Florida also accept electronic toll payments. This means that even if you pay in cash, you will still be charged through your rental contract (and if you declined the toll pass, you will be charged an extra, often exorbitant, administrative fee).
Finally, if you plan to travel all the way to South Florida, keep in mind that tolls in that region of the state are all electronic. This means cash is not accepted. Without a toll pass, you may risk exorbitant fines for using the toll roads. Of course, they can always be avoided.
Ideas for a day-trip
- Stone Mountain - Just 20 miles from downtown Atlanta, or about half an hour’s drive, Stone Mountain is a mainstay attraction of the area, though it is controversial. The mountain has the largest-bas relief in the world, but what it depicts, Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson and the President of the Confederacy Jefferson Davis, is where the controversy arises as many find monuments to Confederate figures inappropriate. Though the mountain is surrounded by a park with various activities available, its nightly laser show is by far its most popular aspect.
- Cloudland Canyon State Park - In the very northwestern corner of Georgia, Cloudland Canyon is a lovely state park. The parks canyons, cliffs, caves, and waterfalls are great reasons to make the trip for a day. There are hiking trails of various difficulty, a mountain biking trail, and a disc golf course. You can camp overnight, too. It is on the western edge of Lookout Mountain, from which you can supposedly see seven different states. The park is 120 miles northwest of Atlanta two hours
- Chattahoochee National Forest - When visiting Atlanta you should certainly head Way down Yonder on the Chattahoochee, and where better to do that than at its source in the Appalachian mountains? For the highest point in Georiga, Brasstown Bald, you can see Atlanta on a clear day. There are many hiking trails, rivers that can be rafted down, and absolutely stunning roads, particularly in the fall. The southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail is located in the national forest, too. And even though you probably won’t be setting off on the multi-month trek, you can experience a small portion of it.
- Chattooga River - On the border of Georgia and South Carolina, the Chattooga River is one of the most popular whitewater rafting and kayaking destinations in the Southeast. The upper sections of the river are drop-pool and friendly to beginners. The last section, section IV, is what makes the river famous. This section was prominently featured in the movie Deliverance. It includes Five Falls, five grade III-V rapids over a quarter-mile stretch. This section is a can’t-miss destination for experienced boaters.
- Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park - The last major battle in the Civil War between the Union and Confederate Armies prior to the fall of Atlanta and Sherman’s March to the Sea was the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain. The battlefield, located about 25 miles north of Atlanta, has been partly preserved and is administered by the National Park Service.
- Six Flags Over Georgia - The second Six Flags theme park opened, the park is a popular outing for both travelers and locals, particularly during summer months. Six Flags contains many themes from Warner Brothers movies, including Batman. There are more than ten roller coasters and a variety of other rides. The Hurricane Harbor waterpark is open during the summer months and is included in the admission price of Six Flags Over Georiga making it the perfect place to cool off in the scorching Georgian summers. The park is around 10 miles from Downtown Atlanta along I-20. If traffic is not backed up, it’s a drive that only takes about 15 minutes.
- Montgomery - The capital of the neighboring state of Alabama is a must-visit for any history buff. It is roughly two and a half hours from Atlanta and the trip simply requires heading southwest along I-85. The city is etched in the memory of the country due to the fight over civil rights in the 1960s. This is where Rosa Parks refused to move to the back of the bus and a number of protests led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Nearby Selma was the site of Bloody Sunday and the following successful march led by King.
- Birmingham - The largest city in the neighboring state of Alabama (but not its capital), Birmingham was home to historic events during the Civil Rights Era. Getting to it is simple, I-20 takes you straight to the city in about two and a half hours. The city was also one of the most important industrial cities in the South and has preserved this history with landmarks like the Sloss Furnaces. All of this makes for a great trip from Atlanta.
- Nashville - Head along I-75 to I-24 to reach the capital of both Tennessee and country music. It takes about four hours to make the 250-mile trip. Along the way, you’ll pass near Lynchburg which is famous across the world as the home of the Jack Daniels Distillery. Even though it is in a dry county (i.e., alcohol sales are outlawed) you can taste the product on some tours. In Nashville, take in the history and don’t forget to visit the Grand Ole Opry for a once in a lifetime concert.
- The Great Smokey Mountains - Stradling the border between North Carolina and Tenessee, the Smokies are just a few hours’ drive from Atlanta. The mountain range is home to the most visited national park in the country. The Great Smokey Mountains National Park has more than 850 miles of hiking trails, including 70 miles of the Appalachian Trail, and 16 peaks over 6,000 feet in elevation. If nothing more, a drive to the peak of Clingmans Dome, which has an observation tower with great views, is worth the trip from Atlanta.
- Savannah - The former capital of the colony and then the state of Georgia lies roughly 250 miles southeast of Atlanta. This small, charming city is a prime magnet for tourists. It offers a pristine historic district in a small, relaxing atmosphere with incredibly hospitable hosts. Of all the cities on the eastern seaboard, Savannah should be the number one destination for anyone that enjoys colonial cities.
- Charleston - One of the jewels of the South, Charleston can easily cause one to harken back to the days of the Old South. Downtown Charleston is simply a stunning historic place with buildings from colonial times; Rainbow Row, a row of colorful houses facing the harbor and forts used during the Revolutionary and Civil Wars; and the Historic Charleston City Market. The food (this is where the hushpuppy was born) unsurprisingly includes lots of seafood and is simply delectable Seafood is even popular for breakfast with dishes like shrimp and grits.
- Blue Ridge Parkway - With its southern terminus a three-hour drive from downtown Atlanta, one of the most scenic roads in the entire country is within easy reach. The parkway, which transits along some of the highest points of the Blue Ridge Mountains, extends from North Carolina to central Virginia for 469 miles. Of course, if you don’t have time for the whole drive, a day’s drive along the route is still worth it. Make sure you leave time for stopping at the many vistas along the way.
Car Rental Prices in Atlanta
- Large cars - from $58 per day
- Medium cars - from $54 per day
- People Carriers/Vans - from $188 per day
- Premium cars - from $93 per day
- Small cars - from $57 per day
- SUVs - from $84 per day
Top 3 Locations near Atlanta
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Int. Airport Car Rentals from $23.08 per day
Augusta Regional Airport Car Rentals from $72.56 per day230.3 km / 143.1 miles away
Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport Car Rentals from $72.56 per day344.8 km / 214.2 miles away
Map of Car Rental Locations
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Most Popular Car Models of Rental Suppliers
|Routes Car & Truck Rentals||Toyota Corolla Sedan||4||2||Large cars|
|Routes Car & Truck Rentals||Kia Rio||4||1||Small cars|
|Routes Car & Truck Rentals||Nissan Rogue||5||3||SUVs|
|Routes Car & Truck Rentals||Toyota Corolla||4||1||Large cars|
|Routes Car & Truck Rentals||Toyota Yaris Advance||4||2||Medium cars|
|Routes Car & Truck Rentals||Dodge Durango||5||3||SUVs|
|Routes Car & Truck Rentals||Jeep Wrangler||4||2||SUVs|
|Routes Car & Truck Rentals||Dodge Caravan||4||4||People Carriers/Vans|
|Routes Car & Truck Rentals||Honda Civic||4||3||Large cars|
|Routes Car & Truck Rentals||Jeep Cherokee||4||3||SUVs|
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