The holidays are supposed to be a merry season when you enjoy spending time with family and friends. Unfortunately, sometimes you end up spending more time trying to travel to see those beloved family and friends than sitting around the fire sipping eggnog and catching up.
As the world’s busiest airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport may end up being your layover hub during holiday travels, but there is no need to twiddle your thumbs waiting in the terminal for your plane to take off. Use your time wisely to explore all the airport has to offer and, if you are a brave one, leave the airport boundaries and see what kind of sightseeing you can get in during those extra hours. Below are some suggestions on activities to keep you busy.
In the airport: There is lots of fun stuff to keep you occupied at the airport. From shops to eateries, Atlanta’s airport makes it easy to forget you are being held prisoner by holiday delays.
– If you aren’t able to make it to the world famous Georgia Aquarium, you can get a taste of the hoopla at Beyond the Reef, the aquarium’s retail shop located in the southeast Atrium of the airport. Great for both adults and kids, the shop carries a variety of official Aquarium gifts and souvenirs.
– There is no better time to enjoy a little shoeshine than when you’re killing time at the airport. Mastershine and Heel has four locations throughout Hartsfield-Jackson including one in each atrium. After all, you want to arrive for holiday festivities with shiny shoes don’t you?
– For a one-of-a-kind airport dining experience, there is nothing like One Flew South, an upscale restaurant located in Terminal E that serves up global fare prepared with ingredients from regional farmers. Cocktails and sushi is also available.
– For an eatery with a more casual Atlanta feel, visit Sweet Water Brew House in Terminal B. This laid back spot pours local microbrews from Sweetwater Brewery and offers American cuisine.
Near the airport: If you feel the need to leave the airport and explore the immediate surroundings of College Park, you might not find the most exhilarating travel experience, but you will at least be able to socialize with folks that aren’t fretting about a layover.
– The Pecan is a popular restaurant in the neighborhood that is worth checking out. Located about 2 miles from the airport across from College Park’s historic train depot on Main Street, the restaurant offers southern fusion cuisine. After finishing your meal (and checking the time) take a gander through the historic downtown area before heading back to the airport.
– About 3 miles from the airport you can delve into some authentic southern style barbecue at Hambones BBQ. Housed in a homely building in nearby Hapeville, Hambones is known for its finger lickin’ barbecue ribs, pork and chicken as well as the lip smacking sweet tea.
For the love of Rudolph, will you make it back to the airport in time?
For those of you that are really courageous and determined to get in a true taste of Atlanta during your layover, hop in a cab and head to one of these downtown destinations, which are about 12 miles from the airport.
– Centennial Olympic Park (a nice a scenic landmark perfect for a quick walk)
– Georgia Aquarium (give yourself a couple hours to tour the largest aquarium in the world)
– CNN (the Inside the Studio Tour, which accounts the creation and inner workings of the 24-hour news network, takes about 50 minutes)
– World of Coca-Cola (a comprehensive visit, which includes lots of taste testing, is estimated to take 90 minutes)
While it should only take you about 20 minutes once you are in the cab to reach downtown, you MUST take into account Atlanta’s unpredictable traffic patterns when attempting to make it back in time for your flight. If you would like to see downtown, but aren’t brave enough to commit to a tour or visit of an attraction, have the cabbie take you on a drive through the downtown area so you can at least get a feel for the city’s main nucleus.
[photo courtesy of bradywahl]