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Mar 8, 2013 12:04 PM

Four hour layover at ATL with teens

I am flying to Florida via ATL later this month and we have a four hour layover between connecting flights. We'll be two adult and two teenagers, and I'm thinking that rather than killing time in the airport we'll have enough time (if there are no delays) to get a real dinner somewhere in town.

Any suggestions? We can either take a cab or MARTA, depending on location.


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  1. MARTA is not the most reliable and timely system...I would say count on 1 hour each way from airport to Buckhead, to be safe, which doesn't leave much time in the city. My recommendation would be to instead head to the new International terminal. You can eat at the Varsity, an Atlanta institution for food (though without the real experience), or Jekyll Island Seafood. I'd hate to take a risk with your connection because you got stuck in Atlanta traffic!

    1. I've never experienced major delays or problems with MARTA, but I'm not a local and obviously don't ride it every day.

      4 hours is probably the minimum amount of time required to leave the airport. If you do, I certainly wouldn't dawdle.

      That said, there are 2 places in College Park, very close to the airport and within walking distance of the MARTA stop that you probably have time to go to...Pecan and The Feed Store. You didn't say what day and time you're arriving, so you'll have to check to see if they are open, how the MARTA schedule meshes, etc. As long as its not rush hour I think a cab would be a suitable alternative. Another option in College Park is Manchester Arms, not within walking distance of MARTA, but a short cab ride.

      I don't think you have enough time to go further into Atlanta than College Park, unfortunately.

      Do a search on here for those places and you'll find existing threads providing more information.

      1 Reply
      1. re: carolinadawg

        4 hours is not much time in ATL to leave the airport, trust MARTA, and/or traffic. I would stay in the airport......there is plenty to do & plenty of places to eat. Sometimes in that airport, you're doing good to get to your connection in less than an hour.

      2. Agree that 4 hours is not much time. Time really is not your friend in Atlanta, and the airport is not close to anything. I live in the metro area and leave my house 2 hours before scheduled flights, and sometimes I'm cutting it close.

        MARTA has worked well for me when I've used it, but due to budget problems the trains don't run all that close together like in NY or other large cities.

        The Varsity is a fun idea, an Atlanta original, and you could conceivably get to the real Varsity on the train and back in time [short walk from the North Avenue station]. But, that's an awful lot of trouble just for a hamburger, even one in a unique setting like the V.

        For a restaurant very near the airport, you might think about Spondivits in East Point. Good seafood, flown in fresh daily, very lively atmosphere. One of the Atlanta newspaper's restaurant critic just dubbed it an Atlanta "classic." See
        Your teens would probably like it. It's under 2 miles from the airport so time is not an issue.

        Good luck and let us know what you decide.

        1 Reply
        1. re: krwolffman

          So you think trying to get all the way to the North Avenue station is a better idea than going to somewhere in College Park (the first MARTA stop from the airport) is a better idea, despite 4 hours not being much time?

          Btw, just to be clear, jboeke was recommending the Varsity that is located inside the airport.

        2. So I'm getting that leaving the airport might not be such a good idea. How about places in the airport, preferably sit down restaurants (I noticed Varsity is counter service) so that we can kill some time?

          Thanks for the quick replies.

          9 Replies
          1. re: LloydG

            There are sit down restaurants in the airport. Another good "meat 'n three" is Paschal's - been around for years.

            Like I said in other post - you won't have any problems being "entertained" in the airport, there is plenty to do & eat.

            1. re: chloebell


              While I hate ATL as an airport for connecting flights (because it's so damn big), it's on the top of my list of airports to be "stuck" at for long layovers.

              1. re: ipsedixit

                Totally concur Ipsy..
                Had a 5 hour layover in July in ATL and we ate and drank quite well from vouchers and a upgrade to 1st..I would not leave the premises.

              2. re: chloebell

                By the way, do you know if Varasano's has opened up in ATL yet?

                  1. re: jethro stella

                    In the airport? 4-5 years ago? Really? Which terminal? Concourse?

                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      Pretty sure I hasn't opened yet; it certainly didn't open 5 years ago. Here's a newspaper article with some details, sounds like it be sometime between now and early 2014 before it opens. By the way, I will be a "licensed" operation, so keep you fingers crossed as to how good it will be. Location is food court in Concourse A.


                      1. re: carolinadawg


                        If it's been in ATL for 4-5 years now I would feel entirely foolish cuz I've spent so much time at that darn airport, scarfing down finger food at the Delta Sky Clubs ... and that darn froyo at Fresh├źns.

              3. re: LloydG

                I agree with most posters about the issues with leaving the airport to travel for food. If you do decide to travel shortly Simons steakhouse is a couple of exits away on Marta and close to the Marta station. I will not say its worth the hassle if you chose some place in the airport and figure out another way to stretch your legs and entertain.

              4. My favorite place to eat at the ATL airport is One Flew South. Here's the link, it's on Terminal E

                They have a sushi bar, very nice food, good drinks/cocktails for the adults, and without the stress of trying to leave the terminal, get somewhere, eat, pay, get back, go through security- I get stressed just thinking about all that! :)