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Find the Heart of AtlantaAtlanta—also known as Hotlanta, Mylanta and The Big Peach—has had a lot going on since 1837, when an army engineer surveyed routes for the Western and Atlantic Railroad that would connect Georgia with Chattanooga and provide a trade route to points west. A train depot was built within spitting distance of where MARTA's Five Points station stands today.

Less than 30 years later the enterprising young city became a smoking ruin when Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman torched it on his infamous “March to the Sea” across central Georgia. But Atlanta rose phoenix-like from the ashes and prospered. A century later native son Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. won the Nobel Peace Prize; 4 years after that prestigious honor his funeral and burial took place in the city.

Simultaneously extolled as a shining example of the “New South” and excoriated as a capital of crime, Atlanta's truth—as always—lies beyond the headlines. But if you judge the measure of success by an impressive vertical profile, it stands quite tall. At 1,039 feet, Bank of America Plaza (600 Peachtree St. N.E.) is one of a handful of buildings in the U.S. breaking the 1,000-foot barrier. In fact Atlanta has three separate skylines—downtown, Midtown and Buckhead. And more than 65 streets, avenues and drives in the metro region include “Peachtree” in their name, which has to be some sort of record.

Looking beyond the statistics—and lacing up your walking shoes for a little exploring—will uncover the Southern grace and rich historical legacy that are integral components of the cityscape that makes it a popular travel destination. That's certainly the case with the Margaret Mitchell House, which you might pass without even noticing (it's at 979 Crescent Ave. N.E.). During the 1920s the unobtrusive building was called the Crescent Apartments, and it was in apartment #1 that Mitchell wrote her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “Gone With the Wind.”

If you're looking for fun places to go, 660 Peachtree St. N.E. is where the Fox Theatre is located. The opulent interior of this Atlanta landmark is straight out of a Moorish/Egyptian fantasy. A checkered past includes moments of glory as well as an impending date with the wrecking ball in the 1970s—before the theater was spared from demolition thanks to committed citizens who organized a vigorous “Save the Fox” renovation campaign. This grand old palace remains just about the best place in town to see a show.

Atlanta doesn't lean entirely on past glories, though. Next to Centennial Olympic Park, the National Center for Civil and Human Rights is a striking, LEED-certified, sustainable building. Representing hands, two curved walls covered in differently hued panels cradle the center. The effect is one of angular sculpture conveying the strength, optimism and uplifting spirit of the center, while the panels represent how different individuals can come together to create social progress.

And yet some things are impervious to the passage of time. Historic Oakland Cemetery, founded in 1850, grew significantly in size when it came time to bury 6,900 Civil War soldiers. The final resting place of prominent Atlantans Margaret Mitchell, Maynard Jackson and Bobby Jones, the cemetery contains a fascinating assemblage of 19th-century mausoleums and headstones. Then head to The Varsity's original downtown location on North Avenue, which opened in 1928. In response to the genially barked question “What'll ya have?” order a “heavyweight,” a “ring one” and a “frosted orange.” Trust us; this beloved drive-in has fed hordes of hungry people—especially after Georgia Tech football games—for what seems like forever.

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Atlanta, GA

Top AAA Diamond Hotels

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210 Peachtree St NW. Atlanta, GA 30303

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Travel Information

City Population

420,003

Elevation

1,050 ft.

Sales Tax

The sales tax in the Atlanta metro area is 8.9 percent. An additional 7 percent is levied on hotel rooms, bringing the total tax on hotel stays to 15 percent.

Emergency

911

Police (non-emergency)

(404) 614-6544

Time and Temperature

(770) 455-7141

Hospitals

Wellstar Atlanta Medical Center, (404) 265-4000; Emory Saint Joseph's Hospital, (678) 843-7001; Emory University Hospital, (404) 712-2000; Grady Memorial Hospital, (404) 616-1000; Northside Hospital, (404) 851-8000; Piedmont Atlanta Hospital, (404) 605-5000.

Visitor Information

233 Peachtree St. N.E. Suite 1400 Atlanta, GA 30303. Phone:(404)521-6600 or (800)285-2682

Air Travel

Atlanta is served by

Rental Cars

Hertz, with offices downtown and at the airport, offers discounts to AAA members; phone (404) 530-2925 or (800) 654-3080. For listings of other agencies check the telephone directory.

Rail Service

Amtrak train service is provided out of Southern Railway's Peachtree Station, known locally as Brookwood Station, at 1688 Peachtree St. N.W.; phone (800) 872-7245. Atlanta is a major stop on Amtrak's route known as “The Crescent,” which connects New York City with New Orleans.

Buses

Greyhound Lines Inc., 232 Forsyth St. S.W., is the major bus line serving Atlanta; phone (404) 584-1728 for recorded information or (800) 231-2222. There is a location at the airport at 6000 N. Terminal Dr.; phone (404) 765-9598.

Taxis

Cab companies include Checker Cab, (404) 351-1111; and Yellow, (404) 521-0200. Taxis are metered. Base fare for Checker Cab and Yellow is $2.50, $2 for each additional one-eighth mile and $2 for each additional passenger. A fuel surcharge may apply. Other taxi companies are listed in the telephone directory.

Public Transportation

Atlanta's public transportation consists of the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority's (MARTA) bus, rail and subway systems. See Public Transportation for details.

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