Where to Stay in Atlanta, GA First Time: Best Areas

The best areas to stay in Atlanta for first-timers are Downtown, Midtown, Old Fourth Ward, Sweet Auburn, Little Five Points, Grant Park, Buckhead, Cobb County, Decatur, and Dunwoody. These are popular neighborhoods for tourists that offer a wide variety of attractions and amenities.

In this article, I am going to help you decide where to stay in Atlanta without a car, for families, couples, as well as the safest place to stay in Atlanta.

Atlanta is the fifth city to be the capital of the state of Georgia and is one of the largest cities in the southern United States. With a rich history in civil and human rights, a vibrant culture, and attractions suitable for all manner of visitors, it is understandably an incredibly popular destination.

Atlanta is generally a safe city to visit, but as you travel to any big city, you should always practice common sense, and avoid Castleberry Hill, Adam’s Park, and Vine City because they have high crime rates. If you are looking for the safest areas in Atlanta for tourists, look into Downtown, Midtown, Buckhead, and Little Five Points.

Downtown is the best place to stay in Atlanta for first-timers because it is the most convenient location and it has a wide range of accommodation for all budget travelers. If you stay here, you will be located within walking distance to many tourist attractions, as well as many shopping and dining venues.

With its well-connected public transportation, Downtown is also best area to stay in Atlanta without a car. It is served by MARTA which is Atlanta’s rapid transit rail system, you can easily travel across the city. You can also explore the city by foot, Atlanta Streetcar, shuttle, limo services, and taxicabs.

Apart from Downtown, Midtown is also popular place in Atlanta for tourist. Midtown is better than Downtown if you prefer the nightlife, arts scene, and cuisine, Downtown Atlanta is better than Midtown if you’re first-timer who prefer lots of sightseeing and close to tourist attractions.

If you want to relax at a bar brewpub with a distinctly alternative feel, then try Little Five Points. On the other hand, if you want to grab a drink where you may bump into a famous rapper, perhaps try Buckhead instead. Buckhead is a shoping district with more prestigious and safer than Downtown.

💖 Best Area for first-timers:Downtown Atlanta
💎 Best luxury hotel:The Ritz-Carlton Atlanta 
🏨 Best mid-range hotel:Hyatt Regency Atlanta 
💰 Best budget hotel:AC Hotel Atlanta Downtown 

Where to stay in Atlanta? 10 Best areas to stay in Atlanta for tourists

1. Downtown, where to stay in Atlanta for first-timers

Downtown Atlanta for first timers

Downtown is the best area to stay in Atlanta for first-time travelers due to its central location. If you stay here, you will be located in the middle of everything, within walking distance to top tourist attractions, as well as many restaurants, bars, and shops.

Downtown is the central business district of the city. It is filled with tourist attractions, amenities, and many of the best hotels in Atlanta, all of which offer top-notch service. This makes it equally suitable for business travelers and leisure travelers alike.

A part of the area known as the hotel district includes some of the best accommodation in the city. Options like The Glenn Hotel and The Ellis Hotel are within walking distance from tourist attractions like the Georgia Aquarium and Georgia World Congress Center, which was the home of the legendary Georgia Dome until it was demolished in 2017.

Downtown is home to top attractions that are located within easy walking distance to each other. You can start your sightseeing tour from Centennial Olympic Park, in the heart of this cosmopolitan southern city.

Centennial Olympic Park was created as a 21-acre gathering spot for the 1996 Summer Olympic Games. Today the park often hosts festivals, fundraisers, and private events.

Nearby, you will find the World of Coca-Cola Museum which is a museum dedicated to the history of the Coca-Cola Company, the largest drinks company in the world, which was founded here in 1892.

Within walking distance from Coca Cola Museum, you will find the children’s Museum of Atlanta and the National Center for Civil and Human Rights to learn more about the history of the civil rights movement in the United States.

Head to another side of the park, you will find the Atlanta Magic Theater, Chick-fil-A College Football Hall of Fame; Tabernacle, and the SkyView Atlanta, a giant Ferris wheel with gondolas, which offers a stunning view of the city.

In Downtown, you can also find the CNN Center, the world headquarters of the Cable News Network. Near CNN Center, you will have State Farm Arena, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Georgia World Congress Center, and The Home Depot Backyard.

Then there is Underground Atlanta. A shopping and entertainment district, it features malls, stores, bars, restaurants, and nightclubs. This makes a perfect stop for leisure travellers of all interests. 

You even have Oakland Cemetery, for those who want to venture into wide open green spaces or pay their respects during their stay in Atlanta.

Another must-see attraction is the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park which is surrounded by the Ebenezer Baptist Church, and Birth Home of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Downtown is well-connected public transportation and is served by MARTA stations in the area of Peachtree Center, Five Points, Garnett, Georgia State, and CNN Center. If you travel to Atlanta without a car, Downtown is great place to stay, you can look for a hotel near a MARTA.

Downtown Atlanta will be the prime choice for most visitors to the city, as it is the most diverse option available. But downtown doesn’t have much nightlife, so if you want nightlife, head to the nearby Midtown.

Stay in Downtown if you are first-time visiting Atlanta and want a central location; you want a great range of hotels, bars, restaurants and attractions.

Best places to stay in Downtown Atlanta:

Luxury ($$$): The Ritz-Carlton Atlanta This 5-star hotel is centrally located in downtown Atlanta, within walking distance from main attractions such as the MARTA mass transit, the State Farm Arena, Georgia Aquarium, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, The World of Coca-Cola, and Centennial Olympic Park.

Mid-range ($$): Hyatt Regency Atlanta This 4-star hotel offers an on-site restaurant, an outdoor swimming pool, and rooms with free wifi. It’s located within walking distance from World of Coca-Cola, the Georgia Aquarium, MARTA Peachtree Center Station; close proximity to the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site and Mercedez-Benz Stadium.

Budget ($): AC Hotel Atlanta Downtown 3-star hotel is located in the heart of Atlanta, near Centennial Olympic Park, Peachtree Center Station MARTA, The Georgia Aquarium, the CNN Studios, State Farm Arena, and Mercedes Benz Stadium. It features rooms with a 32-inch flat-screen TV, microwave, refrigerator, a desk with power converters, and a coffee machine with a tea and coffee selection.


See more: Best areas to Stay in Asheville

2. Midtown, where to stay in Atlannta for nightlife

Midtown, where to stay in Atlannta for culture vultures

Midtown along with downtown is best place to stay in Atlanta but with a selection of sophisticated cocktail bars, nightclubs and laid back lounges, as well as art galleries and theaters, Midtown is better place to stay if you want more nightlife and arts.

Located just north of downtown Atlanta, Midtown is a busy commercial and residential neighborhood. There is lots of restaurants, coffee shops, museums, and parks in this neighborhood.

Midtown is also known as Atlanta’s Heart of the Arts since it is home to the Fox Theater, the Design Museum, Ponce City Market, and SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion + Film, and the Ferst Center for the Arts on Georgia Tech’s campus.

The Woodruff Arts Center is home to the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Alliance Theater, and High Museum Of Art. All three are non-profit institutions, with the first two offering shows and performances, while the High Museum of Art displays stunning works and exhibits.

The Center For Puppetry Arts is one of the only puppet museums in the world. While puppetry arts won’t be for everyone, it is certainly an interesting place to visit for anyone wanting to learn more about the history of puppets or take in a performance.

It isn’t all culture and history in Midtown though. The Lenox Mall boasts almost 200 high-end stores and a food court, ideal for anyone who wants a day out shopping.

Piedmont Park features wide open spaces for those who want to kick back and relax for a while. It is even connected to the Atlanta Botanical Garden, so gives you the opportunity to learn about nature as you enjoy it.

West Midtown is packed with shopping, restaurant and entertainment at Atlantic Station. All in all, Midtown is a great place to stay in Atlanta if you want to combine leisure, culture, and education. It offers attractions in all of these areas just walking distance apart.

Midtown Atlanta is easily reachable by car and MARTA, Atlanta’s rail transit system, a free shuttle to Atlantic Station, and the Tech Trolley between Midtown station and Georgia Tech campus.

Stay in Midtown if you want to stay close to downtown; you want good nightlife and shopping; you love art.

Best places to stay in Atlanta in Midtown:

Luxury Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta This 5-star hotel is located in Midtown Atlanta, close proximity to the High Museum of Art, Woodruff Arts Center, Margaret Mitchell House, Piedmont Park, Center Stage Theater Atlanta, and Atlanta Botanical Garden.

Mid-range Loews Atlanta Hotel This 4-star hotel is centrally located in Atlanta, within walking distance from Piedmont Park, The Georgia World Congress Center, the High Museum of Art, and a short ride from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Budget Hyatt Centric Midtown Atlanta This 3-star hotel is ideally located in Midtown Atlanta, in close proximity to Piedmont Park, High Museum of Art, FOX Theatre, Atlanta Botanical Garden, and Atlantic Statio.


3. Old Fourth Ward, cool area to stay in Atlanta

The Old Fourth Ward lies just to the east of Downtown Atlanta. It is best known as the location of the Martin Luther King Jr Historic Site, one of the most iconic areas in the country relating to the civil rights movement.

Covering 35 acres on Auburn Avenue, the site features the childhood home of Dr Martin Luther King Jr, as well as several other buildings related to his life. This makes it an ideal place to stay in Atlanta for anyone interested in learning more about the legendary man himself.

That isn’t the only point of interest to be found in the Old Fourth Ward though. For starters, you have the Historic Fourth Ward Park and Freedom Park. The latter is named due to Atlanta’s history with civil and human rights and is the largest park in the city.

These two, along with a number of smaller parks in the area, make the Old Fourth Ward a great place for those looking to enjoy some green spaces during their stay in Atlanta.

Another popular attraction in the Old Fourth Ward is the Ponce City Market. Covering 2.1 million square feet, it is one of the largest buildings in the southeast United States.

It features restaurants, stores, boutiques, offices, and a food hall, all just a short walk apart. This makes it a great option for those who want a diverse range of things to do.

If that isn’t enough, you even have the Irwin Street Market just a little further away too, to enhance your options even more.

Other things to do in Lod Fourth Ward include visiting the Masquerade, City Winery Atlanta, Atlanta BeltLine Eastside Trail, and Edgewood Avenue.

Stay in Old Fourth Ward if you are interested in the history of Martin Luther King Jr; you want to enjoy some wide green spaces; you want a diverse range of stores and eateries.

Best places to stay in Old Fourth Ward:


4. Sweet Auburn, great place to learn about Civil Rights Movement

Immediately south of the Old Fourth Ward is the area of Sweet Auburn. It is famous for having one of the largest concentrations of African American businesses anywhere in the United States.

You can stop at the APEX Museum and Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History to learn more about the African American culture and history.

At the heart of the district is Auburn Avenue, lined with historic churches, bars, and even the founding location of Atlanta Daily World, the first black-owned daily newspaper in the country.

Elsewhere you will find attractions such as Centennial Olympic Park. Built for the Olympic games in 1996, it is a beautiful green space where leisure travelers can enjoy some relaxing time outdoors. 

You can also explore Georgia Beer Garden, the King Centre, the Martin Luther King Jr National Historical Park, and the Birth Home of Martin Luther King, Jr which is a historic house related to the civil rights movement.

Then you have the Sweet Auburn Curb Market, a place where local, individual businesses sell their services and wares. With options including meat, fish, baked goods, vegetables, and even a number of eateries, it makes it a great place to experience the true flavor of the city.

You even have the vibrant area of Edgewood Avenue. Filled with a range of street art, it is a great place for art lovers and culture vultures alike to get a better understanding of Atlanta.

All of this makes Sweet Auburn a great place to stay in Atlanta, for anyone wanting to get a real sense of what the city is all about.

Stay in Sweet Auburn if you are interested in the civil rights movement; you are a fan of street art; you want to try some local foods;


5. Little Five Points, Inman Park, and Candler Park

The cool, bohemian Little Five Points is a commercial district that comprises parts of both the Inman Park and Candler Park Neighbourhoods. 

Inman Park was the first planned suburb of the larger Intown neighborhood and, as such, features the Inman Park Historic District. Among its claims to fame, Inman Park was the first suburb to be connected to the Atlanta Streetcar.

On the other side of the district to Inman Park, Candler Park is an area best known for recreation, with features such as a basketball court, golf course, soccer field, swimming pool, tennis courts, and a playground. It also features its own historic district, which has been listed on the National Register Of Historic Places since 1983.

The Little Five Points area that connects them is known to be incredibly popular with alternative culture and its various subcultures.

It features various bars, such as the Wrecking Bar Brewpub, The Porter Beer Bar, and The Star Community Bar, as well as various stores and restaurants that all offer an experience a little different from what you will find in the rest of the city.

Perhaps the most popular tourist attraction in the area is The Carter Centre. Opened in 1982 by Jimmy Carter, it is a non-profit organization that houses the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library, where you can find out more about the 39th President of the United States.

Stay In Inman Park/Little Five Points If you want to visit The Carter Centre; you want to experience an alternative culture during your stay in Atlanta.


Check out my virtual tour about the best places to stay in Atlanta in this video:

6. Grant Park, where to in Atlanta for families

Grant Park, Atlanta, GA
Grant Park, Atlanta, GA

Grant Park is an area just to the south of Downtown Atlanta. As one of the largest green spaces in the city, Grant Park itself is a fabulous place to stay in Atlanta for those seeking outdoor recreation.

Included in the attractions spread out across the 131 acres covered by Grant Park are the popular Erskine Memorial Fountain to the south and Milledge Fountain to the north. The latter of these is even surrounded by sporting facilities, such as a swimming pool and tennis courts.

However, the most popular attraction is located at the heart of Grant Park, Zoo Atlanta. Home to more than 1500 animals, housed in faithful recreations of their natural habitats, it makes a fabulous destination for families with children.

Other things to do in Grant Park are checking out Grant Central Pizza, Oakland Cemetery, and trying out some best restaurants like Six Feet Under, Dakota Blue, and Ria’s Bluebird.

If deciding where to stay in Atlanta will be determined by what natural, outdoor features are on offer, you will struggle to find a better option than Grant Park.

Stay In Grant Park If you are a fan of fountains and wide-open green spaces; you’re a family with children and want to visit Zoo Atlanta.


7. Buckhead, one of the safest areas to stay in Atlanta

Buckhead along with Downtown and Midtown is one of the safest places to stay in Atlanta. Buckhead is an upmarket, largely residential part of Atlanta, in the north of the city. This Beverly Hills of the South encompasses Buckhead Heights, Buckhead Village, and Lenox.

Known as a party spot for famous rappers, it is a great place to stay in Atlanta for those looking for something stylish, away from the hustle and bustle of the city center.

Hotel’s such as St. Regis Atlanta give you all the luxury you could want, in a more refined environment. It isn’t all about the accommodation in Buckhead Atlanta though, as there are plenty of entertainment options on offer as well.

Perhaps the most popular attraction in Buckhead is the Atlanta History Center. Opened in 1926, it houses one of the largest collections of civil war artifacts in the country. 

On the other hand, for the shoppers among you, Lenox Square and Phipps Plaza area good malls. Phipps Plaza contains more than 100 high-end stores include Macy’s, Bloomingdales, Neiman Marcus, surrounded by elaborate décor that includes mahogany walls, marbled floors, glass elevators, and a massive, carpeted staircase. 

If you want to combine a little culture with a stylish getaway, Buckhead Atlanta is a great place for you to stay.

Stay In Buckhead If you want to do some shopping; you want to stay in a safe neighborhood; you want luxury accommodation;

Best places to stay in Buckhead:


8. Cobb County, good area in Atlantic for hiking

Cobb County is located just to the northwest of Atlanta, within its metropolitan area. This is a region that is much better suited to those who want access to the city but prefer a more natural, small town, and in some cases rugged experience.

I say that last part as it is an area known for the number of peaks surrounding it. Blackjack Mountain, Brushy Mountain, Kennesaw Mountain, Little Kennesaw Mountain, Lost Mountain, Pine Mountain, Sweat Mountain, and Vinings Mountain are all great places for hikers to get out, explore the wilds of the area and take in some stunning views.

As for amenities, those who are happy to take a short drive even have great access to Cumberland Mall, one of the most popular in Atlanta. This combination gives you all the convenience of a city, with the laid-back feel of a small town.

Here, you can also find the amusement park, Six Flags Over Georgia, great place for families to have fun day out with their kids.

Stay In Cobb County If you prefer a small-town feel; you want to go hiking up mountains; you want easy access to the city; you want to be near a large shopping mall.


9. Decatur, a vibrant city in the northeast of Atlanta

Decatur is actually a separate city, located just to the northeast of Atlanta. It is perhaps best known for its vibrant art scene and the numerous festivals it holds throughout the year.

The Decatur Arts Festival, Decatur Book Festival, Decatur BBQ, Summer In The City, Blues & Bluegrass Festival, Decatur Craft Beer Festival, and Decatur Wine Festival are held at various points throughout the year.

Attractions are the Fernbank Museum of Natural History, Woodlands Garden, and the Callanwolde Fine Arts Center.

Combined with attractions and locations like numerous breweries, distilleries, cemeteries, gardens, and historic districts, Decatur is a great place to stay for those who want plenty to do, in a location with a more small-town feel.

Stay in Decatur if you are visiting to attend one of Decatur’s many festivals; you prefer a location with a more small-town feel.


10. Dunwoody, small town in the north of the Atlanta

Dunwoody  Atlanta

Dunwoody is located at the very north of the Atlanta metropolitan area and was only included as recently as 2008.

Originally settled in the early 1800s, it features countless buildings dating back to that time. Being largely separated from the rest of the city, very little has been done to alter them over the years,  giving you the chance to take in the true picture of the area as it would once have looked.

Other than that, there are also a number of educational institutions in the area, including a popular campus of Georgia State University. This means it is a fabulous option for anyone visiting one of these locations, as well as those traveling on a budget. 

Stay In Dunwoody If you prefer an area with a small-town feel; you are visiting one of the educational institutions located here; you want to see some historic buildings; you are traveling on a budget.


Where should I stay in Atlanta for the first time?

Downtown is the best place to stay in Atlanta for first-timers due to its prime location. If you stay here, you will be located within easy access to attractions such as the World of Coca-Cola and Georgia Aquarium, as well as restaurants, bars, and shops.

What are the best areas to stay in Atlanta?

Downtown, Midtown, Old Fourth Ward, Sweet Auburn, Little Five Points, Grant Park, and Buckhead are the best areas to stay in Atlanta because they are the most popular areas for tourists that offer many things to do and see.

Where to stay in Atlanta without a car?

Downtown is the best area to stay in Atlanta without a car due to its central location and well-connected public transport. You can get around with MARTA, Atlanta Streetcar, taxis, and on foot.

Where is the safest place to stay in Atlanta?

The Loop, Lincoln Park, Lakeview, and River North are the safest area to stay in Atlanta for tourists, but it is recommended to always practice common sense and be aware of petty crimes. 

Where not to stay in Atlanta?

You should avoid Castleberry Hill, Adam’s Park, and Vine City because they have high crime rates. Downtown Atlanta is safe for tourists to book a stay.

Is it better to stay in Midtown or Downtown Atlanta?

Both has central location and wide range of accommodation and tourist amenities. Midtown* has more nightlife, arts scene, and cuisine.  Downtown* is best for first-timer because it offers lots of sightseeing and close to tourist attractions.

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The birthplace of the civil rights movement in America is home to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, one of the busiest airports in the world.

Overall, I recommend Downtown as the best area to stay in Atlanta for tourist, especially for first-timers due to its prime location and it has wide choice in accommodation. If you book a hotel here, you will be located in the heart of the city, within walking distance to many restaurants, bars, and shops.

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