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What to Do in Atlanta When You Have Only 1.5 Hours

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“We have to catch a flight at 2:45,” I explained to the concierge at the Westin Peachtree Hotel in Atlanta, Ga. “What can I do in Atlanta with 1 hour and 30 minutes?”

He scoffed. “You can’t do anything in Atlanta in just 1 hour and 30 minutes.”

Challenge accepted.

My colleagues (M and E) and I grabbed a bagged lunch and took to the streets of downtown Atlanta on foot, determined to make the most of the little time that we had. We had been in Atlanta for two days and had seen very little outside of the conference held in our hotel. Such is the paradox of conferences: you meet great people, discuss awesome ideas, but really, you’re stuck in a bubble. Each night, I’d look outside the floor-to-ceiling window of my 50th-floor hotel room and think, “There’s a whole wide world out there that I’m missing.” Stuck in a glass cage.

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    Okay, so it was really BEAUTIFUL glass cage.
    Okay, so it was a really BEAUTIFUL glass cage.
    The view I woke up to every morning.
    The view I woke up to every morning.

    So venturing outside of our cage was a breath of fresh air. M is from California and E is from New England and neither had never been to Atlanta before. I consider the South my stomping ground, having grown up in it for 22 years. As they told me how excited they were about exploring Atlanta, I corrected them, “It’s HOT-lanta…just don’t ever say that out loud to anyone here. Unless you want to get beaten up.”

    Here’s what we did in Atlanta, in exactly 1 hour and 30 minutes:

    We ate a picnic lunch in Centennial Park.


    Centennial Park fountains and CNN Center

    We found Anderson Cooper at the CNN Center.

    Ah, yes...
    And there he is…

    We toured Underground Atlanta.

    Against my better judgment, I let M lead us across an overpass into a sketchy part of town…

    Walking to the Atlanta Underground

    We wound up in “Underground Atlanta;” the name itself probably tells you enough about it. Underground Atlanta is a strip of shopping and entertainment centers, and it’s not exactly the nicest place in Atlanta.

    Atlanta Underground sign


    We took family photos with various statues.

    For whatever reason, Atlanta has a lot of statues. And M and E insisted they take an “awkward family photo” with each and every one of them.

    We found art.

    We spent the same amount of time waiting in the security line in the Atlanta Airport as we did actually exploring Atlanta.

    At the end of it all, M quipped, “Ya know, I feel like I’ve seen everything there is to see in Atlanta.” I couldn’t argue with that. I’ve been to Atlanta several times before, and I felt like we’d hit all the highlights.

    And with that, we headed to the Atlanta Airport, which was a whole other adventure in and of itself. We spent about 1 hour and 30 minutes just standing in line in some weird tunnel waiting for the security checkpoint. What else would you expect from the world’s busiest airport?

    The important thing is, we proved that concierge guy wrong.

    What did we miss? Comment below on what we should have seen while in Atlanta.