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With a towering skyline and lush green parks, Atlanta, Georgia is a city with many big attractions. A zoo, an aquarium and numerous museums are all vying for attention. Get a behind the scenes tour of the CNN news studios, or go to the College Football Hall of Fame, which explores the history of the cult sport and its role in the country. Get a rental car in Atlanta to fully explore this sprawling city. Head to the trendy neighbourhood of Inman Park, or the well-heeled Virginia Highlands, before leaving the city for a drive around the beautiful countryside that surrounds it.
The North Georgia mountains are less than two hours north and boast hiking trails, nature reserves and the Wolf mountain vineyards. Or an hour by car is Lake Lanier, which has picturesque creeks and marinas. With car hire, Atlanta and the rest of Georgia are yours to discover.
The Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is nine miles from the city centre and a drive of less than 20 minutes on the I-85. The Rental Car Centre houses 13 rental car brands and is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. A number of Atlanta hotels will provide shuttle buses to and from the airport, or the trains leave every 20 minutes for the city centre and take about half an hour.
There are plenty of car hire companies available in Atlanta city centre and most are within a short drive of the main Downtown Connector road, which leads out to the city’s I-285 ring road. Like all big cities the roads can be fairly busy, but there are plenty of wide and well signposted interstates to help you get around.
For a hire car in Atlanta city centre there are a number of choices. Budget, Thrifty, National and Avis are among the brands with a downtown branch, and there are 13 different brands available at the airport.
For hiking and history drive 20 miles north of Atlanta (about 30 minutes by car) to the town of Marietta and the Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield Park. This is a Civil War battleground with information trails and hiking routes. Otherwise try Macon, a city an hour and a half south of Atlanta. It has farmers’ markets and large malls catering for all shopping tastes, as well as the Ocmulgee National Monument and surrounding wetlands, which are an ancient American Indian site with a museum displaying thousands of artefacts that have been found there.
An hour and a half west of Atlanta is Athens, a vibrant university city with a number of distinct neighbourhoods. Normaltown is inhabited by hipsters and the pubs serve craft beer, while Cobbham is a great stop for foodies thanks to its wide array of restaurants. Athens is also home to the Georgia Museum of Art and the State Botanical Gardens.
Finally, why not try Columbus, one hour and 30 minutes drive down the I-85 and I-185. The Chattahoochee river flows around the western side of the city offering plenty of walking and water sports opportunities, and the RiverWalk is a 15-mile trail and park along the banks of the river with picnic spots and pretty views.
The I-85 runs through the centre of Atlanta and from here you can head out of the city in any direction. For the various central neighbourhoods head for Peachtree Street, which is a useful linking road.
To start planning your trip to Atlanta and other parts of the US use the Expedia search tool to track down bargain deals for flights, car hire and hotels, as well as researching the best attractions and activities in the area.