Explore Atlanta

How to Explore Atlanta With Kids Using the MARTA Trains

Heed advice from a local mom of three, and hop on public transit to explore the city, station by station.

Family fun in Atlanta begins with a playful call of “All Aboard!” All aboard a MARTA train, that is. The Metro Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) operates train service throughout the central portion of Atlanta, connecting dynamic attractions and diverse neighborhoods.

Historically, the city of Atlanta began as a railroad crossing, originally named Terminus, so it makes sense to explore this town by train whenever possible. Pick a station, grab a Breeze Card and download the MARTA app to begin an urban adventure.

LEGOLAND (Courtesy LEGOLAND Discovery Center)

​Buckhead

Sophisticated shops, restaurants and hotels populate the Buckhead area and MARTA positions itself right in the middle of the action with a Gold Line stop at Lenox Station and a Red Line stop Buckhead Station.

Wander Lenox Mall for supreme shopping of big-name brands (check out the massive Nike store). Scoot across the street to Phipps Plaza to reserve a recliner at the AMC Phipps Plaza movie theater, or to immerse yourselves into LEGOLAND Discovery Center, with 12 different LEGO attractions inside the 30,000-square-foot space, including themed rides, construction zones, master-building classes and even a 4D cinema. 

 

Centennial Olympic Park (Matthew Paulson/Flickr)

Downtown

A host of lively family attractions cluster near Centennial Olympic Park, founded as part of the 1996 Olympic Games—also an attraction in warmer months when people gather and kids play in the Fountain of Rings water jets.

Take the MARTA Red or Gold Line to the Peachtree Center Station or the Blue or Green Line to Dome/GWCC/Philips Arena/CNN Station to reach: National Center for Civil and Human Rights, The World of Coca-Cola, Georgia Aquarium, College Football Hall of Fame, SkyView Atlanta, The Children’s Museum of Atlanta, CNN Center, State Farm Arena (formerly Philips Arena) and Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Painted mural by artist  Larry Connatser at the Decatur Station's westbound platform
Painted mural by artist Larry Connatser at the Decatur Station's westbound platform (Courtesy Jeffry Loy)

Decatur

Take the Blue Line headed east and hop off at the Decatur Station. The quaint square and surrounding streets offer a blissful combination of college-town vibes and family-friendly atmosphere. The community boasts eight parks, including The Wylde Center community garden and part of the Stone Mountain bike trail, a vibrant calendar of festivals and more.

Don’t miss Revolution Donuts’ decadent creations, browsing books at Little Shop of Stories, giggling at Rocket Fizz Soda Pop & Candy Shop, scoops of local small-batch ice cream heaven at Butter & Cream, chomping down at Grindhouse Killer Burgers or dining at some of the metro area’s most inventive restaurants. 

Find tasty plates to appease kid and adult appetities alike at Grindhouse Killer Burgers, located within walking distance from the Decatur Station (Courtesy Tori Allen PR)

Little Five Points

Tucked north of the Blue/Green Line’s Inman Park Station stretches a triangle of diverse vendors, cafes, and entertainment venues known as Little Five Points. Relay Bike Share is available at the station to connect visitors to spots revered by locals and visitors alike. Order up a pie at comic book-themed Savage Pizza. Scout deals at vintage stores, take in a performance at Horizon Theatre or ride the Freedom Park PATH Trail.

Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Park (©James Duckworth/AtlantaPhotos.com)

Sweet Auburn

Atlanta proudly honors the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., native son born and raised in the Sweet Auburn District. Learn more about this national hero by walking in some of his steps. Take the Blue or Green Line to the King Memorial Station and walk north about 15 minutes to reach the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site comprised of Dr. King’s childhood home, the Ebenezer Baptist Church so central to his life and ministry, and his living memorial of The King Center.

Center for Puppetry Arts is a short walk from the Arts Center Station
The Center for Puppetry Arts is a short walk from the Arts Center Station. (Courtesy Center for Puppetry Arts)

Midtown

Premier cultural attractions cluster right in the middle of the city. Travel to the Red/Gold Line’s Arts Center Station, just steps away from the exhibits at The High Museum of Art, or saunter over to the Center for Puppetry Arts which is the largest nonprofit of its kind in the country. One more stop takes you to the Midtown Station, then walk west to Atlanta’s green jewel of Piedmont Park—over 200 acres of exquisite landscape sparkling with trails, open fields and more Relay Bikes for exploring further afield.