If Georgia’s northbound interstate lanes—and the influx of Florida license plates in town—are any indication, Atlanta could be the epicenter of Hurricane Irma’s evacuee universe this weekend.
AccuWeather predicts Irma will batter Florida like nothing since Hurricane Andrew 25 years ago—and then blow through North Georgia early Tuesday—but in the meantime, let’s stay positive, because it’s a particularly fine weekend to be in Atlanta. And not just because typically muggy temps are flirting with record lows right now.
Most importantly, a good resource for available lodging, traffic updates, and weather conditions is this site run by the Georgia Department of Economic Development.
But for free and worthwhile Atlanta attractions (read: distractions from the chaos) this weekend, might we suggest the following:
A GLORIOUS NIGHTTIME PARADE:
Atlanta brims with unique festivals and traditions, but Saturday evening will bring the most magical of them all.
The Atlanta Beltline Lantern Parade has grown in a few short years from a quirky gathering to a luminous spectacle with an estimated 70,000 people on hand in 2016. Thousands of lantern-wielding participants dance and groove from near Krog Street Market (650 Irwin St. NE) to Piedmont Park, beginning around 8 p.m.
Toss down a blanket and enjoy the festivities at any point along that route for free.
Getting there: Parking anywhere near the parade will likely be tough, especially later Saturday, but most any Uber or cab driver can get you to a viewing spot along the route. The closest MARTA stations are Midtown and Inman Park.
Pregame: We’d recommend checking out the Old Fourth Ward Fall Fest, a free music and food gathering located adjacent to the Beltline and parade route. Festivities crank up at 5 p.m. today and again at noon Saturday. More info right here.
And here’s the official Lantern Parade flyer:
FREE MLB BASEBALL:
As a philanthropic gesture (or clever marketing tool), the Atlanta Braves are offering free admission at games this weekend for anyone affected by Hurricane Irma who can show valid state identification proving they’re from somewhere under evacuation.
As luck would have it, the Braves are playing the Miami Marlins. We recommend buying parking in advance (or calling ride-share services), and using the team’s app, which will guide you to your parking destination.
Remaining first-pitches this weekend are scheduled for:
Friday: 7:35 p.m. ET
Saturday: 7:00 p.m. ET
Sunday: 1:35 p.m. ET
The Braves’ SunTrust Park in Cobb County is a shiny, new, mixed-use hive with plenty of pre-and-post game options. Let’s hope the stadium doesn’t blast a taunting “Rock You Like a Hurricane” through loudspeakers like at the Marlins game last night.
South of the city, Atlanta Motor Speedway has generously opened its campgrounds to house evacuees this weekend. Both tents and RVs are welcome for free.
As a bonus, the track will open the speedway gates for campers to enjoy an off-season race on Saturday that’s usually closed to the public.
For a list of other fine options—from top-ranked museums and lovely parks, to nightlife districts and foodie destinations—have a look at our most recent Pocket Guide to all things Atlanta. (Note: Some of those cost money).
Love beer? Check out the Old Fourth Ward Beer Fest this weekend (admission: $35-$50).
Love music? ONE Musicfest 2017 welcomes artists such as Migos, Sean Paul, and Jill Scott to Lakewood Amphitheater, just south of downtown, through Saturday.
And then, after Sunday, let’s all hunker down and cross our fingers: