If you thought hosting the College Football Playoff and Major League Soccer championships was a big deal for Atlanta, just wait until Super Bowl LIII.
On February 3, the city will test its mettle as a true tourist hub and global destination, as hundreds of thousands of people are expected to sweep in for the world’s biggest pigskin game.
City leaders have been pulling out all the stops to ensure Atlanta’s ready for the onslaught of NFL fanatics, but that certainly doesn’t mean everything will go swimmingly.
Here are a few tips to help you weave through the chaos—and even enjoy yourself.
The party begins well before the Big Game
Although kickoff isn’t until 6:30 p.m. EST February 3, many of the Super Bowl festivities will launch about a week prior.
From January 26 through February 2, for instance, a music series called Super Bowl Live will take place at downtown’s Centennial Olympic Park. It’s free.
Produced by Grammy-winning artist Jermaine Dupri, the series will showcase Atlanta greats such as Goodie Mob.
The day before the Super Bowl, the Foo Fighters and Run the Jewels—a rap duo featuring Atlanta native Killer Mike—will be jamming out at Midtown’s Atlantic Station at a concert venue built just for the big weekend.
Just outside the city, beside the Atlanta Braves new stadium, retired NBA legend and metro Atlanta resident Shaquille O’Neal is hosting a music festival, carnival, and all-around blowout the Friday before kickoff. It’s called “Shaq’s Fun House.”
Study up on how to rent out your house on Airbnb
Maybe watching grown men throw around a leather ball isn’t your cup of tea, and you’re trying to get out of Dodge for a few days.
It might behoove you to put your place up on the temporary rental market. (And it could be lucrative).
According to Airbnb, during last year’s Big Game, “Minneapolis hosts earned more than $3.7 million and helped bring nearly $15 million to the Twin Cities.”
So the hospitality service company is hosting a how-to event for potential hosts at the Gathering Spot on January 16.
Don’t show up to town without your lodging locked in
Like Airbnb options, many hotels are already booked inside the Perimeter, so don’t show up thinking you’ll be able to partake in the festivities and just wing it when it’s time to rest your head.
Perhaps check our map of places within stumbling distance of MARTA stations and shop around for hotel rooms on the outskirts of town. MARTA is a handy rapid-transit option for getting to the stadium from many points east, west, north, and south.
Traffic is going to be horrific—more so than usual
Roads will begin shutting down as soon as January 21, so don’t be surprised when your morning commute features more clogs and way more out-of-state license plates glaring at you on the highway.
Although some street closures are subject to change, Super Bowl officials have whipped up a little calendar to help Atlantans and tourists navigate the already car-choked city. Here’s what to keep in mind:
1. Super Bowl Campus
Starting Monday, January 21 through Friday, February 8
Baker Street NW will be closed between Centennial Olympic Park Drive NW and Luckie Street NW.
Starting Monday, January 21 through Thursday, February 7
Mitchell Street SW will be closed between MLK Jr. Drive SW (South) to Elliot Street SW.
Mangum St. will be closed between Markham Street to Foundry Street
MLK Jr. Dr. SW (South) will be closed between Northside Dr. NW to Centennial Olympic Park Drive NW
Starting Wednesday, January 23 through Thursday, February 7
Andrew Young International Boulevard NW will be closed between Marietta Street NW and Centennial Olympic Park Drive NW.
2. NFL Honors
Starting at 1 a.m. on Friday, February 1 through 5 p.m. on Sunday, February 3
Peachtree Street between Ponce De Leon Avenue and 3rd Street
There will be a full closure of Ponce De Leon Avenue and 3rd Street between West Peachtree and Peachtree
3. Super Bowl LIII: Gameday Closures
Starting the evening of Saturday, February 2 through morning of Monday, February 4
Northside Drive NW will be closed between Ivan Allen Jr. Blvd NW and MLK Jr. Drive SW (South)
Take the streetcar!
If you live anywhere in or around downtown, Sweet Auburn, or Old Fourth Ward—or find yourself in these neighborhoods for tourism purposes—why not give the Atlanta Streetcar a try? The 2.7-mile loop has 12 stops, and rides cost $1.
Many Atlantans might feel like tourists, having never actually used the city’s slow-moving, underutilized transit option, but when the downtown foot traffic reaches its pinnacle, a relaxing, sit-down trip to the Edgewood Avenue nightlife scene might be the respite you need.
Plus, MARTA officials tell Curbed Atlanta that, unlike on New Year’s Eve and during other major events in the past, the streetcar system will be running its usual hours—if not overtime, too.
Use other forms of MARTA transportation, too
According to Midtown Alliance, which concocted its own Super Bowl survival guide, MARTA will be expanding its bus and rail operations before and after the gridiron rumble.
MARTA’s Super Bowl service plan will step up bus and rail service as follows:
Tuesday, January 29—Friday, February 1
Bus service will operate on a regular schedule
Rail service will start early at 4 a.m.
Friday, February 1 at 4 a.m.—Tuesday, February 5 at 2 a.m.
Rail service will run continuously, 24 hours a day
Bus service on routes 15, 39, 83, and 96 will run continuously, 24 hours a day
Plus, per Midtown Alliance:
For Midtown commuters that currently drive alone but are interested in using transit, Midtown Transportation and Georgia Commute Options are offering free 10-trip passes to give transit a try during the Super Bowl. Valid for MARTA, Xpress, CobbLinc or Gwinnett County Transit ... while supplies last. Eligible commuters can register here for Try Transit Super Bowl Edition.
Know where to find your Uber or Lyft driver
If surge pricing doesn’t deter riders, there’s still a matter of locating drivers in the chaos that will become of downtown and surrounding neighborhoods.
If you’re anywhere near Mercedes-Benz Stadium, you’ll want to know where Super Bowl officials have dedicated pickup and drop-off points:
January 26–February 2: Centennial Olympic Park Drive, in front of CNN Center
Gameday–February 3: Centennial Olympic Park Drive, in front of CNN Center and the NAPA Yellow Lot (for drop off only)