I’m going to Marietta on business for a couple of weeks and I’ll have some time available in the evenings. Some caveats, however: I’m Canadian and I’m used to being able to walk around by myself in most places at most times of day and night in Canadian cities; and I recognize that the media blows everything bad out of proportion. So, at the risk of sounding paranoid (or naive), how safe are Marietta, Atlanta, and the surrounding areas. If, for example, I drove into downtown Marietta or Atlanta for dinner and a drink or two, could I safely walk around for an hour, by myself, without worrying about exactly where I am, or are there some extremely dangerous areas and some very safe areas. Are there extremely dangerous times and safe times? And if it sounds like I’m slagging the US I apologize and that’s not my intent at all. I just don’t want to not explore and enjoy because of unreasonable, media-fed fear but I don’t want to find out the next day that I was nuts for unwittingly going into a specific neighbourhood.
Your biggest challenge in walking anywhere in Marietta will be that Atlanta suburbs are just not very walk-friendly. Roads without sidewalks, intersections without crosswalks or pedestrian signals, drivers who don’t yield to pedestrians, etc. Southern hospitality goes out the window when behind the wheel.
Atlanta has some areas I would feel fine walking in. The area around Centennial Park is okay, the Midtown area (the High Museum is there) is very safe IMHO, I’ve never felt threatened in either of those areas.
Marietta is a suburban bedroom community. I don’t live there but I’d feel safe there at any time of day or night. I wouldn’t plan on doing much walking-based leisure activities As it’s a car-based culture down here, there’s very little in the way of walkable living/working/entertainment districts.
Do not go to “downtown Atlanta” proper. This is an area of high-rise office buildings that at night becomes mostly deserted except for panhandlers and crackheads.
You can go to midtown, there are some small walkable areas, but even those are crossed by dubious characters at the edges. Not like gangs or anything, but people who might corner you and aggressively panhandle to the point that you might worry about your safety a little bit.
Avoid gentrifying areas. I used to live in them. When I go there, I mentally calculate whether the restaurant is worth a 1-in-20 chance of my car getting burgled. The restaurands indeed are often that good, but you just need to be aware of what you’re getting into.
Marietta is fine, although not particularly convenient for a lot of walking, as has been mentioned. In Atlanta, Virginia-Highlands, Decatur, Midtown and Buckhead are all pretty safe neighborhoods with lots of restaurants, bars and shopping. Little Five Points and East Atlanta Village are a little more gritty and have more personality, but are still pretty safe. I walk in all these neighborhoods regularly and have never felt threatened. Of course, you have to lock your car doors and don’t leave any of your belongings in sight.
Agree that good walking about opportunities will be few. Marietta doesn’t really have a downtown so to speak. Various commercial areas should present themselves convenient if you’re staying in Marietta. One rule of thumb would be to not plan on being anywhere on foot after dark inside the perimeter (ITP). Interstate 285 that encircles Atlanta proper. The closer in to Atlanta you go the dicier (some very much so) the neighborhoods could potentially be. Not safe after dark for someone not familiar with the whole shebang. Cab services are available virtually anywhere if it’s in your budget. Not a terribly dangerous place but it is definitely life in the big city so be careful.
Atlanta just isn’t that scary. Yes, it’s a big city. Bad things can happen here. But if you employ a modicum of common sense and situational awareness it’s certainly not necessary to avoid the entire city after dark.
I’d be more worried about the humidity and heat, personally.
Welcome to town! I’m actually not far, just a few miles away in Alpharetta, myself. You should defintely go downtown and take a look at some of the cool stuff there. We’ve got an aquarium, a CNN studio tour, the World of Coca-Cola (which is a little overdone but has free coke beverages).
Marietta has a cute little square with a variety of shops, restaurants, etc.
Also, the concern that you might get bored to death walking around Marietta.
Hey everyone, thanks for the info. I am looking forward to it and, after a career in the military and some visits to a few dodgy places, I do maintain situational awareness when I’m out and about.
Stop by Lilburn. I’ll lend you a gun to carry so you’ll fit right in!
Seriously, Marietta isn’t exactly walking town. There is a city square with some shops and a theater, but not like a nice little British/French/Swiss town you’d like to browse in.
Look on Google Earth and you’ll see what we mean.
And I had the longest, bloodiest fight of my police career just a block away trying to arrest someone for breaking into a car.
Most of the northern suburbs are safe to visit, but not interesting enough to do so.
Most anything south of Atlanta proper will be a problem for you.
Even inside the perimeter, we have nice neighborhoods to visit, but they’re surrounded by trouble areas. Venturing just a block or two away from the “safe zone” could prove unsafe if you’re on foot. I’m not trying to imply the whole place is like Bosnia, but without a local guide to, well, guide you, stick to the “touristy” things we have like museums, the aquarium and such.
Keep that military mindset and good SA, and you’ll be fine.
Maybe some of us Atlantans can get together and guide you to dinner a night or two.
If you’ve never spent time in a big city, then absolutely, a local guide is highly recommended. If you have, Atlanta’s not really a deceptive city. You can tell when you’re venturing into the seedier parts. For example, Savannah, GA has some perfectly gorgeous streets downtown that the locals will tell you not to walk down at night. In my experience, Atlanta’s not really like that. Have fun!
If you get bored w/ Atlantopolis and have a rental car, a trip to Chattanooga’s not out of the question (if you have 5 hours for a roundtrip w/ traffic). It’s a walkable town, quirky but fun. And they don’t call it the ‘Scenic City’ for nothing, it has some extraordinary views of the mountains and river. Marietta’s already north of the worst of Atlanta’s traffic.
Atlanta-native here. Nawth Chucka has a good point about your location.
There aren’t many touristy things between Marietta and Chattanooga, but the drive is pretty in places and Chattanooga is a nice town to visit. They have an excellent aquarium there.
There are quite a number of places inside the perimeter (I-285) that are worth exploring. The zoo isn’t bad, the aquarium is the world’s largest with 120,00 individual animals from about 500 different species, and Buckhead has quite a bit of nightlife. If you are going to be by yourself, I would suggest staying north of the downtown region. Atlanta has a rather anemic transit system which doesn’t go to Cobb county (Marietta is the county seat of Cobb county), so either catch a local bus down to the nearest MARTA station or use a taxi. Traffic in Atlanta is famously difficult. I am amazed that more people aren’t killed on a regular basis from vehicular trauma. We also LOVE to change the names of streets on a whim. And there are 71 streets in Atlanta with the word ‘Peachtree’ in their name, so be aware of this little quirk if you choose to drive.
Have fun and good luck!
I wouldn’t worry much about safety in Marietta. But the Square is really the only place to have a walk and browse shops. Everything else is suburban sprawl. I live and work here. But if something does happen we have a really good hospital literally right there next to the Square.
I heard Buckhead went to hell a while back but that could have changed. I wouldn’t go down there these days. Also, to get to the zoo you have to go through some dicey areas, although that too could have changed. It’s been a while since I’ve been in those areas.
Hey, we’ve got plenty of culture out here: it’s just pretty much restricted to the yogurt section at Kroger.
I’ve found the best consolation is found in the natural wonders out here. I prefer Marietta’s Kennesaw Mountain to Stone Mountain’s Stone Mountain: better hiking and more straight Civil War history, less tourist trappy/Confederate apologist.
Or rent a bike and take a tear on the Silver Comet Trail
I’ll fix this for you.
Isn’t Buckhead one of the wealthiest areas in the country? Maybe I’m just oblivious or haven’t been around the whole area, but I don’t feel unsafe there. I only visit a friend that lives there, but it is pretty swanky to me.
Anyway, I agree with everyone else. If you’re used to cities, it’s no big deal. The shadier parts of town are pretty obvious. I have the most fun in East Atlanta Village, Midtown, Little Five Points, Cabbagetown, parts of the Highlands, and Decatur (which is my favorite). Atlanta is so not a walking city, though - you may be hard pressed to find enough places to walk for “an hour after dinner.” You pretty much have to drive everywhere if you’re not restricting yourself to tiny squares.