Area Codes -- In metro Atlanta, you must dial the area code (404, 770, or 678) and the seven-digit telephone number, even if you are calling a number within the same area code. It is not necessary to dial "1" before the area code when calling between communities within the Atlanta local calling area, even if they have different area codes.
Business Hours -- Most stores are open until at least 6pm, with extended hours at larger shopping centers and malls. Banks are typically open 9am to 5pm, with some open a half-day on Saturday.
Drinking Laws -- The legal age for the purchase and consumption of alcoholic beverages is 21; proof of age is required and often requested at bars, nightclubs, and restaurants, so it's always a good idea to bring ID when you go out. Do not carry open containers of alcohol in your car or any public area that isn't zoned for alcohol consumption. The police can fine you on the spot. Don't even think about driving while intoxicated.
Beer and wine are sold in most grocery stores and all liquor stores. Some areas of the Atlanta region do not allow liquor sales on Sundays, but it can often be purchased by the drink after noon on Sundays in restaurants that serve alcohol. Closing times for bars and clubs in Atlanta vary and can be as late as 2, 3 or even 4am.
Electricity -- Like Canada, the United States uses 110-120 volts AC (60 cycles), compared to 220-240 volts AC (50 cycles) in most of Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. Downward converters that change 220-240 volts to 110-120 volts are difficult to find in the United States, so bring one with you.
Wherever you go, bring a connection kit of the right power and phone adapters, a spare phone cord, and a spare Ethernet network cable -- or find out whether your hotel supplies them to guests.
Embassies & Consulates -- All embassies are in the nation's capital, Washington, D.C. Some consulates are in major U.S. cities, and most nations have a mission to the United Nations in New York City. If your country isn't listed below, call for directory information in Washington, D.C. (tel. 202/555-1212) or check www.embassy.org/embassies.
The embassy of Australia is at 1601 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20036 (tel. 202/797-3000; www.usa.embassy.gov.au). Consulates are in New York, Honolulu, Houston, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.
The embassy of Canada is at 501 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20001 (tel. 202/682-1740; www.canadainternational.gc.ca/washington). Other Canadian consulates are in Buffalo (New York), Detroit, Los Angeles, New York, and Seattle.
The embassy of Ireland is at 2234 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202/462-3939; www.embassyofireland.org). Irish consulates are in Boston, Chicago, New York, San Francisco, and other cities. Visit the website for complete listing.
The embassy of New Zealand is at 37 Observatory Circle NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202/328-4800; www.nzembassy.com). New Zealand consulates are in Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, and Seattle.
The embassy of the United Kingdom is at 3100 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202/588-6500; http://ukinusa.fco.gov.uk). Other British consulates are in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Seattle.
Emergencies -- Call tel. 911 in an emergency.
Hospitals -- Piedmont Hospital, 1968 Peachtree Rd., just above Collier Road (tel. 404/605-3297), provides 24-hour full emergency-room service, as does Grady Health Systems, 35 Butler St., downtown (tel. 404/616-6200). For life-threatening medical emergencies, dial tel. 911.
Insurance -- For information on traveler's insurance, trip cancellation insurance, and medical insurance while traveling, please visit www.frommers.com/planning.
Legal Aid -- While driving, if you are pulled over for a minor infraction (such as speeding), never attempt to pay the fine directly to a police officer; this could be construed as attempted bribery, a much more serious crime. Pay fines by mail, or directly into the hands of the clerk of the court. If accused of a more serious offense, say and do nothing before consulting a lawyer. In the U.S., the burden is on the state to prove a person's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and everyone has the right to remain silent, whether he or she is suspected of a crime or actually arrested. Once arrested, a person can make one telephone call to a party of his or her choice. The international visitor should call his or her embassy or consulate.
Mail -- Open 24 hours a day, Atlanta's main post office is located not in the downtown area, but close to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport at 3900 Crown Rd. (tel. 800/ASK-USPS [275-8777]). At press time, domestic postage rates were 28¢ for a postcard and 44¢ for a letter. For international mail, a first-class letter of up to 1 ounce costs 98¢ (75¢ to Canada and 79¢ to Mexico); a first-class postcard costs the same as a letter. For more information, go to www.usps.com.
If you aren't sure what your address will be in the United States, mail can be sent to you, in your name, c/o General Delivery at the main post office of the city or region where you expect to be. (Call tel. 800/275-8777 for information on the nearest post office.) The addressee must pick up mail in person and must produce proof of identity (driver's license, passport, and so on). Most post offices will hold mail for up to 1 month, and are open Monday to Friday from 8am to 6pm, and Saturday from 9am to 3pm.
Always include zip codes when mailing items in the U.S. If you don't know your zip code, visit www.usps.com/zip4.
Newspapers & Magazines -- The major newspaper in town is the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (www.ajc.com). Its "Access Atlanta" section, published every Thursday, highlights plays, festivals, live music, gallery openings, and other happenings for the weekend and the week ahead. It includes restaurant and movie reviews as well. You'll also find it helpful to pick up a current issue of Atlanta magazine when you're in town. And keep an eye out for Creative Loafing (www.cln.com), an offbeat free publication available in shops, restaurants, and on the street; it has lots of interesting information, including excellent restaurant reviews.
Packing -- For helpful information on packing for your trip, download our convenient Travel Tools app for your mobile device. Go to www.frommers.com/go/mobile and click on the Travel Tools icon.
Police -- Call tel. 911 in an emergency. Otherwise, call tel. 404/853-3434.
Smoking -- While the city of Atlanta has yet to impose a smoking ban on the city, statewide "no smoking" efforts have drastically reduced the number of places that remain smoker friendly. Smoking is still allowed in bars and some restaurants, and efforts to pass a more stringent code that would ban smoking in all bars, restaurants, and other public places have been unsuccessful to date. Designated smoking areas can be found in some public places, such as the airport and some sports/entertainment venues.
Taxes -- Sales tax in Atlanta is 8%. A total of 15% is paid by hotel and motel guests within the city of Atlanta and Fulton County. Of that tax, 8% is sales tax and 7% is room tax. Car rentals at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlantic International Airport are assessed 20% in taxes, but rentals in the metro area incur only the local sales tax. The United States has no value-added tax (VAT) or other indirect tax at the national level. Every state, county, and city may levy its own local tax on all purchases, including hotel and restaurant checks and airline tickets. These taxes will not appear on price tags.
Time -- Atlanta is in the Eastern Standard Time Zone. The United States is divided into four time zones: Eastern Standard Time (EST), Central Standard Time (CST), Mountain Standard Time (MST), and Pacific Standard Time (PST). Alaska and Hawaii have their own zones. For example, when it's 9am in Los Angeles (PST), it's 7am in Honolulu (HST),10am in Denver (MST), 11am in Chicago (CST), noon in New York City (EST), 5pm in London (GMT), and 2am the next day in Sydney.
Daylight saving time (summer time) is in effect from 1am on the second Sunday in March to 1am on the first Sunday in November, except in Arizona, Hawaii, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. Daylight saving time moves the clock 1 hour ahead of standard time.
For help with time translations, and more, download our convenient Travel Tools app for your mobile device. Go to www.frommers.com/go/mobile and click on the Travel Tools icon.
Tipping -- In hotels, tip bellhops at least $1 per bag ($2-$3 if you have a lot of luggage) and tip the chamber staff $1 to $2 per day (more if you've left a big mess for him or her to clean up). Tip the doorman or concierge only if he or she has provided you with some specific service (for example, calling a cab for you or obtaining difficult-to-get theater tickets). Tip the valet-parking attendant $1 every time you get your car.
In restaurants, bars, and nightclubs, tip service staff and bartenders 15% to 20% of the check, tip checkroom attendants $1 per garment, and tip valet-parking attendants $1 per vehicle.
As for other service personnel, tip cabdrivers 15% of the fare; tip skycaps at airports at least $1 per bag ($2-$3 if you have a lot of luggage); and tip hairdressers and barbers 15% to 20%.
For help with tip calculations, currency conversions, and more, download our convenient Travel Tools app for your mobile device. Go to www.frommers.com/go/mobile and click on the Travel Tools icon.
Toilets -- You won't find public toilets or "restrooms" on the streets in most U.S. cities but they can be found in hotel lobbies, bars, restaurants, museums, department stores, railway and bus stations, and service stations. Large hotels and fast-food restaurants are often the best bet for clean facilities. Restaurants and bars in resorts or heavily visited areas may reserve their restrooms for patrons.
Visitor Information -- As soon as you know you're going to Atlanta, write or call the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau (ACVB), 233 Peachtree St. NE, Ste. 2000, Atlanta, GA 30303 (tel. 800/ATLANTA [285-2682] or 404/222-6688). They'll send you a copy of Atlanta Heritage Guide, a visitors' guide, a book of discount coupons, a Metro Atlanta Map and Attractions Guide, and a 2-month calendar of events; they can also advise you on anything from Atlanta's hotel and restaurant scene to the best tour packages available. Visit the ACVB website at www.atlanta.net for lots of information.
You can also learn a lot about the city and its latest happenings by visiting www.accessatlanta.com, a website whose partners include the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and WSB-TV and radio. There, you'll find current local news, a 5-day weather forecast, street maps, and up-to-date information about special events, the arts, entertainment, sports, recreation, restaurants, shopping, and more. There's even a link to the Atlanta Yellow Pages.
Another site worth checking out is www.atlanta.citysearch.com. Although it's not as complete as www.accessatlanta.com, it still has lots of useful information about the arts, entertainment, attractions, restaurants, shopping, and hotels. Finally, Creative Loafing (www.cln.com) features loads of entertainment information and great restaurant reviews.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.