I’m going to come right out and say it. Atlanta is an underrated city when it comes to tailgating. It never gets talked about like the Chicagos and Green Bays of the world. But news flash: this southern city can hold its own!

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Parking lots at the Georgia Dome in downtown Atlanta come alive six or more hours before the start of the game. Here are some tips for Falcons tailgating/parking and how to get the most out of your football experience this fall.

The first tip may not apply to all tailgaters but it might help some people looking to scope out the tailgate scene before the game. If you aren’t going to put on a tailgate event and don’t need to drive to the dome, you are advised to take MARTA. Parking is limited at most NFL stadiums, but it’s really limited in the vicinity of the Georgia Dome. If you are taking MARTA, one-way fares are $2.50 and you can get off at the Dome/Philips Arena stop or the Vine City stop. Vine City is less crowded and can be a shorter walk. Not only is MARTA an inexpensive way to get to the game, traffic is congested before, after and believe it or not, during NFL games at the Georgia Dome.

If you are a tailgater, here is some great news. The Georgia Dome goes out of its way to encourage tailgating. Right on the premises of the Georgia Dome, you have a choice of the Yellow Lot or Lot A, which for years has been called “The Gulch.” Each lot a has a distinct personality, so you have to decide where you might want to dock.

Yellow Lot  The Yellow Lot is know for its large tailgates including the largest single-group tailgate each game day. The Yellow is a big lot as it hold nearly 1,300 vehicles. It’s easy to get to and you don’t have to arrive quite as early on game days for a spot. Abide by the written and unwritten rules of tailgating and you should have a great time in the Yellow Lot.

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“The Gulch”  “The Gulch” isn’t quite as large as the Yellow Lot, but it’s the place to be if you have a one-vehicle or smaller tailgate. If you like roaming around and visiting other tailgates, this is your place. Also, the Falcons usually have a festival or event of some type for you to take in while at “The Gulch” and it’s also a place where radio stations and television crews frequent to get news footage or to interview fans.

“Gypsy Lots”  There are also a few “gypsy lots” scattered throughout the neighborhoods surrounding the Georgia Dome. Any lot around the dome is going to require at least $30-$50 for your parking spot, so don’t feel left out if you aren’t in the main lots.

Here are some rules of the road to follow when you are parking and tailgating in Atlanta.

  • Tailgating is not permitted in the Red Deck and Gold Deck.
  • The marked parking spaces are for vehicles only. You must not use the actual parking spaces for your tents, grills, chairs or other items. The vehicles parked in the Georgia Dome’s lots must have a valid parking permit.
  • Loud amplified music or noise which disrupts or conflicts with the functioning or operation of any area of the Georgia Dome or public safety, as determined by Georgia Dome management, is prohibited in any Georgia Dome parking lot.
  • Tents cannot exceed 8-by-10 feet in size.
  • Tailgating must be confined to the area directly behind the vehicle or in adjacent landscape areas.
  • The act of tailgating at the Georgia Dome and in downtown Atlanta constitutes the arrangement or placement of any item on the ground (seats, coolers, grills of any type, games, tables, etc.).
  • Bring your food, drink and friends. Obey the rules on this website and the instructions of the parking staff, police and security and you and your fellow tailgaters will have a great time.

Check out Tailgate Fan to keep the party going at tailgatefan.cbslocal.com.

Rick Limpert is a freelance writer/photographer in Atlanta and he loves covering anything Falcons-related. His work can be found at Examiner.com.

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