The New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams have more in common than the fact they’re the last two teams standing from a grueling NFL season. For starters, both teams impressively won overtime road battles in their respective conference finals just to get to the Super Bowl.
Secondly, each franchise has a solid history with host city Atlanta. The Rams’ last Super Bowl win was in the Georgia capital back in 2000, when the Kurt Warner-led team defeated the Tennessee Titans. The Patriots, on the other hand, upended the Atlanta Falcons in Houston’s Super Bowl LI two years ago.
Still, perhaps the coolest fact surrounding the February 3 game is that both teams’ starting running backs, the Pats’ Sony Michel and the Rams’ Todd Gurley, attended the University of Georgia, a school sitting just over 70 miles from Mercedes-Benz Stadium. We’d guess that either athlete could play the role of Atlanta tour guide for teammates while they’re in town.
Luckily, you won’t need to be in their entourage to get around the ATL over these next two weeks. Follow this game plan and you’ll hit all the right Super Bowl functions, taste some of the city’s top cuisine and even experience a bit of non-football action that Pats and Rams fans will find pretty awesome. We only wish we could help you tackle the local traffic.
The Big Game
When we last checked online, Super Bowl tickets were selling for more than $3,000 just to get inside the venue. If you can’t score a ticket, rest easy knowing that the biggest annual sporting event in the United States presents plenty of other opportunities to get into the game.
The go-to play for fans is the Super Bowl Experience (January 26 to February 3), a pigskin paradise that lets you feel like a part of the squad through various skill challenges (three-cone drills, 40-yard dash), exhibits (trophy displays, Super Bowl rings) and even a mobile outpost of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. With popular shows like ESPN’s First Take setting up temporary studios in the Georgia World Congress Center, too, you’re bound to have a few celebrity sightings as well.
But, if for some reason you don’t catch a glimpse of a famous face at the Experience, there are so many concerts on the schedule that it’s starting to feel like Coachella East. The brightest stage will be the three-day Bud Light Super Bowl Music Fest (January 31 to February 2), where the likes of Ludacris, Aerosmith, Post Malone, Bruno Mars and Cardi B will take over the newly renovated State Farm Arena.
Across the street at Centennial Olympic Park, the Jermaine Dupri-curated Super Bowl Live promises six days of sonic gratification in genres ranging from hip-hop (Goodie Mob, January 28) and country (Craig Campbell, January 31) to EDM (ATLiens, February 1) and R&B (Monica, February 2). And to make things sound even better, the whole celebration is free to the public.
No matter where you look around the city — including Midtown (Super Bowl Gospel Celebration, January 29), downtown (World of Coca-Cola’s Championship Chat with Mean Joe Greene and Desmond Howard, February 1) and Marietta (Shaq’s Fun House with Migos and Diplo, February 1) — there is some excitement sure to be found nearby.
Food and Drinks
If you’re still looking for overnight accommodations around town, well, good luck. Your name would have to be Gisele Bündchen to find a respectable room at this point. Winning properties such as Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta were sold out before the AFC Championship game even kicked off.
But fret not. Many of the city’s top properties still have plenty of fun cooked up for you over the next few weeks. The Four-Star Loews Atlanta Hotel, for example, will serve an elevated tailgate menu at its Saltwood lobby bar on February 1 to 3 highlighted by Thai-curry-rubbed chicken wings, crab cake sliders and a colorful cocktail lineup. And don’t worry about missing plays between bites — the Super Bowl will be shown on multiple big screens.
Over at Four-Star The Ritz-Carlton, Atlanta, executive chef Gilles Schreiber will offer his take on game-day gastronomy through a sophisticated menu at AG centered around Osetra caviar, black truffles, Spanish turbot and a 36-ounce porterhouse.
Across the city, The St. Regis Atlanta isn’t rolling out anything special from the kitchen for Super Bowl weekend. But seeing as how the Four-Star hotel is in the midst of a property-wide renovation — we’re pretty sure Maroon 5’s halftime show is going to look great on the St. Regis Bar’s new 85-inch TV — it doesn’t really need to. The hotel’s refreshed rooms, overhauled terrace and new three-story event facility essentially sell themselves.
And speaking of new, call it a tasty coincidence that so many restaurants have debuted around the city over the past few months. Sear, just reopened in December, promises fire-inspired steak and seafood to guests at Atlanta Marriott Marquis. Mission + Market, with its black leather, teal accents and globally influenced menu, is a buzzy spot to gather in Buckhead pre- or post-game.
Finally, if you’re looking to nosh with famous names, make your way to the Cobb Galleria Center’s Taste of the NFL’s Party with a Purpose, the league’s annual culinary gathering that teams former players with chefs who represent every NFL city in a strolling epicurean event that’s as much about bragging rights as it is about fundraising the fight against hunger. Celebrity ambassadors include Alyssa Milano, Jeff Bridges and Bobby Flay. Atlanta’s Kevin Rathbun will serve as the night’s chef host. ESPN’s Suzy Kolber will be on hand to take photographs and sign autographs. Country star Martina McBride will provide the tunes to go with all of the tasting.
We don’t care if you’re the president of the Jared Goff fan club, you’re probably going to need a break from football at some point over the busy weekend. Thankfully, Atlanta has more than enough distractions away from the huddle.
Basketball fans won’t like the fact that the Atlanta Hawks will be on the road during Super Bowl week, but they’ll be pleased to know that the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets will play No. 11 North Carolina on January 29 at McCamish Pavilion, just a seven-minute Uber ride from the football frenzy.
When it comes to golf, visitors can find fairways all over town. Ironically, the best new option may be at the city’s oldest public course. The just-reopened Bobby Jones Golf Course is a fully re-envisioned layout with a reversible design, a state-of-the-art indoor training facility, a new driving range and futuristic golf carts. Once you finish on the 18th hole, make a left turn out of the course onto Northside Drive — it’s a straight shot from there to the stadium.
And if you have any old-school sports enthusiasts in your crew, they’ll appreciate a horse-powered evening at Medieval Times, where you’ll find jousting, a royal feast and a new production with a queen as the show’s centerpiece for the first time.