We’ve all been there: it’s an hour past nap time, you’re stuck in the car with one more errand to run, there are multiple cranky (or sleeping) kids in the backseat, and you’ve just realized that you have no idea what’s for dinner. If the oil change hadn’t taken an hour, if the line at the coffee shop had just moved a little quicker, or if the owner at the cleaners hadn’t been such a Chatty Cathy with the customer ahead of you, you might not be in this predicament. The thought of strapping and un-strapping kids one more time might send you all over the edge. Don’t despair! We get it—so we put together a guide to navigating Atlanta drive-through style. While we may not be able to do anything about the traffic in Atlanta, we can definitely get you out of this particular jam and pedaling on towards home pronto, sanity intact.
Atlanta has plenty of chains that offer drive-through coffee, including all of your standard fast food joints. Unfortunately, most locally owned shops don’t meet the “keep ‘em in the car seat” criteria, but if you know your way around a Starbucks menu, you’ll hear cheers instead of groans when you dive into the drive through with kids in tow.
The secret: Not all Starbucks have drive throughs, but the following locations are great starting points to a day on the road. Prep your passengers for a day of errands by getting them a kid-sized fruit smoothie (Really? Who knew?) or a vanilla steamer (be sure to specify that you want the 8 ounce kids’ size and temperature).
2333 Peachtree Road, Atlanta, Ga 30305, 404-261-8447
3330 Piedmont Road, Atlanta, Ga 30305, 404-240-5596
3901 Peachtree Road NE, Atlanta, Ga 30319, 404-504-9277
2321 North Druid Hills Road, Atlanta, Ga 30329, 404-321-2630
5660 Roswell Road, Sandy Springs, Ga 30342, 404-250-0328
Ok, so if your back seat seems especially high-maintenance and you’re staring down a long day of errands, why not forgo the Starbucks and get your coffee with donuts instead? A mouthful of the sweet stuff can turn any attitude around.
The secret: Unless you want to add a carwash to your to-do list, stay away from the full sized donuts and order a dozen donut holes instead. Be sure to tell them to split your order into the appropriate number of bags so that you won’t have any donut drama in the backseat while you’re trying to enjoy your coffee.
Krispy Kreme: 295 Ponce De Leon Avenue NE, Atlanta, Ga, 30308, 404-876-7307
Dunkin Donuts: 3802 Roswell Road, Atlanta, Ga, 30342, 404-261-9118 (Note: this one is also a Baskin Robbins!) and 1766 Howell Mill Road NW, Atlanta, Ga, 30318, 404-351-0775 (Swing by here on your way to the only in-town Wal Mart, across the street.)
Alas, even Atlanta isn’t perfect. Years ago, Publix used Atlanta as a test market for their curbside-to-go grocery concept. However, it flopped like the diving board at a public pool and we again have no viable option for groceries on the go. Get creative, though, and you’ll be able to score the necessities from other sources (other than your neighbor).
The secret: Have to hit the drug store? Planning on swinging through the drive-through? If it’s a staple you need (milk, butter, bread), why not explain the situation to the pharmacy tech on your drop-off, and you just might be delighted when you circle back through on pick-up. Obviously, try not to get in the vacuum tube lane to increase your chances of this working. Or, if you just need a few glasses of milk for dinner that night or cereal in the morning, any Chick-fil-A will be glad to sell you four large milks and voila! You’ve just bought yourself another day before having to really, really go to the grocery store.
There is nothing fun about taking kids into a drug store, because either they’re sick or someone else waiting for his prescription is. A drive through drug store is an absolute must, and while there are more options than those listed in this article, we’ve found that CVS and Walgreens seem to win in the Atlanta convenience category.
The secret: Hit the pharmacy after your coffee or donut stop so that you can drop off your prescription and keep moving. The name of the game on errand day is “keep moving!” Swing back around on your way home. If you’ve got a screaming kid, the odds of the pharmacy tech taking pity and helping you with that gallon of milk skyrocket.
CVS 3221 Peachtree Road, Atlanta, Ga 30305, 404-869-3308
CVS 3658 Roswell Road, Atlanta, Ga 30342, 404-816-8464
Walgreens 595 Piedmont Avenue NE, Atlanta, Ga 30308, 404-685-9665
Walgreens 2320 North Druid Hills Road, Atlanta, Ga 30329, 404-248-1793
Rated right up there with public restrooms, the waiting rooms of most oil change facilities are never where you want to be trapped with the littles. Turn your trauma into a terrific adventure for them by heading to an Express Oil Change & Service Center, where you can stay in your car during the entire effort and they can watch and listen as the “magic men” work on cars.
The secret: Go to the one on Howell Mill, and you can run through the Dunkin Donuts drive through next door first. Think of it as breakfast and entertainment, back-to-back. Just remember that they’ll have you cut your engine so be sure to go in the morning before the heat index shatters.
Express Oil Change & Service, 2778 Clairmont Road, Atlanta, Ga 30329, 404-325-3440, 1760 Howell Mill Road, Atlanta, Ga 30318, 404-351-4776, and 5811 Roswell Road, Atlanta, Ga 30328, 404-851-0040
While most area establishments guard their two reserved parking spaces with gusto, nothing quite beats a drive-through cleaners (unless they deliver it to your door, which is often a service there for the asking).
The secret: This is the stop that’s usually thrown out the window when the backseat gets a little restless. Put it first on your agenda as many of these spots open bright and early.
Carriage Cleaners, 3620 Piedmont Road NE, Atlanta, Ga 30305, 404-237-9986, Monday – Friday 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m., Saturday 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Sunny’s Cleaners, 2280 Cheshire Bridge Road NE, Atlanta, Ga 30324, 404-248-1957, Monday – Friday 7:00 a.m. -7:00 p.m., Saturdays 8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Ansley Dry Cleaning 1640 Northside Drive, Atlanta, GA 30318, 404-355-5725, Monday -Friday 7:00 a.m. -7:00 p.m., Saturdays 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Presstine Cleaners, 4455 Roswell Road, Atlanta, Ga 30342, 404-255-4312, Monday – Thursday 6:30 a.m. – 8:00 p.m., Friday 6:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m., Saturdays 6:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m., Sundays Noon – 5:00 p.m.
Admit it. You have a stack of shirts just rolling around in your way back that have been there for weeks, waiting for you to make time to drop them off at your favorite monogramming place. Wait no longer, little shirts, wait no longer.
The secret: While not officially a curbside-to-go endeavor, Buckhead’s newest monogramming house will be glad to run out with a font and color order form and take your stack of clothes for you. Just call when you get near and let them know you’re coming, and you can finally scratch it off your list without ever getting out of the car.
Atlanta Needlepoint and Monogramming, 314 Buckhead Avenue, Atlanta, Ga 30305, 404-816-1027, $20 Minimum (3 monograms), Monday – Friday: 9:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Saturday 9:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Since most of our internal GPS’s are set to the nearest Chick-fil-A, we sometimes forget the other options for drive-in and drive-through dining around town. Whether for lunch, dinner, or just a treat, the following options will help you power through your day and keep your crew happy for the duration.
The secret: What Atlanta lacks in terms of healthy drive-through options for kids, it makes up for in friendliness. Note that Zoe’s Kitchen has carry-out parking, but if you’ll call when you arrive, they’ll be glad to run your order out to you. The same can be said for the Deli at General Muir, one of Atlanta’s newest eateries garnering rave reviews, and at the Highland Bakery, Willy’s on Howell Mill, Half Baked Casseroles, and Blue Moon Pizza. Just be sure to tell them that you’ve got kids in tow, and they’ll happily accommodate you.
The Varsity, 61 North Avenue, Atlanta Ga 30308
Zoe’s Kitchens, 2333 Peachtree Road, Atlanta Ga 30305, 404-233-9637, and 3655 Roswell Road, Atlanta Ga, 30342, 404-869-3238, Locations also include Perimeter, Cumberland, and East Cobb
The Deli at General Muir: 1540 Avenue Place, Atlanta, Ga 30329, 678-927-9131
Blue Moon Pizza, Buckhead, 325 E. Paces Ferry Road, Atlanta, GA 30305, 404.814.1515 (This location offers curbside-to-go and take-and-bake options if you need to fake a homemade pizza for dinner.)
Half Baked Casseroles, 3185 Roswell Road, Atlanta, Ga 30305, 404-228-5836, Monday – Friday from 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., Closed Saturday and Sunday (Call ahead for run-out service, and you’ll have a home-made dinner ready to pop in the oven when you get home.)
Willy’s Mexican Grill: 1920 Howell Mill Road, Atlanta, Ga 30318, 404-351-8883 (Call ahead for the curbside-to-go service)
Endulge Cupcakes, 749 Moreland Avenue, Atlanta, Ga 30316, 404-996-6995
Highland Bakery, 655 Highland Avenue, Atlanta, Ga 30312, 404-586-0772
Baskin Robbins: 3802 Roswell Road, Atlanta, Ga 30342, 404-261-9118
Really, you’re not technically doing anything wrong, but doesn’t it feel a little awkward to parade your pint-sized peeps into the package store? Thank goodness we can buy our wine and beer at the grocery store in Georgia, but what do you do when the grocery isn’t on your agenda?
The secret: These establishments have made our list for convenience and because they pass the car seat test. What they look like on the inside is anyone’s guess, but did we mention that they have a drive through window?
All American Package Store, 4465 Roswell Road, Atlanta, Ga 30342, 404-255-6826, Monday – Saturday, 10:00 a.m. – Midnight, Closed Sunday
Pitch & Putt Liquor Store, 1890 Johnson Road, Atlanta, Ga 30306, 404-875-6073
If your crew has hung in there with you through all of this, then they’re due a little congratulatory screen time, wouldn’t you say? Why not keep them in those car seats a little bit longer and treat them to a movie at the historic Starlight Drive-In Theater, one of only four drive-ins remaining in Georgia.
The secret: The Starlight is just like you’d imagine: old, charming, and maybe a little scary (in a good sort of way). Go when the heat finally relents late in summer and you’ll have more fun doing the movie tailgate-style. Also remember that drive-ins operate in the dark, so if you’ve got a group of 7:00 p.m. sleepers, this might not be for you.
Starlight Drive-In Theater, 2000 Moreland Avenue, Atlanta, Ga 30316, 404-627-5786
Where do you drive-thru when you have tots in tow? Tell us below!
Photo courtesy of the author, Creative Commons via Flickr, Sarah L. via Yelp, Flickr via Creative Commons, Half Baked Casseroles via Facebook, Express Oil via Facebook, Atlanta Needlepoint via Facebook, and Starlight Drive-In Theater via Facebook