These are best and worst times to drive in Atlanta weekend after Thanksgiving

These are best and worst times to drive in Atlanta weekend after Thanksgiving

Cars in Atlanta traffic

More than 54 million Americans are expected to travel this Thanksgiving holiday, according to the American Automobile Association. That’s the most since 2005.

Compared to last year, 2.5 million more people will be hitting the roads, skies, rails and waterways during the Thanksgiving holiday period, Wednesday, Nov. 21 through Sunday, Nov. 25.

Travelers in many of the typically congested cities can expect to spend four times longer on the roads during this period than they would normally spend, especially if traveling by road.

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Approximately 48.5 million people (nearly 5 percent more than last year) will be driving for their holiday travels.

"Thanksgiving is one of the busiest holidays for road trips, and this year will be no different," Trevor Reed, transportation analyst at global mobility analytics company INRIX, said in the AAA announcement. "Knowing when and where congestion will build can help drivers avoid the stress of sitting in traffic. Our advice to drivers is to avoid commuting times in major cities altogether or plan alternative routes."

With help from INRIX and Google analysts, we've compiled the best and worst times to hit the road in Atlanta.


Best and worst times to travel in and around Atlanta this Thanksgiving



According to Google, the best day to leave for the holiday is Thanksgiving Day at 6 a.m.


Leaving around 6 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 25, should help you avoid the worst of Atlanta’s traffic, but there are, of course, no guarantees.



Google analysts recommend avoiding the roads around 3 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 21.

But according to INRIX, the worst day to travel is Tuesday, Nov. 20, between 5-7 p.m. You can expect to spend 2.75x longer than you’d typically spend around this congested time, the company noted in the AAA announcement.

INRIX also highlighted the worst hotspot in Atlanta: Between exit 216 to 227 on I-75.


To avoid increased congestion after the holiday, consider leaving before or After Sunday. Google research shows 4 p.m. on the Sunday after Thanksgiving is particularly troublesome for Atlanta traffic.

Itching for more on Thankgiving traffic and search trends? Google has published a national guide at

Researchers even examined categorical searches via Google Maps to determine when the most popular places tend to be most crowded.

Here’s some more data on Atlanta:

When to avoid...

Bakeries: Midday Wednesday, Nov. 20

Grocery stores: Wednesday afternoon

Liquor stores: Wednesday afternoon

Movie theaters: Friday evening after Thanksgiving

Shopping centers: Black Friday afternoon

This article was written by Fiza Pirani, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.