The 6 hottest destinations in Atlanta in 2016, according to Lyft

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The 6 hottest destinations in Atlanta in 2016, according to Lyft

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Marta customers walk down to train platform at College Park MARTA station on Saturday, August 9, 2014. For the second consecutive year, it won a “Lyftie” award as one of the hottest spots in Atlanta for passenger dropoffs by the on-demand, ride share service. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

It doesn’t have velvet ropes or a VIP room.

Still, everyone wants to go to the College Park MARTA station.

Not to mention a certain Buckhead restaurant and a bar in Virginia Highland.

This better-than-a-Kardashian-sighting barometer of Atlanta hot spots comes courtesy of Lyft. The on-demand, ride-sharing service on Wednesday revealed the winners of its second annual “Lyftie Awards” — “local hot spots” in two dozen major cities and locations that had the most Lyft passenger dropoffs in 2016.

“It’s a way of recognizing where there are venues and establishments that represent the best Atlanta has to offer,” Sam Bond, Lyft’s Atlanta general manager, said of the awards. “More broadly, though, it’s a recognition of how popular a service like Lyft has become and communicating that to passengers — particularly when it comes to going out and getting home safely.”

Atlanta Lyftie winners were named in six categories: Most visited restaurant, The Ivy in Buckhead; most visited bar, the Dark Horse Tavern in Virginia Highland; most visited event space, Philips Arena and most visited transit stop, MARTA in College Park. (You can find all the national and “local Lyftie” winners here).

The Georgia Aquarium was named winner of the “Only in Atlanta” Lfytie, the category for historically preserved or “local legend”-type places. Ponce City Market won for “Trending Destination.”

“It’s really about speed of growth, in terms of the number of rides we’re seeing on a weekly basis,” Bond said of that last category. “Ponce City Market has been open for awhile, but the buzz of people recognizing it as a destination, especially a unique one, has been building and building.”

Translation: If it feels like everyone and his brother’s at PCM at the same time you are, you’re not imagining it.

Instead, Bond enthused, imagine not getting stuck behind the wheel trying to get there or to many of Atlanta’s other hot spots. Or having to troll for parking or worry about getting home safely after a couple of drinks.

“The best experience is when you roll right up and get dropped off,” he said.

Indeed, the Lyfties aren’t just about handing out shiny statutettes (actually, the winners get a sticker to display in a window). Lyft also claims it generated $41.3 million in extra spending here in 2016 and saved Atlanta passengers 710,000 hours in “travel time” (time they otherwise would have spent waiting for, riding and paying for a different travel option, or looking for a parking spot and then getting from it to their destination).

Still … there must be even more than that to the College Park MARTA station’s back-to-back wins in 2015 and 2016.

There is. It’s the last stop before Hartsfield-Jackson, aka the world’s busiest airport. And, technically, a place where Lyft and other ride-share companies aren’t allowed to operate. Meaning that a lot of passengers trying to avoid the hassle of driving themselves to and parking at Hartsfield probably got on or off a Lyft at College Park.

That’s all about to end, though. When it comes to its single biggest business night, “New Year’s Eve is definitely our Super Bowl,” Bond said. This year, though, it takes on added signficance. That’s because on New Year’s Day, regulations passed by Atlanta City Council officially allowing Uber, Lyft et al. to operate at Hartsfield take effect.

May we have the 2017 Lyftie envelope please?

“The airport by its very nature will take top honors,” Bond predicted.”You don’t even need a murky crystal ball to know that it’s going to be hands down our No. 1 dropoff and pickup location.”

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