city in and county seat of DeKalb County, Georgia, United States

Decatur is a city that, despite being somewhat isolated from the rest of Atlanta, is so close to Georgia's state capital as to not really be separate. While Atlanta is an international city with corporate headquarters, world class convention facilities, and a fast pace, Decatur has retained a small city feel and a slightly slower pace. However, Decatur is closer to Atlanta's business, retail and cultural destinations than many of Atlanta's neighborhoods, so it can easily be mistaken for an in-town neighborhood of Atlanta.

Understand edit

South view of the DeKalb County, Georgia, courthouse.

Decatur is the county seat of DeKalb County. This historic city was founded in 1823 - before neighboring Atlanta. It has beautiful homes, historic places of worship and several institutions of higher learning. Centered on the historic Decatur Courthouse, Decatur has become a hot destination for college students and young professionals who want hip bars, great restaurants, and walkable neighborhoods, as well as for families who are drawn to the excellent independent school district. In addition to the single-family homes in old neighborhoods surrounding the central business district, there are several mid-rise condominium developments in the downtown area, breathing life into the downtown community.

While it may appear to be a typical southern city, Decatur marches to the beat of a different drummer. It declined to become a railroad transportation hub for the southeast in the 19th century, resulting in the founding of Atlanta to its west. Both delegates from DeKalb County voted against secession in 1861. Decatur is one of the few parts of the sprawling Atlanta area that blends a small-town feel with an open-minded, freewheeling, artsy sensibility.

Decatur remains notable for its diversity. Founded by Scottish, Irish, and English immigrants, the city remains majority Caucasian, but there is also a substantial African-American population, a lesbian community and Ethiopian immigrants. North of the city is a Greek-American community, and northeast of the city (around Church St., Scott Blvd./Lawrenceville Hwy. and DeKalb Industrial Blvd.) is a thriving Indian community with restaurants and retail outlets.

Decatur is also notable for its location east of Atlanta's midtown district, and it is surrounded by the city of Atlanta on its south and west sides. Atlanta and Decatur are Georgia's only county seats inside the "Perimeter" interstate (I-285) that encircles the metro area.

Read edit

  • Clarke, Caroline McKinney. The Story of Decatur, 1823-1899, DeKalb Historical Society (1996).
  • Gay, Mary. Life in Dixie During the War, Mercer University Press (2001). A first person account of the Civil War in Georgia - including Decatur - by a Decatur resident living in the city during the war.
  • Mason, Herman, Jr. African-American Life in DeKalb County, GA, 1823-1970 (Images of America), Arcadia Publishing (1998).
  • Price, Vivian. Historic DeKalb County: An Illustrated History (Georgia Heritage Series), Historical Publishing Network (2007). A coffee table book covering 184 years of DeKalb County’s history.

Tourism edit

Get in edit

The platforms of MARTA Decatur station in Decatur, Georgia.

By transit edit

Downtown Decatur is on the east-west MARTA Blue rail line to 1 Decatur Station (E6). The station is directly behind the courthouse (under Decatur Square) and has two access points. Exit east (Church St.) for the pedestrian and taxi entrance to the station; exit west (Commerce) to transfer to MARTA buses. The city of Decatur includes two additional MARTA rail stations: 2 East Lake (E5) and 3 Avondale (E7). Avondale Station is located at the southern end of the Decatur Heights neighborhood, and not the City of Avondale Estates. Average time from Decatur Station to Five Points Station is 13 minutes. There are connecting MARTA buses to neighborhoods in and around Decatur.

By car edit

Decatur is accessible from Atlanta via Ponce de Leon Avenue, which is a direct route, but is a slow-moving surface street with many lights. It is also accessible from the Perimeter (I-285) via several exits, and indirectly via I-20. However, parking is limited in downtown Decatur. Street parking is free after 6PM Monday–Saturday and all day Sunday. The city website lists off-street parking lot locations.

By bike edit

Decatur is also accessible via the PATH walk/bike trail[dead link]. The trail runs from Atlanta to Stone Mountain through the city of Decatur.

Get around edit

Map of Atlanta/Decatur

Schematic map of Decatur, GA.

Downtown Decatur is highly walkable, but like all of metro Atlanta, public transportation is limited and you will likely have an easier time getting around by car. MARTA buses leave from each of the three Decatur rail stations to various points in the county.

Decatur participates in Zipcar, a national program where environmentally-friendly cars are located throughout the downtown area that members may rent by the hour. Locations are posted at [1].

See edit

  • 1 Your Dekalb Farmers Market, 3000 Ponce De Leon Ave, +1 404 377-6400. Although a grocery store is not high on most tourists' list of things to see, this international market is a spectacle that is worth the trip. The enormous store employs people from around the world (their name tags tell which languages they speak) and has nearly any type of meat, vegetable, fruit, spice, or otherwise edible item you could imagine. The cafeteria closed in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and as of February 2022 has not reopened. Open 7 days a week.
  • 2 DeKalb History Center, 101 E. Court Sq (in the Decatur Courthouse). Step outside on the north side of the courthouse to view the "seated statues" and the south side to view the Decatur Square, home to various restaurants and prominently featured in TV and film productions, most notably HBO's 'Watchmen'. Walk down to West Trinity Place to see the History Center's historic complex of three antebellum structures.
  • 3 Decatur Cemetery (on Commerce Drive about two blocks northeast of the square). One of the oldest operating cemeteries in Georgia. Check out the Civil War graves (to your left at you enter), sit in the pleasant gazebo, or take a stroll around the lake. Look out for the ducks, which are aggressive. Also check out the circa-1880 Fraser Building, at the Church Street entrance to the cemetery.    
  • 4 Emory University. Check out the excellent Michael C. Carlos Museum, 571 South Kilgo Cir., +1 404 727-4282 [2]. Walk around the English Renaissance Lullwater House and nearby Candler Lake (formerly Lullwater Lake). The Lullwater House, located at 1463 Clifton Rd. on Emory's campus, is the official residence of Emory University's president and is not open to the public. However, the tree-lined loop road around the house is open to staff, students and escorted visitors.    
  • 5 Agnes Scott College, 141 E. College Ave. A private college for women 3/4 mile south of Decatur Square. Agnes Scott frequently hosts lectures, concerts, and other cultural events. A walk around the beautiful campus, which was featured in Scream 2, is also a pleasant way to spend an afternoon. Nearby Columbia Theological Seminary on Columbia Avenue also has a beautiful campus.    
    • 6 Bradley Observatory, 141 E. College Ave, +1 404 471-6266. Agnes Scott College. Visit the observatory (and planetarium) during one of their "Amateur Astronomy" open houses.    
    • MAK Historic District (McDonough, Adams, Kings Highway). Decatur's oldest historic district is located immediately west of Agnes Scott College. Some of the oldest homes (on Adams Street) were developed from 1905 to 1912. Television shows October Road and Hollywood movie Stomp the Yard were filmed on location in the MAK Historic District.
  • The historic Druid Hills neighborhood is located west of the city. This upper-class enclave includes several mansions owned by the Candler family of Coca- Cola fame, historic churches, a picturesque country club and provided the setting for the movie Driving Miss Daisy.
    • 7 Atlanta Preservation Center, 327 Saint Paul Ave, +1 404 688-3353. Offers walking tours of the Druid Hills neighborhood.
    • Check out some of the historic mansions built by the Candler family. Visit the circa 1917 Callanwolde Fine Arts Center at 980 Briarcliff Rd. [3] (built by Charles Howard Candler); attend the circa 1916 St. John Chrysostom Melkite Church at 1428 Ponce de Leon Ave. [4] (built for Lucy Candler in the style of a Roman villa - the peristyle court is now the sanctuary); and drive by the circa 1920 Asa Candler Mansion at Emory's Briarcliff campus, 1256 Briarcliff Rd.
    • In addition to the tree-lined estate homes in this affluent neighborhood is historic Olmsted Linear Park. The park consists of 50 acres broken up into six segments along Ponce de Leon Ave. The neighborhood and park were designed by Frederick Law Olmsted Sr. in the 1890s. The park is being restored based on Olmsted's original plans.
  • 8 Original Waffle House & Museum, 2719 East College Ave, +1 770-326-7086. Visit a re-creation of the first Waffle House, which opened in Avondale Estates in 1955. The museum includes a 13-stool diner, vintage equipment, displays of old uniforms, exhibits of memorabilia and a jukebox. Open by appointment during the week, with limited weekend hours.

Do edit

Music venues edit

  • Listen to a hot local act at neighborhood institution Eddie's Attic,directly south of the square. Bands usually play an all-ages and an adults-only show. Eddie's Attic is located at 515 N. McDonough (on the second floor of the former Belk's Department Store).

Theatre and performing arts edit

Galleries, arts & crafts edit

Recreation edit

  • Bike, run, or walk: The tree-lined streets can make for a great run or bike ride, but central and northern metro Atlanta has steep, hilly terrain. Also, while there are several nice bike paths, many routes are limited to very narrow sidewalks along very dangerous roads.
    • Decatur Walking Tours. The city of Decatur and the Decatur Development Authority have six digital walking tours of the city - phone +1 404 371-8386 or email for more information. Printed brochures are available at the Decatur Recreation Center, 231 Sycamore St., +1 404 377-0494; the Downtown Development Authority, +1 404 370-4100; and some local shops (i.e., One Step at a Time in Oakhurst).
    • Decatur Bike Tours. The city of Decatur has three bike routes mapped out on their website.
    • 10 Bicycle South, 2098 N. Decatur Rd. (at Clairmont Rd.), +1 404 636-4444. Has a webpage that lists area bike rides offered by Atlanta's Southern Bicycle League. Bicycle South does not rent bikes, but it sells and repairs bikes - a good resource if your need a repair during a visit.
    • 11 Tree Climbers International, 290 Arizona Ave, +1 404 377-3150. Southwest of Decatur. Offers tree climbing classes for those who love trees, as well as beginner group climbing events, including birthday parties and church, scouting, and school outings. Climb in the "Founder's Grove", where some of the trees have names!

Festivals edit

Decatur events and festivals are scheduled through-out the year. Phone +1 404 371-9583 for information.

  • AJC Decatur Book Festival. Book sales, readings by authors (books and poetry), lectures and other activities. One of Decatur's major festivals - held in late summer each year, usually over Labor Day weekend, with venues all around downtown. Reported to be the largest book festival between Washington DC and Miami, typically drawing over 200 authors and 50,000 festival goers.
  • Decatur Arts Festival. Annual event held since the 1990s over Memorial Day weekend in late spring by the Decatur Arts Alliance that has arts and crafts exhibits. Another of Decatur's major festivals - Ponce de Leon Avenue is closed for this event.
  • Great Decatur Beer Tasting Festival. A maximum of 5,000 people may sample hundreds of local, national and international beers for a set admission fee on the downtown Square. Proceeds benefit community organizations - over $500,000 in grants have been distributed to local organizations since 1999. Held in October of each year, usually on the third Saturday.
  • Beach Party - One of Decatur's major annual events - held in midsummer. Ponce de Leon Avenue is closed and tons of sand is dumped on it. Food and drink vendors, as well as a bandstand, supplement the building of sandcastles. Includes a children's play area.
  • Bar-B-Que, Blues and Bluegrass Festival. Another, somewhat smaller, festival held annually in late summer in the Oakhurst section of south Decatur. Features local blues and bluegrass as well as local food and drink. Proceeds benefit community organizations.
  • Wine Tasting Festival - A maximum of 1,500 people may sample over a hundred wines from around the world. Held in downtown Decatur in late fall of each year, usually the first Saturday in November.

Learn edit

Higher education edit

  • 2 Agnes Scott College, 141 E. College Ave. Is an independent national liberal arts college for women affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). It has approximately 900 students, and is located south of downtown Decatur.
  • 3 Art Institute of Atlanta - Decatur, 1 West Court Square (Decatur Square). The Art Institute of Atlanta (6600 Peachtree Dunwoody Rd., Sandy Springs) has opened a campus in downtown Decatur.
  • 4 Columbia Theological Seminary, 701 S. Columbia Dr. (located south of downtown Decatur). Columbia is a seminary affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA).
  • 5 DeVry University, 1 West Court Square. Private, for-profit university with over 20 campuses nationwide that offer Associate's to Master's level courses in business administration and professional studies.
  • 6 Emory University, 201 Dowman Dr. (located northwest of downtown Decatur.). Emory is one of America's top universities, and is home to nine major academic divisions. The University also includes a graduate school of arts and sciences; professional schools of medicine, theology, law, nursing, public health, and business. It was founded by the Methodist Church in 1836.

Buy edit

Decatur has pharmacies, jewelry stores and other retail establishments located throughout the city. Decatur does not have a shopping mall or a large retail shopping center. However, Decatur is not short on trendy boutiques. Most are located on or around Ponce de Leon.

Bookstores edit

Decatur may have more used bookstores than any other community in metro Atlanta. Bookstores selling new books are also listed.

Clothing edit

Decatur has an eclectic mix of small clothing and accessory stores, from classic casual to artsy and eclectic.

  • 5 Carpe le Scarpe, 415 Church St, +1 404 373-1049. Functional but funky small shoe store.
  • 6 Classy Fashion, 410-A Church St., +1 404 373-3937.
  • 7 Fabutique, 335-D W. Ponce de Leon Ave., +1 404 377-6363.
  • 8 Kaleidoscope Boutique, 252 W Ponce de Leon Ave., +1 404 378-1214.
  • 9 Lily Moon, 308 Ponce De Leon Pl, +1 404 373-9864. Part vintage and part new clothing store.
  • 10 One Step at a Time, 652 East Lake Dr, +1 404 377-1030. Run/Walk shoe store.
  • 11 Peggy's Boutique, 308 W. Ponce de Leon Ave., +1 404 370-9888. Women's clothing.
  • 12 Squash Blossom, 427 Church St, +1 404 373-1864. Women's clothing store featuring natural fibers.
  • 13 Hoopla, 414 Church St, +1 404 371-9485. Fun stuff for kids.

Music edit

The music shops in Decatur have a good selection of used and new albums and CD's.

  • 14 Book Nook, 3073 North Druid Hills Rd, +1 404 633-1342. See other listing.
  • 15 Decatur CD, 356 W. Ponce de Leon Ave., +1 404 371-9090. Stocks alternative and rock music. Frequent in-store performances by musicians in town to perform at area venues.
  • 16 Wuxtry Records (1.5 miles north of downtown Decatur (intersection of N. Decatur and Clairmont Rds).), +1 404 329-0020. The oldest record shop, specializing in all types of music with great depth in jazz, classic and alternative rock, international music and alt country /bluegrass.

Eat edit

Decatur is known for its outstanding locally-owned restaurants, and patrons travel here from all over metro Atlanta. Despite the presence of Ted's Montana Grill & Ruby Tuesday's, the national chains are not prevalent here. There are over 70 restaurants and pubs—primarily clustered in the downtown area, Oakhurst and north of Decatur. There are also sandwich shops, pasta restaurants and local chain pizza joints that have great food, but they are not listed below.

Downtown (Ponce/Decatur Square) edit

The restaurants are located on or near picturesque Ponce De Leon Avenue and around the Decatur (courthouse) Square. Here are some of the better restaurants:

  • 1 Cafe Alsace, 121 E Ponce de Leon Ave, +1 404-373-5622. Excellent small Alsatian (French with German influence) restaurant with limited outdoor seating - one of Decatur's finest restaurants.
  • 2 Cafe Lilly, 308 W Ponce de Leon Ave, +1 404-371-9119. Excellent American/Eclectic/Mediterranean cuisine. One of Decatur's finest restaurants.
  • 3 Iberian Pig, 121 Sycamore St, +1 404-371-8800. Excellent Spanish Tapas bar with an extensive wine list.
  • 4 Leon's Full Service, 131 E Ponce de Leon Ave, +1 404-687-0500. Upscale American restaurant in a former early 20th Century service station with bocce court.
  • 5 Raging Burrito and Taco, 141 Sycamore St, +1 404 377-3311. Wide variety of tasty burritos and related fare. Very large open-air dining section in the back, secluded from the hustle of Decatur.
  • 6 Taqueria del Sol, 359 W Ponce de Leon Ave, +1 404-377-7668. Upscale southwestern/Mexican. Great salsa, nice pulled-pork enchiladas; lunch and dinner. Line can be long, but it moves along and the food is worth the wait. Unusual outdoor seating area.
  • 7 The General Muir, 1540 Avenue Place Suite B-230, +1 678-927-9131. M-F 7AM-5:30PM, Weekends 8AM-5:30pM. The General Muir is a modern American restaurant inspired by classic New York Jewish deli, returning it to its hand-crafted roots. Traditional favorites are honored — pastrami is cured and smoked in house, bagels are hand rolled and kettle boiled — and joined by dishes going beyond tradition, focusing on fresh ingredients and simple preparations. The General Muir serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch, and offers an espresso bar serving locally-roasted Batdorf & Bronson coffee as well as a full bar of wine, beer, spirits, and cocktails. In addition to the full-service dining room, there is a separate counter service area — "The Deli at The General Muir" — serving bagels, sandwiches, salads, pastries, and coffee throughout the day. The restaurant is named for the refugee transport ship that brought co-owner Jennifer Johnson's mother and grandparents, Holocaust survivors, to New York in 1949. Full-Fledged Bagel - $7.75, Sandwiches - $7.95, Salads - $7.50, Beverages - About $3, Noshes - About $5, Breakfast Platters- About $10.
  • 8 Kimball House, 303 E Howard Ave, +1 404-378-3502. Housed in a former railroad station and was named best new restaurant in the South back in 2014.
  • 9 Revival, 129 Church St, +1 470-225-6770.

SW of Decatur Square edit

  • 10 The Flying Biscuit (Candler Park), 1655 McLendon Ave (at Clifton Rd.). One of the best breakfast spots in the metro area. This place takes breakfast so seriously it has a custom apple butter topping for its outstanding biscuits.

SE of Decatur Square edit

The restaurants are clustered north and south of the railroad tracks. The north side centers on Decatur's old train depot and old ice house, both renovated for adaptive reuse. The south side includes two developments - the larger East Decatur Station at East College Avenue & New Street, which houses restaurants, a pub, coffee house, live theatre, salon and church - and the smaller development at 313 East College Avenue, which contains a tavern and furniture store.

Oakhurst edit

The restaurants are located in Oakhurst Village historic buildings surrounded by the eclectic Oakhurst residential neighborhood.

  • 11 Mezcalito's Cantina, 653 East Lake Dr, +1 404-687-0007. Mexican.
  • 12 Steinbeck's Oyster Bar, 659 East Lake Dr, +1 404-373-1116. In Historic Oakhurst, Steinbecks is an intimate bar with a great patio. One of the few, and best places for casual seafood meals and an excellent beer selection!
  • 13 Wahoo Grill, 1042 West College Ave (North of Oakhurst Village near MARTA's East Lake Station), +1 404 373-3331. Eclectic menu that focuses on seafood with a southern twist - great sunroom & courtyard in rear.

N of Decatur Square edit

These restaurants are located in strip shopping centers clustered near the intersection of Clairmont Rd. & North Decatur Rd.

NE of Decatur Square edit

While several of the restaurants are excellent, most are located in older strip shopping centers near automobile dealerships and along highways.

  • 16 Chopaati, 1707 Church St (In Scott Village Shopping Center), +1 404-296-2965. Vegetarian Indian restaurant.
  • 17 Cafe Istanbul, 1850 Lawrenceville Hwy (at DeKalb Industrial Way), +1 404-320-0054. Respected Turkish cuisine restaurant.
  • 18 Zyka The Taste, 1677 Scott Blvd, +1 404-728-4444. If you can get beyond the unusual use of styrofoam cups and plates, this is a very good sit-down Indian restaurant.

Ice cream, bakery, chocolate edit

  • 19 Paolo's Gelato, 1025 Virginia Ave (at Highland Ave.), +1 404 607-0055. Italian ice cream in nearby Virginia-Highlands. Reviewed by Bon Appétit, Food Network, Condé Nest Traveler, Delta's Sky.
  • 20 The Chocolate Bar, 201 W Ponce de Leon Ave. A chocolate and wine bar (along with coffee and champagne) in the heart of Decatur.
  • 21 Alon's Bakery & Market, 1394 N. Highland Ave (at University), +1 404 872-6000. Fantastic bakery & deli in nearby Morningside.

Drink edit

Bars and pubs edit

  • 1 Brick Store Pub, 125 East Court, +1 404 687-0990. Square. Brick Store's appeal is in its excellent beer selection—which at 17 beers on tap, over 100 in the bottle and a "Belgian bar" is better than many bars elsewhere. People come for its rustic all-wooden interior, including a small but comfortable bar upstairs.
  • 2 The Corner Pub, 627 E College Ave, +1 404-377-0603. A pub at East Decatur Station which relocated from Oakhurst.
  • 3 Kavarna, 707 East Lake Dr B, +1 404-371-1113. Oakhurst's newest wine, coffee and food establishment that opened in 2007. The food is light (salads, hummus, cheese, etc.), but is beautifully presented and is designed to go with their wine and beer list.
  • 4 Twain's Billiards and Tap, 211 E Trinity Pl, +1 404-373-0063. Church St. and Trinity Pl. Has a solid beer selection and quality pool tables; wifi.

Coffee houses edit

  • 5 Chocolaté, 2094 N Decatur Rd (In North Decatur Center), +1 404-982-0790. North Decatur & Clairemont; one of the better coffee houses with good indoor seating, but outdoor seating overlooks a strip center parking lot; wifi.
  • 6 Dancing Goats, 419 W Ponce de Leon Ave, +1 404-687-1100. Decatur's newest coffee house - slick retro design.

Stay safe edit

Police edit

  • The Decatur Police Department protects the city of Decatur. The department headquarters is at 420 W. Trinity Place in downtown Decatur. The non-emergency number is +1 404 373-6551, but call 911 in an emergency. * Outside of the city of Decatur in unincorporated DeKalb County, the DeKalb County Police Department has jurisdiction. The main department's non-emergency number is +1 404 294-2000, but call 911 in an emergency.

Areas to avoid edit

  • Visitors to Decatur should avoid neighborhoods immediately east and south of Memorial Drive. The primary DeKalb County jail and DeKalb County's new Juvenile Justice Center are located east of Memorial Drive (near I-285). MARTA's Kensington Station (E8), which is west of Memorial Drive, is within walking distance of these facilities. Areas immediately east and south of Memorial Drive, as well as the Kensington MARTA station, are not tourist-oriented and are best avoided even if MARTA has police patrolling their rail stations.

Connect edit

Internet edit

  • 7 FedEx Office (formerly Kinko's), 2088 N. Decatur Rd. # A, +1 404 321-3990. Provides computers for internet access (with charge), fax machines and copying services. This is a 24-hour location used extensively by Emory students.
  • 8 Decatur Library, 215 Sycamore St., +1 404 370-3070. At the top of the curved stair on the second floor are computers with free internet access. Visitors are allowed to use the terminals for a short period of time, even if they do not have a library card - check with the staff member at the desk.
  • Wi-Fi:
    • Decatur Wi-Fi Access Program (WCG): Decatur began offering free Wi-Fi access to residents, students and visitors. The initial coverage area includes one square mile centered on Decatur Square, but the program is scheduled to expand.
    • In addition to coffee houses and restaurants listed elsewhere, free Wi-Fi is available at Krystal and McDonald's fast food restaurants.

Media edit

Decatur does not have its own daily newspaper, but aside from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and other metro papers, the following publications are available in the city:

  • "Decatur Focus", the official publication of the City of Decatur is mailed monthly to residents and available around the city.
  • Decatur Living, a local magazine (published by a local REALTOR) mailed free to Decatur residents.
  • [ DeKalb Neighbor, county newspaper covering local events, delivered free to DeKalb residents.
  • You can also stop by campuses to read student newspapers
    • The Profile, Agnes Scott College's student newspaper.
    • [ Emory Wheel, twice weekly, Emory University's student newspaper.

Sleep edit

Decatur edit

Near Decatur edit

Go next edit

Routes through Decatur
AshevilleChamblee  N   S  AtlantaMacon
AthensLilburn  N   S  AtlantaAuburn
BirminghamAtlanta  W   E  Stone MountainAthens

This district travel guide to Decatur is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.