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 recent 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.
- 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.
- DeKalb Convention & Tourist Board, 1957 Lakeside Parkway, Ste. 510, Tucker, +1 770 492-5000.
Downtown Decatur is on the east-west MARTA Blue rail line to . 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: and . 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 carDecatur 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 bikeDecatur is also accessible via the PATH walk/bike trail. The trail runs from Atlanta to Stone Mountain through the city of Decatur.
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 .
address: 3000 Ponce De Leon AveAlthough 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. There is a cafeteria with low prices and international fare. Open 7 days a week.
address: 101 E. Court SqStep outside on the north side of the courthouse to view the "seated statues" and the south side to view the Confederate States obelisk. Walk down to West Trinity Place to see the History Center's historic complex of three antebellum structures.
Decatur CemeteryOne 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.
Emory UniversityCheck out the excellent Michael C. Carlos Museum, 571 South Kilgo Cir., +1 404 727-4282 . 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.
address: 141 E. College AveA 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.
phone: +1 404 471-6266address: 141 E. College AveAgnes Scott College. Visit the observatory (and planetarium) during one of their "Amateur Astronomy" open houses.
MAK Historic DistrictDecatur'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.
phone: +1 404 688-3353address: 327 Saint Paul AveOffers 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. (built by Charles Howard Candler); attend the circa 1916 St. John Chrysostom Melkite Church at 1428 Ponce de Leon Ave. (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.
- 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).
Java MonkeyOn Church Street directly east of the square, has live music or an open mic every night of the week. (Sit outside for the music.)
Theatre and performing arts
phone: +1 404 897-1802address: Suburban Plaza, 2597 North Decatur RdAtlanta's 3rd longest running theatre.
address: 121 New StKnown for pushing boundaries, this live theater has almost 300 events a year and hosts the "New Street Art House".
Donna and Marvin Schwartz Center for the Performing ArtsEmory University, multi-use performing arts center in a building was designed by Michael Graves.
address: 430 West Trinity PlaceLocal, live performances.
Galleries, arts & crafts
address: 335 W. Ponce de Leon AveJewelry and hand painted crafts.
address: 141 E. College AveGallery at Agnes Scott College.
address: 427 Church StreetAntiques, folk art, jewelry, and fine craft from the world over.
Predicate Galleryaddress: 121 Church StStudio and meeting space.
Sycamore Place Gallery & Studiosaddress: 120 Sycamore PlaceTwelve artist studios and gallery space.
address: 415 Church StreetRecently relocated to Downtown Decatur.
- 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 ToursThe city of Decatur and the Decatur Development Authority have six digital walking tours of the city - phone +1 404 371-8386 or email email@example.com 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 ToursThe city of Decatur has three bike routes mapped out on their website.
- 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.
address: 290 Arizona AveSouthwest 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!
FestivalsDecatur events and festivals are scheduled through-out the year. Phone +1 404 371-9583 for information.
AJC Decatur Book FestivalBook 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 FestivalAnnual 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 FestivalA 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 FestivalAnother, 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Columbia Theological Seminary, 701 S. Columbia Dr. Columbia is a seminary affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). It is located south of downtown Decatur.
- 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.
- 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.
BookstoresDecatur may have more used bookstores than any other community in metro Atlanta. Bookstores selling new books are also listed.
address: 407 W. Ponce de Leon AveNew books, large mystery section. Opened in 2008.
Book Nookaddress: 3073 North Druid Hills RdLarge used bookstore which also has comic books, rock-related literature, CDs, LPs, DVDs, VHS and cassettes. Book Nook first opened in 1973.
phone: +1 404 486-0307address: 2076 North Decatur RdOver 50,000 books.
address: 133 East CourtSquare (next to Starbucks). Specializing in children's books & gifts.
ClothingDecatur has an eclectic mix of small clothing and accessory stores, from classic casual to artsy and eclectic.
address: 246 W. Ponce de Leon AveMen's and women's clothing store.
Carpe le Scarpeaddress: 415 Church StFunctional but funky small shoe store.
- Classy Fashion, 410-A Church St., +1 404 373-3937.
- Fabutique, 335-D W. Ponce de Leon Ave., +1 404 377-6363.
- Kaleidoscope Boutique, 252 W Ponce de Leon Ave., +1 404 378-1214.
Lily Moonaddress: 308 Ponce De Leon PlPart vintage and part new clothing store.
address: 652 East Lake DrRun/Walk shoe store.
- Peggy's Boutique, 308 W. Ponce de Leon Ave., +1 404 370-9888. Women's clothing.
Squash Blossomaddress: 427 Church StWomen's clothing store featuring natural fibers.
GeneralDecatur has pharmacies, jewelry stores and other retail establishments located throughout the city, but the following are notable:
address: 414 Church StFun stuff for kids.
MusicThe music shops in Decatur have a good selection of used and new albums and CD's.
Book Nookaddress: 3073 North Druid Hills RdSee other listing.
Decatur CD356 W. Ponce de Leon Ave. Stocks alternative and rock music. Frequent in-store performances by musicians in town to perform at area venues.
phone: +1 404 329-00201.5 miles north of downtown Decatur (intersection of N. Decatur and Clairmont Rds). 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.
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)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:
phone: +1 404-373-5622address: 121 E Ponce de Leon AveExcellent small Alsatian (French with German influence) restaurant with limited outdoor seating - one of Decatur's finest restaurants.
phone: +1 404-371-9119address: 308 W Ponce de Leon AveExcellent American/Eclectic/Mediterranean cuisine. One of Decatur's finest restaurants.
phone: +1 404-371-8800address: 121 Sycamore StExcellent Spanish Tapas bar with an extensive wine list.
phone: +1 404-687-0500address: 131 E Ponce de Leon AveUpscale American restaurant in a former early 20th Century service station with bocce court.
phone: +1 404 377-3311address: 141 Sycamore StWide variety of tasty burritos and related fare. Very large open-air dining section in the back, secluded from the hustle of Decatur.
phone: +1 404-377-7668address: 359 W Ponce de Leon AveUpscale 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.
phone: +1 678-927-9131address: 1540 Avenue Place Suite B-230The 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.
phone: +1 404-378-3502address: 303 E Howard AveHoused in a former railroad station and was named best new restaurant in the South back in 2014.
phone: +1 470-225-6770address: 129 Church St
SW of Decatur Square
address: 1655 McLendon AveOne 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 SquareThe 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.
The restaurants are located in Oakhurst Village historic buildings surrounded by the eclectic Oakhurst residential neighborhood.
phone: +1 404-687-0007address: 653 East Lake DrMexican.
phone: +1 404-373-1116address: 659 East Lake DrIn 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!
phone: +1 404 373-3331address: 1042 West College AveEclectic menu that focuses on seafood with a southern twist - great sunroom & courtyard in rear.
N of Decatur SquareThese restaurants are located in strip shopping centers clustered near the intersection of Clairmont Rd. & North Decatur Rd.
phone: +1 404-320-0101address: 2126 North Decatur RdGreek/Mediterranean food.
phone: +1 404-633-5252address: 1905 Clairmont RdVery good Chinese restaurant (with Japanese & Sushi) at 1905 Clairmont Rd.
NE of Decatur Square
While several of the restaurants are excellent, most are located in older strip shopping centers near automobile dealerships and along highways.
phone: +1 404-296-2965address: 1707 Church StVegetarian Indian restaurant.
phone: +1 404-320-0054address: 1850 Lawrenceville HwyRespected Turkish cuisine restaurant.
phone: +1 404-728-4444address: 1677 Scott BlvdIf you can get beyond the unusual use of styrofoam cups and plates, this is a very good sit-down Indian restaurant.
Pubs & bars
phone: +1 404 687-0990address: 125 East CourtSquare. 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.
phone: +1 404-377-0603address: 627 E College AveA pub at East Decatur Station which relocated from Oakhurst.
phone: +1 404-371-1113address: 707 East Lake Dr BOakhurst'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.
phone: +1 404-373-0063address: 211 E Trinity PlChurch St. and Trinity Pl. Has a solid beer selection and quality pool tables; wifi.
phone: +1 404-982-0790address: 2094 N Decatur RdNorth Decatur & Clairemont; one of the better coffee houses with good indoor seating, but outdoor seating overlooks a strip center parking lot; wifi.
phone: +1 404-378-5002address: 425 Church StAcross Church St. from Decatur Square; one of the better coffee houses and very popular. It also has a limited food menu and a large outdoor seating area; wifi.
phone: +1 404-687-1100address: 419 W Ponce de Leon AveDecatur's newest coffee house - slick retro design.
- 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.
Areas to avoid
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
MediaDecatur 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.
- [http://www.neighbornewspapers.com 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.
- [http://www.emorywheel.com Emory Wheel, twice weekly, Emory University's student newspaper.
| address=135 Garden Lane | lat=33.782553 | long=-84.304044 | directions=
| phone=+1 404 377-3057 | tollfree= | fax=
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| content=In the Clairemont/Great Lakes neighborhood north of Decatur Square.
| address=130 Clairemont Ave | lat=33.776810 | long=-84.296882 | directions=
| phone=+1 404 371-0204 | tollfree= | fax=
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| content=The best hotel in downtown Decatur; has an indoor pool; one block from Decatur Square and near MARTA's Decatur Station.
| address=917 Church St | lat=33.780538 | long=-84.294594 | directions=
| phone=+1 404 378-3765 | tollfree= | fax=
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| content=An economy motel located a few blocks northeast of Decatur Square.
| address=1615 Clifton Rd | lat= | long= | directions=north of Decatur on the Emory University campus
| phone=+1 404 712-6000 | tollfree= | fax=
| price= | checkin= | checkout=
| content= Good hotel, but not within walking distance of Decatur Square.
| address=2183 N. Decatur Rd | lat= | long= | directions=
| phone =+1 404 320-0888 | tollfree= | fax=
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| content= 1.5 miles north of Decatur Square in a cluster of nondescript strip shopping centers.
| address=3244 Covington Hwy | lat= | long= | directions=
| phone =+1 404 508-6060 | tollfree= | fax=
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| content=In the historic planned community of Avondale Estates immediately SE of Decatur, this B&B was originally the country gentlemen's farmhouse of Judge John S. Candler.
| address=1767 N. Decatur Rd | lat= | long= | directions=in the Druid Hills neighborhood adjoining Emory University
| phone= | tollfree=+1-800-654-8591 | fax=
| price= | checkin= | checkout=
| content= Within walking distance of Emory University, but not Decatur Square.
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