City Spotlight: Decatur
"The City of Decatur has evolved into a vibrant, small urban city." – Catherine Lee, City of Decatur, Downtown Development Manager Founded in 1823, even before the City of Atlant... read more
Small-town charm. A big-city vibe. Decatur—Atlanta’s Eastside gem—is 200 years young this year. With a fantastic 200th birthday bash planned for December, now is a great time to get to know this delightful locale. A visit begins on the lively downtown square, recognized as one of USA Today’s “Top 10” public squares and located just a quick trip via MARTA from Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. From there, you can taste the best in destination dining, immerse yourself a thriving arts scene, stroll beautiful green spaces, festival it up all year round and so much more.
Chef-driven menus, buzzworthy cocktails and local brews. Decatur’s dining hotspots can always be found on “Best of” Atlanta lists for everything from ice cream to oysters. This year, two Decatur-based chefs, Terry Koval of the Deer and Dove (rustic American with duck, pheasant and venison on the menu) and Sahar Siddiqi of Chai Pani (authentic Indian street food), were named James Beard semifinalists for Best Chef: Southeast. Additionally, the city has earned a respected reputation for its critically acclaimed and popular restaurants. Kimball House (oysters and cocktails), No. 246 (inventive Italian) and The White Bull (house-milled pasta dishes) set the bar high as mainstays of Decatur’s dining scene. Newcomers Cereal Lab (nostalgic sweet creations), Rebel Tea (bubble tea) and Opo Coffee have each quickly cultivated a devoted fan base. And brew enthusiasts will enjoy the new Eastside Hops Trail featuring Decatur’s hoppin’ breweries that include the pioneering Twain’s (with an outstanding menu and billiards), Three Taverns, Inner Voice and Sceptre Brewing Arts, Georgia’s first brewpub using 100 percent local malt.
From the talented buskers who bring music to the city’s tree-lined sidewalks to the stunning murals adding major pops of color around town, Decatur is a hub for public art. You can take a stroll downtown and explore the Decatur Artway, a rotating outdoor sculpture gallery through which five new large-scale works were installed this year. Art also can be found in unexpected places along the way, as you look down for miniature Secret Doors Decatur and #lookupDecatur for art installed on streetlight poles. And visitors shouldn’t miss the latest edition of the Decatur Box Project, which allows local artists to transform ordinary utility boxes into new whimsical works, giving more creators a chance to showcase their talent. In May, the annual Decatur Arts Festival fills the streets with artist booths and brings thousands of people to the city to enjoy music, dance and visual art.
Decatur’s footprint may be small (just 4.7 square miles), but its big milestones are powered by a big vision to create a lasting legacy for future generations. Preserving and providing access to green spaces is a key part of the plan. Residents and visitors alike can experience the city’s newest and largest offering: Legacy Park, with 77 acres of woods, wetlands, meadows, a tranquil pond and athletic fields. The locale is also home to a new playground and miles of trails that are perfect for walking, riding and running. Furthermore, the historic 56-acre Decatur Cemetery is the city’s second largest green space, located a block from downtown. The beautiful and peaceful grounds offer a glimpse into the city’s past; many of Decatur’s earliest residents are laid to rest on the property. And both Legacy Park and the Decatur Cemetery are connected to the Georgia PATH, which boasts 300 miles of trails throughout Georgia and beyond.
If the downtown square looks oddly familiar, it’s because Decatur is a top destination for major Hollywood productions like HBO’s “Watchmen”, Marvel’s “Falcon and the Winter Soldier”, Hulu’s “Candy”, and dozens of popular productions dating all the way back to “Zombieland” and “Scream II”. Thanks to its incredible setting, the city has helped metro Atlanta become recognized as the Hollywood of the South.
Fun can be found all year round on (or near) the Decatur Square. Author readings, live music, glassblowing workshops, standup comedy and trivia nights are weekly events. And from books to barbecue, Decatur has a festival for something you love. Summer brings the Decatur Arts Festival, as well as Jazz Nights, Truckin’ Tuesdays, the 4th of July Pied Piper Parade and fireworks and the Pan-African Festival. Fall is a fabulous frenzy of festivities, from Salsa on the Square to Oakhurst’s Porchfest, the Haints & Saints/Day of the Dead Halloween Parade and an array of wine and craft beer festivals. And throughout 2023, the city will weave the bicentennial theme into its special events for a yearlong celebration that will culminate the incredible 200th birthday bash as the grand finale in December.
Discover Decatur for events, for shopping, food and fun. Start your planning at VisitDecaturGeorgia.com.