Downtown Decatur

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Places of Interest


Tour Downtown Decatur with the CNU! For more information, see Tour 9, Creating a Healthy Community: Lessons in Active Living from the City of Decatur, GA.

Old Courthouse on the Square & DeKalb Historical Society Museum and Archives (101 E. Court Square / 404.373.1088). Note war relics and public art in Old Courthouse Square.
Dekalb History Center Historic Complex, including Swanton House and Mary Gay House (716 W. Trinity Place)
Pythagoras Masonic Lodge no. 41 (108 E. Ponce de Leon Ave): Inquire at the Dekalb History Center for tours.
East Court Square restaurants, shops, pavilion and bandstand
Agnes Scott College: Since 1889, this independent liberal arts college has educated young women in a pastoral setting at the edge of Downtown Decatur. Agnes Scott is partnered with the city of Decatur on sustainability initiatives for the campus and broader community.
Decatur Market and Gallery Cooperative (153 Ponce de Leon Place / 404.377.0755)
Rose Squared (Rose 2) Gallery (111 Clairemont Ave / 404.377.1414)

Explore:

1. Neighborhood Vignette
2. Reasons to Visit
3. Neighborhood Map
4. Self-Guided Tour
5. Directions
6. Places to Eat
7. Links

1. Neighborhood Vignette:

Perhaps Atlanta's best mix of comfort and eclecticism, Downtown Decatur is a great place to take a stroll, grab a great bite to eat and see one of the most historic communities in the metro area. As one of the most continuously inhabited suburbs of Atlanta, Decatur has transitioned from a bedroom community to a trendy, diverse small mixed-use district that is easily accessible to and from downtown Atlanta.

Founded in 1823, Decatur has grown as an established suburban center with small town charm. As the second oldest municipality in the metro Atlanta area, Decatur has served many purposes – from Union General McPherson's camp during the Battle of Atlanta in the Civil War, to an early depot stop along the Western and Atlantic Railroad, to its service as the seat of DeKalb County. The city is the most densely populated in the county, sustaining a population over 18,000 in just four square miles.

Characterized by historic homes and places of worship, as well as flourishing town center and neighborhood-focused schools, Decatur attracts a diverse population of residents and visitors. Furthermore, quality of life has always been a high priority for the City of Decatur. Planning ordinances governing development and transportation date back to 1925. These plans have been cognizant and inclusive of the city's climate, topography and population. Decatur is exemplary in design, community and governance; all qualities that continue to propel it forward.

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2. Reasons to Visit:

Decatur proclaims it is "a city of homes, schools and places of worship." This small progressive community invites public participation through its open democratic government, and it has often been a hallmark of urban design in the metropolitan area and the state. Decatur strives for an active, healthy community and has implemented several initiatives to promote sustainability and elevate pedestrians and bicyclists in the transportation balance.

In 2007, the City Commission submitted and later implemented a Community Transportation Plan to increase pedestrian and bike friendly amenities, at the expense of motorists. The Community Transportation Plan also links residents to schools, parks, retail outlets and other destinations through projects such as the downtown streetscape program, a trail implemented by the PATH Foundation and a proposed bike path. Transportation improvements include wider sidewalks and shoulders, raised crosswalks, separate bike lanes and traffic calming efforts like speed humps and bulb outs.

Though Decatur is expanding its efforts to green the community, it already has a number of well-established green spaces, parks and public spaces all within the city. Decatur has fourteen city-owned parks, ranging in size from less than half an acre to 17 acres, totaling 56.5 acres of green space. The parks include amenities ranging from tennis and basketball courts to skateboard parks to nature/walking trails. The 2005 Preservation Master Plan included provisions to link city parks to an off-street walking trail called the Decatur Greenway.

Additionally, several locally owned small retail shops and restaurants that promote and reflect the character of the city anchor the downtown core. Life and activity radiate from the Old DeKalb County Courthouse Square (also the location of the Decatur MARTA station), which includes the recently redesigned pavilion and fountain. Green space, old shade trees, historical relics and markers, as well as eateries and boutiques surround the square. Government buildings, places of worship, and the commercial center occupy bordering streets. Residential streets and schools are seamlessly integrated with the downtown.

To truly get the best of Decatur's casual, cool atmosphere be sure to visit the places of interest listed at top.

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3. Neighborhood Map:


View Downtown Decatur in a larger map

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4. Self Guided Tour:

The intrepid city of Decatur has a battery of self-guided walks which allow casual strollers and avid walkers alike to familiarize themselves with town center at varying levels of intensity. The "Stretch Your Legs" one-mile walking tour directions have been replicated below, with a few additions and one interesting detour. Visit the city website for more challenging routes and interesting information about the city.

Beginning at the Community Bandstand on the Old Courthouse Square:
  • Travel south on North McDonough Street (turn right if you are facing the pavilion with the sculpture and turquoise towers).
  • Right (west) at West Trinity Place.
  • Follow West Trinity Place to Ponce de Leon Avenue.
  • Visit the dog park, St. Thomas Moore Church and School, or historical sites such as The Swanton House and The Mary Gay House.
  • Cross West Trinity Place at Ponce de Leon Avenue, return back down West Trinity Place, traveling east.
  • Go left (north) on Swanton Way, detour left onto Ponce de Leon Place to browse in the co-operative Decatur Market and Gallery or grab a bite at Nathalie’s Fish House or Café Lily.
  • Return to Swanton Way and follow it to Commerce Drive.
  • Turn left (north) on Commerce Drive, you will be facing the west entrance of the Decatur MARTA Station, and follow it to West Ponce de Leon Avenue.
  • Turn right (east) on West Ponce de Leon Avenue and look on the right for the Old Courthouse, which is the final stop on this tour.
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5. Directions:

Downtown Decatur is accessible by MARTA, and by car. Green travelers will find access to ZipCars and bike racks near the MARTA station. The station, located on the Decatur Square at the heart of the community is approximately 25 minutes from the Hilton by rail and approximately 15 minutes via car.

Mass Transit:
From the Hilton, walk south (left) one block on Courtland St, turn west (right) for two blocks on Andrew Young International Blvd. Turn south (left) onto Peachtree St and enter the Peachtree Center – N1 station. Take a southbound (Airport) train to the next stop, Five Points station, and board an eastbound train (Indian Creek) to Decatur. Exit the train at station E6 – Decatur.

By Car
Head south on Courtland St, make the first left onto Harris St. Take the next left onto Piedmont Ave, then turn right onto Ponce de Leon Ave. Continue for about 4 miles, bear to the right onto W. Ponce de Leon Ave. After about half a mile, bear right again onto W. Trinity Place. Look for on-street parking and proceed on foot about the community!

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6. Places to Eat:

Dancing Goats Coffee Bar (419 W. Ponce de Leon Ave / 404.687.1100) – Solid daily offerings from cappuccinos to "cuppa joes" gain their robust flavor from the organic single origin beans served here.

Leon's Full Service (131 E. Ponce de Leon Ave / 404.687.0500) – Local, regional and international provisions can all be found at Leon's. Dishes feature sustainable offerings from Benton's Country Ham, White Oak Pastures beef and Counter Culture Coffee.

Twain's Billiards & Tap (211 E. Trinity Place / 404.373.0063) – Comfy digs and refreshing brews, created in-house since 2006 are the best features at Twain's. Sample the house barbeque.

Watershed (406 W. Ponce de Leon Ave / 404.378.4900) – Sophisticated Southern fare, phenomenal wines and local, organic produce (whenever possible) are the shining points of Watershed’s menu.

The Chocolate Bar (201 W. Ponce de Leon Ave / 404.378.0630) – The best place to get that sweet bite after a big meal. Great wines and handcrafted cocktails, like the Mississippi Sidehand are also well worth the trip.

Parker's on Ponce (116 E. Ponce de Leon Ave / 404.924.2230) – An upscale steakhouse offering classics like the Kansas City Strip and new favorites like the White Chocolate-Cranberry Bread Pudding with Maker’s Mark Caramel Sauce to leave you more than fulfilled.

Decatur Farmer's Market (Corner of Church St. & Commerce Dr. / 404.245.8589) – Find fresh locally-grown, organic produce, flowers, bread and other food products year-round on Wednesdays 4-7pm in the summer and 3-6pm in the winter.

Cakes & Ale (254 W. Ponce de Leon Ave / 404.377.7994) – Cozy and chic surroundings complement the local, sustainable food driven menu at Cakes & Ale. The Phatty Cakes are one menu constant not to be missed; otherwise, daily menu changes still provide an inviting selection.

Sawicki's Meat, Seafood & More (250 W. Ponce de Leon Ave / 404.377.0992) – Discerning palates will note the more nuanced flavors in the grassfed meats and fresh seafood at Sawicki's. Sample some deli staples, like potato salad, cole slaw or antipasto, done right before you make your final selection.

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7. Links:

City of Decatur Website: Great visitors' guide to restaurants, businesses, historic attractions and news about community initiatives.
DeKalb County Public Library: The main branch of the county's library system is located a stone’s throw from the Decatur MARTA station. Stop in to see the architecture and the collections.
Agnes Scott College
MARTA Public Transit: A great way to get around town!

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