Decatur is a city near Atlanta, which remains somewhat isolated from the rest of Atlanta, but is so close as to not really be separate. Decatur is located east of midtown Atlanta and west of Stone Mountain.
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, in recent years there have been several mid-rise condominium developments in the downtown area, breathing new 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 Scotch/Irish/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. Atlanta and Decatur are Georgia's only county seats inside the "Perimeter" interstate (I-285) that encircles the metro area. Atlanta is an international city with corporate headquarters, world class convention facilities and a fast pace, while Decatur has retained a small city feel and a slightly slower pace. Decatur is surrounded by the city of Atlanta on its south and west sides. It is closer to Atlanta's business, retail and cultural destinations than many Atlanta neighborhoods, and is easily mistaken for an intown neighborhood of Atlanta.
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.
Downtown Decatur is on the east-west MARTA rail line to 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: East Lake (E5) and 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.
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 6 pm Monday–Saturday and all day Sunday. Off-street parking lot locations are posted at .
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 Flexcar, a national program where environmentally-friendly cars are located throughout the downtown area that members may rent by the hour. Locations are posted at .
The Decatur Square plaza located above the MARTA station.
Your Dekalb Farmers Market, 3000 Ponce De Leon Ave., +1 404 377-6400, . Although a grocery store is not high on most people's 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.
DeKalb History Center, Decatur Courthouse, 101 East Court Square, maintains a small museum of DeKalb County history [. Step outside on the north side of the courthouse to view the "seated statues" and the south side to view the C.S.A. obelisk. Walk down to West Trinity Place to see the History Center's historic complex of three antebellum structures.
The Decatur Cemetery, on Commerce Drive about two blocks northeast of the square, is 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.
The Fernbank Natural History Museum, 767 Clifton Rd., Atlanta, + 1 404 929-6300, , is located immediately west of the city. Also visit the museum's IMAX theatre, and hike through the adjacent 65-acre Fernbank Nature Preserve.
Emory University is located northwest of the city. Check 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.
Agnes Scott College, 141 E. College Ave., a private college for women, is located 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.
Bradley Observatory, 141 E. College Ave., (404) 471-6266, , Agnes Scott College. Visit the observatory (and planetarium) during one of their "Amature 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 show 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.
The Atlanta Preservation Center, 327 Saint Paul Ave., Atlanta, +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.  (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.
Original Waffle House & Museum, 2719 East College Ave.[] 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.
The Decatur Square gazebo located south of the historic DeKalb County Courthouse. The gazebo is used for music-related events throughout the year.
Decatur events  and festivals are scheduled through-out the year. Phone +1 404 371-9583 for information.
Decatur Arts Festival - Annual event held for over 20 years 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. 
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. 
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. 
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 $200,000 in grants have been distributed over the years. Held in October of each year, usually on the third Saturday. 
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.
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 Monkey, on Church Street directly east of the square, has live music or an open mic every night of the week. (Sit outside for the music.)
OnStage Atlanta, Suburban Plaza, 2597 North Decatur Rd., +1 404 897-1802 . 36 years old/Atlanta's 3rd longest running theatre.
PushPush Theater, East Decatur Station, 121 New St. (at College Ave.), +1 404 377-6332 . Known 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 Arts, +1 404 727-5050,. Emory University, multi-use performing arts center in a building was designed by Michael Graves.
Theatre Decatur, (formerly Neighborhood Playhouse), 430 West Trinity Place, +1 404 373-3904 . Local, live performances.
Bike/Run/Walk: The tree-lined streets can make for a great run or bike ride, but be advised that 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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.
Tree Climbers International, 290 Arizona Ave., southwest of Decatur, +1 404 377-3150 . 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!
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.
Georgia Perimeter College, (Multiple Campuses), Georgia Perimeter College is the largest two-year school in the State of Georgia and the third largest in Georgia with approximately 27,000 students. The Decatur Campus is located at 3251 Panthersville, Rd. but the original campus in Clarkston is also nearby at 555 N. Indian Creek.
Decatur has an eclectic mix of small clothing and accessory stores, from classic casual to artsy and eclectic.
Boogaloos, 246 W. Ponce de Leon Ave., +1 404 373-3237. Men's and women's clothing store.
Carpe le Scarpe, 415 Church St., +1 404 373-1049. Functional but funky small shoe store.
Classy Fashion, 410-A Church St., +1 404 373-3937.
Dresscodes, 201 W. Ponce de Leon Ave. #117, +1 404 373-2894.
Eviva, 335-C W.Ponce de Leon Ave., +1 404 370-7606. Shoe boutique.
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 Moon, 308 Ponce De Leon Pl., +1 404 373-9864. Part vintage and part new clothing store.
One Step at a Time, 652 East Lake Dr., +1 404 377-1030. Run/Walk shoe store.
Peggy's Boutique, 308 W. Ponce de Leon Ave., +1 404 370-9888. Women's clothing.
Squash Blossom, 427 Church St., +1 404 373-1864. Women's clothing store featuring natural fibers.
WHIT'S END-A, 431 W. Ponce de Leon Ave. #2, +1 404 377-3310,  Casual Store for affordable men's clothing, gifts and accessories. Gifts, and accessories for everyone, some kids, and unisex clothing.
The music shops in Decatur have a good selection of used and new albums and CD's.
Book Nook, 3073 North Druid Hills Rd., +1 404 633-1342. See other listing.
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.
Vibes Music and More, 145 Sycamore St. # B, +1 404 373-5099.
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.
Decatur is known for its outstanding locally-owned restaurants, and patrons drive in 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.
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:
Cafe Alsace, . Excellent small Alsatian (French with German influence) restaurant with limited outdoor seating - one of Decatur's finest restaurants.
Cakes & Ale, . Specializes in local organic, sustainable cuisine - started by a former Sous-Chef from Watershed.
Cafe Lilly, . Excellent American/Eclectic/Mediterranean cuisine. One of Decatur's finest restaurants.
Iberian Pig, . Excellent Spanish Tapas bar with an extensive wine list.
Leon's Full Service, . Upscale American restaurant in a former early 20th Century service station with bocce court.
Raging Burrito and Taco, , +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.
Taqueria del Sol, . 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.
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.
The historic Decatur, Georgia, train depot, built in 1891. It has been renovated into a restaurant. The train tracks, still operational, are located on the opposite side of the depot.
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.
Feast, . New American with a mediterranean twist; charming and cozy bistro, affordable and eclectic wine list, and a garden inspired outdoor patio.
Carpe Diem, . American/Eclectic/International at the Ice House Lofts. Sister restaurant to Apres Diem in midtown Atlanta.
Steinbeck's Oyster Bar, . 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!
Wahoo Grill, , 1042 West College Ave., + 1 404 373-3331. Eclectic menu that focuses on seafood with a southern twist - great sunroom & courtyard in rear. (North of Oakhurst Village near MARTA's East Lake Station.)
These restaurants are located in strip shopping centers clustered near the intersection of Clairmont Rd. & North Decatur Rd.
Bhojanic, , 1363 Clairmont Rd. Fusion/home-style Indian restaurant (known for north Indian dishes).
Mexico City Gourmet, . Very good Mexican restaurant.
Mediterranean Grill, 2126 North Decatur Rd., . Greek/Mediterranean food.
Rise-N-Dine, 1565 North Decatur Rd. Not your parent's diner - breakfast includes sweet potato pancakes, goat cheese omelet, gourmet bacon, fresh OJ. (Emory Village, west of the above intersection.)
The Golden Buddha, . Very good Chinese restaurant (with Japanese & Sushi) at 1905 Clairmont Rd.
Ice Cream, Bakery, Chocolate . . .
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, . . .
The Chocolate Bar, , 201 W Ponce de Leon Ave. A chocolate and wine bar (along with coffee and champagne) in the heart of Decatur.
Alon's Bakery & Market, 1394 N. Highland Ave. (at University), +1 404 872-6000 . Fantastic bakery & deli in nearby Morningside.
Teuscher Chocolates of Switzerland, 1393 North Highland Ave. (at University), +1 404 885-1010 . One of the few U.S. locations for the 70 year old Swiss confectioner. Reviewed by the New York Times and Bon Appétit.
Maddy's Rib & Blues Joint, near Suburban Shopping Center. Great barbecue & blues at Scott Blvd. and North Decatur Rd. with limited outdoor seating. This restaurant is closer to downtown than the other NE Decatur restaurants.
Zyka The Taste, 1677 Scott Blvd. . If you can get beyond the unusual use of styrofoam cups and plates, this is a very good sit-down Indian restaurant.
Brick Store Pub, 125 East Court Square, +1 404 687-0990, . 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.
The Corner Pub, . A pub at East Decatur Station which relocated from Oakhurst.
Kavarna, 707-A East Lake Dr., 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.
Palate, 321 W. Hill St., . A wine bar in Oakhurst that also serves a limited but good menu. Thursdays are live jazz nights.
Tastings, 335 W. Ponce de Leon Ave., +1 404 373-3244, . Wine bar with food menu. The Leanne Laine Fine Art Gallery shares space with Tastings.
Twain's Billiards and Tap, Church St. and Trinity Pl., . Has a solid beer selection and quality pool tables; wifi.
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.
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 wifi 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 wifi is also available at Krystal and McDonalds fast food restaurants.
Decatur Inn & Suites, 921 Church St., +1 404 378-3125, +1 404 (404) 378-3765 - an economy motel (some rooms have kitchens) located a few blocks northeast of Decatur Square.
Garden House Bed & Breakfast, 135 Garden Lane, +1 404 377-3057, . In the Clairemont/Great Lakes neighborhood north of Decatur Square.
Holiday Inn Select Conference Center, 130 Clairemont Ave., +1 404 371-0204, . The best hotel in downtown Decatur; has an indoor pool; one block from Decatur Square and near MARTA's Decatur Station.
Super 8 Motel, 917 Church St., +1 404 378-3765, . An economy motel located a few blocks northeast of Decatur Square.
Sycamore House Bed & Breakfast, Innkeepers: Ren and Judy Manning, 624 Sycamore St., +1 404 378 0685, . $110-$125. This is in the center of Decatur - a few blocks from MARTA"s Decatur Station.
Emory Conference Center Hotel, 1615 Clifton Rd., north of Decatur on the Emory University campus, +1 404 712-6000, . Good hotel, but not within walking distance of Decatur Square. NOTE: Emory began a large construction project on land south and west of this hotel in 2008! Renovations were completed summer 2009.
Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites, 2183 N. Decatur Rd., +1 404 320-0888, . Located 1.5 miles north of Decatur Square in a cluster of nondescript strip shopping centers.
Mileybright Farmhouse Bed & Breakfast, 3244 Covington Hwy., +1 404508-6060 . Located 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.
University Inn at Emory, 1767 N. Decatur Rd., in the Druid Hills neighborhood adjoining Emory University, +1 800 654-8591, . Within walking distance of Emory University, but not Decatur Square.
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