Just a few miles from downtown Atlanta down Ponce de Leon Avenue sits what's arguably metro Atlanta's most desired suburb - a progressive enclave of quaint homes, solid restaurants, a walkable downtown, and tight-knit neighborhoods that are very protective of the community they've created. And with well-performing schools and a high quality of life, the city's managed to attract young families, its laid-back attitude has lured the LGBT community, and its proximity to Emory University and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gives it an academic vibe.
Eat and drink yourself silly
Start with the spaghetti with Georgia white shrimp, pequín chiles, and garlic at No. 246. Then slip next door to Leon's Full Service and sip a Kentucky Breakfast, a bold blast of espresso-infused 12-year-old bourbon and bitters. Follow that with the Brick Store Pub's walk-in vintage cellar packed with hard-to-find brews. Then come back tomorrow night - or head to Oakhurst - and visit the city's other excellent restaurants.
Slap on your best fanny pack and join 70,000 other bibliophiles at the Decatur Book Festival, the country's largest independent festival dedicated to bound dead trees. Expect highbrow literary names such as Jonathan Franzen and Rick Bragg and children's activities galore.
Drop by the Decatur Wine Festival this fall.
Don't pose for photos ...
With the statue of the old couple sitting on a bench outside the historic courthouse. It's about three more snapshots away from becoming metro Atlanta's Leaning Tower of Pisa.
Hear true stories
Crowd Oakhurst's Kavarna coffee shop with other lit-minded nerds every other month to hear "tantalizingly true tales told by rogue writers and nervy journalists" at True Story!
Decatur's one of metro Atlanta's true suburban success stories when it comes to building city centers around transit stops. Plus, you'll avoid wrecking your car's undercarriage on all the speed bumps installed on every residential street.
Pluck a tomato
Take one from the vine at the Oakhurst Community Garden. Founded in 1996, the nonprofit helps connect Decaturites with nature and grow fresh produce - and give the city some true greenie cred.
What began as a hobby and experiment in online news and community building has morphed into the city's sounding board and virtual gathering place. Even if you don't live in Decatur, a few dives into the comments section of the award-winning blog - a hyperlocal journalism success story - should keep you interested.
Get outdoors at Deepdene Park
Watch skateboarders at McKoy Park, take a dip at Glenlake Pool, or marvel at metro Atlanta's tallest tree in the shaded retreat of Deepdene Park along Ponce de Leon Avenue.
Venture just outside the city
Catch non-blockbuster tripe on Fernbank Museum's IMAX. Marvel at the carcass of a hairless, green-dyed monkey encased in a glass cylinder, which three Georgia men in the 1950s tried to pass off as a Martian just a few miles south of the city limits at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation's museum. Afterward, explore 25,000 square feet of vintage treasures at Kudzu Antiques, check mate child geniuses at the Atlanta Chess Center, and scoop up a durian - or maybe a pomelo - at Your DeKalb Farmers Market.
Lawd, please stop advertising the hostel. It's a sacred space.
one addendum: take the golden isles highway to brunswick rather than I-16. it's like going…
How is the stupid rap "music" version of The Great Gatsy supposed to be classy?
Absolutely fabulous. My summer is planned.
Dahlonega is a great little town!