Happening restaurants and imaginative shops continue to breathe new life into this historic, in-town gem.
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Decatur, Georgia
Credit: Courtesy of The City of Decatur

Though just a short Ponce del Leon drive from the Atlanta skyline, Decatur has always moved to its own beat. Technically, it paved the way before Atlanta even entered stage left—Decatur Square predates its counterpart by 20 years. Here, college professors, CDC researchers, and award-winning chefs live alongside NPR bumper sticker-bearing artists and authors who collectively keep the city's tango of progress and preservation in tune.

The historic neighborhood has never surrendered to Atlanta's notorious sprawl, maintaining its independent charm and creative sensibility through decades of its own reinvention. From humble beginnings as a railroad-accessible community in the 1800s to a now diverse, multigenerational treasure trove of residents, restaurants, and shops, Decatur's easy-going evolution is evident at every turn. And as any local will tell you, you should enjoy each of those turns by foot.

Take Decatur Square for starters. The heart of the city marries a modern plaza and buzzing bar scene with centuries-old storefronts bolstered by a constant stream of festivals, pub crawls, and art walks. Original brick walls are the backbones of some of the town's most celebrated establishments, from bookshops to watering holes. Spend the day, and you'll experience how longtime locals and inventive newcomers have made their own mark on the neighborhood, both on the square and off.

What to Do and Where to Eat in Decatur, Georgia

Get your caffeine fix on the way into downtown at Dancing Goats where baristas brew cups of Batdorf & Bronson coffee like it's going out of style. Start on the square for some retail therapy at Squash Blossom, where their fashions are sure to add a bit of whimsy to your wardrobe. Then, treat your inner child to a small-batch scoop at Butter & Cream before venturing into Little Shop of Stories for an imaginative browse among their bright murals and thoughtfully stocked shelves. Around the corner, Victory Sandwich Bar invigorates with a slick sense of humor and snackable sandwiches. Order a $5 "Beeter" with their infamous Jack and Coke slushie for one of the tastiest deals in town. Keep the sips and bites coming at Inner Voice Brewery where the taproom's sunny, minimalist vibe is as delightful as its pours. Plus, a slice window is ready and waiting to serve you Brooklyn-style pies from Glide.

For dinner, stay downtown for the Ford Fry experience at No. 246—a decade-old staple that recently ditched its contemporary offerings in favor of Southern Italian classics—or stroll down the street to annual James Beard Award nominee, Kimball House. A beacon for foodies near and far, the restaurant's iconic cocktail program, raw bar, and elegant familiarity make it simple to sit and stay awhile. Move to the other side of the square if you're in the mood for a colorful meal. Chai Pani's celebrated street food blends house-made spices with a buzzing menu of traditional and inspired Indian cuisine. No matter where you dig in, wash it down with a draft from Brick Store Pub before heading to Eddie's Attic for live tunes, and you'll have covered a lot of ground without ever needing to get in your car.