Decatur (Georgia)

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.



Get in

The platforms of MARTA Decatur station in Decatur, Georgia.

By transit

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.

By car

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. The city website lists off-street parking lot locations.

By bike

Decatur is also accessible via the PATH walk/bike trail. The trail runs from Atlanta to Stone Mountain through the city of Decatur.

Get around

Schematic map of Decatur, GA.

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 .




Decatur events and festivals are scheduled through-out the year. Phone +1 404 371-9583 for information.

Music venues

Theatre/performing arts

Galleries/arts & crafts



Higher education


Decatur does not have a shopping mall or a large retail shopping center. However, Decatur is not short on trendy boutiques. Most are located on or around Ponce de Leon.


Decatur may have more used bookstores than any other community in metro Atlanta. Bookstores selling new books are also listed.


Decatur has an eclectic mix of small clothing and accessory stores, from classic casual to artsy and eclectic.


Decatur has pharmacies, jewelry stores and other retail establishments located throughout the city, but the following are notable:


The music shops in Decatur have a good selection of used and new albums and CD's.


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.

Downtown (Ponce/Decatur Square)

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:

SW of Decatur Square

SE of Decatur Square

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.


The restaurants are located in Oakhurst Village historic buildings surrounded by the eclectic Oakhurst residential neighborhood.

N of Decatur Square

These restaurants are located in strip shopping centers clustered near the intersection of Clairmont Rd. & North Decatur 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.

NE of Decatur Square

While several of the restaurants are excellent, most are located in older strip shopping centers near automobile dealerships and along highways.


Pubs & bars

Coffee Houses

Stay safe


Areas to avoid


Internet access


Decatur does not have its own daily newspaper, but aside from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and other metro papers, the following publications are available in the city:



Near Decatur

Go next

Routes through Decatur

Asheville Chamblee  N  S  Atlanta Macon
Athens Lilburn  N  S  Atlanta Auburn
Birmingham Atlanta  W  E  Stone Mountain Athens

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Thursday, February 04, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.