We asked Linda Harris, the city’s assistant director for community and economic development, to share the best of her hometown with our readers.

Why I Love Decatur

Decatur is home to me.  I grew up here walking to school, the library and downtown for a movie at the Decatur Theatre or a banana split at Lane’s Drugstore.  Today it has the same feel even though the shops are different and there are more food options.  The streets are filled with folks walking everywhere.  The square is packed with festivals and events all year long.  Someone told me we are becoming known for our quality and variety of beer and pubs – a town for real beer connoisseurs.  I say we are known for our quality and variety of people – a true community where people are involved and belong.  I hear people say frequently “this feels like the town where I grew up” and they name cities in all areas of the country.  To me, the Decatur of today is progressive, creative and lots of fun.  I’m proud to call it my hometown.

What to Do

Visit the square in downtown Decatur and cool off in the misting fountain that is part of the “Celebration” statue on the MARTA Plaza.  Read about our first African American Mayor and community activist Elizabeth Wilson on the plaque dedicating the statue to her.

Take a stroll through the Old Decatur Cemetery – Free Second Sundays Strolls are held May through September beginning at the 1881 wellhouse at 2:30 p.m. with Cathy Vogel.  Or just enjoy the 58 acres with headstones dating back to 1825. decaturpreservationalliance.org

Spend some time at the Oakhurst Community Garden amidst the community plots, chickens, bees, garden pond, Cobb Adobe playhouse made from the earth, and peace pole.  The Garden is part of the Gardens for Peace network along with Agnes Scott College and Columbia Theological Seminary. oakhurstgarden.org

Where to Eat

Pastries A Go Go is my favorite go-to spot for Sunday brunch – homemade sticky buns, biscuits and sausage gravy, and cheese grits along with the traditional Southern fare.  Lunch is great there also – try the chicken salad or the BLT.  pastriesagogo.com.  Plus owner Bob Light made my daughter’s awesome wedding cake!

A week is not complete without at least one lunch at Taqueria del Sol.  Follow the line, order your food, sit down and enjoy delicious “from scratch” Southern, Mexican and Southwestern tacos, enchiladas, yummy guacamole and shrimp corn chowder – all at a great price. taqueriadelsol.com

No. 246 just opened in downtown Decatur and so far I have been twice in two weeks. Owned by Ford Fry with Chef Drew Belline this Italian inspired, locally driven restaurant is a little loud but the food is superb.  Try the Hairloom Tomato Salad and the Spaghetti with Georgia White Shrimp.  I’ll be back to try the pizza and see what the latest special is.  no246.com

Where to Shop

Little Shop of Stories is a must-visit bookstore for children (& adults).  In addition to books, they host special events, authors, and much more.  I took my grandson to the release of the newest Pete the Cat book – Rockin’ in My School Shoes with James Dean and Mr. Eric. We rocked the house! littleshopofstories.com

Right next door is Vivid Boutique (vividdecatur.com) with handcrafted artisan jewelry created on-site, affordable gifts, candles, vegan leather handbags, vintage-style tea towels and aprons – eclectic and very affordable!  Scoot right across the street to Wild Oats and Billy Goats (wildoatsandbillygoats.com), a whimsical, colorful folk art gallery filled with paintings, sculpture, pottery, jewelry and more – all from outsider artists.

Don’t leave Decatur without visiting Heliotrope – my all-time favorite shop to find everything I didn’t know I needed and more.  Everytime I walk in there, I find something I can’t live without and my friends love their birthday gifts – especially those by Decatur artist Erin Smith (erinsmithart.com). heliotropehome.com

Coming Up

The AJC Decatur Book Festival is my favorite event in Decatur – and there is a whole year-round calendar of special events. The Book Festival is the largest independent book festival in the country and it is right here in downtown Decatur on Labor Day weekend.  Books, music, authors, funnel cakes and lots of fun. decaturbookfestival.com

Eddie & Agnes concert series featuring The Civil Wars on Oct. 9 and 10 and The Blind Boys of Alabama on Oct. 22.  Legendary acoustic music venue Eddie’s Attic teamed up with my alma mater Agnes Scott College to host an ongoing concert series.  Tickets are available at ticketalternative.com or eddiesattic.com.

In September, Decatur hosts three free concert series – Blue Sky Concerts on the Square every Wednesday from noon to 1 p.m., Concerts on the Square every Saturday night (except during the Book Festival) from 7 to 9:30 p.m. and Jazz Nights at Scottish Rite every Thursday evening from 7 to 9 p.m. at The Solarium in Oakhurst. Visit decaturdba.com and oakhurstjazznights.com.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.