It’s time to start planning—or at least thinking about—the family vacation, and as the usual suspects roll off your tongue, they leave you feeling a little “meh”… kind of like when you want to get to-go food but nothing hits the spot.
If you’re looking for a place to take your family this year that will make you sit up and go “ooh,” then set your sights on beautiful, exciting DeKalb County. This Georgia hotspot just outside of Atlanta has a little something for everyone. Between the stunning scenery and savory cuisine, you’ll feel like DeKalb is your spirit county.
Stone Mountain Park
Sightseeing, adventure, cable car rides, golf, shows, events … Stone Mountain Park has it all. What started as a 165-foot sightseeing tower in 1838 has morphed into one of Georgia’s most beloved attractions. Ownership and activities have changed since 1838, and the park has officially been the Stone Mountain Park we know and love today for 50 years. Today’s most exciting attractions are:
- Geyser Towers ®
- SkyHikes ® adventure course
- The Laser Show Spectacular in Mountainvision ®
- The scenic mountain train
- Summit Skyride
- Winter’s “Snow Mountain” activities like Avalanche Alley, Tube Runners, and SnowZone
- Stone Mountain Museum
- 18-hole golf
- Hiking trails
- Covered bridge
- Quarry exhibit
The list goes on, and “the JUMP”, a free-fall experience that will beckon daredevils, opens in spring 2016.
The Native Botanical Gardens
The Georgia Perimeter College Botanical Garden is the Wildlife Center of Georgia. It’s a haven for endangered plant species where visitors can engage through walks, talks, and plant sales throughout the year. Botany enthusiasts will feel the call of the wild just like bourgeoning stuntmen will to “the JUMP”.
Flat Rock Archives
The Flat Rock Archives preserves the rural heritage, history, and stories of African-Americans from generations-passed. African-Americans and their descendants have dwelled in the Flat Rock area since the early 19th century.
Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area
The Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area is a must-see; the Lyon Family Farm on South River was founded in roughly 1800 by a Revolutionary War soldier. The land once belonged to the Creek Nation, so Creek settlements have been found in the area as well. The unique history of the area coupled with its recreational opportunities creates a distinctive experience for visitors by allowing them the opportunity to:
- Meet a society of Trappist monks at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit,
- Hike granite monadnocks an experience millions of years of history,
- Bike the PATH, a 30+ mile paved trail, and
- Indulge in history at the Flat Rock Archive.
Remember drive-ins? Nope, I don’t either, but I wish I did. The Starlight Drive-in Theatre is a great laid-back evening to-do while in DeKalb County. All you need is a set of wheels and a working FM radio (that’s how the movies are transmitted).
Cator Woolford Gardens in Druid Hills
Located at the Frazer Center in Atlanta’s historic Druid Hills, the Cator Woolford Gardens is a historic reprieve of therapeutic private garden space distinguished by flowers, green space, and wooded areas.
The Doll’s Head Trail
If no vacation is complete without seeing something “quirky”, then the Doll’s Head Trail at Constitution Lakes will fulfill your offbeat whims. While there’s plenty of nature to enjoy along this wildlife refuge, the real attraction is the contemporary found-art exhibit of dolls heads and arms scattered throughout the trail.
Your DeKalb Farmers Market
This massive indoor market of fresh produce, dried goods, fish, meats, wines, chocolates, exotic spices, coffees, nuts, and more is the kind of thing that foodies’ and culinary enthusiasts’ dreams are made out of. Come hungry …
Chamblee’s Antique Row
Characterized as the South’s “largest and most distinctive antiques collection in the Southeast”, Chamblee’s Antique Row features antique and resale shops and dining in a charming, walk-able district.
David J. Sencer CDC Museum
Located at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention headquarters, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Museum features permanent and featured exhibits on CDC history, modern medicine, and fascinating health topics.
Brick Store Pub
Kick back and wet your whistle with a pint at the charming Brick Store Pub in Downtown Decatur (and let’s be honest, after the Doll’s Head Trail, you’ll probably need a drink or two … or more).
Eat Me Speak Me pop-up (and, well … the whole food scene, actually)
DeKalb County is known for award-winning cuisine, but one must-dine spot is the Eat Me Speak Me pop-up restaurant located at 1660 McClendon Avenue. Culinary buzzwords like “fresh” and “innovative” are redefined in dishes like fried tofu with heart of palm broth, naïve fennel, radicchio, pearl couscous, and parsley oil.
Of course, there are more than these delights to discover in DeKalb County GA. (There’s just not enough room to list all of the museums, outdoor adventures, and foodie finds—like the breweries—in one article). The best way to see what DeKalb has to offer is to visit … so, what are you waiting for?