Neighborhood Gems

Explore new neighborhoods – or even make a discovery in yours – with our suggestions for where to play (indoors and out), good eats, and where to squeeze some education into your recreation.

First in a three-part series

by Felicia Barman, Dalia Faupel and Jen Haslam

 

Downtown l West End

Sun
The Atlanta Office of Cultural Affairs offers Public Art Audio Tours highlighting 22 unique works of art in Downtown Atlanta. The one-hour tour starts at Andrew Young Plaza, where dialing in (404-260-5532) provides prompts to hear about each of the works, in any order. A printable map is available on the website. Andrew Young International Blvd. NW and Carnegie Way NW, Atlanta. ocaatlanta.com./arts-hub/#search/events

Shade
Tour the Wren’s Nest, the home of famous author Joel Chandler Harris, where he penned many of his Uncle Remus tales about Brer Rabbit. Professional storytellers spin their tales here every Sat. afternoon, one of the few remaining Queen Anne Victorian homes in Atlanta. 1050 Ralph David Abernathy Blvd., Atlanta. 404-753-7735; wrensnest.org

Taste
Foodies can bliss out at Sweet Auburn Market, with a smorgasbord of options from bbq to crepes to soul food. Kids can indulge in burgers and dogs, too. 209 Edgewood Ave., Atlanta. 404-659-1665; facebook.com/market209

Learn
Tour Atlanta Printmakers Studio, a space for printmaking artists and students, to see working printing presses, artists at work, and create a book to take home. Reservations are required; tours cost $5-15. 675 Metropolitan Pkwy. Atlanta.
404-316-6863; atlantaprintmakersstudio.org

 

Sandy Springs l Dunwoody

Sun
Heritage Sandy Springs is a prime gathering spot with grand green space for recreation, concerts and festivals. Check the website for summertime kids’ programs and squeeze in a visit to the engaging Heritage Sandy Springs Museum, too. 6110 Blue Stone Rd., Sandy Springs. 404-851-9111;  heritagesandysprings.org

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Bean Head Toys is a kid shopper’s dream, with arts and crafts, storytime, and imaginative play in the indoor treehouse. Free art class takes place on the first and third Wed. of every month, and an animated storyteller reads aloud and leads crafting time on Thurs. 220 Johnson Ferry Rd. NE, Sandy Springs. 404-851-2980;  beanheadtoysonline.com

Taste
Wright’s Gourmet Sandwich Shoppe is an order-at-the-counter, family-owned eatery with a devoted following. The Rebel Reuben sandwich and lemonade cake are good bets, along with other freshly made sandwiches and treats. Get your lunch to go, or take your time on the spacious patio. 5482 Chamblee Dunwoody Rd., Dunwoody. 770-396-7060; wrightgourmetshoppe.com
Henri’s Bakery has been an Atlanta landmark since the 1920s, and a taste of the French pastries can tell you why. It’ll take multiple visits to try all the goodies on the menu, both savory and sweet. 6289 Roswell Rd., Sandy Springs. 404-256-7934; henrisbakery.com

Learn
Dig deeper into the life of a courageous young girl by viewing more than 600 photographs and details about her life. The powerful Anne Frank Exhibit educates visitors about the Holocaust and its impact on today’s society. 5920 Roswell Rd., Sandy Springs. 770-206-1558; annefrankexhibitsandysprings.org

 

Lawrenceville l Buford l Lilburn

Sun
Treetop Quest adventure course boasts zip lines, Tarzan jumps, swings and other obstacles for harnessed participants. Thrill-seekers will want to try the just-opened Spider Quest. The harness-free course, constructed above a giant safety net, is the first of its kind in the U.S.
2020 Clean Water Dr., Buford. 770-904-3547; treetopquest.com

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Bass Pro Shop is far from the average retail store, with a Family Summer Camp program of in-store activities ranging from make-and-take crafts to outdoor skills workshops. It’s also a great spot to get inspiration for family recreation. 5900 Sugarloaf Pkwy, Lawrenceville. 678-847-5500; basspro.com

Taste
Breakfasts at the Peachtree Café please the pickiest, with sweets like giant Belgian waffles piled with fruit and whipped cream, or savory omelets filled with meat, cheeses and veggies. The biscuits and gravy have plenty of fans, too. 50 S. Clayton St., Lawrenceville. 678-377-8745; peachtree-cafe.com

Learn
The BAPS Mandir, a Hindu place of worship and community gathering place, was assembled like a giant 3-D puzzle from more than 34,000 individual pieces hand-carved from three types of stone. Take an audio tour that gives details about the building, as well as info about Hindu art, architecture and philosophy. 460 Rockbridge Rd. NW, Lilburn. 678-906-2277; atlanta.baps.org

 

Alpharetta l Roswell l Cumming

Sun
Hike the trails of Old Mill Park, where you can see a waterfall that was created when Vickery Creek was dammed to give waterpower to the Roswell textile mills in the late 1830s. Walk on a covered pedestrian bridge and view the only mill building that survived the Civil War. 95 Mill View Ave. (at Sloan St.), Roswell. 770-640-3253; visitroswellga.com

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Go ice or roller skating at The Cooler during public sessions. One of the biggest skating facilities in Georgia houses two ice arenas and one roller rink, and offers specials and family programming during summer. 10800 Davis Drive, Alpharetta. 770-649-6600; coolerathletics.com

Taste
Watch the treats being made through the kitchen windows of Dutch Monkey Doughnuts, where flavors (like salted caramel bars and root beer float doughnuts) change daily. Wash ‘em down with coffee drinks, teas and hot chocolate mixed from steam milk and solid cocoa blocks. 3075 Ronald Reagan Blvd., Cumming. 404-482-3650; dutchmonkeydoughnuts.com

Learn
At The Teaching Museum North, kids can get hands-on with educational exhibits. Compare heights to more than 30 presidents and first ladies in a life-sized display, explore a courtroom and log cabin, and investigate Civil War objects and military uniforms. Call in advance to tour as summer hours are limited. 793 Mimosa Blvd, Roswell. 770-552-6339; teachingmuseumnorth.org

 

Smyrna l Vinings l Mableton l Douglasville l Villa Rica

Sun
The expansive Silver Comet Trail is designed for casual walkers, hikers, joggers, bicyclists and inline skaters. Direct access to Heritage Park by a peaceful 1.7-mile soft-surface walking trail makes it picnic-perfect. 60 Fontaine Rd., Mableton. 770-528-8810;  silvercometga.com

Shade
Kids can make like Spider-Man on the only Magnetic Climbing Wall in Georgia. At Mojobas Fun Factory, magnetized gloves and ankle-foot straps connect climbers (30-150 pounds) with magnets on a wall. It’s extreme monkey bar action in every direction: up, down, sideways, or a full 360 degree rotation. 7442 Douglas Blvd., Douglasville. 770-575-0717; mojobasfunfactory.com

Taste
Train aficionados will appreciate the view overlooking the railroad tracks at New York Pizza Exchange, where trains pass by regularly. In addition to a long list of specialty pizzas, this eatery also offers salads, pastas, sandwiches, wraps and calzones.
The patio hosts live entertainment on Fri. and Sat. 2810 Paces Ferry Rd., Vinings. 770-434-9000; nypizzaexchange.com

Learn
The Pine Mountain Gold Museum covers more than 100 years of Villa Rica’s gold mining industry history. Pan for gold, tour real gold mines and view precious artifacts. Families can also walk trails, picnic in a pavilion, visit a live farm animal exhibit, and take a train ride along the Pine Mountain Scenic Railroad. 1881 Stockmar Rd., Villa Rica. 770-459-8455;  pinemountaingoldmuseum.com

 

Duluth l Johns Creek l Norcross

Sun
Jones Bridge Park, on the Chattahoochee River banks, offers a playground for kids, open green space for pick-up games of kickball, and grills to barbecue. The highlight of the park is the terraced stairs leading down to the river. Wear water shoes and bring bread to feed the ducks. 4901 E. Jones Bridge Rd., Norcross. 678-277-0920; gwinnettcounty.com

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Step out of the heat and into the Hudgens Center for the Arts’ Children’s Zone! Create make-and-take art projects, get cozy in the reading nook, and play a tune at musical stations. Plan to stop by the sculpture garden, too.
6400 Sugarloaf Pkwy., Duluth. 770-623-6002; thehudgens.org

Taste
Stop by the AtlantaFresh Artisan Creamery flagship store for a taste of seasonal frozen Greek yogurt, including peach and ginger, vanilla, mixed berry, Mexico City-style chocolate and French roast coffee. Bring a cooler to take some home. 6679 Peachtree Industrial Blvd., Norcross. 678-240-4660; atlantafresh.com

Learn
Knead all about it! Take the Science of Baking class at the Great Harvest Bread Company. Mix ingredients, learn how certain ingredients react together, and bake a loaf of bread. Reservations are required.10305 Medlock Bridge Rd., Johns Creek. 770-622-0222; getfreshbread.com

 

College Park l East Point l Morrow

Sun
The Reynolds Nature Preserve, 146 acres tucked into the heart of Clayton County,  includes four miles of hiking trails, historic buildings dating back to the Civil War, and an environmental center with live animals and displays. 5665 Reynolds Rd., Morrow. 770-603-4188; reynoldsnaturepreserve.org.

Shade
Take in a bike race at Dick Lane Velodrome, with family admission, music and commentators explaining the action. The one-fifth mile, 36-degree banked concrete track is set in a green space, providing tranquil views. Races take place primarily in afternoons or early evenings; visit the website for a complete schedule.1889 Lexington Ave., East Point. 404-769-0012; dicklanevelodrome.com

Taste
Grab a chicken sandwich and fresh lemonade at the original Chick-fil-A Dwarf House, the first in the vast CFA empire. Choose to dine in the retro restaurant side, or the modern version. Either way, kids will want to enter through the dwarf door. 461 N. Central Ave., Hapeville. 404-762-1746; cfarestaurant.com/hapevilledwarfhouse/home

Learn
Take flight and visit the Delta Museum, featuring the only full-motion flight simulator in the U.S., a DC-3 passenger plane and the Waco 125 biplane. The museum re-opens this month, commemorating the 85th anniversary of Delta’s first passenger flight. 1060 Delta Blvd., Atlanta. 404-715-7886; deltamuseum.org