Best Places To Enjoy Fall Foliage in the South

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It looks like it’s gonna be a pretty wet weekend around most of the South, but that’s OK for the leaf peeping establishment.  The only fall foliage map you’ll ever need – which we linked to a few weeks back – shows that north Georgia and western North and South Carolina are only just beginning to see the very first peeks of color this week.

However, the spectrum of color shades will increase dramatically thru October, with most of North Georgia peaking the week of Oct 26th.  (How am I doing so far grammarians?)

fall foliage map late oct

So it’s time to put away the beach gear and get out your leaf-peeping goggles and let us know where do you like to take in the changing leaves around the South.

New York Times Describes Decatur as “The Brooklyn of Atlanta”


While a recent feature in the New York Times travel section went with the old, go-to “Mayberry Meets Berkeley” descriptor of Decatur, this recent blurb at the end of the New York Times’ “Atlanta For Kids” feature gets a bit more creative in describing our city.

Feel free to ignore or express your exasperation at the slightly exaggerated city population figure. 🙂

Where to Take a Field Trip

The City of Decatur, population 75,000, shares a boundary with the city. It’s essentially the Brooklyn of Atlanta, but with fewer hipsters and more strollers. The center of town is called “The Square.” It serves as a base camp for eating, play and shopping, which should include a visit to the Little Shop of Stories, a great bookstore that is a regular stop on the book tour circuit for some of the best children’s authors in the nation.

Families looking for a really local experience should head to the Decatur Toy Park at the corner of East Ponce de Leon Avenue and Nelson Ferry Road. It’s owned by a church and is the repository for seemingly every plastic wheeled vehicle and playhouse outgrown by the city’s toddlers.

New York Times Gives Decatur Some Love


The Old Grey Lady has given a nod to ol’ Decatur and some of its local businesses in the “Surfacing” column of its Travel section.   Here’s the summary…

Equal parts molasses-drawled Southern and au courant, Decatur, Ga., has in the last 20 years recast itself from the sleepy DeKalb County seat catering to commuting government nine-to-fivers to one of the South’s trendsetters. Residents say the township, six miles from Atlanta proper, is where “Mayberry meets Berkeley.” Bordered by Emory University and Agnes Scott College, Decatur is anchored by a late 19th-century courthouse (now the DeKalb History Center) and a leafy square dense with some of the state’s best restaurants, pubs and shops. The walkable downtown hosts more than three dozen festivals a year.

Do we really have more than three dozen festivals a year?

Lucky local spots, Decatur CD, Eddie’s Attic, Kimball House, Brick Store and Sq/Ft all get shout outs. Check it out!

Photo courtesy of Kate

Bermuda Paper Recommends Atlanta for Vacation

Royal Gazette reporter Robyn Skinner recently wrote an article for the Bermudian paper titled, “Atlanta: an exciting city worth visiting“.  With the bad press Atlanta’s been receiving lately from the travel mags, I figured this was probably some good medicine.  Here we go…

Without a doubt the second reason for visiting Atlanta is the generosity of the people. Honestly, how many places have you visited where a stranger on the train offers to call your hotel for you? And where else can you go where the person selling you tickets for an exhibit gives you hints on how to save your money in their city? Or where the servers are so friendly in restaurants they offer to walk you to the pharmacy you need to find? That never happened in New York City (sorry NYC, I love you, but …..)

The article glows (yes, glows) on from there.  Of course, not all ATL tourist destinations are what they’re cracked up to be.  Even for this southern-struck writer.

Here I will have to interject with one NOT to do in Atlanta: Do not visit the Atlantic Underground. The guides exclaimed: “the best nightlife”, “great shops” and on and on. Well, I tried it at night and I tried it during the day and I would say……SKIP IT. There was no nightlife to speak of and the shops were…..well if you want to shop in Atlanta you can find a better place.

I guess it sorta makes sense.  If you live near some of the greatest beaches in the world, you’re not looking for a beach vacation.  Sure you can go to any number of other interesting U.S. cities, but if you want to avoid the ocean for a week, where better to lose yourself than amongst the trees of Atlanta?

h/t: Atlanta Business Chronicle

Forecourt. By Marriott.

Be forewarned: This may get wonky.

I figure that’s okay. With DM working the daily, well-reasoned news and perspective angle, Daren staking out the purview of “hare-brained schemes,” and Andisheh reminding us that, boosterism aside, we’ve still got problems to solve, wonky is pretty much what’s left. Which is fine. It suits me.

Recent talk about the Holiday Inn to Courtyard conversion got me thinking. Most, if not all, of the comments so far have focused on, at the micro-level, the quality of the accommodations or, at the macro-level, the hipness factor and overall economic benefit to Decatur. But what about the space in between those two extremes — the day to day quality of life for the people who live here?

The Holiday Inn was considered a coup when it was built because it fulfilled a key goal of 1982’s Town Center plan and, I think overall, it has been a successful addition to downtown. Nonetheless, from a design perspective, it’s really worked in spite of its design rather than because of it.

It’s as though, when it was built, someone said, “Shame about the location” and simply shoehorned their standard, just off the interstate, hotel template into the site rather than embracing the street and Decatur’s vision for downtown. But perhaps the Courtyard conversion presents an opportunity to correct that.

That’s right. I’m talkin’ ‘bout terraces.

Continue reading “Forecourt. By Marriott.”

Decatur Postcard Project Needs Your Images

We ain’t no soy bean capital, but the Decatur Arts Alliance, the Decatur Downtown Development Authority, and the Decatur Tourism Bureau are teaming up to create a series of Decatur postcards that area visitors can send home to relatives or that residents can turn into slightly obsessive wall-collages. And they need your photos!

Moira Bucciarelli, who is spearheading the most excellent project for the three organizations sends along the pertinent info…

…all you local artists, both self-taught and pro – if you have an image of Decatur that you would like to see mailed across the country and around the world – send us your work. A jury will select several pieces to represent Decatur in a set of classic 6 x 4 tourist cards, to be stamp-ready in May 2011.

Think retro (Greetings from Decatur, Georgia!) or abstract and modern – we want a range of artistic views in a variety of media.

Submissions are welcome from all ages, preferably current (or past) residents of Decatur.

Detailed instructions for artwork submission can be found HERE.  Photos that make the final cut, not only get eternal glory, but also a $150 honorarium.  According to Moira, submissions are due by February 25th. A jury will meet mid-March and postcards will print in April.

So what image do we think would best portray Decatur?  Hmm…an Abbey Road reenactment seems almost too obvious, but who would take the places of John, Paul, George and Ringo? Hmm…

The Great Atlanta Ferris Wheel?

Is Bernie Marcus taking cues from the Columbian Exposition of 1893 to transform Atlanta into a major tourist destination?

When he proposes building a massive, classically-inspired  “White City” or replicas of the Nina, Pita or Santa Maria, we’ll know I was right.