Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in DeKalb County, GA

  • Published 2023/05/14

The urban metropolitan area of DeKalb County is an oasis of recreational opportunities.

Created in 1822, this county was a portion of the counties Henry, Fayette, and Gwinnett.

It held Atlanta as its county seat until 1853, which was also the establishment of Fulton County.

Its county seat, now Decatur, is a paradise of annual cultural festivals, historic spots, and an impressive public art collection.

DeKalb County is also famous for its racially diverse communities—the neighborhoods of Scottdale and Chamblee have the most mixed populations.

It also takes pride in having nine colleges and scholastic institutions, including Emory University and Oglethorpe University.

If you’re looking for an all-around vacation, you can find it in this north-central county in Georgia.

To help you get started on your trip planning, here are the 15 best things to do in DeKalb County, Georgia:

Take a Trip to the Past at DeKalb History Center Museum

Exterior view of the DeKalb History Center Museum

, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

DeKalb History Center Museum takes you on an immersive quest to the county’s rich past.

This museum, established in 1947, initially went by the name, DeKalb Historical Society.

It was not until 1968 that it found its permanent home in the DeKalb County Courthouse.

So, aside from the history that it keeps within its walls, it also exudes elegance only you can find with age.

It features a variety of exhibits showcasing life back in the day through an extensive collection of artifacts and historic objects.

And for a more fact-centered historical undertaking of the county, you can visit the archival section of the museum.

DeKalb History Center Museum is one of the centerpieces of East Court Square in the city of Decatur.

Immerse Yourself in the Forested Lands along South Peachtree Creek Trail

When you’ve got time to spare for a quick jog or bike around the county, never miss an opportunity to do so at South Peachtree Creek Trail.

This greenway trail extends to about 3.6 miles.

It welcomes you to the forestlands of the city—a nice shift from the county’s major cities’ buzz and hustle.

Cross bridges and stop for a closer look at wildlife and plants that may not be anywhere else in the county.

There are also seating areas for you to catch a break and enjoy the beauty of nature surrounding you.

South Peachtree Creek Trail connects about four recreational amenities within the city of Decatur.

These are Mason Mill Park, Lullwater Preserve, Emory University, and Medlock Park.

But the trail’s major access points are within the two parks mentioned.

Go Fishing within the Lakes at the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area

Rock formation at Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area

Capri Fedler /

The Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area is one of Stonecrest‘s visit-worthy attractions.

This natural preserve spans over 40,00 acres that offer vibrant history and a gateway to the cultural heritage of its early settlers.

It is home to Arabia Mountain, which sits within the Davidson-Arabia Mountain Nature Preserve.

Break on the ground at Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area

Stacy Funderburke /

This mountain contains native plants that you won’t get to find anywhere else, including the diamorpha.

Within the heritage areas are historic establishments, like the Lyon Homestead and the Parker House.

Some of the activities you can do while within the area are hiking, fishing, archery practice, and more!

Landscape of the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area

Josemejia /

You can even go rock spotting and check out the granite outcrops within the community.

Head over to Klondike Road to enter the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area.

A girl enjoying the view of the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area

Stacy Funderburke /

Play a Round of Golf at Mystery Valley Golf Club

If you have an affinity for golfing, you might want to drop by Mystery Valley Golf Club for a day of skill play.

This public golf course has been serving the community since 1966.

It boasts 265 acres of breathtaking natural sceneries and a closer look into Georgia’s native pines.

With its challenging 18-hole layout, you are in for a surprising time, whether you’re opting for a long or short game.

It also has about 120 slopes and winding fairways.

Come by alone to practice your swing and aim or with a loved one for a bit of friendly competition.

Lithonia’s Mystery Valley Golf Club is on Shadow Rock Drive.

Go Birdwatching at the Friendship Forest Wildlife Sanctuary

Get your daily dose of nature treats at the Friendship Forest Wildlife Sanctuary in the city of Clarkston.

Spanning 18 acres, this park offers you a tranquil sanctuary for you to admire nature in all its glory.

While mostly notable as a public recreational space, this spot is also a Bird Sanctuary.

It features walking trails and miles of undisturbed nature, where you can see many wildlife species.

Get going to E. Ponce de Leon Avenue to reach the Friendship Forest Wildlife Sanctuary.

Enjoy Nature and Wildlife at Clyde Shepherd Nature Preserve

Aerial view of the Clyde Shepherd Nature Preserve

Cavan-Images /

Clyde Shepherd Nature Preserve has everything you might need for a breath of fresh air within the city of Decatur.

Privately owned but publicly accessible, this preserve takes pride in being the abode for over 300 species of flora and fauna.

It spans 28 acres in total.

Opened in 1995, it has been a go-to spot for wildlife explorations for those visiting DeKalb County but prefers a more secluded place to do so.

Hiking path at Clyde Shepherd Nature Preserve

T_L /

Some of the habitats you may encounter while at the preserve are low-shrub meadows, wooded uplands, and pine forests with mature trees.

Its recorded number of bird sightings since its opening has amounted to about 166 species.

So, bring your binoculars, cameras, and journals and capture every moment of your visit to this preserve.

Clyde Shepherd Nature Preserve gets you up close and personal with nature on Pine Bluff Drive.

Serene pond at Clyde Shepherd Nature Preserve

T_L /

Challenge Yourself to a Race at Treetop Quest Dunwoody

The city of Dunwoody has its fair share of adrenaline-inducing stops.

And one of them is Treetop Quest Dunwoody.

This aerial adventure park offers zip lines and swinging obstacle courses that can keep your heart pumping and your body moving.

Young or old, you can find your place within this park.

There are beginner, intermediate, and advanced course levels, as well as a Chicken Pea Course for your little children.

You can also book an appointment for a birthday or any event and enjoy the site’s offered picnic tables and trampoline nets.

The fun is never-ending at Treetop Quest Dunwoody.

Get the adventure you’re looking for at this stop on Peeler Road.

Watch a Play Hosted by the ART Station

A different kind of artistic journey is waiting for you at the ART Station in the city of Stone Mountain.

Founded in 1986, this art organization manages a professional theater specializing in newly-produced plays and performances.

It also comes with 3 fine arts galleries and 2 gift shops.

Browse through exhibits upon exhibits of varied artwork themes by local artists.

And if you’d like to laugh, cry, or get lost in the story of a musical or a play, come by during the theater’s productions or the center’s annual storytelling festival.

The ART Station makes itself known on Manor Drive.

Go on a Mountain-Centered Expedition at Stone Mountain Park

Twilight view of the Stone Mountain Park

Ahmad Jawid Rezaie /

Your journey into the wilderness at DeKalb County is never complete without a visit to Stone Mountain Park.

At 3,200 acres, this park offers family-friendly fun with majestic vistas of nature all around.

Its focal point is Stone Mountain, which is one of the most visited spots in the city of the same name.

Stone wall at Stone Mountain Park

Ritu Manoj Jethani /

Because aside from its quartz monzonite and granite material, this mountain features the carved faces of Jefferson Davis and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson.

Completed in 1972, this monument offers laser shows and a museum dedicated to it.

The park comes with several campgrounds, hiking trails, and adventure parks for both adults and children.

Stone Mountain Park sits along Robert E. Lee Boulevard.

Old Mill at Stone Mountain Park

Sean Xu /

Find the Next Comic to Add to Your Collection at My Parents’ Basement

Opened in 2015, My Parents’ Basement is your ultimate destination for comic books, craft beer, and a laid-back hang-out spot with friends.

This local eatery once started as a pop-up shop before expanding its reach to a greater audience of foodies and beer enthusiasts.

Its massive comic book collection contains even limited editions and rarities in action and superhero comics.

If you’re in a festive mood, you have a long list of draft beers, cocktails, and wines to choose from.

The store also has pinball machines, so your time there is never boring.

My Parents’ Basement welcomes you to its facility on North Avondale Road in the city of Avondale Estates.

Learn More about African-American Heritage at The Flat Rock Archives

Outside view of the Flat Rock Archives

Sunshine492, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

There’s nothing more reminiscent of DeKalb County’s cultural heritage than The Flat Rock Archives in Stonecrest.

This historical museum resides within the vast Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area.

It details the rural African-American community from the early years to the current generation in archival files, including genealogical documents and photographs.

It also comes with a historic cemetery you can tour with a guide beside you.

Hear from stories of African-American slaves and learn of the bravery they’ve endured to offer the rich heritage you can now read today.

The Flat Rock Archives is accessible along Crossvale Road.

Sign Up for a Tour at the Waffle House Museum

Whether you’re a fan of easy, comfort food or not, it never hurts to learn about waffle history at the Waffle House Museum.

This unique museum is a North Decatur underrated jewel.

It features the interesting past of the 24-hour Waffle House franchise.

And to make its historical approach more accurate, this museum stands where the first Waffle House Joe Rogers, Sr. and Tom Forkner once served the community in 1955.

Browse through Waffle House memorabilia and other important artifacts within the 60 years since the restaurant’s rise to success.

You can only visit the museum by appointment.

But it also hosts Open Houses, so keep your calendars marked for these events.

The Waffle House Museum sits along East College Avenue.

See Historic Art Exhibits at the Michael C. Carlos Museum

Exterior view of the Michael C. Carlos Museum

Daniel Mayer, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Michael C. Carlos Museum is your best bet for a blend of history, culture, and art in one place.

Located on South Kilgo Circle, this museum holds some of the widest selections of cultural art pieces in history.

Started as a university collection in 1876, this museum soon became a tourist attraction in and of itself.

Its exhibits feature works from ancient Egyptians, Indigenous Americans, tribal Africans, and more!

Statue at the Michael C. Carlos Museum

Gary Todd from Xinzheng, China, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

It also has a bookshop and an accompanying coffee room for your artistic respite within the facility.

The Michael C. Carlos Museum is a part of the distinguished Emory University.

The university is notable for being a part of the city of Atlanta while remaining a part of DeKalb County at the same time.

Ancient bronze sculpture at Michael C. Carlos Museum

Gary Todd from Xinzheng, China, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Get Your Daily Dose of Artistic Inspiration at Oglethorpe University Museum of Art

The city of Brookhaven offers an explosion of art inspiration at Oglethorpe University Museum of Art.

Only one of two university art museums within this article, this museum offers three gallery spaces.

It is also the only museum within the Southeast that hosts national and international exhibits annually.

In fact, it offers three major exhibitions and several smaller ones in the course of 12 months.

Opened in 1993, it specializes in visual arts within an intimate and meditative setting.

Oglethorpe University Museum of Art resides within Lowry Hall on Peachtree Road Northeast.

Interact with Various Marine Creatures at SeaQuest Stonecrest

You don’t have to dive deep into the sea to fulfill your marine life excursion.

Because at SeaQuest Stonecrest, you have all the time in the world to meet your favorite ocean critters.

This 20,000-square-foot marine museum takes you to other countries, including Australia and China, with its vast array of animal interactions.

The museum is also welcome to take in endangered animals, like axolotls.

Hand-feed sharks, watch crocodiles roam in person, and walk through aviaries!

The center offers a variety of activities for you and the entire family, so come with your loved ones!

SeaQuest Stonecrest is on Mall Parkway in—as the name suggests—the city of Stonecrest.

Final Thoughts

DeKalb County’s array of eye-catching attractions all offer variety to your entertainment preferences.

From history and art to natural parks, your options are endless!

Whether you’re traveling alone, with a loved one, or with a large group of family or friends, you can be sure a fun time awaits you in the cities and communities of this county.

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