Be There or Be Square: A Kid-friendly Guide to Decatur

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Down the road (Ponce de Leon to be exact) and just east of Atlanta lies the city of Decatur. This sweet suburb is big on bikes, babies and buying local. “The Square” as the downtown shopping district is called, is full of wee-ones-welcome ways to spend your days without breaking the bank. Here is your kid-friendly guide to where to stop on the Square. 



Little Shop of Stories
Decatur is home to the largest independent book festival in the country and you can start molding your own little bookworms with a visit to this shop found at 133-A East Court Square. They not only host birthday parties and story times; but they also have an impressive list of summer camps with themes that include: Hogwarts, American Girl, Magic Tree House and Heroes and Villains. Tip: Arrive early for book signings and readings. The crowds gather quickly at their popular events.

Decatur Bikes
In 2012 the League of American Bicyclists added Decatur to their list of Bicycle Friendly Communities. With two bicycle shops in the downtown shopping district and miles of bike friendly streets it is easy to see how this town won this distinction. Decatur Bikes, located at 252 W. Ponce de Leon Avenue, offers everything you need for your two wheeled pursuits. In addition to a great selection of accessories and bike maintenance services, you can buy any type of bike from commuter to cruiser to BMX. Don’t forget to pick up a helmet!

ChaiPani Kale 


Chai Pani
If you think Indian Street Food is too adventurous for your tots, you haven’t tried this restaurant. Named one of the “Top 10 Cheap Eats in the US” by the Huffington Post, this shop at 406 West Ponce de Leon Avenue has menu items for vegetarians, meat lovers and kids. Tip: Order up the Kale Pakoras—kale fritters made with curried chickpea batter.

Big Tex Decatur
Located at 308 West Ponce de Leon Avenue this spot describes itself as “Texas-born-Southern-made-cooking.” In addition to the usual southwestern menu items, they offer a full kids menu and host a family happy hour from 5-8 pm Monday through Friday where kids eat for half price.  For those slow-to-get-out-of-their-jamies households they serve brunch until 3 pm on Sundays.

Leon’s Full Service
The line of parked strollers outside of the front door is a constant at this family-friendly eatery at 131 East Ponce de Leon Avenue. Menu highlights include beef brisket, mussels with bread and butter, and their scrumptious chocolate Nutella candy bar. With your choice of 14 different sauces to dip your fries into, it is easy to see why there is always a full house at this neighborhood favorite.  



Revolution Doughnuts
Expect a line out of the door when you arrive to this popular spot located at 908 West College Avenue. Not to worry though, this is par for the course and they are sure to have plenty of peach sliders, orange pistachio, and Revolution cream pie doughnuts to go around. Nestled next to an Italian restaurant and a beer store, the location of this sugar oasis is lovingly called “Homer Simpson Plaza.”

Greens Fine Foods
Pecans and peanuts and chocolate covered ginger, oh my! This shop at 141 East Trinity Place satisfies every sweet tooth and savory craving with editable treat and gift ideas. In the great beer tradition of Decatur, they also have an awesome selection of craft beer on tap for your growler filing pleasure. Bonus: They have a party room for birthdays that includes candy making demonstrations, chocolate lollipop creating and candy necklace designing activities.  



Decatur Toy Park
Located at the corner of E. Ponce de Leon Ave and Nelson Ferry Road, this park is owned and maintained by the First Christian Church of Decatur—but the park, and all of the toys that live there, are free for all to enjoy. Every item that Little Tykes has ever made can be found there, so there are always enough to of around.

Hidden Cove Park
Look behind Westchester Elementary School (at 758 Scott Boulevard) and you will find a hidden gem of Decatur. This three-acre park includes a nature tail, two play grounds, a basketball court, a playing field, and access to Peavine Creek.  Be sure to bring your swim trunks and water shoes for wading to watch tadpoles and turtles in the creek.

The city of Decatur hosts several events and festivals during the year for families. The Touch-a-Truck event in March brings out all of the city vehicles including fire trucks, ambulances, police motorcycles, front loaders and more for kids to sit in and on. October brings the Oakhurst Arts & Music Festival and don’t miss the opportunity to have breakfast with Santa in December. For a complete list of annual events click here.

Got a favorite tot spot on the “Square?” Tell us below!

–Maria Pinkelton

Photos courtesy of the author

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