School’s in, summer work hours are out and the stressful holiday season is fast rounding the corner.
Sigh. If you’re like most of metro Atlanta, you’re ready for a quick getaway right about now.
So pack your (day)bagsand head to Woodstock!
Located just 30 miles north of Atlanta in Cherokee County, Woodstock boasts a highly walkable downtown, unique stores and eateries, live music galore and an infectiously upbeat attitude.
“It’s crazy fun here, in a good way,” said Debbie Taylor, who downsized from Marietta to Woodstock a year ago with her husband. “It’s the best decision we ever made.”
If you’re looking for a place to play tourist for a day right in your own backyard, check out our guide to things to do, see, eat — and even get your fill of scarecrows — in Woodstock.
The Park at City Center boasts a picturesque gazebo and fountain, touching memorials and an amphitheater at one end of a large grassy lawn. It’s the go-to spot for everything from the July 4th festival and Christmas Jubilee to the city’s insanely popular free Summer Concert Series .(Residents started plopping down lawn chairs to reserve their spots five days before 38 Special played for 15,000 people there on Sept. 8). The park fronts onto Main Street, which is lined on both sides with dozens of stores, restaurants and residences. An ongoing streetscape program has added wide sidewalks, plantings, benches and even a fabulous new “community mural” on the Mill Street-facing wall of the Woodstock Pharmacy.
Come October, dozens and dozens of sometimes elaborately decorated scarecrows will line Main as part of Woodstock’s annual “Scarecrow Invasion.” Vote on your favorite for $1, with the money going to downtown beautification efforts, including the town’s growing collection of “art” benches. There are some 1,500 parking spots on Main Street, in nearby lots and at Chattahoochee Technical College. Our advice? Park your car and just stroll (Need more convincing? The downtown “entertainment district” is a designated open container zone).
The Park at City Center, 100 Arnold Mill Road
Located in a former church, the Elm Street Cultural Arts Village offers professional level live theater: its current production, Steve Martin’s “Picasso at the Lapine Agile,” runs through Sept. 23, followed by “The Drowsy Chaperone” starting October 12. Elm Street also puts on innovative music-meets-conversation events through its Lantern Series, (Next up: “Landscape of Guitar” on Oct. 6). Meanwhile, the new Elm Street Visual Arts Center, which will have galleries, artists studios and classroom spaces, should be open by the end of 2018, said Stacy Brown, Woodstock’s marketing manager. There’s more: “Friday Night Live” takes over downtown on the first Friday of each month. Stores stay open late, restaurants offer specials and the streets are transformed in keeping with that month’s theme (In May it was “London Calling,” On Oct. 5, it’s “Roaring 20s Night.”)
Meanwhile, Woodstock’s rep as a go-to spot for live music has seen The Swingin’ Medallions, Everclear, Journey tribute band Departure and the Charlie Daniels Band all play recently as part of the summer concert series. Plus, MadLife Stage & Studios offers live music shows nearly every night, along with a restaurant and professional recording studios.
Elm Street Cultural Arts Village, 8534 Main St.
MadLife Stage & Studios, 8722 Main St
You won’t go hungry in Woodstock, where there are more than two dozen inviting spots to eat, drink or choose between enjoying classic afternoon tea or a limited edition lager. Or both. Here are some suggestions:
Freight Kitchen & Tap. Hand-crafted drinks and Southern farm-to-table food in Woodstock’s Historic Train Depot. 251 East Main St. 770 -924-0144, freightkitchen.com
Pie Bar. Whole or half pies, or by the slice. From tart cherry and salted caramel apple streusel to cannoli cream and bourbon chocolate pecan. 8720 Main St. 678-402-6245. orderpiebar.com
Pure Taqueria. Hip, authentic Mexican eats and drinks, with a great rooftop deck. 405 Chambers St. 770-952-7873. puretaqueria.com
Reformation Brewery. Their new downtown location has two bars and a beer garden. Full food menu coming soon. 105 Elm St. 678-341-0828, reformationbrewery.com
Rootstock & Vine. Wine and bourbon bar, with a kitchen offering tapas, charcuterie, gourmet desserts and more. 8558 Main St. 770-544-9009, rootstockandvine.com
Tea Leaves and Thyme. Offers a variety of tea services, plus a lunch menu. 8990 S. Main St. 770-516-2609, tealeavesandthyme.com
Truck & Tap. Popular spot with a rotating menu of craft beers and food trucks (see website for schedule). 8640 Main St. 770-702-1670, truckandtap.com/woodstock
The Outlet Shoppes at Atlanta (actually, Woodstock, just over two miles from downtown) features nearly 100 brand name stores, including Coach, Michael Kors, Saks and Kate Spade. Woodstock’s free trolley, which runs on Fridays and Saturdays, stops there. The Outlet Shoppes at Atlanta, 915 Ridgewalk Pkwy. theoutletshoppesatatlanta.com
Blue Frog Imports. A fun, colorful emporium of folk art, unique yard decor, pottery, furniture and more. 8608 Main St. 770-592-0122. bluefrogimports.biz
FoxTale Book Shoppe. One of the South’s top independent bookstores, with a great selection of new and classic titles, knowledegable staff, author events, writing classes and book clubs. 105 East Main Street. 770-516-9989, foxtalebookshoppe.com
Maxwell’s Cigar Bar. Fine cigars (plus beer and wine), live music on Fridays and Saturdays, all in a setting of comfy leather chairs and couches. Currently at 460 Chambers Street, but relocating soon to 150 Town Lake Parkway. 770-627-2006, maxwellscigarbar.com
The Whole Nine Yarns. Most any type of knitting and crocheting yarn, needles and patterns you’d ever want, plus helpful staff and places to sit and, well, knit. 8826 Main St. 678-494-5242, thewholenineyarns.com
The Wright Stuff Collectibles. Impressive array of vinyl record albums, comics, coins, movie and TV memorabilia. It was the place to find the original vinyl soundtrack album to “Sharkey’s Machine” the morning after Burt Reynolds died. 8646 Main St. 410-294-8226, facebook.com/twsrecordsandcollectibles/
Woodstock is an embarrassment of outdoors and recreational riches, starting with its six parks (including one for man’s best friend, Woofstock). And then there’s the Greenprints planned trail system, which already has six walking and biking trails around town, with more to come. The city also is part of the Zagster bike share program, with pickup and drop off spots at three locations. If you’re more of a water bug, nearby Lake Allatoona is an ideal spot for fishing, boating, swimming and paddling sports. So is Olde Rope Mill Park, where you can fish, canoe or put in a paddleboard and head out for Allatoona. Murphs Surfs, a self-described “local Paddle Shack” in Woodstock, rents and sells paddleboards and kayaks; its website also has a helpful list of additional “paddle spots” in and around town. Finally, get back-to-nature at Berry Park Farms. Pick-your-own-blueberries season is over, but pumpkin season (which includes hayrides, cider, baby farm animals and more) starts Oct. 6. And you can cut down your own Christmas tree starting Nov. 23.
Woofstock Park, 150 Dupree Road
Olde Rope Mill Park, 690 Olde Rope Mill Park Road
Berry Patch Farms, 786 Arnold Mill Road