The city of Alpharetta is a northern suburb of Atlanta, in Georgia’s Fulton County.
Its name hints at the fact it was one of the first permanent US settlements in the region. Dating back to the early 1830s, Alpharetta began life as a trading post.
It became a chartered city in 1858, but remained largely agricultural until the 1980s, when it turned towards white collar technology jobs.
As a result, Alpharetta has a great mix of history, green space, and things to do, and is much more than a commuter area for those working in nearby Atlanta.
These are the best things to do in Alpharetta Georgia.
1. Alpharetta and Old Milton County History Museum
There’s nowhere better to head for a detailed history of Alpharetta than this museum, located inside City Hall.
It charts the city’s history from the time before the city existed, when the land was the traditional territory of Cherokee native Americans, right up to its recent tech revolution.
The museum’s exhibits include memorabilia donated by people in the city, and photographs that help demonstrate the development of the city to the one visitors are able to explore today.
Perhaps the most intriguing part of the museum is the project stories kiosk, where visitors can listen to snippets from 70 residents who have grown up, lived, and worked in the city over the years.
2. Alpharetta Arts Center
As contrasting to the historic red brick elegance of City Hall as its perhaps possible to get is the contemporary single storey structure of Alpharetta Arts Center.
Bright and welcoming, the centre has a floor plan closing in on 1,000 square metres, all of which is dedicated to modern art.
While the rotating series of exhibited works predominantly come from local artists, that doesn’t mean that this space is any less worthwhile than a gallery in a larger city.
In addition, there’s also a theatre space, and the centre holds regular classes, lectures, and workshops on various art-related themes.
3. Jekyll Brewing
Although Jekyll Brewing in less than ten years old, it has gained a legion of fans in that time.
Its tap room at its original site on Marconi Drive has 26 different taps all under the watchful eye of the award-winning brew master Josh Rachel, who is also a part-owner.
Once brewed in its 100-barrel system, the beers created here take on a full range of different styles, which cross the globe, ensuring most beer drinkers will find something to their taste.
Using the finest of raw ingredients, and focussed on the art of hand-crafting, Jekyll Brewing is, in short, a great entry into the brewing culture of Georgia.
What’s more, if you can’t make it to Marconi Drive, there’s now a second bar on Academy Street.
4. Downtown Alpharetta Historic District
The centre of Alpharetta is known for its historic buildings, many of which date for the earliest days of the chartered city in the 1850s.
Others date to the first decade of the twentieth century, with a second burst of building taking place in the 1900s and 1910s.
Together they make for a blend of southern-style clapboard homes, complete with sheltered wrap-around verandas, and simpler brick-built structures.
Among them is the Dodd Hotel from 1870, which continued in its function as a boarding house for teachers and similar professionals right up until the 1940s. Elsewhere, look out for the Greek Revival Skeleton-Teasley House from 1856, once the home of a cotton trader.
5. Big Creek Greenway
This greenway, or linear park, runs for roughly 12 kilometres along the length of Big Creek.
Marked by a wide paved path, it is suitable for all times of year, and is a popular place for both residents and visitors to take a walk in the fresh air.
A spur also circles an area of wetland between Mansell Road and Haynes Bridge Road, which is a great place to sight birdlife including blue heron, and other species such as deer.
But follow the main path all the way, and you’ll end up in Big Creek Park in neighbouring Roswell.
6. Live Music
Alpharetta is proud of its ‘Music City’ reputation, and has a good number of venues and attractions for anyone who’d like to explore its live music scene.
Though the southern states of the union may be best known for country music and sub-genres such as blue grass, this isn’t the limit of Alpharetta’s venues.
The biggest is the 12,000-seater Ameris Bank Amphitheatre, which brings in big names such as Rod Stewart.
Matilda’s Music Under the Pines is a venue that takes advantage of Georgia’s excellent weather to create a unique outdoor concert space that encourages people to bring their own food and drink.
Serious about their music, chatting during the songs is frowned upon, so if this describes you, head instead to The Velvet Note, a jazz club with a great history of live performances.
7. Wills Park
Wills Park is the perfect city centre green space for anyone looking for a place to exercise, or those travelling with younger children.
The recreation centre hosts basketball, aerobics, and karate, while there are also three children’s playgrounds with slides, swings and monkey bars among other attractions that will be sure to keep little ones entertained at least for a few minutes.
The park also incorporates tennis courts, and a swimming pool.
8. Walk of Memories
The city’s main war memorial, the Walk of Memories is made up of some 8,000 bricks engraved with the names of Georgians who lost their lives defending the country from the Second World War to the present day.
It is centred around a bronze statue more than two metres tall depicting two members of the US armed forces in modern combat gear.
World War Two is represented by an original M60 tank, and the Korean and Vietnam conflicts by a gun mount removed from a landing craft called the USS Polk County and a Huey helicopter.
Surrounded by American stars and stripes, it is a monument that seems to unveil the very soul of the nation.
9. World of Coca-Cola
Just a short walk from where John Pemberton invented the drink in 1892 today the World of Coca-Cola.
The 81,000 square metre exhibition space detailing the history of the world’s most popular branded drink is also just a short distance from other attractions in Atlanta, Georgia’s state capital. These include Centennial Olympic Park, the Center for Civil and Human Rights, and Georgia Aquarium.
In addition to covering the history of the drink, displays hint at the all-important secret formula, and includes a simulated bottling plant.
Downtown Atlanta is approximately 40 kilometres south of Alpharetta.
10. Alpha Loop Connection
The Alpha Loop aims to better connect different areas of Alpharetta and its surrounding neighbourhoods, and focusses on green modes of transport such as walking and cycling.
Eventually, the Alpha Loop will actually consist of two pathways around the city. An inner one will have a diameter of approximately five kilometres, and an outer ring will stretch for eight kilometres.
The inner loop in particular acts like a pathway in a park or other green space, shaded by trees and running alongside a stream.
It connects up areas such as the central downtown district with Avalon, a mixed-use development of shops, restaurants, and cinemas.
11. Archibald Smith Plantation Home
This wooden house was constructed in 1845 for one of the area’s leading families, who ended up living here for three generations.
Important enough to have made it onto the National Register of Historic Places, the former home was opened as a museum in 1991.
Its rich interiors contain many original fixtures and fittings, as well as antique pieces of furniture, demonstrating what life was like for the white upper class just before the American Civil War.
Its grounds contain an authentic slave quarters, so guests can also see the living conditions of those not so well off.
The Archibald Smith Planation House is located in Roswell, which sits a short distance to the southwest of Alpharetta.
12. Publix Aprons Cooking School
Southern cooking is not only tasty, but also unique to the region. Discover just some of the secrets behind what makes this ‘soul food’ so moreish at Alpharetta’s premier cookery school.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a beginner or someone with decades of experience in the kitchen, the chefs that lead these sessions are sure to reveal new ways of doing things, as well as guiding you towards Georgia’s key flavours.
If you’d rather let someone else do the hard work in the kitchen, the school also offers regular wine tastings, covering the produce of the region’s vineyards.
13. Painted Horse Winery and Vineyard
Alternatively, you could head out to one or two of these vineyards for yourself, such as the Painted Horse Winery and Vineyard.
This small producer located on Pamelot Farm just five kilometres north of Alpharetta is responsible for a tiny amount of the overall wine consumed each year in the state.
Rather than seeking out economies of scale, the Painted Horse Winery works to create handcrafted wines using its crop of Malbec, Chardonnay, and Cabernet Sauvignon grape varieties, which can be sampled on site.
14. Topgolf Alpharetta
Topgolf blends the social occasion of a bowling alley with the skill of the golf course. While there’s a driving range where you can practice your swing, there’s also the chance for a bit of fun by challenging friends and family of all ages to the centre’s point-based golf games.
Alternatively, you could head for entertainment to The Cooler. Also known as the Alpharetta Family Skate Center, The Cooler has not one but two ice rinks open for public ice skating, and a similarly sized roller arena.
Should you fancy joining the crowds at a hockey match, this is also the place to come.
15. Farmers Market
The weekend farmers market in Alpharetta allows you to explore the city at its most relaxed. Stretching from the Town Green in front of City Hall to North and South Broad Streets, it has won a plethora of awards.
In addition to the standard produce of these markets, such as locally-grown fruits and vegetables, the market also has stalls selling plants, honeys, soaps, breads, cakes, and other edible delights.
The selling takes place alongside live music, helping to create an all-round magical atmosphere.