15 Best Things to Do in Brookhaven (GA)

The Georgia city of Brookhaven is a suburb of Atlanta, a little northeast of the state capital.

Although it was incorporated as a city no earlier than 2012, European settlement began in 1810 on former native American land, and has structures dating back to 1830.

The area’s farmland slowly became more and more residential, with people from Atlanta even buying summer homes here, despite them being less than 18 km away from each other.

A laidback alternative to Atlanta, Brookhaven is a city where it’s possible to do as much or as little as you’d like.

Here are the best things to do in and around Brookhaven, Georgia.

1. Oglethorpe University Museum of Art

Oglethorpe University Museum of ArtSource: Oglethorpe University Museum of Art / Facebook
Oglethorpe University Museum of Art

The Oglethorpe University Museum of Art – or OUMA – may be small compared to the national museums the US can offer, but it none the less regularly hosts national and international exhibitions.

It also has its own permanent collection of more than 700 objects, which together span 700 years of history and culture.

Consisting of three main gallery spaces, the museum’s collection includes works from the greats of nineteenth and twentieth century art, including Delacroix and Matisse.

It also holds an impressive collection of Japanese porcelains dating back four centuries.

The university campus is itself worth a short excursion – its Neogothic façades creating a pleasant backdrop to a number of public sculptures.

2. Murphey Candler Park

Murphey Candler ParkSource: TranceMist / Flickr | CC BY
Murphey Candler Park

This 55-hectare park features amenities including tennis courts and a swimming pool. However, the star of the park has to be its lake.

This fine expanse of freshwater is home to a number of species of water bird, as well as beavers, and fish that anglers would be happy to pit their wits against.

Of several trails in the park, a favourite is the three-kilometre loop around the lake, which takes in woodland, wetland, bridges, and picnic pavilions.

Overall, Murphey Candler Park is a great space to head out into the open air without even having to leave Brookhaven.

3. Farmers Market

Farmers MarketSource: Arina P Habich / shutterstock
Farmers Market

Spanning the main Georgia growing seasons, Brookhaven’s Farmers Market is not just a place to do a little grocery shopping, but also a place to absorb the local ambience of Brookhaven each Saturday morning.

There’s really no shortage of foods and other goods on offer here, with the main emphasis being on providing the people of Brookhaven (and its visitors) the freshest and healthiest food available.

In addition to a vibrant array of vegetables, you’ll find plenty of fruits, not least Georgia’s famed peaches.

Other stallholders focus on breads and cakes, while still more can offer you a very descent breakfast.

4. Chastain Park Golf Course

GolfSource: Mikael Damkier / shutterstock
Golf

In nearby Buckhead, Chastain Park Golf Course is a publicly-accessible golf course with a full 18-holes.

Regarded as one of the best public courses in the Atlanta area, its gently rolling hills provide plenty of challenge, as well as fine views of the skyline of the area.

Dating back to 1937, the course was designed by Chandler Egan and Walter Hagen, together with Bobby Jones, a famous Atlanta golfer.

Also known as North Fulton golf course, it has hosted a pre-Masters PGA Tournament, and also the country’s National Public Links Tournament.

5. Quickshot Shooting Range

Shooting RangeSource: Prath / Shutterstock
Shooting Range

America’s constitutional right to bear arms is well known.

And while many will find this right troubling, there is no denying that it has become an integral cultural trait of southern states such as Georgia in particular.

A safe place to explore this culture is at Brookhaven’s Quickshot indoor shooting range.

Attracting men and women of all walks of life, the centre will guide you through all you need to know to fire a gun safely.

6. Peachtree Creek Greenway

Peachtree Creek GreenwaySource: Peachtree Creek Greenway / Facebook
Peachtree Creek Greenway

Created in 1999 in time for the new millennium, the Peachtree Creek Greenway is a multi-use paved trail some 4 metres wide that stretches for almost 20 kilometres.

The path connects the Atlanta BeltLine trail in the south with Doraville at its northern end, crossing through Brookhaven along the way.

Welcoming cyclists, hikers, joggers and dog-walkers, the greenway can be used right throughout the year.

Its creation led to the removal of 200 dumped tyres and a huge amount of rubbish, a thought that’s difficult to imagine when looking at the greenway today.

7. Drepung Loseling Monastery

Drepung Loseling MonasterySource: Drepung Loseling Monastery Inc. / Facebook
Drepung Loseling Monastery

If the thought of firing a gun at the Quickshot Shooting Range leaves you cold, the Drepung Loseling Monastery might suit you better.

A centre for Tibetan Buddhism, the monastery hosts weekly sessions where newcomers are able to explore the philosophy of Tibetan Buddhism as taught by the Dalai Lama, and discover the mechanics of meditation.

Its outreach programme aims to spread the knowledge of Tibetan culture more generally, including its stunning paintings, which can take years to complete.

8. Atlanta History Center

Atlanta History CenterSource: expatpostcards / shutterstock
Atlanta History Center

Located in Buckhead, roughly 15 minutes from Brookhaven by road, the Atlanta History Center is made up of a campus-like complex covering an area of a little over 13 hectares.

Within it, the centre acts as the guardian of a number of important historic structures and exhibition spaces.

These include Smith Farm, a small clapboard structure with brick chimney that is Atlanta’s oldest farmhouse. It survived the slash and burn tactics of the Union Army during the American Civil War.

In addition to owning one of the largest collections of Civil War artefacts in the United States, the centre is also the location of the Margaret Mitchell House and Museum.

It was here that the author wrote the majority of her 1936 bestseller and Pulitzer-Prize winning novel Gone with the Wind.

The book went on to win multiple Oscars as a film staring Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh, as its permanent displays detail.

9. Atlanta Memorial Park

Atlanta Memorial ParkSource: Save Historic Bobby Jones Golf Course / Facebook
Atlanta Memorial Park

Nearby, urban explorers will also find Atlanta Memorial Park. It is an 80-hectare park of dappled woodland and lawns that stands as a memorial to those who lost their lives in the Battle of Peachtree Creek.

The battle took place in 1864 during the Civil War, and saw Union forces trying to push south towards Atlanta, a stronghold of the rebel Confederate states.

Atlanta’s third-largest park, it’s a popular spot with the city’s middle and upper classes, who live in the surrounding neighbourhood of homes worth up to $1.5 million each.

10. Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area

Chattahoochee River National Recreation AreaSource: Straystone / shutterstock
Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area

Flowing north of Brookhaven, the Chattahoochee River can be easily visited as part of the national recreation area which covers 15 individual sites along 77 kilometres of the river.

Accessible by land and water, the river also became the United State’s very first National Water Trail.

Those who prefer a fishing rod rather than a canoe or kayak are welcome to drop a line and try and tempt one of the 23 species of game fish that live in the river system.

There’s also a visitor centre in the recreation area’s Island Ford ‘unit’, which is situated in Sandy Springs just a few kilometres immediately north of Brookhaven.

11. Archibald Smith Plantation Home

Archibald Smith Plantation HomeSource: Bleak23 / Wikimedia | Public domain
Archibald Smith Plantation Home

Just 20 minutes north of Brookhaven along US-19 is Roswell, home to the Archibald Smith Plantation Home.

Built in 1845, it was home to one of the region’s leading families, and was added to the country’s National Register of Historic Places in 2006 because of its importance.

The home demonstrates what life was like for both Atlanta’s upper class white population, and its enslaved black population, before the Civil War changed everything.

Its interiors retain many of the building’s original architectural features, and authentic pieces of furniture from the period. Its grounds also include the old slave quarters, cook house, and water well.

12. Zoo Atlanta

Zoo AtlantaSource: Dane Jorgensen / Shutterstock
Zoo Atlanta

Ranked as one of the ten best zoos in the United States, Zoo Atlanta dates back to 1889. Today it’s home to around 220 different species, and 1,500 individual animals.

Among its Noah’s Ark of species, there are many that are endangered in their natural habitats, including two giant pandas. This makes Zoo Atlanta one of the few places in the US where it is possible to watch these unique creatures.

In addition to African savannah and rain forest zones, the zoo also highlights some of the problems facing animals in the wild. Its Trader Alley section draws attention to the trade in wildlife, and includes Malayan sun bears among its inhabitants.

13. Lake Lanier Islands

Lake LanierSource: Brett Barnhill / shutterstock
Lake Lanier

Roughly an hour north of Brookhaven is one of the many artificial lakes that ring the Atlanta region. Lake Lanier and its islands are one of Georgia’s most visited destinations.

It boasts freshwater beaches with white sands more customary in the Caribbean Sea or on Indian Ocean islands.

These islands are actually the tops of hills poking above the waters of the lake, which together comprise some 485 hectares.

During the summer months there’s a water park and golf course to keep visitors entertained, while during the colder months people are able to enjoy snow tubing and visits to Santa Claus.

14. Atlanta Botanical Garden

Atlanta Botanical GardenSource: Nicholas Lamontanaro / shutterstock
Atlanta Botanical Garden

While it’s unable to match the size of the Lake Lanier Islands, the botanical garden in downtown Atlanta is still able to impress.

Its grounds are sub-divided into a number of different themes, with a formal garden of plants edged by box plant hedging outside of the visitor centre, and areas of naturalistic landscape gardening dotted elsewhere.

The gardens also contain the Dorothy Chapman Fuqua Conservatory and Orchid House, which provide a home for a variety of tropical species that would otherwise not survive.

Children will especially enjoy the 180 metre Canopy Walkway, which raises people off the ground and into the tree canopy, up to 12 metres into the air.

15. Delta Flight Museum

Delta Flight MuseumSource: EQRoy / shutterstock
Delta Flight Museum

Delta Airlines is one of many multinational companies headquartered in Georgia’s state capital (with Coca-Cola another well-known name).

Its museum occupies the company’s two original aircraft maintenance hangars, which date to the 1940s.

There are literally hundreds of items on display from Delta’s eight decades of flight, the largest being a 767 passenger jet called the Spirit of Delta.

Visitors can also step into a Boeing 737-200 simulator, the only one open to the public in the United States.

The museum lies in the southern suburbs of Atlanta, approximately half an hour away from Brookhaven.

 

Where to stay: Best Hotels in Brookhaven, Georgia (GA)
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15 Best Things to Do in Brookhaven (GA):

  • Oglethorpe University Museum of Art
  • Murphey Candler Park
  • Farmers Market
  • Chastain Park Golf Course
  • Quickshot Shooting Range
  • Peachtree Creek Greenway
  • Drepung Loseling Monastery
  • Atlanta History Center
  • Atlanta Memorial Park
  • Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area
  • Archibald Smith Plantation Home
  • Zoo Atlanta
  • Lake Lanier Islands
  • Atlanta Botanical Garden
  • Delta Flight Museum