Situated in northern Georgia’s Fulton County, John’s Creek is a suburb of Atlanta. It lies to the northeast of the state capital, roughly 40 kilometres away.
Ranked as one of the best cities to live in by USA Today, the history of Johns Creek as a city (rather than a tributary of the Chattahoochee River) is a short one. The area didn’t become a settlement until 1981, and an incorporated city until after the millennium.
That said, this area of former Cherokee territory has become home to many of the biggest corporations in the country, creating an atmosphere of affluence. It also means there are plenty of things to see and enjoy.
These are the 15 best things to do in Johns Creek, Georgia.
1. Autrey Mill Nature Preserve and Heritage Center
This heritage centre is named after the remains of an old grist (maize grinding) mill, and the dam from which it got its water power.
Located in several hectares of woodland with dappled sunshine, wetlands, and the trickling waters of Sal’s Creek, the centre contains a three-kilometre boardwalk path through these landscapes.
Its native plants include the beautiful Pink Lady’s Slipper orchid, and almost 30 species of native tree, in addition to more than 100 recorded species of wildlife.
Around this, the site has a number of historic structures, including Summerour House, a Victorian-style farmhouse from the 1880s.
Other buildings contain the visitor centre, dating back to the 1860s, and a farm museum.
2. Newtown Park
Another popular outdoor space for the people of Johns Creek and the surrounding areas is Newtown Park.
A great place to see the city’s residents at their most relaxed, the park is well-supplied with facilities, which include a picnic area, children’s playground, and various sports fields and courts.
In addition, Newtown Park’s 18 hectares contain a small lake, and the Veterans Memorial Walk. This remembrance garden honours veterans from each of the United States foreign wars from the First World War onward.
This includes a replica of the 75 metre Vietnam Veterans Memorial found in Washington DC.
3. Johns Creek Arts Center
The main art gallery in Johns Creek, but also still something of a hidden gem, Johns Creek Arts Center is a family-friendly arts space at the heart of the community.
Its gallery area shows off artworks by some of the region’s best new talent, and covers a diverse range of themes, while a regular series of classes discuss the techniques behind everything from watercolours to photography.
You’ll find a good selection of tasteful items in the gift shop too, should you be looking for a souvenir of your time in Johns Creek.
4. Heritage Sandy Springs Museum
This history museum is located in nearby Sandy Springs, roughly 30 kilometres southwest of Johns Creek. Dedicated to the history of the region, it makes for a worthwhile detour from Johns Creek itself.
Its Heritage Green site preserves the original spring after which Sandy Springs is named, while the museum space occupies the historic Williams-Payne House.
Exhibits include artefacts from the American Civil War period, which played a major role in the lives of the people of this part of Georgia.
5. Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area
Run by the US National Parks Service, this recreation area follows the course of the Chattahoochee River for some 75 kilometres.
It passes through Johns Creek as the river waters make their way towards downtown Atlanta. In fact, Johns Creek is able to boast five different sections of the recreation area.
In addition to walks surrounded by the flora and fauna native to the region, the recreation area also offers the chance to try your luck with a fishing rod, or get wet by rafting, canoeing, or tubing your way along stretches of the river.
6. Downtown Alpharetta Historic District
At the centre of neighbouring Alpharetta, its downtown historic district can be found where Main Street meets Milton Avenue and Academy Street.
The area has a number of buildings that date from the 1800s onwards, which have been restored to provide an insight into the earliest days of this city.
Among them are the fanciful gables and turrets of Mansell House. While it only dates from 1912, its Queen Anne style means it wouldn’t look out of place in a fairy-tale by the Brothers Grimm.
Come on the weekend, and you also have a chance to explore the stalls of the farmers market, offering up fresh local vegetables, flowers, and preserves.
Alpharetta is less than 15 kilometres northwest of Johns Creek.
7. Masterpiece Mixers Johns Creek
If a visit to Johns Creek Arts Center has got you feeling artistic, then an evening at Masterpiece Mixers Johns Creek might be the activity for you.
This centre runs friendly and unstuffy art sessions which anyone can drop into, without having to worry about any potential lack of talent or indeed lack of equipment. All the items you’ll need to create your own personal masterpiece are supplied by the team here.
One of the more unusual ways to get to know a new city, you might just discover a new love at the same time.
8. Atlanta Botanical Garden
While relatively small at 12 hectares in area, Atlanta Botanical Garden is worth visiting from Johns Creek all the same.
Founded in 1976 after a grass-roots petition from the people of Atlanta, today the garden hosts a number of specific attractions within its boundaries.
These include the Children’s Garden, Dorothy Chapman Fuqua Conservatory, and Fuqua Orchid House, which together contain a variety of tropical plant species.
The green-roofed visitor centre leads to another of the garden attractions, the 180-metre Kendeda Canopy Walk, which allows visitors to soar through the treetops of one of the region’s last urban woodlands, at a height of up to 12 metres.
Reaching Atlanta from Johns Creek is very easy, taking around 30 minutes by road.
9. Johns Creek Symphony Orchestra
Set up around a decade ago, this symphony orchestra is made up of the best professional musicians from across the region, and is metropolitan Atlanta’s only fully-professional orchestra.
There’s therefore nowhere better to head to enjoy a little music, with the orchestra members hosting three different concert seasons each year.
Bringing in their individual experiences from time in orchestras in cities across the US, as well as London, Vienna, and Salzburg, there’s real talent on show here.
10. Golf at Atlanta Athletic Club
When it comes to golf, Johns Creek has no shortage of potential, with six courses including two championship grade courses at the Atlanta Athletic Club.
Incredibly well respected, the club hosted the 2011 PGA Championships, and the 2014 US Amateur Championships, making good use of its Highland and Riverside courses.
Its instruction centre is staffed by PGA professionals, should you be in need of some extra guidance on your game, while there’s a well-stocked golf shop on site too.
11. North Atlanta Dance Theatre
Since its creation in the late 1990s, the North Atlanta Dance Theatre has gone from strength to strength.
It routinely dazzles audiences with its spectrum of dance styles, that shift from classical to contemporary.
The theatre now reaches far beyond its original aim of acting as a training space for students of the North Atlanta Dance Academy, so look out for upcoming shows while your in Johns Creek.
12. Lake Lanier
Thirty-two kilometres north of Johns Creek is Lake Sydney Lanier, one of a series of lakes which ring the greater Atlanta area.
The watershed for Georgia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, Lake Lanier has an extraordinary 1,100 kilometres of shoreline.
Created by a damming project in the 1950s, today the lake is a multi-purpose reservoir welcoming somewhere in the region of 7.5 million visitors each year.
The largest lake in Georgia, it is particularly welcoming to fishing fans, but also hosted the canoe sprints of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
13. Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area
While incorporating landscapes that look as though they should be far out in the Georgia hinterland, Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area is just 40 minutes from Johns Creek by car, on Interstate 20.
Its 400-million-year-old granite outcrops are surrounded by woodland that appears to stretch on forever. It offers visitors some 50 kilometres of paved pathways suitable for mountain biking, and many more that are great for hiking.
The heritage area is also dotted with reminders of its past life, when it was a functioning stone quarry. Rock that can now been seen on New York’s Brooklyn Bridge was often cut by hand.
14. Atlanta BeltLine
Once a busy rail corridor, then nothing more than abandoned land for many years, the Atlanta BeltLine has been slowly converted into a multi-use trail connecting up many of the metropolitan area’s neighbourhoods.
Stemming from a master’s degree project written by a student at Georgia Tech University, the BeltLine runs as a ribbon of paved trail 35 kilometres long, reaching out beyond either side of Atlanta’s central business district.
It connects up green spaces including Piedmont Park and Inman Park on the Eastside Trail, and Mozley Park and Adair Park on the Westside.
As well as a means of transportation and a way of residents getting exercise, it has also become the site for public sculpture and excellent examples of street art.
15. Atlanta Monetary Museum
Also in Atlanta, the Monetary Museum combines historic artefacts with interactive exhibits to tell the story of money from the pre-coinage days of bartering, to the inception of the US Federal Reserve, and beyond to the present day.
Displaying rare and unusual coins as part of its collection, the museum also provides visitors with an insight into the Reserve’s vaults, where robot workers shift millions of dollars for sorting, counting, or destruction.
The museum is located just a short stroll from the Midtown metro stop.