The city of Snellville helps form the eastern extremity of the Atlanta metropolitan area, around 40 minutes from downtown Atlanta itself.
Located within Gwinnett County, it began life as New London, after the settlement of two native Londoners who crossed the Atlantic from Great Britain.
At some point around the 1880s New London became known as Snellville after one of the two men, Thomas Snell. The store they ran existed right up to 1960, when it was sadly destroyed by fire.
In the interim, Snellville received its city charter in 1923. Since then, it has developed into a comfortable suburban city within easy reach of a whole array of attractions.
These are the 15 best things to do in and around Snellville, Georgia.
1. Masterpiece Mixers Paint and Party Studio
Masterpiece Mixers is welcoming to all-comers, whether you’re a regular artist or a newcomer looking to try out a different skill.
Their evening events provide all the materials you’ll need to discover if you’re the next Picasso or not. This means you need arrive with nothing more than enthusiasm.
Led by a knowledgeable teacher, each session takes the creation of an artwork step by step. Emphasizing the importance of fun, this is a laid-back way to spend a couple of hours.
What’s more, this can be a great way of getting chatting with residents of the city and finding out why they love living here so much.
2. Veterans Memorial
The Veterans Memorial forms a small complex of important structures in central Snellville. It sits just a few feet away from the blend of red brick and white Neoclassical stone that is City Hall.
Backed by a horseshoe-shaped wall of names, this simple memorial is dedicated to all those who have lost their lives serving the United States.
A focal point for the residents of Snellville to gather around on important occasions, it sits on Towne Green.
It replaces an earlier eternal flame constructed to mark America’s role in the Vietnam War.
3. Snellville Historical Cemetery
Behind the Veterans Memorial is Snellville Historical Cemetery. It is overlooked by the elegant white spire of the city’s First Baptist Church.
The cemetery is a spacious and open one, and can provide some insight into the city’s most important families in times gone by.
Among the most important people interred here is James Sawyer, the Briton who founded Snellville alongside Thomas Snell.
He is buried in a mausoleum he constructed himself, having lived a long life and dying at the age of 91 in 1948.
4. Stone Mountain Park
Stone Mountain Park lies around 11 miles west of Snellville and can create a serious diversion for anyone heading to Atlanta with an interest in natural and man-made history.
It is one of a number of mountains that appear on the horizon as if out of nowhere, without an accompanying mountain range.
One of the highest points in the Atlanta region at more than 1,600 feet above sea level, its park is the perfect introduction to northern Georgia’s flora and fauna.
It is crisscrossed with a series of well-marked hiking trails, leading around and up the mountain to its summit.
5. Snellville Farmers Market
Located right at the heart of downtown Snellville in the City Hall parking lot, Snellville Farmers Market is a thriving place for the community to come together.
A huge range of vendors provide plenty of choice, not only from traditional produce you might find in markets such as fruit and vegetables, but also a great array of artisan items and potential gifts.
Handcrafted pottery and locally-made soaps from small scale producers can be found between them. There are plenty of stalls to stop by for a bite to eat too, with made-to-order pizzas a particular favorite.
6. Tribble Mill Park
Although not within the bounds of Snellville itself, Tribble Mill Park is one of the largest in the area and well worth the 20-minute drive.
It covers around 700 acres, with roughly a quarter of this area being taken up by the surface waters of two attractive lakes. Together they stretch for almost the entire length of the park.
Their size makes them popular with anglers, although the multitude of trails totaling around four miles mean Tribble Mill Park is also good for anyone looking to get a little outdoor exercise.
7. Gwinnett History Museum
Snellville is yet to have its own history museum, but the Gwinnett History Museum in the nearby city of Lawrenceville is no further than Tribble Mill Park when it comes to distance.
Covering the history of all of Gwinnett County, the museum is located in a building constructed in the 1830s as a seminary. It then became a finishing school for the county’s upper class young women.
For a local museum, the Gwinnett History Museum has an excellent collection of artifacts, covering all the most important moments from the past.
They include items relating to the region’s farming industry, as well as various homemade quilts and textiles that are a long-held tradition in this part of the United States.
8. Creekwater Alpaca Farm
Alpacas might not be native to Georgia – they originate from South America – but they certainly make a great addition to the Snellville landscape.
These sociable and inquisitive creatures are weakly related to camels, but are a whole lot more friendly.
Farmed primarily for the hair, which is one of the softest natural fibers in the world, they have also been found to be great for lifting the mood of hospital and care home residents.
Head to Creekwater Alpaca Farm, and you’ll soon discover why. Tours of the farm also take in goats, ducks and geese. There is a shop selling items made from the alpaca’s hair too.
9. State Botanical Garden of Georgia
The State Botanical Garden of Georgia is situated within the city of Athens, 45 miles drive east of Snellville.
Part of the University of Georgia, the gardens are able to boast an area of 300 acres along the banks of the Middle Oconee River. They are split into 11 specific zones.
These zones are connected together by roughly five miles of walking trails. The zones range from the fountains of the formal gardens loved by European monarchs in the 1800s, to the Heritage Garden.
Here visitors will find plants important to Georgia’s past, including tobacco and cotton plants. A hummingbird trail lets you get up close to creatures who’s wings beat 600 times a minute, and greenhouses protect some of the gardens’ most delicate inhabitants.
10. High Museum of Art
Atlanta is home to its fair share of major attractions. One which doesn’t get the publicity it deserves is the High Museum of Art in the Midtown arts district.
Known to almost everyone simply as ‘the High’, the museum has a collection that began more than a hundred years ago and is now spread over 300,000 square feet of gallery space.
Its 17,000 works of art sit within a building designed by some of the world’s most influential architects – Renzo Piano and Richard Meier.
They include paintings by European masters such as Monet and Singer Sargent, while Rodin’s sculpture The Shade stands immediately outside.
11. Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest
Roughly an hour and 20 minutes from Snellville lies the main bulk of Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest, some 115,000 acres in size.
The main attraction is the chance for uninterrupted hikes far from the hustle of central Athens or Atlanta. Many miles of hiking trails cut through the area, alongside bridal ways for those on horseback and a trail for dirt and quadbike riders.
A largely untouched region of indigenous woodland, lucky (or perhaps unlucky) walkers might catch sight of American black bears, in addition to coyote, beavers and bobcats.
Relatively flat with gently-rolling hills, the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest is one of the best places in the state for wildlife viewing.
12. Southeastern Railway Museum
Half an hour northwest of Snellville is Duluth. Another suburban city in the Atlanta metropolitan area, it is best known as the home of the Southeastern Railway Museum.
Georgia’s official transportation museum, this site has one of the finest collections of transport memorabilia anywhere in the southeast of the United States.
The museum includes items of road transport within its collection, although its name demonstrates that its main focus has been Georgia’s railways.
In this context, the star of the show has to be the 90 pieces of rail equipment, including President Warren G Harding’s private rail carriage.
13. Zoo Atlanta
A short distance from the historic street scenes of downtown Atlanta is Grant Park, where you’ll also find Zoo Atlanta.
One of the oldest zoos anywhere within the United States, Zoo Atlanta has become one of the world’s leading centers for the breeding of endangered species.
In all, the zoo’s spacious enclosures are home to some 1,500 individual animals belonging to 200 different species.
The Ford African Rain Forest is home to lemurs, colobus monkeys and extremely rare western lowland gorillas, while Asian Forest contains another king of the jungle – the orangutan.
Elsewhere, the giant pandas shouldn’t be missed, nor the 450-strong reptile house.
14. Centennial Olympic Park
Much of Atlanta’s recent success and redevelopment is the result of the Summer Olympic Games, which the city hosted in 1996 – one hundred years after the first modern games in Athens, Greece.
The park that celebrates this fact is found right at the center of downtown Atlanta, a short distance from a number of alternative attractions, including the SkyView Ferris wheel and World of Coca-Cola.
Of the many points of interest among its 22 acres, the one not to miss is perhaps the Fountain of Rings. This is made up of 251 jets of water individually controlled by computer to jump and move to music multiple times a day.