Drive along Georgia 400’s Hospitality Highway, and you’ll happen upon a group of community-driven neighborhoods linked by the state road that begins in Atlanta’s posh Buckhead and ends 50 miles north in mountainous Dahlonega. With more than 4,300 stores within the seven communities, the diverse shopping experiences along Hospitality Highway make up some of Georgia’s best spending excursions. A plethora of shops await you and are bound to encourage return trips in the future. Each destination has its own charming identity and atmosphere. Discover your favorite as you explore the highway corridor.
At the recently remodeled Lenox Square, there’s something for every taste and budget. An impressive list of retailers keeps this long-standing mall feeling chic and new, from the two-story Nike store and Carolina Herrera to the Tesla showroom where imaginations run free.
Drive a bit farther south on Peachtree Road to find Buckhead-Atlanta. The upscale, alfresco destination boasts runway icons Hermès and Jimmy Choo, to younger brands Warby Parker and Billy Reid (forthcoming). After you’ve perused the 26-plus retail stores, try your hand at one of Buckhead-Atlanta’s 12 restaurants—namely, Brooklyn’s Shake Shack (worth the wait in line), Gypsy Kitchen which offers a range of Asian and North African flavors, or try Dolce [Italian], all three with lively rooftop experiences.
Just outside of the Atlanta perimeter, Sandy Springs has some of the best shops for antiquing—even if you come to browse, you’ll likely leave feeling like you hit the jackpot. The most discerning shopper will admire the selection at Red Baron Antiques, where individual vendors specialize in fine art, classic cars, and one of their specialties—bars. Much of the inventory comes from estate sales, and seasonal live auctions, which are spirited events.
Kudzu & Company is reliable for one of the largest inventories of home decor in the area, where dealers feature mid-century modern furnishings, imports from Europe and Asia, old movie props, and more.
For almost four decades, The Chandlery has cultivated a mix of gifts to celebrate weddings and babies, linens for the bed and bath, art, and dining collections for any time of year. Find the family-owned business in the walkable historic business district, where the shop sometimes stays open late to catch the dinner crowd on Canton Street.
Just off Canton Street, you’ll find the barn-like Raiford Gallery, where its inspirational, airy space is teeming with the work of more than 400 artists. The seven-time NICHE winner offers handcrafted ceramics and glassworks, jewelry (owner Judie has an on-site studio), furniture, paintings, and more.
It doesn’t get much cuter than shopping at Georgia’s only American Girl Boutique and Bistro at North Point Mall. Treat your young girl (and her doll!) to a magical day. Shop for the popular character dolls, their accessories, furniture, books, and matching tees—even a personal shopper is available to assist! A stylist can treat your doll to a new ‘do and spa services. Grab a casual bite in the bistro, offering doll-friendly dining with miniature plates, cups, and seats, fun appetizers, two-course entrées, rich desserts, brunch, or afternoon tea with dainty sandwiches and baked goods.
Avalon has mastered the art of living well in this mixed-use development where delicious chef-driven food, lavish entertainment, and luxury-brand shopping are just the beginning. Award-winning local chefs have established locales at this city within a city—head to Antico for Napoleon pizza, Bocado Burger for bunned beauties, and LottaFrutta for refreshing fruit cups. Pick up a glass of wine from Cru` Food and Wine Bar while strolling the beautifully landscaped property under the boulevard’s bistro lights. Pick up one-of-a-kind finds at shops like Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, Lululemon Athletica, or Bonobos.
For the retail-obsessed, The Collection at Forsyth is heaven in North Georgia. It’s easy to spend the day at this vast property, spanning more than 500,000 square feet. Here, it’s a mix of premier brands: Jos. A. Bank, DSW Shoes, Dress Up Boutique, Charming Charlie, and Earth Fare, opening the end of 2015. Come tempt your taste buds, to name a few of the options: Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Zoe’s Kitchen, and Nothing Bundt Cakes.
The monthly weekend openings at Lakewood 400 Antiques Market are not to be missed. A nominal entry fee grants all-weekend access to dealer booths replete with vintage signs and clothing, hardware, artwork, furniture, tabletop accessories, and knickknacks. Find that treasure from years past or that rare item to complete your collection.
The North Georgia Premium Outlets feature a jaw-dropping 140 stores. Don’t miss the exceptional brands such as Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th, Pottery Barn, and Restoration Hardware with extraordinary savings of 25% to 65%.
If folk-art is your passion, you’ll feel right at home at Around Back at Rocky’s Place, a gallery spotlighting more than 300 artists and their works including wood carvings, pottery, sculpture, metalwork, fibers, and more. Many of the artists showcased here are self-taught, like the famous John “Cornbread” Anderson, whose playful depictions of Georgia wildlife are available for purchase.
Let the picturesque North Georgia Mountains be your guide at Montaluce Winery & Estates, where the stunning view provides a wonderful backdrop for sipping local wine. The varietals are understandably young at this nine-year-old vineyard, but the selections—including a fruity, dry Prima Luce and a complex petite Sirah—are vivid and aromatic.
Don’t be fooled by its small stature—Tomato House has plenty to offer inside, from local produce to seasonal décor. In addition to the room packed with jams, jellies, and pickled goods, shoppers will find teas, breads, desserts, and a host of herbs and seasonings to round out any meal.
A worthwhile trip
North Georgia is easy to love for many reasons—the hospitable and witty people, the savory dishes cooked by passionate chefs, and the range of worldly items that are sold in galleries, furniture shops, and apparel boutiques throughout the region. An exploratory trip along Georgia’s Hospitality Highway will undoubtedly become one of the reasons you return again and again.