The first thing you’ll learn about Druid Hills is that it’s home to two of the most important and influential institutions in the city. Emory University, which employs thousands of faculty and has a student body of nearly 15,000, is one of the most revered Universities in the country (Southern Ivy League is a term that’s tossed around a lot). Right next door, meanwhile, is the headquarters of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which locally employs more than 1,500 individuals who specialize in 170 separate disciplines.
And yet, there’s a palpable history to Druid HIlls that predates either of these institutions. Early on, it was the home to some of Atlanta’s luminaries, who valued this part of town for its tranquility and seclusion. Many of the historic homes they inhabited, in an array of styles inspired by the estates of Europe, survive to this day, and have benefitted from the consistency of maintenance. Unlike some of the neighborhoods closer to town, Druid Hills never experienced a period of decline spurred by suburbanization; rather, it’s always been this pretty (especially in the tucked-away corners and world-away streets).
So back to the chicken-and-the-egg question: are the world-class institutions that define this part of down responsible for the historically affluent, intellectual capital of the individuals who live here? Or was the establishment of these organizations largely due to the diverse, worldly nature on which the community has always prided itself?
There’s no certain answer, of course. But with immaculate, safe streets inhabited by a population that’s equal parts families, co-eds, academics, and highly specialized government employees, we’re pretty sure that the conversation has come up once or twice.
A historically stable real estate market
Well-rated public schools
Lower emphasis on walkability (there’s a great dining and retail district here, but some homes are located deep in residential enclaves)
Proximity to work at Emory or CDC
Affordable taxes (Druid hills is in unincorporated DeKalb County)
A 20-minute commute to Midtown and the interstates
A home with loads of well-kept character and historic charm
A diverse, intelligent community
Family-ready safe streets
The majority of Druid Hills lies just to the north of the Ponce Corridor, about two miles to the northwest of downtown Decatur. It one community to the east of the trendy enclave of Virginia-Highland.
Shopping for a home in Druid Hills will require a flexibility of budget. While there are some newer offerings geared toward graduate students and single Emory or CDC employees (usually fairly central and in the form of sleek, modern condos), many of the actual homes can run from $700K to $2 million (a “starter” ranch-style home is still going to run about $500K).
For the patient and in-shape, it’s actually pretty easy to get from Druid Hills to the trendy, close-in neighborhood of Old Fourth Ward—using nothing but public greenspace. Starting with the Frederick Law Olmstead-designed Dellwood Park, go west along Ponce, cut through Candler Park, and keep running west through Freedom Park until you’ve arrived.
Fans of golfing are in luck: the Druid Hills Golf Club is one of the most exclusive courses in the area and occupies a lovely stretch of land in the southern portion of Druid Hills. But take note: membership is by invitation only, so starting making some friends if you want in.
Aside from Emory, there are some really good K-12 options located closeby, too, many of which are affiliated with the watertight DeKalb County Public Schools. Here’s a list:
Dekalb County Public Schools
Fernbank Elementary (public)
Druid Hills Middle School (public)
Druid Hills High School (public)
The Paideia School (private) Emory University
New to Atlanta?
Whether you’ve already slated your move to Atlanta, or are just considering this city as your new home, you’re likely going to be doing a lot of research. Every city has nuances, history, quirks, and jargon that can be confusing for newcomers, and Atlanta is no different. We’ve taken the liberty of providing a few basics with our Atlanta Beginner’s Guide. Check it out, and you’ll be feeling like a local in no time.
There are a couple of major surface streets that run through and around Druid Hills. Briarcliff Road, Clifton Road, and North Decatur Road are the three largest thoroughfares through the neighborhood, and while they offer convenient access to the major employment and lifestyle centers, they are notoriously congested during peak traffic times.
Getting to an interstate isn’t hard exactly, but it’s not the most convenient option. Druid Hills is located equal distances from I-85, the Connector, I-20, and I-285. Depending on traffic, each is a 10 to 20-minute commute.
East Lake station might be the best options for most druid HIll residents--it’s located on the south end of the neighborhood and runs east to west. However, depending on where you are, it might be easier to rely on the Decatur station. Bonus points: Emory and the surrounding neighborhoods actually have a great public transportation in the form of Cliff Shuttles, which provide a valuable alternative to the often unreliable MARTA bus line. Of course, there's also Uber.
This stretch of North Decatur Road and Oxford Road contains a pretty substantial number of eateries, from standards like Starbucks and Panera Bread, to some uniquely Atlanta staples that have become classics. You’ll find it packed with students on the weekends.
Located on Emory’s campus, this gallery contains an impressive collection of ancient art in Greek and Roman collections, as well as a capable collection of Egyptian antiquities (like mummies!). 571 South Kilgo Cir. NE, (404) 727-4282, carlos.emory.edu
The Fernbank is a well-appointed science museum that boasts interactive exhibits, live animals, dinosaur replicas, live planetarium exhibitions, and an IMAX screen. Keep an eye open for Martinis and IMAX, a regular event that provides cocktails along with culture. 767 Clifton Rd, (404) 929-6300, fernbankmuseum.org
Sometimes, good things come from unexpected places. Dave’s may look like an off-beat dive (and it totally is), but man, are their sandwiches good, whether you take one to go, or choose to chill out in their classic rock atmosphere for a while. 1540 N. Decatur Rd, (404) 373-6250, davescosmicsubs.com
The classic Jewish New York deli gone upscale, the General Muir has become a favorite lunch spot for Emory and CDC professionals, but certainly attracts people from surrounding communities for quick and delicious counter service. 1540 Avenue Pl No. B230, (678) 927-9131, thegeneralmuir.com
A retro diner feel is blended with old-school Southern ambiance at this super-popular breakfast-all-day brunch spot. Getting a table on the weekends is near impossible without a pretty substantial wait, but the legendary French toast makes it absolutely worthwhile. 1565 N. Decatur Rd., (404) 377-4407
If you think about it, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, at first, that the CDC would have chosen Atlanta, of all places, to settle (all the way back in 1946, no less). But the CDC wasn’t always the sprawling, all-encompassing public health organization it is today. In the beginning, it was almost exclusively concerned with the goal of eradicating malaria in the United States, and at the time, the disease was endemic in the South. It only took a few years to get rid of malaria, and as the CDC grew, the location stayed the same.