For more amazing (seriously) restaurants, shops and more ideas on what to do with kids in Sandy Springs, Georgia, check out PART ONE of my recap of our weekend in this fun-filled city just a few minutes away from Atlanta’s city center!
After a full day of sampling some of Sandy Springs’ best restaurants, playing on what must be the most beautiful playground in Georgia and hiking on a scenic trail bordering the Chattahoochee River, we slept very soundly and woke up on Saturday morning ready for more action.
On this day, the annual Sandy Springs Festival was taking center stage. Organized by Heritage Sandy Springs, it’s a two-day event that draws tens of thousands of Atlanta-area residents and includes a morning 5K/10K run, a pet parade, live entertainment, food trucks, arts and crafts, an activity zone for both children and teens, a ‘Man Cave’ for the guys, and a car show. I could tell you more about our experience, but I think it would be easier to show you instead:
Can you tell we had a blast?
The festival centers around Heritage Green, a lovely four-acre park in the heart of Sandy Springs that’s worth exploring. The park includes shady paved walking paths, an outdoor stage and entertainment lawn, the springs for which the city was named, and a the Williams-Payne House, a historic home built in the 1860s and moved here from Mount Vernon Highway in 1985.
Inside the home, you’ll find a local history museum. It only takes a few minutes to look around and it’s a great way to learn more about this community and its past.
After getting our fill of fun at the festival, we decided to have lunch across the street at a place we’d been hearing a lot about:
Breadwinner Cafe. (220 Sandy Springs Circle NE)
You can often tell if a restaurant is good by the number of people waiting in line to eat there, and by this measure, Breadwinner Cafe was a sure thing. A steady stream of customers kept the folks behind the counter here hopping as they served up soups, salads, sandwiches, and fresh-baked fruit breads.
My husband had the corned beef sandwich on marbled rye with Brunswick stew and penne pasta salad, while my daughter had the popular roast beef sandwich on a caramelized onion egg bun. Both were excellent. I think my grilled chicken pesto panini was the winner, though — It included grilled chicken tossed in pesto sauce, caramelized onions and mozzarella cheese and it was chock full of flavor.
Special mention also goes to my son’s Nutterfluffer sandwich— peanut butter and marshmallow fluff spread on fresh-baked bread. “It tastes like dessert,” he said happily after his first bite. Several hours later while we were resting at our hotel, I noticed he was looking sad and asked him what was wrong. “I may never have a Nutterfluffer again,” he said wistfully, “and it was so good.” Now that’s love.
Lunch revived us enough to do a little shopping before we headed back to our hotel for a swim and a rest. Sandy Springs has two stores in particular that draw customers in from across Atlanta and I was eager to visit both. The first is Kudzu & Company (6450 Roswell Road).
There is truly something for everyone inside this enormous antique and home decorating store. You’ll find a mix of old and new furniture and accessories, as well as stalls from individual dealers selling antiques, vintage items, and arts and crafts.
I will definitely come back to Kudzu & Company when I’m in the Atlanta area — Not only did I find about 100 things I really wanted, but the prices were also very competitive. I don’t like to buy anything unless I feel like I’m getting a good deal on it!
Buying was definitely NOT on our agenda at our next stop, but it was a favorite Sandy Springs experience, nonetheless…
Are you looking for a massive fountain supported by stone panthers? Or a British telephone booth? Perhaps an antique motorboat? Or maybe an entire dismantled and reconstructed 19th century saloon? If so, Red Baron Antiques (8655 Roswell Road) is definitely the place for you!
This place is an absolute wonderland of oversized curiosities from around the world. Known informally as ‘Atlanta’s Prop House,’ it is the first place I’d go to stock my mansion if I became an overnight billionaire, and while you may not purchase anything, your entire family will enjoy taking a look around — It’s very much like visiting a museum, except that you have no idea what you’ll discover until you get there.
Often in this kind of store, the owners don’t seem pleased with customers who are clearly coming to look and not buy. That wasn’t the case at Red Baron. The owner couldn’t have been friendlier or more welcoming, even when we showed up with kids in tow. I probably wouldn’t bring small children here unless you want to get stuck with a $10,000 bill for a broken antique kerfuffleflinger. But if your kids can keep their hands to themselves, rest assured they will be welcomed. My entire family LOVED this place, and for an antique store, that’s saying something!
At this point, we were exhausted, so we headed back to the hotel for a little quiet time (and a little pool time) before dinner at Brooklyn Cafe.
Although I was looking forward to dinner that night, I thought there was no way Brooklyn Cafe (220 Sandy Springs Circle) could possibly top our dinner at Il Giallo Osteria the night before.
I thought wrong.
Don’t be fooled by the unassuming exterior of this restaurant, or its decidedly un-glamorous name. Brooklyn Cafe just might be the best restaurant in Sandy Springs. And I’m clearly not the only one who thinks so — Every time we saw this restaurant, it was filled with people.
While Brooklyn Cafe has the feel of a favorite local hangout, rest assured that the food here transcends what you’d expect from your typical neighborhood eatery. One thing I’ve learned from our travels is to always get recommendations from the waiter on what to order, particularly when that waiter has been with the restaurant for 12 years, like our server, Keith. He enthusiastically recommended the hickory smoked salmon appetizer, telling us it was smoked in-house twice a week, as well as the jumbo lump crab cake (no fillers!) and the filet mignon salad (the filet had been marinated for three days!). We took his advice and ordered all three. We were not disappointed.
The smoked salmon was incredible. It was moist and fall-apart tender and each bite made me feel like I was standing at the fire, watching it smoke. The crab cake was, as promised, just crab meat, pan sauteed to crisp perfection on the outside and tender within. The filet was also very flavorful, tender and perfectly cooked. We finished our meal with white chocolate bread pudding, which was also to die for. This was a meal to end all meals, and while I’m hard pressed to say whether I liked Brooklyn Cafe or Il Giallo better, my husband was adamant that Brooklyn Cafe won out.
It was a perfect meal for our final evening in Sandy Springs, a city with which we were now all officially in love.
Sunday morning, we sadly packed our things and checked out of our hotel — but before we headed to Nashville, we still had a couple of items on our to-do list. We began with a hike at Big Trees Forest Preserve (7645 Roswell Road), a 30-acre nature sanctuary right smack dab in the middle of Sandy Springs.
I was prepared for a nice hike through a small forest. I was not prepared for the amazing beauty of this stunning natural treasure.
You have to wonder how on earth they survived for so long in this urban environment. And while the trees are phenomenal, that’s not all there is to enjoy here.
Much of the trail borders a rocky creek. The kids had a lot of fun splashing around in it and we especially loved a natural rock bridge that trail blazers created to cross the creek at one point. Whether you’re a visitor to the area or an Atlanta native, you really have to make time to come here — It’s an unforgettable and unexpected place to get back to nature.
One thing that’s lacking is a good map for the nature preserve, so the hike took a little longer than anticipated — By the time we left, we were more than ready to eat. I was glad we had made plans to have brunch at Southern Bistro (4920 Roswell Road).
Formerly known as Nancy G’s, Southern Bistro has just gotten a makeover and a new chef, Ron Eyester, who has revamped the menu. The brunch menu looked tasty– I ordered a salmon BLT, my daughter had a bistro burger, my husband opted for biscuits and gravy, and my son chose the White Lily pancakes with blueberry ginger butter.
The results? Everything was delicious. My salmon was cooked medium rare to order and included ‘smashed’ avocado, which was a delicious touch. My daughter’s burger was tender, juicy perfection. My husband loved his biscuits and gravy and my son’s pancakes were the winner of the meal. They were so good, in fact, that I would come to Southern Bistro just for these pancakes and the butter that goes with them. They are that. Good.
By the time we finished eating, it had begun raining in earnest, so we had to scrap plans to visit Morgan Falls Overlook Park, which my friends have raved about. It includes a short hiking trail, swings overlooking the river, a playground and picnic pavilions and the views are said to be incredible. I was also disappointed that we couldn’t fit in the Anne Frank Exhibit, a free retrospective of Anne Frank’s life created by the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam and housed in Sandy Springs right above the Visitor Center. And Susansnaps, a cookie shop featuring gourmet gingersnaps that’s only open on Tuesdays and Thursdays. (We tried to get in anyway, but unfortunately, Susan locks her door when the store is closed.) And Create Your Cupcacke, where you can design your own cupcakes. And the Heritage Sandy Springs Farmers Market, held on Saturday mornings between April and December. And… and…
And I guess we’re going to have to come back to Sandy Springs again. Soon.
Thanks to Visit Sandy Springs for hosting us during our weekend in Sandy Springs. For more dining, shopping and recreational options, check out their website.