American flag at the top of a fountain

Historic Norcross, Georgia: Things to do

Historic Norcross, Georgia

Historic Norcross, Georgia, in relation to Atlanta, is about a 25-minute drive north. This makes it the perfect escape from Atlanta’s bumper to bumper traffic. Instead of crowds, you will find plenty of parks, historic buildings, and free things to do in Norcross. The city releases an event calendar for the entire year, and you can learn about happenings in the links below.  Shopping in historic Norcross is unique because you can browse the Peachtree Street boutiques for one-of-a-kind items. Additionally, if you are interested in places to eat in Norcross, you are in luck because you will find a selection of traditional and culturally influenced restaurants downtown.

Two white horses pull an ornate white carriage
Carriage rides are an excellent way to see Norcross.

Historic Norcross

Are you wondering what to expect when you visit historic Norcross? Plan to slow down. Listen to the rustle of oak leaves as you walk the brick-lined Peachtree Street. Comparatively, downtown Norcross is like a throwback to the fictitious small southern town of Mayberry from the Andy Griffith Shows of the 60s. In Mayberry, everyone greeted one another by name, and that same friendliness filters through Norcross.

Ladies in hats and sandals on Peachtree Street
Ladies mingle on Peachtree Street in Norcross, Georgia.

Events and Free Things to do in Norcross

As mentioned above, the city plans year-round activities. Furthermore, these happenings include the Norcross Summer Concert Series, Jazz in The Alley, holiday events, shows, festivals, and movies. Consequently, you can find plenty of free things to do in Norcross, and you may want to schedule your visit around one of these events. Furthermore, if you love art, you don’t have to look far to find the expressive part of historic Norcross. Sculptures dot the parks, and murals revitalize downtown buildings.

A fox with four paws in the air and a deer
This mural in Skin Alley in historic Norcross, Georgia, is an example of the town’s love for art.

If you prefer a more organized approach, peruse the art galleries, or better yet, sign up for a workshop and discover your creative capabilities. You can learn how to paint with chalk paint at Chalk It Up, or take a class or workshop at Kudzu. Additionally, if you are interested in Kudzu’s exhibitions, you can check them out online.

Chalk it Up shop with an aqua door and outdoor seating
Chalk it Up offers chalk paint classes.

Places to eat in Norcross

For places to eat in Norcross, you can find a selection below that includes Mexican, Cuban, Italian, and American inspired restaurants.  Equally important, the Norcross restaurants that I listed received at least a four-star rating on Google.

45 South Cafe sign on brick wall
One of the Norcross restaurant options, 45 South Cafe, is located on Peachtree Street.

Breakfast, Lunch, Dessert, Dinner on Weekends

45 South Cafe

Three of us were looking for places to eat in Norcross, and we dropped into 45 South Cafe on Peachtree Street for lunch. When we entered the restaurant, the exposed weathered brick caught my eye, and I immediately liked the ambiance it created. Another good sign was that the host greeted us with a smile and sense of humor, and he seated us quickly.

We ordered a Norcross omelet, a breakfast sandwich, and I requested the pulled pork sandwich for my meal. In essence, the sandwich contained homemade barbecue sauce and slow-cooked pork topped with slaw and served on a bun. When I took a bite of the sandwich, I liked that the barbecue sauce and slaw gave the sandwich a zing. Plus, the pork tasted fork tender. On the whole, we were happy with our meals and service, and we agreed that this Norcross restaurant was a winner.

Open for Lunch: Salads, Sandwiches, Soup

Bleu House  

Zapata is one of the familiar places to eat in Norcross.

Authentic Mexican Restaurant

Zapata Tacos and Tequila Bar


Iron Horse Tavern 

Cuban-American Restaurant


Italian Restaurants


Dominick’s of Norcross

Shopping in Historic Norcross

There’s nothing like browsing in old buildings that are repurposed as Norcross boutiques. Peachtree Street serves as the home for shopping in historic Norcross. Whether you are in search of clothing and accessories, or home and garden decor, you will find a selection of shops in historic Norcross. Most noteworthy, not all Norcross shops are located on Peachtree Street, but most of them are within walking distance.

Free Things to do in Norcross

Steps up to the American Flag
Lillian Webb Park is one of the several parks in historic Norcross.

Norcross Parks

The Norcross website boasts nine parks, so you have plenty of options for outdoor activities for your family. The first park that we visited was the Lillian Webb Park. From the top of the steps, we found a commanding view of the park and splash pad. At the same time, from the bottom of the steps, we loved how the American flag soared and waved.

Yellow House with stone chimney
The Norcross Garden Club meets at 33 College Street in historic Norcross.

Historic Norcross Tour

Another one of the free things to do in Norcross is to take a self-guided walking tour of historic Norcross.  Landmark buildings include the Garden Club, the Methodist church, and the Norcross Train Depot. Also, check out Biscuits and Burlap for information on historic homes, Norcross restaurants, and more.

Norcross History for Context

Airline Belle Train

In the late 1800s, the Airline Belle commuter train opened Norcross for business by shuttling travelers between Atlanta and Norcross. As the train chugged toward the town, steam rose like a small tornado, and the whistle sounded. The sounds of the train alerted the Norcross locals, and many of them flocked to greet the passengers. The train station buzzed with activity and people wanted to participate in the comings and goings.

On arrival, visitors grabbed their luggage and exited the Airline Belle. While some travelers were returning home, others checked in to a hotel for a few days of fun and relaxation. The word was out that visitors could find restaurants in Norcross, along with dancing and live entertainment. Similarly, if you think about how Norcross drew vacationers in the past, it doesn’t seem like much has changed.

Gray building with a wooden deck and red umbrella's
In the early 1900s, the Norcross Railroad Depot encouraged tourism.

Norcross Railroad Depot

In the early 1900s, after the construction of the Norcross Railroad Depot, tourism skyrocketed, and businesses boomed. Today, you can still find the Railroad Depot on Peachtree Street. It’s one of the landmarks that you don’t want to miss.

Eastern Continental Divide

The Eastern Continental Divide consists of a raised invisible line that trails through the Appalachian Mountains and passes through Norcross. The job of the Divide is to direct the flow of water from rain and snow into rivers. These rivers empty into larger bodies of water. For example, water that runs from the east of the Divide pours into the Atlantic Ocean, and water that flows on the west side spills into the Gulf of Mexico.

A white house with grey shingled roof
The Rectory in historic Norcross is currently used as a venue for art.

Most importantly, the Eastern Continental Divide influenced the decision for the location of the railroad. Not only did the Divide’s elevation enable the railroad to avoid the wetlands below, but the site made it possible for the builders to limit the number of bridges. In essence, those in power decided that the Divide would influence the route of the railroad.

Peachtree Street

In the early days, the Creek Indians used the Continental Divide as a trail for trading. Since pine trees populated the area around the path, the Indians utilized pitch produced by these trees to repair wood. As a result, the trail was initially called “Pitch Tree Trail.”

Eventually, the Indian trail evolved into a stagecoach route that connected North Carolina to Alabama. Later, the military used it to travel between forts. Today, when you are on Peachtree Street, keep in mind that you are treading on part of that trail.

Glass arch over brown door
The Lionheart Theatre Company and College Street Playhouse occupy a historic church.

Why Historic Norcross, Georgia

In short, like the people who flocked to Norcross in earlier days, you will find that downtown is an excellent place to spend a day or two. Not only will you discover that shopping in historic Norcross is unique, but you may find live music in a couple  Norcross restaurants and bars. Most importantly, check the event calendar for concerts and other free activities.

Above all, don’t forget to take your time and absorb your surroundings. With the right attitude, you may discover that visiting historic Norcross is not only an educational experience, but it’s the perfect place to unwind.

If you get a chance, please leave your comments below.

Would you consider a trip to historic Norcross?  What do you think about the Norcross Summer Concert Series and Jazz in The Alley?  Have you ever attended any Norcross events?

Historic Norcross

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5 thoughts on “Historic Norcross, Georgia: Things to do

  1. I’d love to visit Norcross after reading this article! Day trips from Atlanta can be so rewarding, and I love small Southern towns like this. Norcross has done an amazing job of preserving and repurposing the historic buildings. And it doesn’t hurt a bit, having so many great places to eat!

    1. Hi Cynthia, if you like historic buildings and small southern towns, you would love Norcross. In fact ​it seems like a lovely place to live.

    1. Thank you so much, I enjoyed writing about Norcross. We love the small town flavor and historic buildings. You are lucky to live in such a charming town.

  2. Great informative article. Looks like Beautiful and stunning place. I have added to my travel bucket list. Thanks for sharing such an amazing article.

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