The young city of Sandy Springs didn't incorporate until 2005, but its story begins long before that. Located about 15 miles north of Downtown Atlanta, Sandy Springs provides an ideal location near several popular attractions. The neighborhoods in Sandy Springs are beautiful, filled with mature trees and elegant homes. This was once a resort area -- a sleepy village located along the Chattahoochee River. It was the perfect weekend getaway for Atlanta residents, and many built large vacation homes along the river.
Sandy Springs contains spectacular riverside parks, several golf courses, a thriving business district, and a much-loved tennis center. If you want to rent an apartment in Sandy Springs, be aware that this is considered an upscale area and rent prices are higher than the state average. And because it is such a desirable location, Sandy Springs is the second-largest city in metro Atlanta with about 100,000 residents.
Restaurants & Nightlife
Atlanta's oldest and most popular comedy clubs got its start in Sandy Springs: The Punchline. Opened in 1982, The Punchline has hosted more than 3,000 comedians, including Eddie Murphy, Chris Tucker, Richard Prior, Tim Allen, Dave Chappelle, Jerry Seinfeld, and Jeff Foxworthy. In 2015, The Punchline relocated to nearby Buckhead -- inside the legendary Landmark Diner.
The renowned Cafe 290 is located off Hilderbrand Drive. As the coolest place to be for more than 25 years, this jazz club features national and international jazz performers. It was one of just three jazz locations chosen to unveil the USPS's Jazz Legends postage stamp.
With its proximity to Downtown Atlanta, great shopping and amazing restaurants are a short drive or train ride away. When you want to dine locally, Sandy Springs offers a variety of choices. Find your inner Zen at the World Peace Cafe, where vegetarian dishes prepared with locally-grown, organic produce are on the menu.
Ask any Sandy Springs resident where to find a great pizza and they'll send you to Mambo Italiano. Perhaps it's the homemade marinara sauce cooked over a hardwood fire or the tempting tiramisu for dessert, but this is a local favorite. If you want your pizza served with a gourmet boutique beer, 5 Seasons Brewing has their own beer vats. They also serve a variety of dishes to accompany your beer, from New York style pizza to Malpeque oysters.
History & Culture
You may be wondering -- why is it called Sandy Springs? It wasn't always -- the name was once Hammond, but the name was changed to honor a special historic site. The "sandy springs" are the bubbling springs that once served as a watering stop for Native Americans. The springs were an important source of fresh water, both for the Native Americans and for buffalo. Around 400 AD, the Native Americans had established three trails to the springs: Hightower, Itawa, and Shallowford.
When gold was discovered in the early 19th century, a small settlement formed. In 1821, the US government began giving away plots of land in lotteries to encourage the "western" movement. The first home built in the area -- the 1842 Austin-Johnson House -- is located on Johnson Ferry Road.
The Sandy Springs Historic Site & Museum is the home of the original springs. In addition to the protected springs and the house museum (the 1869 Williams-Payne House), the Heritage Green park includes gardens, a gazebo, and the Sandy Springs Society Entertainment Lawn. The Entertainment Lawn hosts a variety of events and festivals, including the popular Rhythm & Brews. This festival features local bands and local beers. The Heritage Sandy Springs Farmers Market, held April-November, is also located in the park.
Sandy Springs remained a large, rural, sleepy community until around 1950. The growing city of Atlanta decided Sandy Springs would make a nice addition to its sprawling metropolis and tried to annex the community. The community rallied against the attempt and blocked the proposal. Then, in the 1960s, Georgia 400 and I-285 were constructed, linking Sandy Springs to Atlanta. This resulted in a housing boom and major development of the area. Atlanta tried again to annex the community, but again the attempt was defeated.
In the early 1970s, it started to get contentious. Atlanta tried to use a state law to force annexation. The Supreme Court of Georgia ruled the law unconstitutional, and Sandy Springs formed a committee to explore the idea of incorporation to stop future attempts at annexation. Starting in 1975, Sandy Springs representatives would introduce a bill every legislative session to authorize a referendum on incorporation. Every session, legislators from Atlanta and Fulton County blocked the bills. The laws surrounding incorporation changed in the early 2000s, and the referendum was approved. Sandy Springs residents, finally able to have their say in the matter, voted 94 percent in favor of incorporation. Eva Galambos, considered the "founder" of Sandy Springs because of her role in fighting for incorporation, was elected mayor of the new city.
While there's no denying that Heritage Sandy Springs (and the city's namesake springs) is the heart of this city, it isn't the only attraction you'll want to visit. After touring the museum and visiting the springs, grab your racquet and head to the Sandy Springs Tennis Center. This center offers 24 lighted courts and was named one of the finest public tennis facilities in the US by Tennis Magazine. The center hosts USTA-sanctioned tournaments as well as instructional programs for all ability levels and age groups.
The Anne Frank Exhibit features more than 500 photographs, a short film, artwork and more. The exhibit is free and open to the public for self-guided tours. Docent-led tours are available for large groups.
Sandy Springs hosts a variety of festivals and events. The largest, the Sandy Springs Festival, is attended by more than 30,000 people. This festival includes a juried Artist's Market, live music, a business expo, separate children and teen areas, the annual Kiwanis Pet Parade, food vendors, and a 10K/5K race.
Join the fun (and bring your kayak) at the Chattahoochee River Summer Splash This annual event starts at Morgan Falls Dam and ends at the Cochran Shoals-Powers Island National Recreation Area. If you don't have a kayak or a canoe, bring a raft and float the six miles. After the rafting/kayaking event, there's live music and food at Powers Island.
Other festivals in Sandy Springs include Taste of Sandy Springs, the Green Tour Bicycle Ride, the Sandy Springs Festival, and Concerts by the Springs.
With a massive (and growing) business center, living and working in Sandy Springs is ideal. For those commuting into the city, Georgia 400 leads directly into Downtown Atlanta. Other highways include I-285 and I-75, which passes just west of Sandy Springs. Mass transit is a terrific option, with several buses and MARTA train stations available. A combination of bus/train ride into the city will take about an hour; highway options (depending on traffic and where in Atlanta you'll be heading) could take 30-45 minutes.
The aptly-named North Springs neighborhood is in the northern section of Sandy Springs. This area north of Abernathy Road is the location of the North Springs MARTA Station -- the terminus of the North-South line. (If you want to commute by train, renting an apartment in North Springs is ideal.)
Sandy Springs is a wealthy community, defined by elegant mansions on manicured lawns. The city has a median income higher than the Atlanta average ($59,000 compared to $48,000), and apartments in Sandy Springs are snapped up quickly -- even with the typical rent hovering around $1,000. The median home price in Sandy Springs is around $431,000 (compared to the state overage of $142,000).
If you decide to live and work in Sandy Springs, the list of Fortune 500 companies and other major employers headquartered here is impressive: IBM, Cox Communications, Northside Hospital, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, Oracle, St. Joseph's Hospital, UPS, Newell Rubbermaid, and Cisco Systems, Inc. are just a few.
Located around the Perimeter Mall, Perimeter Center is a large neighborhood and the commercial core of the city. Many of the area businesses are located in the office towers that populate the neighborhood. It is also the location of the medical district, which includes Northside Hospital, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, and St. Joseph's Hospital.
For those moving to Sandy Springs with children, the city is part of the Fulton County School District. It offers seven public elementary schools, two middle schools, and two high schools. There are 41 private schools available in Sandy Springs, as well. The school system is top-rated, ranking ninth in the state for SAT scores and North Springs High School has received the Georgia School of Excellence and was named a Top 500 school by Newsweek Magazine.
The most popular -- and the busiest -- shopping destination in Sandy Springs is the Perimeter Mall. The anchor stores are Dillard's, Von Maur, and Macy's. Some of the specialty stores include Steve Madden, Z Gallerie, Brooks Brothers, and BCBG. A variety of strip malls surround Perimeter Mall with stores like Marshall's, Old Navy, and Nordstrom Rack. While Sandy Springs doesn't have a "downtown" in the traditional sense, Johnson Ferry Road is lined with shopping plazas, banks, restaurants, and other businesses.
With its 20 miles of shoreline along the Chattahoochee River, renting an apartment in Sandy Springs provides plenty of outdoor activities, from tubing down the river to kayaking, canoeing, and hiking. The Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area is ideal for hiking, wildlife viewing, and cycling. The park contains 7.11 miles of trails for walking, jogging, and bicycling. With its year-round cool temperatures, the Chattahoochee is also great for fishing.
The Abernathy Greenway Park is as artistic as it is fun. Brick-paved walkways curve along manicured green space and tall trees, leading past what at first appear to be large sculptures: a yellow spider, a mysterious rock formation, giant red bats … but these are actually play structures. Kids love the swings, the mythical pirate ship with slides, and the climbing structures.
Hammond Park provides a multipurpose building with a game room and a gym. It also features lighted tennis courts, basketball courts, a playground, and picnic areas. Morgan Falls Overlook Park is located along the Morgan Falls Reservoir and includes a shaded play area, swings with a view of the water, picnic areas, a dog park, hiking trails, fishing areas, a boat ramp, and terrific views.