Merry in Alpharetta

Awesome experiences await downtown and all around

By Janet Rodgers, president and CEO of the Alpharetta Convention and Visitors Bureau

What better way to spend a winter weekend than wining, dining and shopping? With over 175 dining options and more than 250 stores, you will quickly see why epicureans and shopaholics are putting Alpharetta, Ga., at the top of their “must-visit” list.

Start your excursion at the resort-style Avalon community to experience over 50 fine-retail boutiques, luxury brands, chef-driven dining and lavish entertainment. From the zesty matador margaritas at Ford Fry’s newest restaurant, The El Felix, to the famous wood-fired pizza at Antico Pizza Napoletana, Avalon has more than 15 eateries to please your palate. Style your own necklace at Kendra Scott, pick up a one-of-a kind outfit from Johnny Was, grab a glass of vino from CRU Food & Wine’s rooftop bar, and walk the boulevard under the bistro lights to The Plaza lawn for local entertainment.

Discover more than 25 unique boutiques along six streets in Historic Downtown Alpharetta. Main Street, Canton Street, Roswell Street and Milton Avenue are also home to over 20 restaurants and eateries. Start the morning off right with fresh-baked pastries and coffee at 2B Whole gluten-free bakery. Enjoy house-brewed beer and a mouth-watering burger on the heated patio at Hop Alley Brew Pub. Try a unique twist on classic southern ingredients like brussel sprouts with feta and bacon at South Main Kitchen. Signature beef burnt ends are all the rage at Smokejack BBQ, and fish tacos will tantalize your taste buds at PURE Taqueria.

Head north on Main for more delicious dishes and upscale resale stores. After browsing for bargains at Queen of Hearts and Couture Consigner, it’s time for genuine Mediterranean hummus, döner and falafel at Café Efendi. If authentic Italian flavor is on your mind, visit Campania to witness 120 years of pizza-baking wisdom concluding in roughly 60 seconds at over 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

Wander North Point Mall, home to more than 100 major retailers, including the only American Girl Boutique and Bistro in Georgia, an innovative LEGO store, Von Maur and designers like Michael Kors and Lucky Brand. Nordstrom Rack, REI, Honey & Hazel Boutique and more surround the mall on North Point Parkway. Don’t miss Atlantic Seafood Company’s modern, intuitive approach to the rich tradition of ocean-to-table seafood – try the Soy-Honey Glazed Chilean Sea Bass or the Surf N Turf Roll with seared steak and wasabi cream. Sizzling USDA Prime steaks and scrumptious sides at Ruth’s Chris Steak House are always a crowd-pleaser. Spice Brick Oven Kitchen has a selection of tapas and small plates – the fried goat cheese with pure clover honey and cracked black pepper is the perfect combination of creamy, savory and sweet.

Explore Windward Parkway where spas, boutiques and international cuisine line the street. Shop at Dress Up Boutique for fashion at chic prices. Partake in a mixture of art and food at Vinny’s on Windward – the walls of the restaurant are covered with local artwork that diners can purchase! Vinny’s utilizes the freshest ingredients to create satisfying food that just simply tastes good. After dinner, venture to Jekyll Brewing. Established in August 2013 through a Kickstarter campaign, Jekyll offers tastings and behind-the-scene tours of its craft-beer production line to see firsthand why everyone is returning for a refill of their sudsy sips.

With so much to experience, why not stay the whole weekend? Alpharetta’s 23 hotels are modern and affordable with most offering suite accommodations, complimentary breakfasts and internet access. Visit our website for a full list of hotel packages and rates (