Head east of Buckhead, Atlanta to explore the area of Briarcliff. The leafy neighborhood is a haven for Emory University students and staff looking for proximity to the campus while still a short jaunt to the rest of the city. A mix of urban high rises, small apartment complexes and historic homes draws locals looking for a quieter way of life in the city.
Where is Briarcliff?
Depending on who you ask around Atlanta, they might give you a slightly different answer about where Briarcliff lies. The area is also known as North Druid Hills and is an unincorporated community in Dekalb County. Others may tell you it’s the area encompassing Druid Hills, Briarcliff Woods and Briarcliff Heights. Realtors generally consider all four neighborhoods part of Briarcliff.
The area of Briarcliff is located just east of the Lindbergh-Morosgo neighborhood and west of Sagamore Hills. You’ll find Brookhaven to your north and Emory University to the south.
It’s no mistake that Briarcliff is reminiscent of an idyllic suburb that brushes up against the city. Atlanta businessman Joel Hurt envisioned the area as a residential suburb for city dwellers looking for an urban reprieve. The idea evolved into tree-lined streets and some of the city’s oldest mansions in the city. The majestic Emory’s Briarcliff Mansion was once the home of Coca-Cola heir Asa Candler before the University eventually purchased it.
Head to the area south of Briarcliff, known as Druid Hills, where you’ll find the influence of Frederick Law Olmsted. He was also the landscape architect of Central Park, the grounds around the U.S. Capitol and the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina.
Briarcliff feels like an oasis of green space with a peppering of mix-use buildings, a University campus, healthcare epicenters and small businesses. You can live in apartments above shopping and dining in areas like Emory Point or in a tucked away apartment building a few blocks away from major roads and retail. Locals can grab a drink, fantastic food, play a round of golf and go for a bike ride but avoid all the hallmarks of nightlife if that’s not your thing.
What to Do
You’ll find your share of strip malls in Briarcliff to get all your day-to-day errands and grocery shopping done. Although most of Briarcliff requires a car, you can walk around Emory Village for a quaint afternoon browsing shops, boutiques and eateries you would expect to find in any college town. You’re also just a stone’s throw from the university campus and can find everything from boozy brunch to bookstores.
For a more upscale shopping experience, try the Points for shopping and dining. The adjacent Emory Point offers upscale living with modern amenities and sparkling views. It’s also just a short walk or drives for locals who work at the CDC.
Locals may tell you the Druid Hills Golf Club and Fernbank Museum are a different neighborhood, but the area is considered part of the greater Briarcliff area. Fernbank’s mix of dinosaur displays, natural history, playrooms and an expansive outdoor trail system makes it a favorite pastime for a lazy afternoon. The museum also offers an on-site IMAX movie theater with weekly Martinis & IMAX Friday nights.
Spend the day soaking up the sunshine and nature at the 154-acre Lullwater Park. The area features a 1920s old mill, 210-ft suspension bridge, trails and a waterfall. The park is also home to the Lullwater House, built for a son of Coca-Cola’s founder. The Tudor-style mansion is now the private residence of the Emory University president.
Where to Eat & Drink
You’ll find all the usual fast-food staples like Chick-Fil-A around Briarcliff, as well as newer chains like Zoë’s Kitchen. Over at the nearby Toco Hills shopping area, you’ll find strip-malls with surprisingly good options for Mediterranean and Malaysian cuisines.
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Locals dine at Deta for Ethiopian Cuisine and Boba Theory for bubble tea and snacks. Boru Boru is the place for innovative sushi burrito and ramen bowls. Rise-n-Dine packs in the crowds for weekend brunch and Double Zero for pasta, pizza, beer and wine.
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Make plans to meet up with friends for dinner and drinks at General Muir at The Point. On warm summer weekends, keep an eye out for movies on the adjacent lawn for evening entertainment.
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Moving to Briarcliff
Real Estate Snapshot
Renters pay an average of $1,297 on apartments for rent in Briarcliff, below the average $1,504 rent around nearby Atlanta. Emory Point attracts renters to upscale living, luxury amenities and proximity to The Point shopping and dining. It’s also possible to find older apartments and condos for rent around Emory’s campus and on the outskirts of the action at a cheaper price point.
Development has been booming over the last few decades in the Briarcliff area. Developers are also looking to replace the old shopping center called Briarcliff Station. The plans include a high-rise apartment building with hundreds of units, hotel, retail, office and restaurant space.
The area of Briarcliff is not celebrated for its public transportation access. However, if you work at the CDC, Emory or nearby businesses, it’s possible you can get by without a car and rely on rideshares to get out of the neighborhood. Or you could hop on a MARTA bus and to the Lindbergh station and transfer to a train. Expect the bus and train options to require a lot of time and patience to transfer and everywhere you need to go around Atlanta. Your best bet is a car or robust transportation budget for Uber and Lyft.
Schools & Employment
Public, charter and private schools are available for families living in North Druid Hills, Briarcliff Woods and Briarcliff Heights. Locals typically send their kids to Briarcliff Briar Vista Elementary School, Druid Hills Middle School, Druid Hills High School or the private Cliff Valley School.
The cornerstone of education in Briarcliff is Emory University that dates back to 1836. The historic institution sits on 631 acres and earned a reputation as among the top 25 in the country. Highly regarded undergrad and graduate programs are available among its nine schools and colleges. The rest of Atlanta’s higher education campuses aren’t too far from the Briarcliff area.
Plenty of locals settle in Briarcliff for its family-friendly, low-key vibe and higher learning opportunities. However, you can live, work and play without ever leaving the area. Briarcliff neighborhoods are home to the CDC, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Emory University and Emory University Hospital. The neighborhoods also offer hotels and hospitality, including the Emory Conference Center Hotel.
Ready to pack up and move to the Briarcliff area? Enjoy living in one of Atlanta’s first suburbs, an urban area with plenty of leafy hallmarks.