5 Reasons to love Kennesaw

The college town about 20 miles northwest of Atlanta is pushing back against assumptions that it’s just another cookie-cutter suburb

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5 Reasons to love Kennesaw
Smith-Gilbert Gardens has 3,000 species of plants, including bonsai.

Photograph courtesy of Chris Nowak

The street name “Big Shanty Drive,” which runs through the heart of Kennesaw, calls back to the city’s early days as a bustling shantytown for the Western and Atlantic Railroad, built by workers who flocked to the area for its abundance of water and ideal camping ground.

Since its establishment, Kennesaw has rebounded from being laid to ruins during the Civil War, from a boll weevil infestation that decimated the cotton industry beginning in the 1920s, and even from an infamous train heist, which inspired the 1956 Walt Disney action film The Great Locomotive Chase. Today, this college town about 20 miles northwest of Atlanta is pushing back against assumptions that it’s just another cookie-cutter suburb. In fact, it’s still living up to its fabled past as a city of revival.

Kennesaw offers a variety of indoor and outdoor activities fit for all ages. And with close proximity to Atlanta, venturing into the perimeter for a night on the town is a breeze. One major attraction is Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park, a Civil War battleground, where sight-seers wander through its vast fields or trek up the mountain’s summit.

Kennesaw is evolving, but its whistle-stop charm remains intact through the historical downtown district, where residents enjoy fresh produce from the seasonal farmer’s market and dine at the many boutique restaurants.

What’s to love?

5 Reasons to love Kennesaw
Kennesaw State University

Photograph courtesy of Kennesaw State University

Kennesaw State University
Kennesaw State University boasts a population of almost 45,000 students, making it the second largest university in Georgia. Its expansion over the past decade ushered in a wave of new student-housing developments, small businesses, and eateries to satisfy the increasingly diverse appetites of local college students—including the first Whataburger restaurant to grace the state.

Swift-Cantrell Park
With 42 acres of open turf, Swift-Cantrell Park is the city’s largest community park.It has a lengthy list of amenities, including two playgrounds, a wellness station with a body-weight gym, a seasonal splash pad, a dog park, and a skatepark.

5 Reasons to love Kennesaw
Cylantros Venezuelan Cuisine

Photograph courtesy of Cylantros Venezuelan Cuisine

Cylantros Venezuelan Cuisine
This family-owned restaurant was founded in 2015, serving up savory Venezuelan fare that keeps locals coming back for seconds. At first, it may seem odd to eat at a place tucked alongside a Shell gas station, says owner Danny Alvarez. But what brings people back is the good price, great customer service and the signature cilantro sauce: “Customers go crazy for it,” Alvarez says.

5 Reasons to love Kennesaw
Frozen Cow Creamery

Photograph courtesy of Frozen Cow Creamery

Frozen Cow Creamery
Locals looking to cool off on a summer day seek out this charming bungalow, which serves up ice cream with a unique spin. At Frozen Cow Creamery, located in downtown Kennesaw, patrons come to customize their frozen treats with a healthy dose of toppings and flavors. But they stay to watch these scoop artisans whip through smoky dry ice to make fresh ice cream on the spot.

Smith-Gilbert Gardens
Home to over 3,000 species of plants, this botanical garden blends together art and education with the outdoors, offering year-round programs such as yoga in the garden, guided nature walks, and planting workshops.

This article appears in our May 2024 issue.

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