For the Culture Lover
The art and culture scene in Gwinnett is flourishing, with each of our cities bringing a unique touch to our artistic story. From galleries to theatres to yoga/art hybrids, we’ve curated some of our finest cultural offerings below. Steep yourself in beauty, history and community in Gwinnett County.
1. Aurora Theatre, Lawrenceville
Travel sites and locals alike consistently rate this award-winning theater as the number one thing to do in Lawrenceville, so you best make time to grab some entertainment here. Located in the historic downtown square, doing dinner and a show feels like a step back in time. This is Gwinnett’s only professional theater, and easily ranks up there with downtown Atlanta theater groups. You can find new and classic shows year-round. As of late, Mary Poppins, Memphis, and Les Misérables have each had a run at the Aurora. The Christmas Canteen is a tradition worth returning for. If you think you will be a returning patron (and you will) look into their season subscription for some major savings.
2. Music on Main Street Concert – Lilburn
Every Saturday evening, you can find the Lilburn community gathered around Main Street for some live outdoor music. The performers are curated by Lilburn local and Music on Main owner, Scott Mecredy. You might also know Mecredy for his famous catchphrase, “Lilburn is Hip”. By day, Music on Main is a music school, instrument store, and repair shop, so they know a thing or two about the craft and choosing talent. So pack up your cooler and picnic basket and head out to the sweet 1895 house to watch some serious talent and see some community gathering that rivals Andy Griffith. All ages are welcome and tickets are typically $15.
3. 45 South Wine Tasting – Norcross
This coffeehouse, café, and wine bar is arguably the best gathering place in downtown Norcross – in fact, it says “coffee creating community” on their storefront. This spot has all kinds of cultural offerings, from photo gallery exhibits to live music to wine tastings. Ah, wine tastings. These happen on the first Wednesday of the first full week of each month and typically sell out, so make a reservation. The wines are sourced from local family-owned vineyards. Local, small businesses supporting local, small businesses? Does it get better? Name drop alert: Rumor has it The Indigo Girls used to play here. We also have to brag on the house-made banana bread. Absolutely delicious.
4. Chateau Elan Cooking Class – Braselton
Who couldn’t use a little help in the kitchen? For beginners and experienced cooks alike, everyone will enjoy the cooking classes at Chateau Elan. The Culinary Studio Kitchen here is open to the public as well, so no need to stay at the hotel to participate. This is a legit experience, so price is $125 and you must be 21+ to participate. The class includes wine (hence 21+), a full serving of each dish, recipe book, gift, and a chef’s hat! They are always mixing up the menu offerings as well, so you will want to return again and again for new recipes and tricks of the trade. If you want to learn more about the wines, they offer daily wine tours and tastings at the winery on site as well.
5. LONA Gallery – Lawrenceville
This lovely art gallery is a quaint spot to find original art and handmade gifts. Located in Gwinnett’s cultural mecca of Lawrenceville, LONA Gallery is the perfect pairing with some of our other recommendations (see below and/or our For the Foodie itinerary). Huge supporters of their community, the staff will gladly recommend their own picks for local events and area attractions. LONA specializes in sculpture, glass, and wall art with an offering of unique gifts like jewelry and candles. They also give workshops for novices and host a variety of community and seasonal events. Perhaps one of the biggest selling points comes from the founders Carolyn and Sylvia who say, “being surrounded by art in all its forms makes us feel alive.” Anyone who feels that strongly is going to curate a wonderful gallery experience and take great care of their customers.
6. Beethoven Chamber Orchestra – Misc Performance Locations
This stop is for our highbrow culture lover. The Beethoven Chamber Orchestra is a youth preparatory orchestra and was formed under the Ludwig Symphony Orchestra (temporarily suspended as they restructure). This training orchestra mixes a variety of classical and non-traditional performances. Get those child prodigies an outlet! In a time when public funding for the arts is being cut in schools, these facilities are more important than ever. Sound therapy is real, y’all. We can all benefit from some classical music. They even partner with Northside Hospital to perform free “Healing Sounds” concerts in the atrium to promote a calm environment for patients and visitors.
7. The Gwinnett Ballet Theatre – Lawrenceville
If you enjoy dance, the Gwinnett Ballet Theatre is the place to experience the ballet in Gwinnett County. Performances this year include Nutcracker and Cinderella, both of which are not to be missed. The Nutcracker is in its’ 34th year, and the performance can definitely hang with other ballet companies in the Atlanta area. This school has an impressive training facility and is on the early resumes of several professional dancers. Gwinnett Ballet Theater is one of only 12 SERBA (Southeast Regional Ballet Association) Honor Companies – the highest honor given to a regional ballet company – and it’s right here in Gwinnett!
8. Gwinnett Environmental and Heritage Center – Buford
This is a unique stop for the culture lover. The Gwinnett Environmental and Heritage Center combines science education and environmental mindfulness with Georgia history and culture. Where else can you attend a Honeybee Festival to learn why this insect is a crucial part of Georgia’s agriculture, then check out a Civil War Photography exhibit? The center hosts guided tours to local historic sites nearby, such as The Yellow River Post Office. They also offer fall home school classes like “A Farmer’s Life” and “Life and Times of Franklin D. Roosevelt,” a pretty neat way to mix things up for the kids. And don’t miss the Discovery Dome Theater – this planetarium takes you to space!
9. Hudgens Center for the Arts – Duluth
This gallery and art facility hosts a wide range of visual works from some pretty A-list names (Andy Warhol, anyone?). An impressive note is that this center has grown from a grassroots effort into a Gwinnett County mainstay, so there are strong community ties to this cultural pillar. The center is also an education facility, and hosts art classes and workshops for adults and kids of all ages. The exhibitions are open Tuesday-Sunday with an affordable adult and member admission price. During your visit, don’t miss the award-winning outdoor space and sculpture garden. The garden has a tranquil fish pond, gorgeous flowers, and has also been designated a wildlife sanctuary, so expect to see some animals in this peaceful environment. For locals looking to give back to their community, there are some pretty cool volunteer opportunities here, like working in the art shop or the garden club.
10. Red Clay Music Foundry – Duluth
A brainchild of Atlanta legend Eddie Owen, the Red Clay Music Foundry is the venue to see live music all week in Gwinnett County. Owen is the “Eddie” of the famous Decatur listening room, Eddie’s Attic, which is credited with discovering some pretty big names like John Mayer and The Civil Wars. Owen hasn’t lost his scouting touch, so you can expect to find some major talent here and be the first to hear undiscovered singer-songwriters. There’s live music three to four nights a week with open mic nights frequently on Sundays. This downtown Duluth spot is a must-see for the cultural music lover. Insider tip: Grab a bite at neighboring spots Epicurean Café or Pure Taqueria before the show.
11. BAPS Swaminarayan Hindu Temple - Lilburn
Perhaps the most beautiful stop for the culture lover, this Hindu temple is the largest temple outside of India. Yes, you read that correctly. Most people do not even know BAPS Swaminarayan exists, and it exists right here in Gwinnett County. This peaceful Mandir (temple) is open to the public and free to enter. You do not need to be Hindu or Indian to enter or to appreciate the craftsmanship of the ornate structure. The building is made of Italian marble, Indian pink sandstone and Turkish Limestone, and it took 1.3 million volunteer hours to build. “Jaw-dropping” “Beautiful,” “Pictures do not do it Justice” are just a few of the reviews you might hear. Insider heads up: This is a place of worship, so you must cover your shoulders and knees to enter, just like in historic temples and churches in Europe and Asia. They provide wraps if you get in a pinch. No cameras are allowed inside and you must turn off cell phones - be in the moment. Whether you want to stare in awe of the beautiful architecture or quietly reflect and meditate, this is a one of a kind stop for Gwinnett.