We’ve visited many of the lovely cities of the south over the years, from Charleston to New Orleans, Williamsburg to Memphis. But for some reason we have spent almost no time at all in the state of Georgia. So on our return to the USA this time, we decided to start in Georgia. I’m so glad we did. Five fabulous days in Atlanta and four fabulous days in Savannah. Both cities are full of amazing history, great food, friendly people, and lots to see and do. Georgia on My Mind – Southern Charm and So Much More. Here are our recommendations.
One of the only major American cities we had never visited, we arrived wanting to see as much as possible in this historic place.
Martin Luther King and Civil Rights
MLK National Historic Park is Atlanta’s top tourist attraction and it’s free! We visited this moving and inspiring site on two different days. The first day we visited Ebenezer Church where King preached as did his father. We also visited the beautiful memorial area where both Martin and his wife Coretta’s tombs are.
On the second day we walked back to the site along Auburn Street because we wanted to take in all the historic markers. The markers are really well done and informative as you walk through the formerly segregated neighborhood of Sweet Auburn.
After the walk we visited the MLK museum which was so good, and actually made me cry. We walked by the home where he was born and lived until he was twelve. We did not tour the home, you need to reserve that in advance.
There are many options for a bus tour, which for us was a good way to get a feel for the lay of the city on our first day. Our tour took us to the Ebenezer Church, through multiple interesting and beautiful neighborhoods, to Beltway Park and to the Ponce City Market. We had lunch at Ponce, which is a really cool food court and gathering place inside the former historic location of the Sears and Roebuck Company.
Very close to our hotel, The Hyatt Place, is Centennial Park. Centennial Park is home to the giant Ferris Wheel, The Georgia Aquarium, the World of Coca Cola and the National Center for Civil and Human Rights. Centennial Park is also part of the Olympic Grounds from 1996 and the location where the bombing took place. We highly recommend the the National Center for Civil and Human Rights which takes the MLK story farther and covers civil and human rights around the world. Don’t miss it. On the other hand we felt the World of Coca Cola was not worth the $25 entrance fee. Parts of it were interesting, but, meh.
Atlanta Botanical Gardens
Of course I loved this because as you know I love to visit botanical gardens around the world. The Atlanta Botanical Gardens are pretty compact, have a lot of natural areas as well as manicured gardens and include a children’s garden and a vegetable garden. Currently it is also home to a temporary exhibit of Thomas Dambo troll sculptures which we absolutely love his work.
We are on a quest to visit MLB Ballparks around the USA, so we made time to take in an Atlanta Braves game at the beautiful Truist Park. Truist Park is surrounded by The Battery, an area of restaurants, shops, bars and condos. We enjoyed dinner before the game.
The Carter Center
Another quest in our USA travels is to visit as many Presidential Libraries as possible. The really amazing Carter Center, home to the Jimmy Carter Library, was our 8th Presidential Library. I learned a lot about the work the Carter Center does around the world as well as great history about our 39th President.
Well, Atlanta is all about the Southern Comfort food – not always the healthiest, but definitely delicious. Our best meal was at Virgil’s Gullah Kitchen. You must eat here when in Atlanta. We had one fine dining meal at Lure, really delicious seafood and local southern service. On one of our long walk days we stopped in for Chicken and Waffles at the Atlanta Breakfast Club. We also enjoyed BBQ at Fox Brothers BBQ. Very greasy but an Atlanta institution (since 1928) is the Varsity Drive In…the largest drive-in in the world.
And Also Don’t Miss
We visited two amazing hotels that we learned about from our Bus Tour Guide; The Marriott Marquis has the most astonishing lobby…definitely worth stopping in to see. We also took the elevator to the 73rd floor observation deck of The Westin Peach Tree Plaza. What a view!
Not sure why we had never made it to Savannah before, but I knew it was a beautiful and very walkable city.
Our friends from Charleston drove over to spend a couple days with us in Savannah. We started our visit with a self guided walking tour. Using GPSmyCity we walked all over the beautiful historic area learning about historic sites, mansions, people and parks. Savannah is home to 22 parks or “squares”, as well as hundreds of monuments, statues and historic markers. The architecture of the city is wonderful and almost like walking through a movie set (which it has been many times, notably for Forrest Gump). I loved it.
Owens Thomas Mansion and Slave Quarters
Well worth seeing is the Owens Thomas House and Slave Quarters. Built in 1819, the tours look at the life of the enslaved during this 1800’s. Their website says;
Our tours focus on the art, architecture, and history of the home through the lens of slavery. Visitors will experience an inclusive interpretation of not only the wealthy families that inhabited this home for a span of over 100 years, but of also the enslaved people who lived and labored here.
The Telfair Museums run the Owens Thomas House (above) and also run two other museums that we visited. The Telfair Academy houses houses nineteenth- and twentieth-century American and European art in an neoclassical historic home built in 1819.
The Jepson Center is a modern architectural building and home to a collection of modern art and changing exhibits.
Wormsloe State Historic Site
About a 15 minute drive from downtown Savannah is the Wormsloe State Historic Site;
“The stunning live oak lined avenue beckons visitors to Wormsloe State Historic Site, whose abundant cultural and natural resources have been, and continue to be, shaped by the influences of the many inhabitants of the Isle of Hope through the centuries including those of Native American, African, and European descent.“
We enjoyed several hours in this parking, hiking through the quiet forests, bird watching and enjoying the beautiful weather.
Savannah Riverboat Cruises
On our final day in Savannah we enjoyed a sunny tour aboard the Georgia Queen with Savannah Riverboat Cruises. Thankful for the perfect weather, we sat on the open air top level and enjoyed the narrated one and half hour tour along the Savannah River. I highly recommend this when in Savannah.
Where to Eat
I didn’t realize what a popular destination Savannah is, and so missed the opportunity to get reservations at some of the more well known restaurants. That said we had some outstanding meals (and one mediocre, at Common) during our visit. We enjoyed The Ordinary Pub, located “under” the city and popular for local southern specialties and pub fare. We had a fantastic meal at Fleeting, located in a newly developed river front location a short walk from the historic area. And our final meal was at The Pirates House, operating as an inn since 1753 and serving up low country fare and great service.
Since I had to have some Pecan Pie before we left Savannah we also visited the Pie Society. Don’t miss it. Leopold’s Ice Cream is really popular…but I was unwilling to stand in an hour long line for ice cream…but it must be good because lots of people do every day.
Georgia On My Mind – Southern Charm and So Much More
We loved our time in this beautiful state and highly recommend a visit to Georgia. You will find friendly people, excellent food, astonishing history and gorgeous scenery, Georgia On My Mind – Southern Charm and So Much More.
Thanks for reading this week’s post Georgia On My Mind – Southern Charm and So Much More. See last week’s post Rhapsody of the Seas Southern Caribbean.
See this week’ top performing post Living in the Sky – La Paz Bolivia here
Want to see some of our other posts about Southern Charm? Nashville For First Timers and Charleston South Carolina – Southern Charm and Hospitality
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