Although Atlanta has a faster beat than some of its smaller neighbors, it still has a Southern pulse. There’s an attraction for every taste in the “Capital of the New South.”
The Jimmy Carter Library and Museum, operated by the National Archives, features displays and interactive exhibits about the man from Georgia who was the 39th President of the United States, from 1977 to 1981. Push a button near the full-size replica of the Oval Office and hear Carter’s voice share his memories.
In 1886 an Atlanta pharmacist concocted a syrup intended to cure headaches. When his assistant accidentally mixed it with carbonated water instead of tap water, Coca-Cola was born. The World of Coca-Cola tracks the evolution of this soft drink through three floors of fascinating displays and exhibits.
The Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site includes a reflecting pool beside the crypt of the Nobel Peace Prize winner. There’s also a gallery of memorabilia in the Center for Nonviolent Social Change and tours of Ebenezer Baptist Church where King, his grandfather, and his father served as pastors.
Located in Grant Park, the Atlanta Cyclorama and Civil War Museum features a 42-foot-high circular painting of the Battle of Atlanta. Viewers sit in the center as the painting and three-dimensional figures revolve and a narrator describes the action.
The Atlanta History Center is home to award- winning exhibits about Atlanta’s history, the Civil War and Southern folk art.
The striking High Museum of Art has extensive collections of 19th and 20th century American art, European decorative arts and African-American art. It is the only major general museum in North America with a curatorial department dedicated specifically to folk and self-taught art.
To many, Savannah is the quintessential southern city, and it’s often rated the most beautiful city in America. The colony James Oglethorpe built around 24 green squares in 1733 is now part of the largest urban historic landmark district in America. Five of Oglethorpe’s original squares are on the 10 blocks of Bull Street from City Hall to the fountain in Forsyth Park.
A great way to see this city is by taking a horse- drawn carriage tour, or you can put on your walking shoes. More than 36 impressive historic sites await tourists. The Isaiah Davenport House, considered one of the country’s finest examples of Federal architecture, showcases top-quality Chippendale and Sheraton furnishings. The Owens-Thomas House, which was built in 1816 by English architect William Jay, is considered one of America’s finest Regency buildings. Visitors today admire its architectural detail that includes a grand central staircase and arched bridge linking the front upstairs hall to the back. Jay also designed the Juliette Gordon Low Girl Scout National Center, which was the childhood home of the founder of the Girl Scouts of America. Mercer House, an Italianate villa, is not open to the public, but tour guides stop at its gates to tell the story of an antique dealer who murdered his companion in 1981. This crime was immortalized by author John Berendt in his bestseller, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, which also was made into a popular movie. Enter the circa 1819 Scarborough House to see ship models of all types, in the Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum.
Let’s Go Shopping!
Chamblee: Since 1972, Chamblee’s Antique Row has grown into a must-stop destination for antique shopping. Its 350 dealers offer 500,000 square feet of inventory. There’s literally something for everyone in Chamblee’s Antique Row, which is just north of Atlanta. This pedestrian-friendly shopping district, which is 20 miles north of Atlanta, is easily accessed by driving I-285 to the Peachtree Industrial Boulevard exit or by taking MARTA, the mass transit system that runs throughout the Atlanta metro area. Stores include Broad Street Antique Mall, Biggar Antiques, Moose Breath Trading Co., Antique Factory, Faded Rose Antiques, Blanton House, Treasure House, The Way We Were and Rust & Dust. Atlanta Antique Gallery is referred to as the antique toy center of the Southeast. Specialized dealers include Eugenia’s Antique Hardware, Townsend Fine Antique Clocks, Atlanta Furniture Restoration, and Crystal Matches Inc.
Marietta: Marietta Square offers a small-town feel in a big city. Just 18 miles north of Atlanta, it’s known for exceptional antique shopping. Stores include DuPre’s Antique Market, Mountain Mercantile, King’s Row Antiques and Queen of Hearts, which also has affiliated antique malls in Alpharetta and Buford.
Georgia’s Antique Trail winds through 18 communities south and east of Atlanta. In Madison, visit Armour’s Building Antiques, Around the Corner Antiques, Attic Treasures, In High Cotton, Madison Markets, Madison Mall & Flea Market and Saffold House. Shops in Rutledge well worth exploring include Barn Raising Antiques, J & K Fleas An’Tiques and Rutledge Antique Walk.