One of my favorite things about traveling to and through Georgia is getting off the interstate for a much more interesting ride down a two-lane highway. You never know what you’re going to find, like a beautiful pecan orchard or a vintage Ford truck just waiting to be photographed. Here are a few of my favorite stops on the backroads of Georgia.
Fort Valley: You aren’t a true Georgia visitor until you’ve eaten some of our produce, especially freshly picked peaches right off the tree. There are roadside stands all over the state with bushels of peaches for sale, but the mecca of peaches is located in Peach County (Yep, we love peaches so much we named a county after them) at Lane Southern Orchards. Right outside of Fort Valley you will find some of the best peaches you’ve ever eaten. You can get baskets full of them, or if peach preserves or homemade peach ice cream is more what you’re craving, they’ve got that, too. If you visit during the week, you can take a peek at the packing plant and watch peaches being inspected and sorted. And if you stop by any other time of the year, you can find other fresh goodies like pecans, tomatoes and strawberries. There’s always a good reason to make a pit stop here!
Juliette: If you’ve ever seen the movie Fried Green Tomatoes, you’re going to want to stop by Juliette. Located just a little bit north of Macon is the little town where the movie was filmed, and the best part is that it is still home to the Whistle Stop Café. A lot of the residents who were in involved with filming are still in Juliette and love to tell stories about it while you wander through the shops in their downtown. Make sure you leave time for lunch at the café, because these really are the best fried green tomatoes you’ll ever eat.
Thomaston: Every family has a restaurant or two that they visit so often it becomes a family tradition. For my family, that restaurant is River Bend. It’s been around for 40 years, and after you visit just once you can see why. Right outside of Thomaston on a hill overlooking the Flint River sits River Bend. They’re only open on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, but you know you’re in for a treat when folks start lining up at the door about an hour before they open. Order a plate of fried catfish or shrimp, and you’ll be stuffed before you know it. Their hush puppies are to die for! It’s always nice to take a little stroll and enjoy the view after supper, too.
Warm Springs: Best known for FDR’s Little White House, Warm Springs is a great stop if you’re traveling through West Georgia on Hwy 41 or Hwy 85. The town is full of antiques, shops and curiosities. There is a motorcycle museum called Art in Motion that is definitely worth the price of admission. You could spend the better part of an afternoon checking out old Indians and Harleys. There are also items from classic movies and animatronic toys on display. If you’re lucky, you’ll visit Warm Springs during one of their festivals like the Spring Fling. If not, make sure you get a snack at Mac’s Barbecue. The pulled pork sandwich is one of my favorites!
Anna Lee Mikell is a Southern girl raised in Georgia and South Carolina. She loves Southern food, photography and SEC football. You can often find her searching for old records at the flea market or sipping sweet iced tea.