Georgia’s Unique Museums

From Antebellum Southern tradition to Gullah Geechee culture; from presidential houses to prestigious golf tournaments – Georgia has something to meet everyone’s interest. And Georgia’s museums reflect that diversity. Here are five of Georgia’s most unique museums to explore while seeking out all that is interesting and offbeat:

Road to Tara Museum: In Jonesboro you can discover all you’d ever want to know about Gone With the Wind. Margaret Mitchell’s book was based in no small part off of her grandparents’ tales from a plantation just outside the city. The museum offers a glimpse into the story, combining the real history of the Civil War’s Atlanta Campaign and Battle of Jonesboro with Margaret Mitchell’s fictional tale and Hollywood’s Gone With the Wind. From tribute dolls of every character to Scarlett O’Hara’s underpants, this museum is the perfect stop for any fan of this timeless story of the South.Road to Tara Museum

Georgia Rural Telephone Museum: Housed in a renovated 1920s cotton warehouse in Leslie, this museum houses the world’s largest collection of telephones and telephone memorabilia. Here you’ll find the rarest examples of telecommunication stretching back to 1876, including presidential candidate Jimmy Carter’s two 1970s switchboards used during his campaign, the phone used to announce President McKinely had been shot in 1897 and even a jukebox phone!

Crawford W. Long Museum: Did you know the first use of ether as an anesthetic was by a Georgia surgeon? This Jefferson-located museum commemorates Dr. Long’s role in the development of one of the most important advances in medical procedures. Head to Jackson County to experience how this country doctor-turned-surgeon for the Confederacy became the ‘father of painless surgery.Crawford W. Long Museum

The Panoramic Encyclopedia of Everything Elvis: Why travel to Graceland or spend outrageous amounts of money seeing impersonators in Vegas when you can have everything Elvis here in Georgia!? Located on the third floor of the Loudermouth Boarding House (which is on the National Register of Historic Places) in Cornelia, this experience celebrates Elvis’s successes and well as his flaws. If you love The King, you have to check out Everything Elvis – it is, after all, the only museum to house a body part of his: the Elvis Wart.

Billy Carter Gas Station Museum: While Jimmy Carter was busy running the country, younger brother Billy was busy running a local gas station. The Plains establishment features some of the First Brother’s unique wardrobe choices, as well as many empty cans of the short-lived beer named for him: Billy Beer. The next time you’re visiting the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site, take a quick detour to experience the life of one of the best known presidential siblings.Billy Carter's Service Station Museum

Georgia Coffee Roasters

Why wait in line at Starbucks when there are dozens of incredibly delicious local coffee roasters sprinkled throughout the state? Next time you need that caffeine jolt, head to one of our favorite Georgia roasters:

Batdorf & Bronson Coffee Roasters

Photo courtesy of Batdorf & Bronson Coffee Roasters

Batdorf & Bronson (Atlanta): Though this company originated in Washington, they’ve been roasting coffee from around the world on Atlanta’s Westside for more than 25 years—you may recognize their coffee if you’ve been into their sister coffee bars, Dancing Goats, which has locations around the country, including two in Atlanta. With sustainability top of mind, B&B offers Certified Organic, Fair Trade Certified, Bird-Friendly and Shade Grown coffees, available in more than 25 different blends, including many single origin coffees from hotspots like Costa Rica, Peru and Guatemala.

Swift & Finch Coffee

Photo courtesy of Swift & Finch Coffee

Swift & Finch (Rome): This fun, artsy coffee shop located on Broad Street in downtown Rome has become a popular hangout for locals. With more than 10 different blends, it’s easy to see why. Though their Peruvian beans, like Peru Zacarais Neira (a single farmer microlot coffee with a raisin-like sweetness and notes of cinnamon), are most popular, we recommend one of the complex Ethiopian blends done in the pourover method for the ultimate complex coffee.

1000 Faces Coffee

Photo courtesy of 1000 Faces Coffee

1000 Faces (Athens): Jittery Joe’s has long had a stronghold on the Athens’ coffee scene—they’ve been roasting the top 1 percent of beans from 18 different countries since 1994, after all. But they’ve gotten some friendly competition ever since 1000 Faces opened up in 2006. The eco-friendly roaster offers 10 different blends, including Suke Quto, which comes from a certified organic coffee farm in Ethiopia and was awarded with a 2014 Good Food Award.

Blackbird Coffee

Photo courtesy of Blackbird Coffee

Blackbird Coffee (Milledgeville): If you time it right, you can walk down Main Street and take in the intoxicating aroma wafting from this downtown shop when their coffee is being roasted. Beloved for their unique coffee drinks, like Honey-Nut Soy, Vanilla-Caramel, and Coca Mocha Nut, this café micro-roasts premium coffee on-site, and serves everything within a week to ensure freshness. Coffee selections rotate, but Colombia Excelsio and Guatemala Huehuetango are always crowd pleasers as they’re mild to medium flavor profile is easy to drink. Robust coffee lovers will revel in their Ethiopia and Sumatra blends.

Wanderlust Coffee

Photo courtesy of Wanderlust Coffee

Wanderlust (Atlanta): Iced coffee drinkers rejoice! Atlanta now has their very own ready-to-drink cold brew coffee, Wanderlust. Brewed with beans from local coffee shop Octane Coffee, this incredibly smooth sipper comes in three options: 10-ounce ready-to-drink and 16-ounce cold brew concentrate bottles can be found on shelves and behind counters throughout town (or online), while nitro cold brew coffee is available on draft at Porter Beer Bar.

Grassroots Coffee

Photo courtesy of Grassroots Coffee

Grassroots Coffee (Thomasville and Valdosta): Since 2009, this artisanal roaster has been offering small batch coffee with unparalleled freshness, alongside delicious breakfast and lunch items in their Thomasville café. They opened their second location in Valdosta just last year, bringing their intoxicating blends—there are nearly two dozen to choose from—to the city. Be sure to try one of their single origin offerings, like Bali Kintimani, an Organic Certified, Fair Trade Certified blend with notes of chocolate and strawberry. The Beanery Coffee Roasters is another Valdosta roaster worth checking out—there’s a reason shops and restaurants all over South Georgia and North Florida use their coffee: it’s as delicious as it is sustainable!

KateKate is Georgia’s official Culinary Explorer and a freelance food and travel writer for more than 100 publications. Click here to read more culinary content from Kate

4 Ways for Families to Explore Atlanta

Georgia AquariumHigh-Profile Adventure:

  • Explore the newest exhibit at Zoo Atlanta – The Scaly, Slimy Spectacular Amphibian Experience, housing more than 60 animal species, including rare Cuban crocodiles.
  • Using high-tech RFID chips, each exhibit at the College Football Hall of Fame spotlights your favorite team.
  • The LEGOLAND Discovery Center has more than 15 activities for families to build, play, ride and explore together.

Multigenerational Fun:

  • The Atlanta History Center mixes history and fun through interactive exhibits, living history interpreters, and a grand outdoors to explore.
  • The Center for Civil and Human Rights uses fully immersive exhibits to teach visitors of the American civil rights movement and current human rights issues.
  • Take a behind-the-scenes tour of the fabulous Fox Theatre to learn about its history and a few mysteries of the famous Atlanta landmark.
Atlanta History Center

Swan House at the Atlanta History Center

Travel with Teens or Tweens:

Little City-Explorers:

  • Visit the Georgia Aquarium for a peek at dolphins, whales, colorful fish and more.
  • Watch a performance from the in-house puppeteers at Center for Puppetry Arts, and take a puppet-making class afterward.
  • Grab an adventure pass at Stone Mountain Park to gain access to all 10 of the park’s attractions as well as seasonal events.


Lesli
Lesli is the Georgia’s official Family Explorer and the owner of 365AtlantaFamily, which offers a daily dose of inspiration for metro-area families. Click here for more Family content from Lesli.

Top Five Family Attractions in Blue Ridge

Get to know the best of Blue Ridge, 90 minutes north of Atlanta, with this series of posts featuring top five picks for hiking, waterfall watching and family fun.

Make memories with these unique Blue Ridge attractions, catering to multi-generational fun.

1. Mercier Orchards – A family-owned and -operated primarily apple orchard, the must-see attraction will reward senses with bushels of apples, strawberries and other produce, fresh pressed cider, warm fried pies – but, most importantly, memories. Started back in 1943 by Bill & Adele Mercier, Mercier Orchards is now celebrating more than 70 years of fruitful harvests. Beyond fruit, the onsite store serves up a variety of farm toys, pet items, kitchen paraphernalia, home decor and a meat and cheese shop. Visit the tasting room offering hard ciders and wines, including locally-produced varieties. Gather the family for a u-pick experience and fill baskets with fresh-from-the-tree apples or other seasonal produce.

Blue Ridge Scenic Railway

It’s all about the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway. (Photo Credit: Fannin County Chamber of Commerce)

2. Blue Ridge Scenic Railway – Chugga-chug down the 13-miles of rails comprising the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway. The 45-minute (each way) excursion is a generation-bonding adventure that starts at the historic 1905 depot in Downtown. Vintage climate controlled rail cars or open air rail cars host more than 70,000 passengers each year for a ride that winds alongside the Toccoa River, with a stop in the twin border towns of McCaysville, Georgia, and Copperhill, Tennessee. Copperhill/McCaysville is one town with two names because it is split by the GA/TN state line, where visitors have a two hour layover (one & half layover on Sunday); plenty of time to eat lunch, shop for unique crafts and antiques, snack on ice cream, or walk around.

3. Swan Drive-in – Catch a movie the old-fashioned way at one of Georgia’s four remaining drive-in theaters. Established in 1955, the Swan Drive-in also features a full concession stand, including funnel cakes and fried Oreos.

4. The Lilly Pad – Mine for gems, go fishing, take a hike or play a round of mini-golf, all at Blue Ridge’s destination for family fun. Pets are welcome, too.

5. Fall Branch Falls – The upper portion of Fall Branch Falls is a series of cascades that lead to a single major drop of some 30 feet, with the water plunging into a deep pool at the base of the falls. These falls, along the Benton MacKaye Trail, west of Aska Road, are a shorter, although a bit harder walk than Long Creek Falls.

Insider tip:
Visit the Self-guided Tours page on www.BlueRidgeMountains.com for complete descriptions and driving directions.

If you go:
From lake-view with a mountain vista and room for 20 to cabins hidden away and built only for two (hot tub included!) find links to cabin rental companies at www.BlueRidgeMountains.com.

katieMom-on-the-go and Laurie Rowe Communications PR pro Katie Reeder graduated at the top of her class from the Calhoun Honors College at Clemson University with a degree in Communication Studies. Katie resides in Cumming, Georgia – between the beautiful mountains of North Georgia and the lights and action of nearby Atlanta.

All Day (And All Night) at The Rock Ranch

The Rock RanchThe Rock Ranch is amazing farm fun for the entire family! We visited in late spring, and I was mesmerized by how much there was to do!

SUMMER – Pick raspberries or blackberries and enjoy homemade strawberry ice cream from the Farm Market. Try your hand at Cane Pole Fishing or take a Paddle Boat on the lake. And don’t miss the Celebrate America fireworks celebration.

FALL – Watch cowboy stunt performers, relax under the giants of a hot air balloon rally, or explore first-responder vehicles like firetrucks, police cars and more. Don’t miss the fun on National Pumpkin Destruction Day where you can demolish your pumpkins with monster trucks or canons.

WINTER – Enjoy a special dinner and shopping event with a Santa workshop, tour the country Christmas lights (FREE!) or ride The Rock Ranch Christmas Express. Don’t miss the popular breakfast or lunch with Santa, or stretch your legs during the Country Christmas in Lights 5K and Fun Run.

SPRING – Celebrate at the annual Strawberry Festival, and don’t miss berry-picking Saturdays. Enjoy a free Easter Egg Hunt, or have your little one bring their favorite doll for the Dolly & Me Party.

fishing

CONESTOGA WAGONS – Camp in an unforgettable way – in a Conestoga wagon! With eight bunks, there is plenty of room to bring your friends. Sit around the fire roasting marshmallows and commiserating with the nearby cows.

FARM STAY – Looking to explore The Rock Ranch in something a little more modern? Try a stay at one of four “Southern Living” quality homes. Enjoy a private pool, linens, a modern kitchen with appliances, washer and dryer and much more.

Read more about all we did when visiting The Rock Ranch at 365atlantafamily.com/TheRockRanch and about our Conestoga wagon stay at 365atlantafamily.com/ConestogaWagonCamping.

LesliLesli is the Georgia’s official Family Explorer and the owner of 365AtlantaFamily, which offers a daily dose of inspiration for metro-area families. Click here for more Family content from Lesli.