Georgia’s Spookiest Places

Battle of Pickett's Mill by Rick Reeves

Battle of Pickett’s Mill by Rick Reeves

The sight of brutal hand to hand combat during the Civil War, Pickett’s Mill Battlefield is no stranger to tragedy. Open to the public, battlefield visitors have reported the sound of strange moans and shadowy figures running through the forest. Click here to learn more about Pickett’s Mill Battlefield’s eerie past.

Central State Hospital. Photo Credit: themoonlitroad.com

Photo Credit: themoonlitroad.com

Driving around the largely empty and decrepit campus of Central State Hospital in Milledgeville, Georgia, there in an eerie calm that belies its often chaotic past, when it was overrun with patients committed for all manner of mental afflictions. Learn more about the hospital’s history here. The public is not allowed access to the buildings

Chickamauga

Battle of Chickamauga (lithograph by Kurz and Allison, 1890).

Chickamauga Battlefield was the scene of one of the Civil War’s bloodiest battles. Ever since the Civil War, people have encountered strange going-on at the battlefield grounds. Some have heard the sound of gunshots at night, or of soldiers marching, moaning and crying. Learn more about Chickamauga Battlefield’s spirited side here.

Photo Credit: The Grand Opera House

Photo Credit: The Grand Opera House

The Grand Opera House in Macon’s resident ghost is Randell Widner, the former managing director who committed suicide in a room above the stage in 1971. Be careful – Randell may pop out and chastise you if you are not respectful of “his” grand old opera house.

Haunted-Pillar-of-Augusta - hankering for history

Photo Credit: http://hankeringforhistory.com/

Augusta’s Haunted Pillar is all that remains of a farmer’s market that once stood at 5th and Broad Streets in downtown Augusta. The market stood from 1830 until February 7, 1878, when it was destroyed in a tornado. According to local legend, an attempt to move, destroy the pillar, or even touch it will result in death.

 

Best New Restaurants in Atlanta to Try this Fall

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Expedia Viewfinder and Explore Georgia joined efforts to celebrate some of the newest restaurants in Atlanta this autumn.

Georgia has a sense of charm, especially during the fall, and there’s no better way to experience it than with a healthy appetite. Famous for comfort food, Georgia’s restaurants don’t disappoint. The culinary scene, in Atlanta in particular, is branching out to deliver patrons exciting new tastes this autumn. Here at Expedia Viewfinder, we teamed up with the Peach State experts over at Explore Georgia to showcase some of the best new restaurants to try this fall in Atlanta:

South Main Kitchen

Located in Historic Downtown Alpharetta, South Main Kitchen features a rustic lumber interior with industrial touches. This 1900s brick building boasts a rooftop deck, communal seating, and live music, which create a warm and welcoming ambience, especially in the cooler months.

The South Main Kitchen owners know how to keep a menu Southern fresh. Currently filled with seasonal local vegetables, the menu offers grilled chicken with goat cheese, caramelized Vidalias (onions from Vidalia, Georgia), pecans, and sweet fig compote. This fall, order the pork rinds with Cajun seasoning and savor the flavorful kick.

Victory Sandwich Bar

On a cool autumn evening, Victory Sandwich Bar is the perfect place for late-night dinner and drinks. The quirky sandwich bar sits in the middle of Decatur, surrounded by restaurants and pubs.

The restaurant’s food menu includes simple, tasty sandwiches. The Han Cholo, filled with chorizo, feta, tomatillo salsa, and pickled onions, is one particularly scrumptious sandwich selection. Victory’s Southern roots are also apparent in several favorites such as the boiled peanuts and Low Country shrimp and grits.

This stop is truly a one-of-a-kind find in Atlanta, as it features a full bar that mixes up creatively-named concoctions. Cocktails like Dark ’n’ Stormy and Walk of Shame pique the curiosity of diner’s as they skim the menu. As enticing as the entire selection sounds, the good ol’ Jack & Coke Slushie is the most famous treat by far.

Ladybird Grove & Mess Hall

With an enthusiastic and patriotic camping theme, Ladybird Grove & Mess Hall not only has an interesting ambience, but a distinctive menu, too. The epitome of southern dining, this restaurant touts picnic tables and a screen porch–perfect for Georgia’s fall days.

Ladybird’s menu is a mix of traditional camping food with off-the-wall categories, including trail snacks, campfire, and base camp selections to keep with the rustic route. The restaurant serves up nibbles, such as crunchy homemade cracker jacks, as well as heartier meals of chicken and dumplings, and braised pork shoulder.

What’s campsite grub without s’mores? Don’t worry, Ladybird’s dessert menu features a delectable peanut butter s’mores pie made with graham cracker crust, homemade peanut butter, dark chocolate mousse, and marshmallow fluff to fulfill camping cravings this fall.

Gypsy Kitchen

Set in the posh neighborhood of Buckhead, this Spanish-Moroccan-inspired eatery is trendy, whimsical in its décor, and a testament to the growth of worldly restaurants in the area. Gypsy Kitchen’s menu remains true to the Moroccan and Spanish spirit, as it serves up traditional spices and herbs with a touch of contemporary flair.

The dishes embrace the flavors of the Iberian Peninsula with hints of saffron, mint, paprika, and sherry. Although small dishes and appetizers appear on the menu, Gypsy Kitchen also offers Platos a la Planxa, large dishes for the table to share. The Majorcan-style whole branzino is an especially noteworthy dish, which includes an entire European sea bass with potato, piquillo pepper, kale, tomato, pine nuts, and golden raisins. The bold and spicy flavors at this restaurant are sure to turn up the heat on any autumn day in Atlanta.

From Southern comforts to late-night eats, the Georgia culinary scene invites hungry travelers and locals to chow down as the sweater weather rolls in. This fall, explore Atlanta and let your taste buds lead the way. Test out these delectable new restaurants to complete your autumn-inspired travels in Atlanta.

 

Written by Expedia Staff Writer

Go Retro in Savannah, Georgia

Built in 1938, the Streamliner Diner was moved to Savannah in 1990. The Art Deco Societies of America honored SCAD for its restoration. Courtesy Photo © Adam Kuehl. | Link is http://adamkuehl.com/

Built in 1938, the Streamliner Diner was moved to Savannah in 1990. The Art Deco Societies of America honored SCAD for its restoration. Courtesy Photo © Adam Kuehl. | Link is http://adamkuehl.com/

Doing Beats Seeing When You Go Retro in Savannah, Georgia USA –A chat with Mark Thomas, The Thunderbird Inn, Savannah, Georgia

Against its background of staid and important history, Savannah, Georgia also offers a fun, relevant and appealing retro layer, showcasing some of the fun remembered from the mid-century. Best part? This is action-oriented fun, better done than seen.
“Retro is full of vitality rather than passive here,” informs retro travel champion Mark Thomas, general manager of The Thunderbird Inn. “”We’ve got history but we’ve also got neon!”

Start with the stars! You’ll find them under a neon marquee and beneath crisscrossing searchlights in the sky. Presented by the Savannah College of Art and Design, the Savannah Film Festival (October 25 – November 1, 2014) is on Broughton Street in SCAD’s Trustees Theatre, right next door to the nostalgic Leopold’s Ice Cream. Honored guests for the 2014 festival include Gena Rowlands, Renee Zellweger, Matt Bomer, Asa Butterfield, and Analeigh Tipton.

Need a beard or mustache trim, or razor cut? Barber Pole on Bull Street near Wright Square holds true to its retro ways. Courtesy Photo © Adam Kuehl. | Link is http://adamkuehl.com/

Need a beard or mustache trim, or razor cut? Barber Pole on Bull Street near Wright Square holds true to its retro ways. Courtesy Photo © Adam Kuehl. | Link is http://adamkuehl.com/

Retro tastes good, too! Take your seat in Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room next to whomever Fate sends your way and chow down on the classic Southern cooking that kept farm hands working in the Depression. Save room for a sundae with freshly made chocolate fudge at Leopold’s Ice Cream, which boasts a circa-1920s pedigree. When asked for his retro breakfast recommendation, quickly Mark names Clary’s Café, renowned for plate-size buttermilk pancakes, thick southern ham slices, and made-to-order omelets. You may remember it from the book and movie, “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,” but it predates that fame by decades.

What about lunch? Mark favors the Crystal Beer Parlor where nostalgic Savannah photographs line the walls and titillating tales of the Prohibition-era Speakeasy swirl. As famous for its fried chicken as its barbecue, Johnny Harris Restaurant is where Capitol Records’ co-founder and “Hooray for Hollywood” lyricist Johnny Mercer liked to dine when he was at home in Savannah. Located on Victory Drive near Grayson Stadium, diners can eat-in-the-kitchen or dine in the ballroom ‘under the stars’ (in the ceiling). Grayson Stadium is where the New York Met’s minor league affiliate Savannah Sand Gnats play baseball April through early September. And, the grand ole stadium where President Franklin Delano Roosevelt spoke November 18, 1933, when he and his mother came to celebrate Georgia’s 150th year celebration.

Take in a performance in a place where you really ache for the walls to talk – be it the lively musical productions in the historic Savannah Theatre or a performance of the Savannah Philharmonic in the Lucas Theatre’s carefully restored Jazz Age glory.
Mark adds, “Have you met the Forrest Gump impersonator featured by Old Savannah Tours, or the dapper tour guide, Savannah Dan, who wears a seersucker suit, walking through the streets and squares of the National Landmark Historic District telling his stories? People are in search of human contact, don’t you think?”

Back in the Day Bakery. Photo by @wittyclevername via Instagram

Back in the Day Bakery. Photo by @wittyclevername via Instagram

More don’t-miss spots opened with a vintage spirit — The Distillery (showing silent movies), Green Truck Pub (featuring grass-fed beef and organic, homemade condiments), and Back in the Day Bakery, THE place for 1950s décor, artisan breads, banana pudding and brownie desserts. The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook by Cheryl Day and Griffith Day boasts weeks on the New York Times best seller’s list.

The Thunderbird Inn – located in the ‘Canal District’ and known as the “hippest hotel in Savannah”™ — is getting some new, hip neighbors. They include Chatham Area Transit’s (CAT) free downtown shuttle and Greyhound Bus station – both in the newly renovated CAT hub. “International travelers adore bus travel, train travel, and cycling – those things Americans consider retro. The Savannah bike share rental program and Amtrak travel are gaining in popularity. Like running, cycling is also abuzz, thanks in part to Savannah’s flat terrain and village-like setting downtown. Over the last few years the Georgia Railroad Museum has also enjoyed new interest, much like SCAD’s restored Streamliner Diner (West Henry Street),” said Mark.

Can things get any better?

“Oh, yes!” Mark adds. “Wonderfully surprising, Savannah’s retro experiences are very affordable! Plus, the mischievous-little-beach-town vibe of Tybee Island is due east, 20 minutes from downtown.”

The hip Thunderbird Inn champions retro in Savannah, Georgia USA. Courtesy Photo © The Thunderbird Inn / Michael Edde, Beacon Photography

The hip Thunderbird Inn champions retro in Savannah, Georgia USA. Courtesy Photo © The Thunderbird Inn / Michael Edde, Beacon Photography

ABOUT MARK THOMAS AND THE THUNDERBIRD INN
General Manager of The Thunderbird Inn was voted among Savannah’s 40 Under 40 young professionals, a graduate of Leadership Savannah and recently beamed when acknowledging that The Thunderbird Inn — @TbirdInn on Twitter — was named to USA Today’s “Top 10 Best Retro Hotels in the USA” (July 2014). “What perfect timing for this inn’s 50th birthday year – 1964-2014!” Mark adds.

“Groovy geeksarrive for GeekEnd (November 13-15, 2014) annually, SCAD students, parents, Baby Boomers, artists and the pop culture crowd adore this place. They boast about our southern MoonPie® and RC Cola ® among in-room treats, hot popcorn on arrival, and freshly delivered Krispy Kreme® doughnuts in the morning” and the big neon sign that sports groovy messages. “The intersection of Yes, Ma’am and Dude” and “Run, Forrest Run” are among the ones we receive the most comments and grins.”

Recommended by Southern Living and Every Day with Rachael Ray magazines, the Thunderbird Inn was built and opened in the Swingin’ Sixites (circa 1964). “Sure, it’s changed. Like retro, this place is in vogue again. Plus, we are going green, and we’re uber dog friendly,” the preppy manager explains.

In 2014 the retro inn’s 50th birthday celebration joins more famous milestone celebrations – the first USA performance by The Beatles, the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 passing (73-27 vote), and the first Ford Mustang was produced ($2,368 base price).

It’s too close to Halloween to bypass telling you that ‘Bewitched’, ‘Munsters’, and ‘The Addams Family’ premiered on TV in 1964, too.

It’s late now. “Say goodnight, Gracie,” George Burns would say. More retro stories tomorrow. “Goodnight.”

These Georgia Ghost Tours Will Give You Chills

Lawrenceville Ghost Tours. Photo by Sara Hanna Photography.

Lawrenceville Ghost Tours. Photo by Sara Hanna Photography.

Whether your interest is in the paranormal, history or you’re just looking for an evening of entertainment – these Georgia ghosts tours are sure to get you into the spooky spirit!

Northeast Georgia

Northwest Georgia

  • Dalton Ghost Tours: This 90-minute walking exploration of the city’s legendary past and haunted present starts and ends at the wooden deck directly across from the Wink Theatre in historic downtown Dalton.
  • Haunted Euharlee Ghost Walk: Costumed performers will share tales of the city’s former residents on this family-friendly walking tour. Happening October 25th only.
  • Canton Ghost Tour: Hear ghostly tales of Canton and Cherokee County on a 90-minute or 2 hour tour.

Metro Atlanta

  • Lawrenceville Ghost Tours: In the mood for a scare? Not being startled, but a chill down your spine to the core-scare? Take the Lawrenceville, GA Ghost Tour. Real Stories, Real spooky places. Every Night in October.
  • HOWLphoretta Ghost Tours: Experience some of historic downtown Alpharetta’s extensive history through this narrated walking tour.
  • Roswell Ghost Tours: Led by paranormal investigators, this walking tour explores current paranormal phenomena that is routinely experienced by residents, business owners, and tour attendees!
  • Ghosts of MariettaGhosts of Marietta:  Take a lantern-led walk through the historic streets of Marietta and discover spookier side of this enchanting southern city.
  • Decatur Ghost Tour:  Discover Decatur’s spirit community with tales of murder, passion, vice, war and tragedy.

Middle Georgia

  • Spirits in October Tours: Take a one-hour guided walking tour through Historic Riverside Cemetery and meet costumed actors portraying historic figures who played a large role in Macon’s history.
  • Haunted Trolley Tours: Experience the darker side of Milledgeville on this trolley tour.  Family-friendly and adults-only tours are available.

South Georgia

Coastal Georgia

  • Ghosts and Legends of Hofwyl-Broadfield Plantation: Hear the stories of plantation owners and the African-Americans who worked at Hofwyl-Broadfield, as well as tales of recent ghost sightings.
  • Historic Midway Cemetery Tour: Tales of ghostly spirits and haunted graves are presented by costumed interpreters in the historic coastal cemetery. Happening October 25th only.
  • Savannah Ghost Show Tours: Blending local folklore, 300 years of history, and magical illusions, this tour promises to amaze, send chills up and down your spine and send you into fits of laughter.
  • St. Simons Island Ghost Tour: Join master storyteller and actor Harry Paisley for ghostly tales of St. Simons.
  • Savannah Scary Ghost Tour: This 90-minute riding Ghost Tour includes clips from Ghost Hunters and Scariest Places on Earth playing aboard the bus.
  • Ghosts and Gravestones: Take a trolley tour through Savannah’s most haunted places. This tour includes exclusive entry into the Perkins and Sons Chandlery.
  • Blue Orb Ghost Tours:  Blue Orb offers a City of the Dead Tour and its flagship uncensored 18 and older only Zombie Tour led by Founder, Tobias McGriff.
  • St. Simons Ghost Encounter:  Meet at the Pier in the St. Simons Village for a fun and informative 2 hour walking tour of the “spirited” side of St. Simons!

12 Budget-Friendly Attractions in Helen, Georgia

Chattahoochee River flowing behind Nora Mill-lr

Chattahoochee River flowing behind Nora Mill [Photo Credit: Alpine Helen-White County CVB]

No matter the age, everyone is a kid at heart when it comes to Helen, White County and the Sautee and Nacoochee areas in North Georgia, about 90 minutes north of Atlanta. And fun here is affordable for any budget.

  1. Take a horse-drawn carriage ride through Helen’s downtown.
  2. Seek out the perfect souvenirs and gifts in the hustle and bustle of Helen’s shopping street while German music adds oom pah pah from outdoor speakers.
  3. Pastries at Hofers German Bakery in downtown Helen

    Pastries at Hofers German Bakery in downtown Helen [Photo Credit: Alpine Helen-White County CVB]

    Pick up sweet treats at the authentic German bakery or candy shop.
  4. Tour the world’s largest Alpine model railroad museum at Charlemagne’s Kingdom.
  5. Watch glass blowing at The Glassblowing Shop.
  6. Paint your own “green theme” child-safe toy at Elfmade Toys.
  7. Follow a round of adventure golf with a scoop or two of ice cream at an old-fashioned parlor.
  8. Continue family time during your mountain getaway in the foothills of the Appalachians by teaching kids about the great outdoors at Unicoi State Park with seasonal programs.
  9. Smithgall Woods State Park  [Photo Credit: 365 Atlanta Family]

    Smithgall Woods State Park
    [Photo Credit: 365 Atlanta Family]

    At Smithgall Woods Conservation Area, where there are more than 5,500 acres of land, learning is fun for the whole family with special events like Kids Day at the Park and Junior Ranger Camp.
  10. Another can’t-miss bonding opportunity? Children and their “big person” can fish in a stocked lake during Youth Fishing Days at Buck Shoals.
  11. Make your way to BabyLand General Hospital and be there when a baby arrives at this Southern-style mansion in Cleveland that sits majestically on a 100-acre spread in the foothills of the North Georgia Mountains. Be sure to check the calendar for a full list of their spectacular seasonal events.
  12. Following a day of kid-friendly fun, share a meal and memories at multi-generation-pleasing Mully’s Nacoochee Grill, Nacoochee Village Tavern & Pizzeria, Old Bavarian Inn Restaurant or Unicoi Restaurant.

When you are ready to hit the hay, Helen has hotels with swimming pools and lodge rooms at Unicoi State Park.

Learn more about Helen, Georgia here.

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.