Exploring Historic Downtown Greensboro and Lake Oconee

DSC_0008Quaint and charming are two words that immediately come to mind when describing historic downtown Greensboro. Even though the destination is located between Atlanta and Augusta, once you set foot on Main Street, you’ll think that you’ve stepped back in time – and that’s a good thing.

IMG_6059As you spend hours (or half a day) meandering through the various shops and antique stores, not only will you come across some “must-haves” but also residents who exemplify a strong sense of community and southern hospitality.

You can’t go wrong with anywhere you visit, but you definitely don’t want to miss Genuine Georgia, where you can purchase something made by artisans from the state. Time your visit right, and you may see an artist working on their craft. You can play the part of a picker when you visit Greensboro Antique Mall. With all of the browsing and shopping, you are sure to work up an appetite. You can’t leave downtown without visiting both The Yesterday Cafe and The Potted Geranium. Ask for a slice of buttermilk pie at The Yesterday Cafe, and chance are you might take home a whole pie to share. Enjoy sipping tea in an antebellum home at The Potted Geranium.

IMG_6058If you have an interest in history, Greensboro doesn’t disappoint in this aspect, either. While walking on Main Street, you’ve already passed a piece of history, ‘“The Big Store” J.H McCommons Company. This was the largest retail store between Atlanta and Augusta, and sold nearly everything. Like in many southern towns, the courthouse is a historic building. Build in 1849, the structure is an example of Greek Revival. Behind it is the Old Gaol, which if you are time-crunched this is a must-see. It’s believed to be the oldest existing jail structure in the state, and had remained basically the same since the early 1800s. It was last used in 1890. There is also the Greensboro City Cemetery, featuring unique stone and iron work. It is filled graves of prominent Georgia figures, a Revolutionary War solider and more.

DSC_0123And when it comes time to relax, there’s golfing just minutes away from downtown as well as Lake Oconee (Georgia’s second largest lake) and the many opportunities to explore it. If you really want to indulge, consider staying overnight at The Ritz-Carlton Lodge, Reynolds Plantation.  The 251-room property located on the banks of Lake Oconee is all about relaxation and rejuvenation. Book a spa treatment, visit the pool or sit at the lake  -do all three or none at all. Enjoy a meal at one of their many restaurants. One thing is for certain, you aren’t going to want to leave anytime soon.

aprylWatkinsville, Ga.-based freelance travel writer and blogger Apryl Chapman Thomas enjoys traveling throughout Georgia and the Southeast to discover what all the region has to offer. You can read more of her work at Southern Hospitality Traveler Magazine (southernhospitalitymagazine.com) and Exploration Travel Magazine (explorationtravelmagazine.com), and by end of the month at her own travel blog, Southern Trippin, southerntrippin.com.

A Guide to Georgia’s Homestyle Restaurants

The Dillard House

The Dillard House

For Breakfast

Not all homestyle restaurants in Georgia serve breakfast, but when you’re looking for the combination of the two, you’ll need to visit the Dillard House in Dillard. The Dillard House serves up a bountiful breakfast of meats, eggs, potato hash, fresh fruits, homemade preserves, freshly baked pastries and so much more. My favorites are the proteins, and I always have to have seconds of the pork tenderloin. The Dillard House is one of those “food for the soul” kinds of places, and besides breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so start your day right by feeding your soul well here. Go with high expectations because you’re sure not to be disappointed.

Buckner's

Buckner’s Family Restaurant

For Fried Chicken and Dessert

One common menu item at all homestyle restaurants in the South is fried chicken. I doubt it’s written law that they have to have fried chicken (and lots of it) on the table, but I’m pretty sure it’s understood. Believe me, I’ve eaten a lot of fried chicken at a lot of great restaurants, but the best fried chicken I’ve eaten in Georgia to date is at Buckner’s in Jackson. Buckner’s is just off I-75 exit 201, and they serve up some of the most delicious Southern classics you can find. While normally I’d go for a leg or thigh, you’ll only find breast on the table at Buckner’s. Breast meat tends to be dry, but Buckner’s keeps its white meat juicy, tender and perfectly crispy. There’s a slight sweetness to it that I’ve not found duplicated anywhere else in Georgia. To top it all off, their dessert is fantastic, too. They only serve one dessert, but they do it right. Buckner’s Georgia peach cobbler is the perfect finish to one tasty meal.

Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room

Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room

For Sides

You can expect a wide array of incredible veggies and carbs at the homestyle table, but no one cooks sides as well as Mrs. Wilkes’ Dining Room in Savannah. Mrs. Wilkes’ showcases all sorts of fresh veggies like green beans, rutabagas, butter beans, peas and more. They’re even getting cornbread dressing right; it’s incredibly moist and super delicious. Mrs. Wilkes’ cabbage was some of the finest I’ve ever eaten. This homestyle restaurant is one of those places where you could definitely fill up on sides alone. Expect to wait in line for up to a couple of hours, but you and your taste buds will be glad you did.

For Extras

Once you’ve had the best breakfast, the best chicken and dessert, and the best sides, what’s left on the table? Well, the Smith House in Dahlonega is taking the table extras to a whole new level. You’re going to consistently get great chicken, great sides and dessert, but you’re also going to get some great extras. One of my favorite accompaniments to Southern fare is relishes and pickles. The Smith house makes and serves up the best pickled squash you’ll find. It perfectly pairs with the savory veggies and offers a slightly tangy, sweet crunch that you just can’t find elsewhere. You’ll want to take some home, too. Look in the gift shop before you leave to make sure you can have this “secret” treasure at your home table.

Head shotLori Hennesy is a self-proclaimed foodie and author of delisghga.com, a Georgia only food blog.  Lori is on a constant search for unique eats, great Georgia products, delicious restaurants and anything food related.  For Lori it’s all about the bottom line, “what’s the next meal going to be?”