There are probably significant attractions on your bucket list for Northwest Georgia such as the Booth Museum, Blue Ridge Scenic Railroad, Tellus Science Museum, and others. But while traveling to or from these sites, be sure to make time for discovering the unexpected and hidden treasures along the way. Here are 15 ideas when planning your next travel experience in Northwest Georgia. (Download your copy of Land of Hidden Treasures)
Expedition: Bigfoot! – Your mountain adventure starts here at North Georgia’s BIGGEST family attraction where entertainment meets education. Expedition: Bigfoot! is a 4000 sq. ft. complex where you will see the country’s largest permanent display of genuine Bigfoot artifacts, life sized exhibits, photos, sketches, large up to date sighting maps, and the world’s only Bigfoot Research and Tech Vehicle on display. Enjoy The Sasquatch Theater, browse the gift shop, or relax in the Bigfoot reference library. It is a day you will never forget! Cities: Cherry Log, Ellijay, Blue Ridge
The arts present a charm all their own. These next three sites tap into your creative side…and who knows, they may even inspire you to create something of your own when you return home.
The ROCK Garden – Cinderella’s castle, Notre Dame and 50 more hand-built miniature stone structures await at The ROCK Garden. The structures – all crafted from tiny stones, pebbles, shells, odd pieces of broken glass and china, rocks, ceramic tile, cement, wire and other materials, – are designed to imitate their larger counterparts. Beautiful flowers and a meandering stream enhance this tranquil, whimsical oasis, making it a perfect place to relax. An enriching experience for all ages! City: Calhoun
Labyrinth of Rome – The Labyrinth of Rome was created as an adaptive reuse of what originally was an amphitheater built by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s. Upon finding the nearest labyrinth to be 50 miles away, the late Ed Baker worked with local government to establish this corner of Rome’s historic Jackson Hill. It contains 5,490 bricks weighing a total of 24,705 pounds. Unlike a maze, a labyrinth has only one path and the intention is not to confuse, but rather to help one focus. The path into the center is a search for your true self as the stresses and concerns of the world slip away from your consciousness. This particular labyrinth is a bit more strenuous than most as it is on different levels, not unlike how we live our lives. As you follow the path, you will turn toward the center many times and then away again, not unlike a sailboat tacking against the wind. Have faith that the path will take you to the destination and enjoy the journey. City: Rome
Southeastern Quilt and Textile Museum – The art of quilting has been around for centuries. Quilts by necessity have been a part of every home throughout time. But the artistic nature and imaginations of their creators have no limits! Visit this museum for regular and rotating quilt exhibits. Learn the stories of designs and designers. You just might be inspired to even make your own. City: Carrollton
History abounds! From the day this land was created its history began. While these next five sites do not date back that long ago, they none the less tell a part of Northwest Georgia heritage you may not know. Enrich your minds with these historic discoveries!
6th Cavalry Museum – The 6th Cavalry Museum preserves the rich military history of the “Fighting Sixth” Cavalry stationed at The Post at Fort Oglethorpe 1919 – 1942. The story of the 6th Cavalry is illustrious beginning in 1861 as a U.S. Cavalry Regiment to present day. Located on the Post’s original parade ground/polo field, the area is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and surrounded by officer’s homes and other Post buildings. Visited by presidents, military heroes and celebrities, the museum houses artifacts, uniforms, weapons, accouterments, photos, and vehicles. Step back in time to the era of the horse soldier by visiting the 6th Cavalry Museum. City: Fort Oglethorpe
George Washington Carver Park – As Red Top Mountain State Park was established in the 1950’s, so was the first “Georgia State Park for Negroes.” The 345-acre park was named George Washington Carver Park, honoring the renowned Tuskegee Institute botanist and inventor. Former Tuskegee Airman John Loyd Atkinson became the first black park superintendent in Georgia and built a clubhouse/concession stand, playground, boat ramp, boat and fishing docks, a swim beach with diving platform and a residence. Atkinson also started a black Girl Scout camp at Carver Park with a sub-lease on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers property. The Park became fondly known as “The Beach.” Well-known entertainers performed at the park including Ray Charles and Little Richard. Carver Park served as the summer home of the St. John’s Ski Bees, the only black water ski club in Georgia and their summer performances attracted blacks from nearby Atlanta and from across the southeast. The Beach is where Mrs. Coretta Scott King spent weekends at church outings, and where Rev. Andrew Young and his family learned to water ski. Due to state budget cuts, Carver Park was removed from the state park system in 1970, and its operation turned over to Bartow County Government in 1975, becoming known as Bartow Carver Park. In 2017, the park returned to its original name and was renovated under new management by the Cartersville-Bartow County Convention & Visitors Bureau. The park is available for large gatherings. City: Cartersville
West Georgia Museum – This museum has something for all ages. A look back at the late 1800-early 1900 era, replicas of old stores, a barber shop and bank, and all replicas of stores that once operated in Tallapoosa, will take you back to an earlier time. For the youngsters a whole assemblage of dinosaurs greets visitors as they enter the museum. With a 30 ft. Tyrannosaurus Rex towering over several other smaller dinosaurs it is indeed an awesome site that will inspire young, inquisitive minds. A horse drawn buggy and a restored 1923 Ford peddlers wagon will bring out the realism of that long-ago period. City: Tallapoosa
Train Turntable and Depot – The Historic Summerville Depot is located in the heart of downtown next to Dowdy Park. Featured in the HBO film “Warm Springs,” and “MaMa Flora’s Family,” the depot delivers historic Southern charm and is available year-round for outdoor viewing, but is available for special events rental January – September. The depot and turntable come alive in the fall for “Steam Into Summerville Railroad Days.” Festivals center around our historic Summerville Depot each weekend in October through mid-November. Weekly fall arrivals of the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum passenger train give opportunities to see Summerville’s railroad turntable in action, as one of the only working turntables in the Southeast. Adults and children of all ages can take a magical 90-minute ride with Santa and his elves on The Summerville Santa Special. Ajacent to the turntable, Dowdy and Willow Spring Park are connected by Town Creek Trail, which rambles along Town Creek, with picnic tables and grills for family enjoyment. City: Summerville
Marble Museum – The Nelson Marble Museum includes a year-round exhibit that includes examples of fine marble and shows the history of marble mining in Pickens County. Many stone cutters and other workers who migrated from either Italy or Scotland in the early years of the industry settled in Nelson to work in the area’s marble industry. Today the Great Northern Railroad operates between Tate, Georgia, and the CSX interchange at Elizabeth (Marietta) five days a week. The Georgia Marble rail lines at Tate and Marble Hill, and the Blue Ridge Scenic Railroad at Blue Ridge, Georgia arealso operated by GNRR. Their web site also states the “GNRR runs through a Georgia Marble facility that no is no longer served by rail” at Nelson. City: Nelson
This region is replete with things to do outdoors. These last six sites are perfect for a visit most any time of year.
Olde Rope Mill Park – Olde Rope Mill Park has a variety of attractions. Perhaps best known is the 15 miles of mountain bike & hiking trails. The park also features access to Little River which makes the park the perfect spot to fish, canoe, or kayak. For history lovers the park is the site of the ruins of the historic rope mill which was first opened in the 1800s and stayed in operation until the 1940s. From outdoor recreation, beautiful river side scenes, to fascinating historic ruins Olde Rope Mill Park has something for everyone. Many are unaware that a park in Woodstock offers world class mountain biking trails, river recreation opportunities, and the chance to see history. City: Woodstock
Nature in the Cohutta Wilderness – In Fannin County the Cohutta mountains rise in the west and the Blue Ridge mountains to the south and east. The Cherokee Indians considered the Cohuttas to be the “poles of the shed,” holding up the sky in this, their “Enchanted Land.” Although there were no Cherokee villages within the Cohutta Wilderness, Cherokees hunted the area extensively and played their own version of field hockey on the ballfields at Little Bald Mountain, today’s group camping area. The Cohutta Wildlife Management Area (WMA) encompasses 95,000 acres, 40,000 of which are within Fannin County. The Cohutta Wilderness is the largest wilderness area east of the Mississippi River, a rare and beautiful place seen by few people. The area is inhabited by black bears and wild boars, along with smaller animals like bobcats, raccoons, and squirrels. The changing seasons bring blooms to rhododendron, mountain laurel and a profusion of wildflowers. This is a 3-hour trip through the forest without stops, but you will want to stop and enjoy the view, take a hike and picnic at beautiful Lake Conasauga. Your vehicle needs to be in good mechanical condition with adequate fuel. Low clearance vehicles are generally a bad idea on these steep, winding and rough gravel roads. Get a USFS Chattahoochee Forest and Cohutta Wilderness map to guide your way through this fascinating wilderness. City: Blue Ridge
Raisin Woods Mountain Bike Park –Raisin Woods is a mountain bike park located within the city limits off Brooker Drive just a few short minutes from the downtown area. Raisin Woods is a great place for mountain biking with seven courses for all level bikers. Whether you are a beginner-level road rider or an expert-level mountain biker, the Dalton/Whitfield County area serves well as an all around cycling destination. City: Dalton
Carter’s Lake Visitor Center – Carters Lake is one of the most scenic lakes in the southeast. Located at the southern end of the Blue Ridge Mountains, its sparkling waters and rugged shoreline provide a beautiful surrounding for a variety of recreational opportunities including camping, picnicking, boating, fishing, and hunting. The lake is named after 19th century Georgia politician Farrish Carter Tate and is the deepest of Georgia’s reservoir lakes. It has a surface area of 3,200 acres and has 62 miles of shoreline. The average depth of the lake is 200 feet with some parts reaching more than 450 feet. The lake is fed by the Coosawattee River that runs between Ellijay and Chatsworth. Carters Dam, the tallest earthen dam east of the Mississippi, was completed in 1977. City: Chatsworth
Crockford-Pigeon Mountain – This 20,657-acre state-owned Wildlife Management Area features abundant wildlife, miles of trails, unique natural features, and gorgeous views. Hunters consider it a favorite hunting destination for deer, turkey, squirrel, quail, and rabbit. Many protected species call this area home. Locations popular to visit include: Rocktown, Lost Wall, Pocket, Pettyjohn’s Cave, Sawmill Lake, Bluehole Springs, Civil War Wayside. This WMA boasts 5 designated camping areas, numerous trails and trailheads, and historic Mountain Cove. All horse, bike, caving, hiking, rock climbing, parasailing and hang-gliding trails are closed during firearm deer seasons. Additionally, all horse and bike trails and areas are closed before 10:00 a.m. during archery deer and turkey season. No ATVs on the property. City: Lafayette
High Shoal Falls – Just a short quarter-mile hike on an unpaved trail, High Shoals Falls is a true hidden gem that’s a majestic site to see year-round. High Shoals Falls is the perfect place to take pictures and even has a small area to enjoy a picnic. The feeling of tranquility that you have been looking for can be found at this hidden gem in Paulding County. City: Dallas