St Marys Historic District, Georgia. Image credit William Silver via Shutterstock

6 Must-See Historic Towns in Georgia

Georgia is the youngest of the original 13 colonies, founded in 1732. Named after King George II of Great Britain and occupied by the British during the American Revolution, it has had its share of important US history. From the town that was the former capital to a house struck by a cannonball during the infamous Civil War, the must-see towns spread throughout Georgia showcase the diversity of history in The Empire State of the South.


Georgia College and State University campus scene, Milledgeville, Georgia.
Georgia College and State University campus scene, Milledgeville, Georgia. Image credit Rob Hainer via

Milledgeville served as the state capitol of Georgia from 1807 to 1868. The Old Capital Building is the oldest public Greek Revival-style building in the United States. It housed Georgia's government during critical periods, including the Civil War. Today, it is a museum showcasing Georgia's political history.

What once served as the official residence for Georgia's governors from 1839 to 1868 and hosted many notable figures throughout its history, including presidents and Civil War generals. It is a historical landmark and museum, offering tours that provide insight into the state's political and social history and architectural significance.

Andalusia Farm was the residence and source of inspiration for American author Flannery O'Connor after her diagnosis with Lupus in 1951 until she died in 1964. It has since been turned into a museum dedicated to the preservation of O’Connor’s legacy and offering tours of the farmhouse where she lived and wrote, as well as the surrounding grounds of the farm.

St Marys

The St. Marys Historic District, located in the state of Georgia
The St. Marys Historic District, Georgia. Image credit William Silver via Shutterstock

Established in 1787, the city of St. Mary's offers a rich history for locals and travelers alike to enjoy.

The architecture of the Orange Hall, constructed in 1830, was unlike any other on North American soil at the time. With its distinctive Greek Revival design, the structure remains a remarkable piece of engineering in Georgia. The St. Mary Submarine Museum dives into submarine history from World War II, featuring displays of artifacts, models, and documents.

The Tabby Ruins offers an incredible piece of the history of the city’s agriculture, originally named McIntosh Sugar Works. It was a sugar factory built in 1826 by John Houston McIntosh to mass-produce sugar. The structure consists of a unique type of building material known as Tabby Concrete, which explains the given name “Tabby ruins” by the locals. After McIntosh’s death in 1836, the structure was purchased, left in disrepair, and never rebuilt. The remains of the sugar factory still stand today for travelers to view and learn about the earlier parts of agriculture in the city.

Located near the city of St. Mary, on Cumberland Island, is an estate called Plum Orchard Mansion. Built in 1898, the estate, with its very classical design, was built for George Lauder Carnegie and his wife, Margaret Thaw. Today, guests are welcome to enjoy a complimentary tour of the mansion, where they can explore its architecture, furnishings, and machinery integral to its functioning.


Overlooking Rome, Georgia.
Overlooking Rome, Georgia.

Named after The City Of Seven Hills in Italy, Rome, Georgia, is packed full of rich history that makes it stand out in the modern world.

Starting with The Clock Tower, built in 1871, its former purpose was to be a reservoir structure to provide water throughout the city of Rome. The clock was built within the structure in 1872, giving it its recognizable feature. As of the present day, it remains one of the oldest structures and the staple landmark of the city.

The Rome-Floyd Eco Center is an organization that focuses on teaching the locals and travelers what nature offers in northwest Georgia, with a great variety of native animals to Northwest Georgia to admire. In addition, the Eco Greenway, a 16-mile trail in Rome, showcases the city, making it a great place for biking.

Finally, Lazy Creek Farms, a family-owned farm in Northwest Georgia, offers various seasonal activities and treats for families to enjoy. In the fall, visitors can pick from a wide selection of pumpkins, while in the spring, they can pick strawberries. The onsite Bakehouse provides delicious treats such as strawberry bread and cinnamon bread in the mornings, as well as homemade ice creams, including fresh strawberry, apple pie, and salted caramel flavors.


The downtown district of Thomasville, Georgia.
The downtown district of Thomasville, Georgia. Image credit Allard One via Shutterstock

Thomasville, located in the Southwest part of the state of Georgia, was founded in 1825. The city is commonly known as the city of roses.

A great destination for first-time tourists to Thomasville is the Lapham-Patterson House. Constructed in 1885, the house's architectural design was exceptional at the time, as this style is highly inspired by the British Queen Anne House Design. The oldest living tree in the city of Thomasville is called “The Big Oak” and has been standing since the late 17th century.

Finally, be sure to check out the landmark Pebble Hill Plantation. Constructed in 1934, the Main House’s architecture is built under the Neoclassical Revival design. It is a great place to take a tour of the main house to witness vintage interior designs.


Aerial view of the Dahlonega Gold Museum in the central square of the town.
Dahlonega Gold Museum in the central square of the town. Image credit Kyle J Little via

Located in Lumpkin County in the Northern part of Georgia, Dahlonega is a city that is rich in history when it comes to gold, and beautiful nature.

A great place to introduce tourists to the city is the Consolidated Gold Mine. Starting in the late 19th century, it played a crucial role in Georgia's gold rush history and contributed to the area's economic development. Today, visitors are welcome to year-round 40-minute guided adventures into the original tunnels.

Built as a former Lumpkin County Courthouse in 1836, The Dahlonega Gold Museum currently stands as a time capsule and staple landmark for the city’s history to gold. It offers gold artifacts like coins, panning equipment, and more for tourists to admire.

Nestled in the North Georgia Mountains, Wolf Mountain Vineyards offers award-winning wines, winning over 200 medals in major US wine-tasting competitions. It is considered a leader in fine wine production on the East Coast.

Originally constructed as a movie theater in 1948, the Holly Theater has since been restored as a theatrical venue. Today, it hosts various live performances, including plays, concerts, and community events, while also being available for rental for private functions.


A historical building in Madison, Georgia.
A historical building in Madison, Georgia.

Madison is a city located in Morgan County in northeast Georgia. Founded in 1809, Madison is known for its countless antebellum homes.

To start your journey into this city, visit the Heritage Hall. Built in 1811, similar to the Orange Hall at St. Mary's this structure is also made under the Greek Revival Architectural design. It’s a great place for tourists to revisit the 19th-century interior design of the structure.

Tourists can also visit the Rose Cottage, a simple structure with a rich backstory, made by an individual woman by the name of Adeline Rose. The structure was made famous and became the landmark of the city, immortalizing Adeline Rose’s legacy.

The Morgan County Courthouse was built in 1905 to replace the County’s previous two courthouses that were both destroyed by fire. This current courthouse has been used in the background of several television and film projects, from Goosebumps to Rob Zombie's Halloween 2, and is open to visitors when the court is not in session.

Finally, The Madison Flea Market is a bustling marketplace offering a wide variety of goods, including antiques, crafts, clothing, and more. It's a popular destination for locals and visitors alike, providing a vibrant shopping experience in the heart of the city.

Georgia's historical towns invite visitors on a journey through the echoes of the state's legacy. These charming destinations promise an unforgettable experience for history buffs, architectural enthusiasts, and those seeking a glimpse into the past. With their rich heritage and timeless allure, these towns offer an exploration of The Empire State of the South's past.

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